By Bisi Olominu
Four months to the general elections, various signs hovering over the nation have become great threats to the elections. The Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen killings, defection of politicians, votes buying and selling have become more ferocious in the country.
As the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is planning to hold a free, fair and acceptable elections, rancorous parties primaries is making Nigerians to be having deep thought of what would become of 2019 elections.
Nigerians have reasons to be genuinely worrisome because of the Boko Haram menace as Boko Haram is becoming more ferocious, as they recently killed two health workers and threatened to kill more. The dissenting clique boldness to confront the power that be in the last six or seven years has put the coming elections under a great threat.
Despite assurance from the federal government that the sect have been demobilised and incapacitated, the group had by 2017 killed over 100,000 people according to the Governor of Bornu State, Ibrahim Shettima, and over 2.5 million people have been displaced internally.
Boko Haram reportedly controlled 27 local government areas in Bornu, Yobe and Adamawa States, and its atrocities features slaughtering innocent souls, burning of communities, rape and mass kidnapping of girls, boys, women and children, the capture of 275 Chibok girls and 110 Dapchi schoolgirls in 2014 and 2018 respectively.
The emergence of this sect has become an albatross to the coming election in the affected states as many will be disenfranchised.
In addition to this is the herdsmen killings in the states of Taraba, Benue, Adamawa and Plateau where innocent souls were slaughtered on daily basis. It is disheartening that just some months to the elections, relative peace has not been totally restored to the affected states.
Another threat to the coming election is the gale of defection by politicians and carpet crossing to parties where their aspirations could be realised. Although defection is democracy in action, but where it does not conform to the electoral law, it becomes a threat. Defection of politicians in the Western Region between 1965 and 66 led to the collapse of that republic. Also was the defection in Ondo State in 1983 which led to the end of that republic.
The recent parties’ primaries have raised the tension to a great height. Most of the parties are yet to meet the deadline set by INEC, while in Nasarawa State, the electoral umpire had said that APC would not participate in the coming elections for inability to conduct primaries, but the party countered that it would produce candidates in the state, thereby creating tension.
Vote buying and selling have entered the political dictionary of the country. Voting is now to the highest bidders as conscience has been mortgaged and both sellers and buyers ready to go to any length to sell their conscience.
Tension has indeed gripped the nation as the political parties prepare for next year’s general elections.
The United States Institute of Peace, USIP, has warned that there is high risk of violence among contending forces in the build up to, during and after the 2019 general elections in Nigeria.
This warning, which came in the report of a research conducted by the institute and published on its website, revealed that going by historical record of elections in Nigeria and the current trend of political events, there’s the likelihood that the country may witness electoral violence in 2019.
“Nigeria’s history of electoral violence is, for many, an unfortunately accepted fact of life and cannot be viewed in isolation from the many social and economic inequalities, ethnic and religious divisions, and structural weakness such as corruption and weak state capacity.
“While many conventional risks of election violence endure, including the willingness or not of candidates to accept the results, the use and abuse of state power to unfairly favour incumbents, and the ease with which young people can be mobilised towards violence, a simplicity narrative that violence is ever present and inevitable obscures important contextual changes in Nigeria since 2015. Despite the risks, serious violence in 2019 is not inevitable, even if that possibility seems great “,the report said.
In 2015, the report recalled, expectation of widespread violence were largely unrealised because the then incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan peacefully conceded defeat and INEC was viewed as having organised a successful, credible election”.
However the report said, the coming elections might not present exactly the same scenarios as social and economic inequalities, ethnic and religious divisions and structural weaknesses, such as corruption and weak state capacity, remain prevalent across Nigeria and may contribute to the risk of electoral violence.
“Other important factors contributing to the risks of electoral violence have evolved since 2015, including changing forms of insecurity and the prominence of dispute within, rather than between, the political parties.
Grievances or violence arising from primaries may also have significant consequences for national election. Some respondents were of the opinions that there would be sufficient disappointment, that there would be voter apathy in 2019 more than in 2015.
But the Publicity Secretary of Peoples Democratic Party PDP, in Ondo State, Mr. Ayo Fadaka was of the opinion that violence will not mar next year’s elections.
” I don’t foresee any threat, though there have been some issues and lots of arguments, but the coming election will be centred on issues. There will be issues on insecurity and the economy.
“In the last two years, it has been tough and rough for Nigerians. Feeding has been extremely difficult for some, inflation has been on the high side, the purchasing power of the people has been down. “Despite these, Nigerians desire peace and what will be the central piece of the election is what the two leading parties want to offer the people”
Ayo Fadaka said the campaign of PDP will be issue based and what the party wants to offer Nigerians will be the party’s vocal point.
The Publicity Secretary of All Progressives Congress, APC, Mr. Steve Otaloro shared similar view, saying that the 2019 polls will be free, fair and credible.
“I don’t foresee any violence before, during and after the election. What I foresee could cause problem before, the issue of technology in election has been rectified by the National Assembly.
“My major appeal goes to the members and leaders of the major parties to be weary of violence. Election will go on smoothly. Since the leading parties candidates are Northerners, I know that President Mohammadu Buhari will coast home to victory based on his popularity.
“The International Communities will not allow someone under their watch to be the President of the most populous black nation in the world, they will laugh at us.
“Many predicted that crisis would engulf the 2015 elections but nothing happened, a president emerged. No tension in the land. Nigerians are articulate people; there will be hitch free election. The present political temperature in the country does not reveal or foresee violence”.
In his contributions, the Secretary General of pan- Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Bashorun Seinde Arogbofa advised INEC to be a just and unbiased umpire in the coming elections.
He said that the body should have transparent results management, staffing reforms and should be faired to all parties.
Bashorun Arogbofa said if INEC can put its house in order, the elections would go on peacefully without any violence.