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31.05.2007 General News

Welcome, Yar'Adua

For the first time in the post-independence history of Nigeria, there has been a smooth and peaceful transfer of power from one government to another, with President Olusegun Obasanjo, who has completed the mandatory two terms as President, handing over to his favourite, Umaru Yar'Adua.

Despite the widespread feeling among Nigerians and some international observers of the Nigerian elections that there were widespread irregularities and malpractice which undermined the integrity of the polls, the electoral commission held the view that those lapses were not enough to have adversely affected the validity of the choice of the people.

But the declaration of Yar'Adua as the winner of the elections will not be the first nor the last of such situations. He is definitely not the first to have been declared winner in an election which many think he lost; President George Bush himself benefited from an election which many thought he did not win.

Again, especially on the African continent, Yar'Adua is not the first, neither will he be the last, to have been favoured by an outgoing President. What we will live to witness is whether he will show gratitude to his mentor at the peril of good governance or he will value and cherish the interest of Nigerians above that of a mentor.

Nigeria is the only economic power within our sub-region. Particularly for us in Ghana, any turmoil in that country could result in the explosive situation of an invasion of Ghana by Nigerian asylum seekers or refugees.

That is why we all have to doff our hats for the Nigerian opposition for not resorting to violence or anything untoward and wayward, even as they expressed their disgust and anguish at the way the electoral process was manipulated.

Just as the world did not encourage Americans to take up arms over the disputed electoral victory of George Bush in 2000 but urged them to depend on due process and the rule of law, we would want Nigerians to resort to the due process.

Once Umaru Yar'Adua has been installed as President, everybody has to respect the status quo, especially since no recourse has been initiated with the courts to challenge the results.

Having understood the controversy which surrounded his election, we hope that one of the issues which the Yar'Adua administration will take up will be how to promote transparency and legitimacy in the electoral system in Nigeria.

It does not make sense to take it for granted that electoral processes cannot be clean, free, fair and transparent in Nigeria. Otherwise, the role of Nigeria in the democratisation processes on the continent will be seriously undermined and compromised.

We wish to sincerely welcome President Yar'Adua and to challenge him to re-unite Nigerians by offering them selfless leadership which is imbued with the desire to promote the freedom and welfare of all Nigerians.

It is our hope that the perception that Nigerians are difficult and, therefore, require a strong iron-clad type of leadership will be defused under his administration to demonstrate that Nigerians appreciate and understand freedom and are prepared to develop their nation in freedom.

Long live Ghana-Nigeria co-operation.