Curbing electoral violence in Nigeria

From Agboola Fesobi, Owo
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Electoral violence in Nigeria put paid to the end of the first republic, as violence erupted in the Western Region and spread to other areas.  The military saw the wanton disruption and took over the reign of government.  In the third republic, violence was the order of the day after an election in Ondo State, and it spread to other states in the Federation.

In a jiffy, the military intervened.  Ever since, our politicians are yet to learn their lesson.  During campaigns, they unleashed mayhem on their opponent and supporters.

Research has shown that both local and international community attention is now focused on inclusive approach to prevent violence, conflicts, in the coming elections.

In an interview with a don of political science from Achievers University, Owo, Dr Sherif Ajiteru, going historical said that the pattern of Nigeria politics has not been without violence because the players of the game are not playing it according to the laid down rules and regulations.

“Primarily elections are established to usher in good governance with effective managers, at times, petty and post elections process can spur widespread political violence especially in a fragile democracy in Nigeria,” he declared.

Dr Ajiteru was of the opinion that in Nigeria, the issue of electoral violence is inevitable but there can be some mechanism to check mate it.

He suggested that the tradition or culture of ‘do or die syndrome’ must be totally discouraged in our political system, thereby giving room for competent leadership at the helm of affairs.

According to him, Nigeria must embrace and adopt western model of democracy which culminates to the new trend of globalization.

“We must avoid Godfatherism trend that is killing or making our political system not to function as expected. What is seen today where a certain political leader echoed that no matter the level of any individual corruption once you join his party your sins are forgiven should be discouraged.

“As at today, because of the ineptitude characters of our leaders where impunity has ravaged our country, it has portrayed us in bad light in the comity of nations where democracy is striving.

“Since 1999 when Nigeria began the journey to democratic rule there has not been a template or if there is, our leaders are not keeping to it.

“One of the major factors that has trigger electoral violence is when the political actor action or inaction is presumed shortchange, where there are irregularities and electoral malpractices.

“The developed democracy is not totally devoid of electoral malpractices but it’s not to a large extent compared to what is obtainable in the third world countries.”

“The issues of intra -party affairs among political elites sometimes erupt to violence which affects the credibility of our electoral system.

“The democracy we practice in Nigeria if properly annexed by the principle of the rules of law, the nation to a large extent will benefit from it, the magnitude of violence and rigging associated with elections in Nigeria have assumed alarming proportion that urgent solutions must be proffered to them.

“Education and re-orientating the electorate have been discovered to be major weapon to curb the ugly trends if the nation hard fought democracy is to be sustained.

“Curbing electoral violence goes beyond organizing a free, fair and credible election, even peaceful election is not a guaranty for democracy quality while free and fair election is not a guaranty for election security.

“The 2011 election in Nigeria illustrated the paradox that things can be fixed properly even if there are hitches somehow.

“Preventive measures can be taken by local authorities, as they are the closest to the people, political party, local media and domestic NGOs, the security agencies should be properly trained to arrest perpetrators of electoral violence.”

Also speaking, a National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) officer, Mr Bode Taiwo opined that if all the security apparatus are well equipped in terms of both mental and human resources there can be a way forward to curb the ugly menace.

He advised government at all levels to give maximum attention to funding the security agencies, so that, they can withstand all aggression from all quarters, including training and retraining of the personnel.

He also suggested the independent of the electoral umpire, urging politicians to desist from influencing the outcome of elections.

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