Election is central to any democratic system, it allows ordinary citizens to choose who leads or represents them in governing their state, it also serves as a check on political leaders in the sense that they have to periodically seek the mandate of the people to either continue in office if the people are satisfied with them, or be voted out of office when the people are dissatisfied with their performances. It is through elections that they exercise their sovereign power, election is the yardstick for measuring the maturity of a democracy.
A major cancer threatening our democracy is election violence. International Foundation For Electoral System (IFES) defined Electoral violence as “any act of threat of physical or psychological harm to a person or damage to property directly involved in an electoral process.” Political violence is one variant in the struggle for power in our democracy, since the return of democracy in Nigeria in 1999,the conduct of elections has been characterized by violence and wanton destruction of lives and properties,indeed electoral violence has caused division and stalemate in our developmental processes as a nation. _
If an election is characterized by violence it has the tendency of ushering a democracy into recession or eventual collapse, on the other hand a peaceful election enhances a democracy and consolidates a Nation. Democracy in Nigeria is being threatened by violence along ethnoreligious lines, politicians desperate to stay in power stoke the ethno-religious tension in Nigeria for political gains ahead of the 2015 elections. which poses a threat to Nigeria’s existence as a nation.
Nigeria is one of the must ethnically and religious diverse places on earth with more than 300 tribes it’s therefore vulnerable to electoral and all other types of violence, we must therefore as politicians, as stakeholders, as citizens uphold the highest of virtues in our daily manifestation in order to maintain a peaceful atmosphere at this fragile stage of our democracy,we must learn from history,the case of South Sudan,the Hutu-Tutsi massacre, the Arab spring uprising, all these people are not half as diverse as Nigeria is if violence were to break it would bring double the damage it inflicted on those places aforementioned._
It has become clear that some politicians either due to sentiment of ignorance are trying so hard to force this country into violence either by action or by making dangerous statements around ethno-religios lines,one governor was recorded referring to the opposition as “cockroaches”the word used by the Hutu against their Tutsi counterpart an incident that caused one of the worse massacres in human history claiming 800,000 lives, mostly innocent women and children._
One can’t help but notice the provocative actions taken by the incumbent PDP government to deliberately coerce Nigeria into violence to achieve their political gains,the scandalous comments made by the vice president about the APC being an Islamic party would have caused mayhem in this country,desperation has caused them to use these emotive sentiments to mobilize votes the only time this “sentiments” become serious issues is when they want to stay in power it seizes to count as soon as the electoral process ends. Another fundamental issue that would have caused chaos was the unprecedented polls shift,an action seen by many as provocative,a deliberate attempt to coerce the country into violence in order to earn whatever legitimacy the government needed to declare a state of emergency that will permit them to stay in power, a plan that didn’t see the dawn of the day.
In our present vigorous struggle for change, nothing strikes so much fear into the heart of these cabals and their agents than that of the masses responding to the call to apply our final form of resistance, but we most do it positively and peacefully, we must weigh the pros and cons, taking in the end an informed decision that will liberate us safely. Nigeria has lost enough lives to insecurity, our valiant men and women of the military who died honorably defending us, and the over 13,000 innocent people mostly women and children whose lives were consumed by these bloodthirsty madmen called BokoHaram.
As a country that went through a civil war, we all know the consequences of violence and what it inflicts to both the physical and mental state of a society. Beyond deaths and injuries, violence have serious lifelong scars physically and emotionally to the nation. Nigeria cannot revert to violent struggle,we must exercise patience and stay vigilant of all the daily manifestations of our democracy, we must organize ourselves in preparation of the inevitable future of our beloved country.
We all have roles to play in this great quest of salvaging this great Nation,as individuals,as public office holders,as NGOs,CBOs,FBOs and community leaders as political parties.we must ensure an unconditional respect for the rule of law,ensure respect for the principle of transparency in the electoral processes by the electoral umpire,this impending election must be free and fair. engage in anti-violence campaigns aimed at educating the masses on the inevitable damage of violent activities in this fragile nation, sensitization of security agents involved in the electoral process too must be embarked upon.
The future of this country depends solely on a peaceful and credible elections, injustice and peace cannot cohabit the same atmosphere, peace is in everyone’s best interest without peace there will be no country called Nigeria, without Nigeria there will be no country to call our own. Let peace reign