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2019 polls: The need for violence free exercise

The 2019 election many have predicted will be a water shed in the political annals of the Nigerian nation and indeed the book makers are already being proved right, especially with recent developments across political parties with regards to campaigns and all the accompanying violence at campaign grounds of the various political parties. Many bodies, both local and international have predicted that the election was going to be marred with violence of high proportion, though many people doubted it because similar predictions were made for the 2015 elections, but it went largely well without much negative result, even when an opposition political party for the first time in the nation’s history won election at the national level, making power to transit from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC). However, development especially within the APC from the time of the party primary has not had much to cheer about as most of its primaries were marred by varied kind of violence, and to some extent the violence and squabbles that greeted the party primary is still very much alive in many branches of the party. Even more worrisome is recent developments at various campaign rallies of the political parties, again with particular reference to the APC, as many of its rallies have been marred by violence of various degree even with loss of lives in some instances. For example, during the flag-off of the APC campaign in Lagos State with a mega rally at the Skypower Ground, G.R.A, Ikeja, on Tuesday, January 8, 2019, three persons were feared killed and scores injured including journalists, as hoodlums suspected to be members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), invaded the campaign flag-off. When the dust cleared a popular officer of the NURTW in the state, Musiliu Akinsanya, popularly called, “MC Oluomo,” was attacked and stabbed by a member of a rival group. The hoodlums invaded the venue with guns, daggers and other dangerous weapons, engaging one another in a bloody factional fight. The campaign, however, ended abruptly as violence broke out mid-way into the well-attended programme. Also in Lagos State a few days later, during its door-to door campaign rally in old Alimosho Local Government area of the state, a female supporter of the APC, was allegedly hacked to death in a violence that ensued. The rally was organised by party leaders in the area, Egbe-idimu Local Council Development Area, LCDA, led by Alhaji Abdullai Enilolobo to canvass support and votes for President Muhamnadu Buhari’s re-election bid and for all other APC candidates in the area. At the rally last week Thursday, some yet to be identified cult group members were alleged to have attacked another rival group over sharing of money, and in the process, the victim simply, identified as Rashidat, from Isheri-Olofin area was stabbed repeatedly, before she later gave up the ghost. In another city, a rally organised on Saturday by the APC at the Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri, the Imo State capital suffered a crisis. Reports had it that supporters of the party’s governorship candidate in the state, Sen. Hope Uzodinma, and those of his Action Alliance (AA) counterpart, Mr Uche Nwosu, engaged in a fight at the APC women and youths rally. Supporters of Nwosu were chanting victory songs and raising his posters in the air when the clash began. Security operatives, however, intervened, shooting sporadically in the air while warding off the VIP stand where Wife of the Vice President, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo, who represented Wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, Aisha, was seated alongside other dignitaries. The Owerri crisis some political watchers have said is not unconnected to the heat generated by the confrontations between the leadership of the APC and the Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha recently when President Buhari took his campaign to the South East state, over who between the AA and the APC candidate should enjoy the endorsement of the President, with the President at the end telling the people to vote their conscience. Also in Oyo State, no fewer than two people died in a bloody clash between suspected political hoodlums at an APC campaign rally in Igboora area of the state. According to reports, the incident occurred immediately after the rally held at the old motor park in Igboora on Saturday evening. The campaign train led by Governor Abiola Ajimobi, had commenced with a road show from Lanlate through Igboora, Idere, Ayete, Tapa and Igangan before the rallies at Igboora, Eruwa and Omi-Adio. The rally was said to be initially peaceful with the governor and the party’s governorship candidate, Chief Adebayo Adelabu, acknowledging cheers from supporters who had thronged the streets to show solidarity for the party. Trouble, however, started immediately after the rally in Igboora as suspected political hoodlums engaged in a bloody clash which left one dead. The reports added that another innocent resident, identified to be a younger brother to an APC leader in the community, was hit by a stray bullet and eventually gave up the ghost. Eyewitnesses said some suspected hoodlums had accosted the APC governorship candidate to demand for money but were blocked by another group of hoodlums. This, witnesses said, resulted in heated arguments which later led to the free for all. While this is just a handful of the crisis across the various states of the nation with regards to crisis resulting from campaign rallies, even as crisis is still brewing in many states like Kano, Bauchi and many others, the question on the lips of well meaning Nigerians is to what extent can the crisis benefit those involved. While we cannot deny the fact that crisis and political rallies are like Siamese twins, especially in this part of the world, the question is must it be so? What is the benefit of crisis in political rallies and who are the beneficiaries. If truth be told, many of those who engage in political violence are those who really have no serious stake in the contest, as politicians are in the habit of paying peanuts to political thugs to engage themselves in violence and if possible kill one another, while their children most of whom are abroad are shielded from the violence and being prepared to step into their shoes. We believe that there is no political ambition of anyone that is worth the blood of anybody and no one seeking political office is worth dying for. Everyone, especially the youths who are mostly the target to be used for violence needs to understand that they have a future ahead of them and with time and a little effort they will step into their glorious future. But if you allow yourself to be used by political office seeker, you may never see that future that you desire. Note that the children of the politicians are not better than you. Think first of yourself and know that your future and that of the nation is in your hands, don’t waste it.

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