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Stop propaganda of blood and death

Stop propaganda of blood and death

By Bayo Fasunwon

The elders have a saying that he who owes, and promises to pay back the debt in twenty years should not go to sleep. Sooner than he expects, twenty years would be, tomorrow. Now Nigerians can heave a sigh of relief. The 2019 Presidential and national legislative elections have held in all the 36 States of the country after the hullaballoo that greeted its initial postponement. Many were skeptical on the readiness of INEC to conduct the election within a week of postponement, given the myriads of problems that necessitated its earlier postponement. However, INEC proved the pundits wrong, and proved once again to generations alive, and the unborn that once there is a will, there will always be a way.

Beyond the fact that the elections eventually held, preliminary reports is a great distance from the prophecies of woes, tears, and blood that ushered in the election. Personally, I was expecting the election to go the way of 2003 ‘do or die’ alarmists, but thank God, that such was not the case. This does not in any way gloss over the pockets of violence that marred the elections in Rivers, Lagos, and some parts of Nigeria. The violence recorded was lesser than the expected. My heartfelt condolences go to the family whose relations lost their lives or limbs in the fracas that took place in various parts of the country. Nevertheless, the question that keeps nagging my mind, forcing me into vigil is that, should we die to be led?

Propaganda is one of the instruments of wooing voters during the electioneering processes. The truth about propaganda is that it is nothing but exaggeration of the facts. Facts are twisted, lies are mixed with little truths, and false conclusions are derived from accurate premises. These, are all in a bid to give a dog a bad name, in order to slaughter it. The social media and campaign grounds were platforms of hate speeches, war songs, weapons testing and defamation of character. Both the young and old were incited and provoked to violence and elections were presented as warfare. All these were done under the guise of propaganda.

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The fake news, photoshopped pictures, and edited videos had programmed the heart of victims towards bloodletting. Natural laws were countered harmless prayer points became suspects while a praise song suddenly became an incitement to violence. Of a truth, when there is a quarrel, every song becomes a proverb. The propaganda that heralded the elections went too far. The President’s advice to his party members that all ballot snatchers would be ruthlessly dealt with became a national debate of whether or not the President had issued a blank cheque to security operatives to shoot voters at sight. However, preliminary reports show that no ballot box snatcher was shot at by any military personnel. On the contrary, some were arrested, as directed by the electoral act, while unfortunately the mob of voters took laws into their own hands and burnt one ballot box robber to death in jungle justice. If national elections could be so dastard, one could only wonder how the Gubernatorial and State Assembly elections would be. All stakeholders and security personnel must step up their game to nip violent acts in the bud in subsequent scheduled and re-scheduled elections.  The violence so witnessed in this election is the outcome of evil propaganda, and this must be stopped in subsequent elections. 

Unfortunately, this evil trend subsists even after the elections. Facebook and other social media platforms are filled with unofficial results of the just concluded elections, contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act. Each ‘poster’ insists that their election posts are authentic, and their favourite party is winning. The publication of these fake results is a criminal act and must incur the wrath of the law.  Same pictures of violent acts are ascribed to different political parties as perpetrators. On investigation, some of these pictures were taken as far back as 2007 and 2015. What a dangerous trend!

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Right now, different groups and parties are alleging each other of plans to scuttle the collation processes. It is also sad to note, that a party is claiming victory in 22 States and asking the other to concede defeat in an election whose results may not come until Wednesday. Haba! Death is not a respecter of political parties. Those who post such inciting and barbaric lies ought to be arrested, and arraigned immediately for premeditated murder charges, lest they set the nation on fire and contribute to the death of many innocent souls.  Nigerians should be wary of these dangerous elements and await INEC’s official results, lest the nation’s light goes into extreme darkness. The results being posted is done so that if the real results are declared by INEC, the gullible could be incited to violence.

However, I salute the courage of Nigerians who did not yield to the various propagandas, but came out massively to cast their votes for their preferred candidates. Preliminary reports seem to corroborate the fact that there were reduced acts of vote selling in many parts of the country. This shows that the nation is on the path to recovery. Those who cast their votes shunning intimidations, and gloom predictions of blood are the true heroes of Nigeria’s democracy. The more Nigerians exercise their voting rights, the less would be the emergence and reign of tyranny in the land. In addition, to the faithful, none compromising and non-interfering security agents who followed the rules of engagement and therefore contributed to the free and fair polls, Nigeria would profit you. However, for their counterparts who yielded themselves to the lure of filthy lucre, and became instruments of marred elections, the law must take its due course. INEC must be bold enough to demand for the arrest and prosecution of electoral criminals to deter future delinquents.

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At the polling booths where I voted and others I visited, the INEC staffs were wonderful. The youth corpers and other staffs showed largely that they were not only well trained but also psychologically prepared for this election. They were cautious, courteous, humble, and helpful. As far as I am concerned, INEC did a fantastic job. However, the picture of Lekki voters contrasted greatly from all the polling units here. Voters complained bitterly of the absence of canopies or any form of shelters from the sun and rain. In addition to this, there were areas where the INEC staffs could not get tables for their smooth operations. INEC should in subsequent elections, treat its staff and voters with all sense of human respect and dignity. INEC’s budget must include collaborative efforts with all the local governments, in order to reduce the stress and trauma associated the voting procedures. The simultaneous accreditation and voting however is a commendable innovation and helped in no small way to reduce the time and stress of voting. This procedure alone contributed in no small way to the perceived increase in voters’ turnout in many areas. It is also advised that INEC should create more polling units in subsequent elections. The population of eligible voters in the country increases within the four-year period. This increase also signifies that many Nigerians would have moved to newly developed areas, but remote areas in the State. The inhabitants of these areas often find it difficult (giving the movement restrictions) moving to the nearest places of registration to cast their votes.

On a final note, I implore INEC to finish well. We all await Wednesday’s declaration with hope. For the Politicians, there will be losers and winners. However, no Nigerian life is worth to be lost for the sake of any of these politicians. They must desist and prevail on their pawns to desist from selfish and evil propaganda. They must exercise patience and await the election results. In addition to that, if the election results are not favourable, they can either accept defeat or seek redress in court.

God bless the good people of Nigeria.

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