What 'Change' Means to Us in Nigeria

04/03/2015 05:37 pm ET | Updated Jun 03, 2015

We all know the famous saying "The only thing that is constant is change." We also know that to adapt we need to embrace and welcome change.

This was our reality recently. Nigeria is a paradox of greatness and challenges. Nigeria is known to the rest of the world for many things, the good (largest economy in Africa, our movies and having the happiest people) and the not-so-good. The recent news about Nigeria making the rounds is the one of our recent elections, we made change happen.

Up until now, the average Nigerian was not sure whether his or her vote really counts, wondered whether votes can actually make a difference or cause a change. Till this most recent elections majority of the nation had only heard about the idea of free, fair and violence-free elections.

We were not sure that it could really happen for us, which is why many were a little anxious. The whole Country seems to have been in slow motion waiting for the elections to hold. Many stocked up enough food and basics at home in case we were not able to get around. Some reacted by actually leaving the country for safer regions to return when things settled.

You might say this was a bit over the top, a bit dramatic surely. The anxiety was based on fear, you see most Nigerians were not sure that elections, the process of casting your votes to elect the leaders you want, can actually work the way it is supposed to.

A friend of mine remarked "I am surprised that we can actually go out the day after the nation made history without fear."

We went to the polls and cast our votes in free and fair elections. Though there are some allegations, these were not enough to mar the elections as being rigged. It was also violence-free, any blood shed is both unacceptable and unnecessary, but we did not have violence anywhere near the level feared.

Lastly the biggest of all, people watched the results unfold. We watched the results being collated slowly and painstakingly, to reduce any element of error. We all sat glued to our television screens and radios, social media was active with the #NigeriaDecides hashtag keeping conversation going. Suspense was high, we all watched and waited. Yes it seemed like this was working, votes were being counted, being collated and the system seemed to be working.

As the first day ran into the second, we started to get indications of which aspirant was in the lead. Election analysts were analyzing the technical details, such as the percentage required to win and updating us live. We were actually engaging like an intelligent people that we are, who deserve to be informed and updated on the unfolding outcome of our elections.

Young, old, Christian, Muslim, parent and child were all waiting for the outcome. What did most people want? they wanted God's will to be done, they wanted change, they wanted peace, they wanted zero violence, they wanted their votes to count.

Finally the moments for the final decision came, we were down to waiting for the results from the last state. As the results trickled in, it doused tension and apprehension. People excitedly watched and waited for this defining moment, it did appear that change was brewing. The whole family was talking, my young children were making commentary and had opinions as well.

We needed it as a country. We needed to learn and experience this. We needed to experience that our votes count and that we could vote to make a change. The results are in and #NigeriaDecided that we wanted another president from the one we had in power.

There are people still in shock that change happened! We were able to vote out the sitting president and guess what? The sky is still intact. Life is going on! And to top it off our outgoing president called the president elect to concede prior to official announcement of the results.

This was not a scene from Scandal or 24! This was real life and a new reality for Nigerians. We are suddenly in a new era, an era where the old are hopeful that things can actually change in their lifetime -- free and fair elections. A new era where our children and youths see how an election process is supposed to work. Can I repeat, it was largely violence-free, free and fair -- we do not take this for granted.

Our President is not leaving fighting and protesting, he has set the tone for how the transition must go. Peacefully! Nigerians have spoken, they have voted and their votes have counted. We have gotten the change we desire.

The next stage of course is for the new President, Vice President and leaders to come in and start to effect the change that we all so desperately need and are looking forward to. However most importantly is that we have a people who feel empowered. After all, one of the basic rights human beings should have is the ability to cast their vote and to expect that it will count.

So as we celebrate, we know that the road ahead of us is long. To create lasting change takes practice, patience and perseverance. To achieve anything in life, you must start by taking a step and continuing to move ahead.

We continue to do what we know how to do as a nation, what we did for this elections, we are a praying people. We will continue to pray for peace.

Change has come and it must be here to stay.

Yettty Williams, writes on her site at www.lagosmums.com ,follow her on twitter @lagosmums

CORRECTION: A previous version of this post incorrectly identified Nigeria as the largest economy in the world. It is the largest economy in Africa.