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Politicians and the spirit of sportsmanship

By Bisi Olominu
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“Whatever you do will be insignificant. But it is very important that you do it.” Mahatma Ghandi.

  Politics in Nigeria is dynamic. It is not played like a game of football, it is winner takes all.  The winner is not always magnanimous in victory, while the loser always lick her wounds.

The ongoing elections in Nigeria have recorded casualties. Some politicians  have lost elections. If they are devastated by the starkness of this defeats, the stolid and casual manner with which some admitted failure, they never allowed emotion to weigh them down.

Some have congratulated the winners, uncharacteristic of Nigeria politicians.

The former President of Nigeria, Goodluck  Ebele Jonathan changed this narrative in 2015  when he  congratulated the then President elect, Mohammadu Buhari. Despite the mounted pressure on him not to concedes  defeat, but used his presidential power to plunge the country to another round of war.

The then president rather said,” I will concede defeat, there is no other way”. Therefore, the moment the idea of a phone call to congratulate President Mohammadu Buhari was muted to Goodluck  Jonathan, he started working on it to get Buhari on the phone. He soon got through. “Your Excellency, Sir. Hope I’m speaking with General Buhari.”

Buhari: Your Excellency

Jonathan: Your Excellency, how are you?

Buhari: I’m all right. Jonathan: Congratulations. That singular action changed the narrative in the political lexicon of Nigeria. Today, the former President, Goodluck Jonathan has become the hero of democracy in Africa and the whole world.

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Some crop of politicians are also sharing in that spirit of sportsmanship. The Senate President Bukola Saraki lost his seat last  Saturday and has broken his silence on the defeat in Kwara State.

He stated that in spite of the reported inadequacies that attended the elections in the state, he is wishing the candidates who emerged from the election the best of luck.

His words,” I wish the candidates that have emerged all the best in their attempts to serve our people. It is my prayers that the good people of Kwara State will always have the best from any government, both at state and federal levels.”

“As a product of a family and political structure that is, from its foundation, devoted to the service and development of our state and its people, it is my wish that our people will always have a good deal at all times”.

The outgoing Governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi who lost a Senatorial Seat to the candidate of People’s Democratic Party, Kola Balogun had also congratulated his opponent on his victory .

Ajimobi said that though the election was characterised by malpractices but he was ready to let it go for peace to reign. Ajimobi’s position was contained in a press release made available to journalist in Ibadan by his Special Adviser on Communication and Strategy, Mr. Kola Daisi

The Governor therefore congratulated the winner of the election. He promised that the electoral loss would not deter him from his firm resolve and that of the All Progressives Congress to work hard for the party’s victory in the governorship election billed for March 9.

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His words, “The results of the Oyo South Senatorial District election have been released by INEC, indicating that I lost to the PDP candidate. “I hereby accept the result as announced.

Although there were a number of grievous infractions and established electoral malpractices, I have decided to let go in the interest of peace. “I, therefore, congratulate the declared winner, Kola Balogun and our APC Senators-elect, Abdulfatai Buhari and Teslim Folarin.

“If I lose the ticket and the party is able to gain, then it is nothing to feel sad about. APC has done well but we can always do better.

“If we won two out of the three senatorial seats and we picked nine out of 14 federal constituency seats, then we should congratulate ourselves.”

The governor thanked the people of the state for their peaceful conduct and large turnout during the elections.

He said the people of the state displayed their love for the APC by voting massively for President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC candidates in the elections.

This therefore is a new paradigm shift in the political dictionary of politics in Nigeria. Though some may say that it is not insignificant, but it is important for our politicians to imbibe this spirit.

Mahatma  Ghandi said that “The future depends on what you do today.”. Also he siad, “it is my conviction that nothing enduring can be built on violence” Our politicians should see politics like a football game, one team will win, the other lose. They will win, the other lose. They should cultivate the habits of these men and when at receiving end, just saying congratultions will calm the fray nerves and reduce pension.

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The game of pass the buck and unsportmanship show by the politicians should and with the ongoing elections.

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