Following the guidelines released the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 2019 presidential polls of which campaigns started in earnest penultimate week, with the major political parties are no doubt jostling to sell themselves and their presidential candidate to the electorate. In the same vein, governorship and legislative aspirants will soon throw their hats into the ring, trying to woo voters to their candidature as opposed to their opponents. Indeed, the contests for the forthcoming general elections have accelerated significantly.
As the political parties and politicians battle for supremacy, a word of caution is in order here: the battle for self-promotion in order to win the electorate’s votes must be orderly, lawful and peaceful. Extra-legal means such as resort to thugery, arson, murder, hate speech and slander should not be resorted to. In fact, we dare say without fear of contradiction that only self-centred politicians with little or nothing to offer in terms of service to the people and patriotism, resort to desperate measures in order to win at all costs and by all means.
This clarion call is particularly urgent in view of the serial violence that was unleashed on the land during and after the conduct of the congresses and primaries of the major political parties. Mayhem punctuated by destruction of properties, loss of limbs and lives reigned supreme from one part of the country to the other simply because some stakeholders were aggrieved with the outcome of the exercises. Only on Sunday 18th November a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) was gunned down by suspected hired killers in a crime believed to be a fallout of that party’s recent primaries.
Given that democracy is a game of numbers whereby the minority have their say while the majority have their way, it is lamentable that a must-win culture has been fostered on the land by gangs of desperate merchants masquerading as politicians. Otherwise, it is difficult to fathom why anyone who is vieing for a political post in order to supposedly serve the people will resort to self-help to extent of unleashing anarchy on the land.
To make the whole thing more macabre, more often than not it is usually our innocent compatriots who bear the brunt of such senseless lawlessness. If politicians could take their desperation and inordinate ambition to such a murderous extent just to have their way in party congress and primaries, no mortal need the prowess of a rocket scientist to know that the stake would be raised as preparation for the long awaited gather steam. This is why it is pertinent to admonish all and sundry to but law-abiding throughout this period of electioneering campaign on the other.
To begin with, INEC must educate the political parties and their candidates on the dos and don’ts of election campaigns. The consequence of breaching such rules and regulations should not only be spelt out in clear terms but be enforced without fear or favour whenever and wherever any breach occurs, regardless of whose ox may be gored. On their part, security agents should be duty-bound to not only be fair but be seen to be fair to all and sundry, regardless of whether they are opposition parties/candidates or not.
In the same vein, the print and electronic media alike must resist the temptation to dance to the tunes of certain interests. A situation whereby publicly funded radio and /or television stations are turned into the mouth piece of the party in power to the detriment of other parties, for example, must not be condoned. Political reporting must be sufficiently balanced to reflect our multiparty democracy and plurality of views.
Ahead of the 2015 general election the then president famously announced that his ambition was not worth the shedding of any Nigerian blood. Such a noble, patriotic attitude should encompass the ongoing campaign and forthcoming election. No iota of violence or bloodshed should be unleashed on defenseless Nigerians in the name of electioneering. Politicians with appétit for thuggery and violence should find their way to Simbisa Forest where the Boko Haram duel is being waged, so that the rest of us would be here to enjoy issue-based campaigns.