In a closely watched election seen as a test of civilian rule, voters in Ekiti State, Nigeria, have chosen Dr. Ayo Fayose as their next governor. With a heavy turnout on June 21, Dr. Fayose received more than 203,000 votes, topping the incumbent, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who received some 120,000. Dr. Fayemi quickly conceded the results, setting the stage for a smooth transition of power when the new governor takes office in October.
In a democracy, the people choose their leaders, making their voices heard on Election Day. In a democracy, leaders put the public interest above their own and heed the voices heard at the polls.
The United States commends Governor Fayemi on graciously accepting the election results. “Election must not be seen as a do or die affair,” he said. “I believe we must build this democracy to a mature end, rather than pull it down.”
We urge all parties to accept the outcome in the same spirit, as representing the will of Ekiti’s voting public.
Nigeria’s democratic system will be further tested in the months ahead. Voters in the southwest Nigerian state of Osun go to the polls in another off-cycle gubernatorial election on August 9, and in February 2015 the nation will pick its next president during general elections. The voting in Ekiti should lend confidence to the Nigerian public and the international community that the nation’s Independent National Electoral Commission, security forces and the political parties have the capacity to conduct themselves in a manner that strengthens Nigeria’s democracy and gives political voice to its population.