By Yemi Idris-Aduloju
Judging by antecedents, elections in Nigerians are often fraught with political intrigues and suspicions among stakeholders, which sometimes result in the disruption of peace if the issues involved are not properly defined and addressed.
Political pundits, therefore, note that adequate security should be provided in the lead-up to elections so as to ensure the security of the people’s lives and property as well as the credibility of the elections.
They underscore the need for all stakeholders to appreciate the need for peace and harmony in all political arrangements, while making peace the watchword in any elections.
This expectation comes to mind as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the timetable for the governorship election in Osun, as all the stakeholders, particularly members of political parties, ought to be reminded of their obligation to promote peace.
According to INEC’s timetable, the governorship election will hold on Aug. 9, while the citizens of Osun will join the rest of Nigerians for the presidential and National Assembly elections on Feb. 14, 2015.
Observers note that in the lead-up to elections, political activists often engage in different manoeuvres to shore up the popularity of their parties and their ideologies so as to garner the goodwill of the electorate.
They, however, observe that the major political parties in the state have been trading blames over reported cases of alleged misconduct before and during the voter registration which was conducted in the state between March 12 and March 17.
Observers also cite cases of violence in some parts of the state, pointing at the killing of an octogenarian and a PDP chieftain in Ile-Ife, Pa Taiwo Ogundele, during the voter registration.
Although Mr Ibrahim Maishanu, the Commissioner of Police in the state, debunked speculations that Ogundele’s killing was politically motivated; observers, nonetheless, insist that the killing at the time of registration elicits a lot of concern.
Sen. Iyiola Omisore, the PDP’s governorship candidate in Osun, who visited the deceased’s house to condole with his family, blamed the incident on a rival party and called on security agents to fish out the masterminds of the killing.
Nevertheless, analysts believe that political issues such as the alleged political assassination, if left unresolved, could breed violence which may mar the political process.
Therefore, Prof Attahiru Jega, the INEC Chairman, was at a stakeholders’ forum in Osogbo on Feb. 13 to sensitise political parties’ leaders, members and supporters to the need to promote peace before, during and after the election.
Jega particularly urged politicians to abide by the electoral law and refer all complaints to the appropriate quarters for adjudication, instead of taking the law into their own hands.
However, Amb. Rufus Akeju, INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner in Osun, allayed the fears of concerned citizens over the coming election.
He assured them that the commission would be firm, fair and forthright, while ensuring the credibility of the election.
Speaking on the security situation, Mr David Omojola, Assistant Inspector General, Zone 11, stressed that the security agents were quite aware of the trends in the political activities in Osun.
Omojola, who assured residents of the state that the governorship election would be peaceful and hitch-free, conveyed the preparedness of the police for all elections.
He reiterated that the police would take pragmatic measures to ensure peaceful, fair and credible elections in the country.
Going from the general to the specifics, the Osun State Police Command warned politicians in the state against any plan to foment trouble, adding that their activities should always be guided by the provisions of the Electoral Act.
Maishanu vowed that no stone would be left unturned in efforts to ensure security of the people’s lives and property before, during and after the governorship election.
These assurances notwithstanding, politicians underscore the need for all the security agencies to have solid, pragmatic plans and preparations for the election, even as political campaigns begin on May 11 across the state.
They, nonetheless, welcome the recent resolve of the PDP and APC – the two major political parties in the state — to eschew violence during and after the elections as a good development.
Mr Diran Odeyemi and Mr Kunle Oyatomi, spokespersons for PDP and APC respectively, said that the parties had agreed to sensitise their members and supporters to the importance of exhibiting good conduct during elections.
Odeyemi, the Director of Media and Strategy of PDP, said that apart from this, all stakeholders in the political process ought to make peace their watchword during the election.
He emphasised that peace was by all means an indispensable element in the evolution of quality leadership and sustainable democratic governance.
Besides, Oyatomi, APC’s Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy, gave the assurance that Gov. Rauf Aregbesola of Osun would always promote the rule of law.
He also urged political parties to make peace their watchword, while ensuring that their supporters exhibited a zero tolerance for trouble.
All the same, analysts insist that the focus of the people’s expectations was primarily on how to have a free, fair and credible election in Osun.
They insist the success of the election will be a litmus test for the general elections coming up across the country in 2015. (NAN