• Thursday, June 13, 2024
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Edo election: Caution as storm gathers and tempers rise

Edo election

Come September 19, 2020, the people of Edo State, South South Nigeria, will partake in an election to decide who becomes their next governor.

Though there are 14 other political parties in the fray, the contest is apparently between the two dominant political parties in the country, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) which have the incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki, and Osagie Ize-Iyamu as their flag-bearers respectively.

So far, almost a month to the election, the campaigns have not only reached fever-pitch level, but also become stormy with threats and counter-threats that are not only making tempers rise, but also sending frightening signals of what will be the nature and colour of the process and the eventual outcome.

Already the storm is gathering and what is playing out in Edo should be seen as a comic- tragedy that needs to be guarded seriously and cautiously so that it does not snow-ball into a conflagration that may consume not the contenders alone, but also innocent souls.

The language is that of war which shouldn’t be. The message is of violence which also should not be. Political actors, especially those appointed by their parties as campaign managers, are talking tough and threatening fire and brimstone forgetting that Edo and its good people will continue to exist after the election.

We urge caution and advise that, as obtains in civilised climes, contestation for political office should be done not in a theatre of war, but in a marketplace of ideas; it should not be about threats, nor violence as the chief protagonists are brandishing in the Edo circumstance.

Political campaigns should be issue-based and people-centred. For us, the September election should not be about personal or individual interests. It should be about Edo people. We advise that the people, their lives, interest and welfare should be the centre-piece of all contestations.

We, therefore, call on the political parties not to see the election as a do-or-die affair. They should conduct themselves in a manner that shows our democracy is maturing. Former President Goodluck Jonathan holds the view very strong that no politician’s ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian. We cannot agree more.

We also call on both the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security agencies to rise to the occasion. Nigeria has got sufficient electoral laws that guide the conduct of elections. We expect INEC to muster enough moral courage to wield its big stick against any party that runs afoul of these laws.

Festus Okoye, INEC’s Commissioner in charge of Voter Education, stated recently at a media programme that the commission would not hesitate to cancel any election that is marred by violence. That, for us, is the way to go and we hope this will be communicated to the contenders in the Edo election.

Security agencies should not offer themselves for sale. Utmost peace, safety of life and property in all nooks and crannies of Edo State should be their ultimate preoccupation now that electioneering campaigns are upbeat and also during the elections. They should not take sides for whatever reasons.

We are aware that, until recently, the government in Edo was APC. The governor’s defection to the PDP has made the government assume the spirit and character of the umbrella party, but the APC hawks still see it as their government. For that reason, keeping a grip on the levers of power is vital to the broom party, more so as its opponents in the PDP draw attention to their failings at the federal level.

Poverty has always played a major role in escalating violence during elections as it influences a great deal people’s behaviour, decisions and choices. We are therefore urging Edo people to look beyond money, conduct themselves with maturity, go out there and vote for whoever they think will put the interest of the people first.

We also urge the people not to be cowed but resist the strong and powerful politicians who will be leaving their states in peace and coming to cause trouble and confusion in Edo in the name of election. Such politicians are no friends of the people. They should be identified and resisted.