This Looming Pre-Election Violence

By Ikenga Chronicles January 14, 2019

This Looming Pre-Election Violence

–Abdullah Abdulganiy,

Again, it is that time of every four years in Nigeria when the polity is heated. Barely few days to the general election, the phenomenon of pre-electoral violence is recurring, and at a very alarming rate. This is definitely not the way to go. This has again brought to the fore the negativity of our political culture in Nigeria. This is not too good for a democracy gasping heavily for breath. One just needs to ask why our politicians cannot do without instigating violence prior to electioneering period.

It is few days to election, campaigns have become more pronounced. Well, this should not catch one who is versed with how things work in the Nigerian political terrain, unawares. Campaign is fundamental and essential in every democracy. In fact, modern democracies cannot divorce campaigns from their democratic endeavors. By it, the people tend to understand what the aspirants have in store for them, and thus separate the wheat from the chaff. It will however be undemocratic to see campaigns marred by violence. It speaks to how undemocratic our democracy is.

News have been flying around as to how several campaigns have been marred by attacks. In Ogun State, an APC rally was reportedly halted by violent attacks unleashed at the teeming members and the gubernatorial candidate, Mr Dapo Abiodun, allegedly by hoodlums sponsored by the opposition. The case of Kwara is more spectacular. Allegations have been coming from both sides of the political divides (PDP and APC). For instance, the APC embarked on a rally at the tail of last week. The rally did not endure as it was allegedly marred by thugs of the main opposition party. The PDP, trust it, had debunked the claim of the APC and had been presenting itself as the main victim of the attack.

Obviously, the two parties cannot be telling the lie and the truth at the same time. We objective observers have been thrown into a state of confusion as the PDP national leader, Dr Bukola Saraki, was seen paying visit to the acclaimed victims of the dastard attack. The APC would also not admit guilt. Mr Otoge himself, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq was spotted in Ilorin general hospital sympathizing with whom were said to be victims of the same attack. Puzzling.

Robert Evans said that there are always three sides to every story: your side, my side and the truth. The truth of the matter is that the members of a party started the attack, and those of the other party went for a reprisal attack resulting in casualties ON BOTH SIDES. Sadly, in all these, the masses were at the receiving end. Saraki is still very much hale and hearty. Abdulrasaq won’t lose sleep because of the development. But there you are groaning in severe pains on your sickbed. Shame.

I may be wrong, but I cannot go on a rally with a politician or a political party. When pandemonium erupts, the one we risked our lives for will be flown away instantly, and there we are at the mercy of God. You wouldn’t find their children in the rally. How is that possible while they are abroad studying? Even, when they attend the rally, they will be in a car guarded by four to six police officers. Of course, we all deserve to be treated equally. Or is there a crime in being an ordinary citizen? We all are entitled to maximum security.

At this juncture, one may be forced to ask what the duty of the Nigerian police is. Enough of running after armless citizens, the armed ones who unleash terror are on rampage. About two to three of my facebook friends had suggested that political rallies be stopped for the main time. But is that the way to go? In a country that has police force. Not too good. However, when we take a critical look at the hopelessness of the Nigerian police today, we may be left with no choice than to side with them.

As an aside: I was in a central mosque last week. Then the cacophony of noise coming from the female side made everyone picked race. What came to virtually everyone’s mind must have been Boko Haram with the manner at which people scampered for safety. How this connects? The men of the Anti-Bomb squad assigned to this central mosque too were on their heels surprisingly. Afterwards, we came to realize that it was a lizard that had pursued our sisters from the mosque. Ludicrous. This is how hapless the situation is. I had wanted to suggest that policemen should always monitor political campaigns and rallies. But I later shrugged that off. Hapless indeed.

  • Abdullah is of the better-by-far University of Ilorin