Preventing violence in Edo governorship election



Two men shaped by different ideologies are vying to occupy Edo State Government House, Benin in two weeks from now.


For Governor Godwin Obaseki, it’s now all about self-preservation as he grip on the governorship seat like a baby monkey griping his mother in the jungle. He is consolidating on the work he has done in his first term and he is counting on the support of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) faithful led by the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike.


For Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, he is rolling out the laudable things he will do for the people of “the heartbeat of the nation.”


His chances are bulging like the bald eagle ready to grasp its prey. With the backing of the dogged former national chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the contest can only be described as too close to call. Both have considered themselves as crusaders of peace, however, both candidates seem to be engulfed in a    fierce race.


A situation where billboards of both candidates are dismembered by unknown men, campaigns are distorted by cascading guns, the war of words is pouring down like a torrent rain. The ordinary citizens are asking who will mend the cracks of violence let loose in Edo come September 19?


The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEEC) has warned that the fierce political tension brewing like a fresh burukutu in Edo ahead of September 19 governorship poll may lead to a declaration of a state of emergency in the state if not carefully managed.


This warning came through the INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr. Festus Okoye, during the interaction in Benin. He pleaded with both parties’ gladiators and their supporters to play by the rules of the game.


There was an allegation by the PDP through a press conference by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, that they are aware of plots to design fake military, police and other security agencies’ uniforms for APC thugs with a view to using them to unleash violence and clamp down on traditional, faith-based and community leaders in Edo State on trumped-up charges, but these are unproven allegations.


Not too long ago, there was an ugly situation when thugs loyal to the governor‘ s party, the PDP, and those of their rivals, the APC, clashed at the precincts of the Oba of Benin’s palace, leading to injuries and destruction of vehicles.


Ostensibly there is a growing feeling of brutality; some are hatching conspiracies like agric-hen hatches eggs while others are weaving webs of violence like spiders weave their net, the win at all cost attitude, the youth are easy tools used for this act.


Some youths are ready to unleash potent energy of coiled springs of violence, no one can bet that tear gas shells will not rain down on the recalcitrant thugs – who will choke and gasp for air if not more fatal.


They should remember they have only one life to live. They should not pay with their lives; they still have years ahead of them to make their lives successful. No matter how bad they think things are in their lives, someone else has it worse. Appropriately, election time is the time for voters to vote for a candidate of their choice. A time where who wins is determined by his antecedents.


Less than a few days to the decisive vote, frantic attempts are made to sway voters to their side but it should be done at the ambit of the law. With the clock ticking, politicians know that this is the time to hit the iron when it’s red hot, deadlines in politics always work miracles in the 11th hour.


Regardless of the seemingly contradictory positions in terms of approach to security issues in the state, the Police force and other related agents must be on guard to protect innocent citizens.


Election is not war, and ordinary citizens of Edo State don’t want to see clouds of billowing black smoke or the raining down of bullets come September 19. A cloud of violence is hanging over Edo 2020 polls like the sword of Damocles, but our security operatives must mend the crack that might mar a free, fair and credible election.


• Anjorin contributes this piece from Lagos via olusanyaanjorin@ gmail.com


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