“Give unto Ceasar what belongs to Ceasar.”
-Jesus Christ.

The above timeless quote as stated in the Holy Book is the the foundation for my decision to give credit to whom credit is due. Nigeria just created waves in the annals of history by entrenching democracy in her just concluded elections.

The keenly contested elections was majorly centered between the front runners; incumbent President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and major opposition candidate General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Peoples Congress (APC).

The success story of Nigeria’s progress with democracy could not have been possible without mention of the contemporary actors in this glorious chapter of her history and it is with great honour as a Nigerian citizen today that I pen a few words to appreciate their efforts.

– To God Almighty, for with Him, ALL things are possible.

– To President Goodluck Jonathan. Regardless of his failings as a president, he has laid a foundation that has, by giving INEC free reign to conduct free, fair and credible elections, immeasurably strengthened our nascent democracy. His legacy, I daresay surpasses the legacy of his estranged Godfather. Even more note worthy is the fact that he took the initiative and congratulated his adversary before the official announcement by INEC, thereby showing great political sportsmanship.

In retrospect, President Jonathan would have been a great president in a different time. Traces of that greatness is evident in what would be known as his legacy to democracy in Nigeria.

– To General Olusegun Obasanjo. The antics of the retired general who is one of the founding fathers of PDP served as a military president and as Nigeria’s first Fourth Republic executive president can never be forgotten. Using his enormous influence, he foisted on Nigeria a sick president and an unlikely choice for vice president on Nigeria. When the perfectly executed script went awry and he realised his mistake, he tried to make amends. Today, Nigeria has benefitted immensely from his mistake.

– To Senator Bola Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu. A progressive and visionary Yoruba leader who has cemented his name in the annals of Nigerian history as a political colossus who’s foresight gave birth to serious opposition that has no doubt strengthened our nascent democracy. Even though his stupendous, though suspicious wealth and his undoubtable influence gave him the nickname “Lion of Bourdillon”, he has proved that the means justify the end.

– To General Muhammadu Buhari. A former military dictator well known as a man of unbesmirchable integrity, resilience and discipline and very likely our own version of Abraham Lincoln. His continuous belief that he would be president someday made him continue to contest elections even when failure at the polls stared him at the face a record three times! His charisma and humility drew Nigerians of all tribes and religion to vote him in as president at his fourth attempt.

– To Professor Attahiru Jega. A great academic and the pillar upon which our democracy has stood tall and firm. He served Nigeria honourably as INEC Chairman. His innovation that introduced the use of Permanent Voters Card and Card Readers reduced maximally the various ingenious methods of electoral malpractice perpetuated by Nigeria’s unscrupulous political class. His rose above seemingly insurmountable challenges and effortlessly side-stepped booby traps set by rogue elements in the political class. He is now, in my estimation the Nigerian SI Unit for the phrase “cool, calm and collected” in the face of pressure, and of course, my personal nomination for Man of the Year and maybe presidential candidate for 2019 elections (if possible).

– To all Nigerians who contributed immensely to the political discourse and participated actively in the just concluded elections that has led Nigeria thus far. Bridges were burnt along the way. It is time to begin the process of reconciliation and reconstruction as our dear nation moves forward.

– Finally, to my late brother and friend, Sylvester “Bane” Awenlimobor of blessed memory. A young man whose virtues I can only aspire to. Today, I remember your chapter was closed too soon. I wish you were here physically to witness what we achieved today. Continue to rest in peace.

I salute you all.

Malcolm O. Ifi.

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