Political observers all over the world are keeping tabs on a number of general elections taking place in several countries this year.
Not all elections are important to these observers but they have penciled a few to look out for.
The ones on their watch list include the general elections coming up in the UK in May for obvious reasons, the United Kingdom is one of the most powerful and richest countries in the world. Apart from that the winner of the next election in the UK may determine whether the UK remains in the EU or not.
Lastly, because of the emergence of smaller parties like the Scottish National Party, UKIP and the Green Party coupled with the fact that the traditional government parties have been a disappointment a lot of people except the next election in the UK to be “too close to call”.
Nigeria’s forthcoming elections are also up there on their list of elections to look out for. Nigeria has acquired a reputation for all the wrong reasons, corruption, fraud, irresponsible governance, terrorism, kidnapping and other criminal activities. Nigeria’s bad reputation has completely eclipsed the fact that Nigeria is the richest country in Africa and the 26th richest in the world. In terms of GDP Nigeria is richer than former European world powers like Portugal and Greece, richer than UK’s closest neighbour, Ireland.
Another country on their watch list is Sri Lanka, a small Island nation on the Indian Ocean with a GDP of $67b, just over 10% of Nigeria’s GDP.
Sri Lanka is considered an underdeveloped country, bridled with corruption, crime and seemingly insurmountable economic challenges like Nigeria. What makes Sri Lanka interesting is that they have only recently come out of a civil war in which a lot of human right violations were allegedly committed.
Their outgoing president Mahinja Rajapaksa, was responsible for defeating the Tamil rebels, which made him popular among the majority Sinhalese population but allegations of gross human rights violation has dented his reputation with the rest of the world.
Apart from defeating the Tamil rebels he also brought some economic prosperity to Sri Linka, which has also been blighted by allegations of corruption.
Despite these allegations, Mr. Rajapaska remained popular and powerful in Sri Lanka. He was originally supposed to serve for two terms, which should have come to an end but he amended the constitution to allow him serve an unprecedented third term in office.
He was confident he was going to win, so confident he was boasting at a dinner party that nobody could defeat him in the elections.
Also present at the dinner party was his former health minister, Mr. Sirisena, who made up his mind after hearings his boss boasting, to leave the ruling party and contest against him.
He was immediately branded a traitor by other party members but that bold and brave decision paid off when he won the presidential elections, which took place on Thursday.
The lesson Nigerian politicians should learn from Sri Lanka is that in these days of improved telecommunication technology and social media interactions it is increasingly difficult for an incumbent leader to perpetuate himself in power by rigging the elections.
The world is becoming too exposed for that to continue happening.