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From Prison to President, 44-year-old Bassirou Diomaye Faye, last week, was elected to become Senegal’s fifth president in a significant 54% poll victory over 18 other candidates that saw the country’s population jubilant and optimistic.

The former tax inspector who had held no prior political position, earned national popularity for standing in vehement rebellion to 62-year-old Macky Sall who ruled the nation for the past 12 years, failed in a third-term seeking attempt, and remained hell-bent on installing a stooge upon exit this April.

With over 39% of Senegalese living in poverty and expectant of a change to their economic status, here are some teachable lessons the rest of West Africa and indeed Nigeria can learn from Senegal elections.

Obedience to Law
Despite wielding executive powers with a high interest at stake, Senegalese President, Macky Sall’s, devout obedience to the March 6th ruling which demanded elections be held before the expiration of tenure against his personal wishes, marked a teachable moment for democracy and respect for rule of law in West Africa.

This is especially true for Nigeria where rule of law is increasingly disobeyed or coerced into perversion of justice through threat and bribery of justices.
Despite numerous evidence presented against the legitimacy of Tinubu’s identity, process to power, and choice of running mate who, many believe, holds strong affiliations to perpetrators of terrorism, the Nigerian courts meandered through the law to affirm a pyrrhic victory.

Votes that counted
Encomiums continually shower upon the Senegalese Election Management Body which stood in vehement support of the will of the people to deliver results reflective of voting patterns across the country.

Pleasant as it is, this outcome is a far cry from the recent electoral process in Nigeria where footage of snatched ballots, manipulated poll figures, wounded voters, underage and double voting, mass thumbprinting and the announcement of fake results were prevalent in many parts of the country, in an election fiercely manipulated by the ruling APC government.

The voice of youths
With over 60% of the nation’s population under the age of 25, Senegal’s choice of a youthful and vibrant president is no coincidence. At every turn, thousands of youths took to the streets to protest unfair laws that stifled the chances of their candidate. In Nigeria where 70% of its population is under the age of 30, votes for the most favoured presidential candidate for youths was heavily manipulated out of possible victory to secure a presidency for 72-year-old Tinubu.

A flicker of hope for ECOWAS
Since assuming presiding powers in July 2023, Nigeria’s President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has led the body on the brink to disintegration due to double standards in the enforcement of laws.

The body is routinely accused of condemning soldiers who seize power while turning a blind eye to civilian leaders and ruthless political parties who bend the constitution, bribe judges, deploy cronies and oppress opposition so as to claim or maintain power. Chatham refers to this as “constitutional coup.”

The US, the UK and the African Union have congratulated Faye on his victory, even as everyone observes Senegal’s transformation into an exemplary democracy for West Africa and the “giant of Africa”, Nigeria.

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