EDITORIAL: This spate of election malpractices and violence must stop
On March 23, 2019 Nigerians in their numbers trooped out to cast their votes for candidates in the gubernatorial and various Houses of Assembly election in 29 states of the 36 states of the country. The election was the second phase of the 2019 general elections. The first phase, Presidential and National Assembly elections and the second phase, governorship and states assembly elections had its own share of bloodletting, a regular but unfortunate occurrence in Nigeria’s elections since the beginning of the fourth republic. Apart from its fatal characteristics, elections in Nigeria are far from perfect. This development is nothing but worrisome.
According to the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, 58 persons were killed in relation to the 2019 general election across the country. There were reported cases of fatality in Rivers, Oyo, Plateau, Enugu and some other states across the country.
More like Nigeria drifting back to the dark ages of election violence that characterized the first republic and early elections in the country, an election observer lost his life during the governorship and state assembly elections in Enugu state while a House of Representatives member was also shot dead in Ibadan, Oyo state.
The election observer was killed in Enugu, during the course of the election while some youths were protesting the commencement of the election. He was hit by a stray bullet from a police officer’s gun fired to disperse the youths.
A serving House of Representatives member, Temitope Olatoye died from bullet wound he suffered in the head, thanks to political thugs in Lalupon area of Ibadan in Oyo state. He eventually died at the Intensive care Unit of the University College Hospital (UCH).
Apart from the fatal experience of the 2019 general elections, vote buying, ballot snatching, thuggery and arson characterized the election. Osun, Ekiti, Bauchi Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau, Kwara, Zamfara, Kebbi and Oyo recorded vote buying practices.
In fact, a governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in Benue state and another candidate of the Allied Peoples Movement in Ogun state were indicted in vote buying allegations.
IMPACT NEWS categorically frowns at these developments at this stage of our democratic experimentation. While as a country with nascent democracy we have been able to develop our electoral process with the introduction of Smart Card Readers that has reduced vote manipulation, it is however disheartening that insecurity continued to be a reoccurring decimal in our electoral process. The new negative development of vote buying is one issue that should be totally kicked against by the government and all stakeholders.
It is shameful that politicians who cannot survive in another atmosphere apart from politics would go any length to foist their will on the people. They are the harbinger of horror and violence recorded in every parts of the country especially in the southern part of Nigeria that was the epicenter of bloodshed in the 2019 general election.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) also shares in this blame. As the body charged with conducting not just election but a peaceful, free and fair election in the country, adequate measures should have been put in place to mitigate issues like vote buying and ballot box snatching. The inability of the electoral umpire to fast-tract the announcement of winners of various elections provided a huge gap for vote manipulation that could generate suspicion and unrest and eventually violence. The national 9th assembly and the presidency must cordially work together to fashion out electoral laws that will nip in the bud the already identified electoral menace.
As a media organisation we serve as the voice of the people and the conscience of government. We charge politicians and all those aspiring to lead this great nation in any capacity to always have it at the back of their mind that power belongs to God and he dispenses it to whomever He pleases. They should never forget that God rules in the affairs of men.
Political leaders and religious leaders must ensure that they desist from inflammatory speeches that could set the country on the path of bloodletting. The case of political office holders issuing threatening statements to election observers does not portray the country in a good light. Politicians should desist from inciting ethnic and hate speeches.
Politicians must have it at the back of their mind that they are elected to serve and not to lord as they have generally misconstrued the purpose of office. If it is the will of the people for a party representative to represent them in public offices, politicians should respect that wish, even if they have it on all authority that the electorates are making a wrong choice. Politicians should desist from mixing their ego trip with power of the vote and will of Nigerians.
Read Similar Posts:
- IGP says undercover operatives will disrupt vote buying in 2019 election
- Buhari refusal to sign Electoral Bill; Governor Wike reacts
- Massive voting key to checkmate rigging – Cleric
- Editorial: Tackling voters apathy, a challenge for all
- Guber poll: EFCC tasks NSCDC on partnership against vote buying