With Joke Adeniyi-Jackson
The fierce looking youths numbering about eight stormed one of the polling units in Adewole Ward in Ilorin East Local Government Area of Kwara State at about 10am last Saturday.
Their appearance gave them away as hoodlums. In husky voice, they vowed to unleash violence if certain conditions were not met as regards the election. There was pin drop silence as they issued terse threats, which went unchallenged despite security presence.
Their unbecoming conduct made many at the polling unit cringe with fear. It was also learnt that some people who were at various polling units to exercise their franchise in parts of the state had similar experience with hoodlums. The trepidation by the voters may not be unconnected with the ugly incidence that preceded the Saturday poll. On the eve of the November 18, Local Government Election Lafiagi, the house belonging to Senator Shaaba Lafiagi in Lafiagi in Edu Local Government Area of the state, was razed by angry youths. The development came on the heels of the killing of three protesters by security men attached to the ex-governor of the state. Many others were reportedly injured in the melee. The youth were said to have attempted to stop the lawmaker representing the Kwara North Senatorial District from entering the town on Friday night when the incident happened. So, also Tension ran high in some places visited on the Election Day within the metropolis while the voting process was on. It is quite unfortunate that election that should be embraced as one of the important processes that strengthen democratic institutions and facilitate peaceful transition of power is seen as a do-or-die affair by some people, who feel violence is the sure fire way to win elections . They resort to the use of threat, verbal intimidation, hate speech and physical assault as means to their end.
This development is a sad narrative in Kwara politics. The politics of bitterness is fast taking root and must be nipped in the bud for peace and development to thrive in the state of harmony. It is disheartening that politics is tearing apart closely knitted Kwara communities, where the people coexisted in harmony. The people of Ilorin Emirate in particular were hitherto known for cordial community relations but politics has over time created a gapping faultline threatening the oneness of the people. It is a community where everybody knew every other person’s name and every family is somewhat linked genealogically. But sadly, these brothers turn against each other in the name of politics, thus eroding the togetherness that characterised the emirate.
The Saturday Lafiagi mayhem cannot be forgotten in a hurry; it will take a long time to wipe away the memories of the ugly incident by people of the community like a a festering wound that will take a long time to heal. This will no doubt erode community relations among the affected Nupe people.
Unarguably, politics of hatred and bitterness is an ill wind that blows no one any good. It undermines development and stability in the political sector. Everyone cannot be in the same political party or hold same political ideology, therefore this should not be fulcrum of politics of bitterness/hatred. In this clime, political opponents take delight in smear game, mudslinging and hate speech among other acts at depraving reputation of political rivals. Whereas, the essence of politics is to boost and enhance development in our society as well as promote peace and unity.
However, now that the LG polls have come and gone, parties must eschew bitterness while political opponents should close ranks and work together towards developing their respective local governments. Those who lost out in the election should not for that reason nurse hatred towards their opponents, they should show spirit of sportsmanship by accepting their fate. They should recognise the fact that it is God that gives power to whomever He chooses at any given time. Therefore, in the interest of development of their respective local governments, politicians irrespective of party affiliation, must support those saddled with the responsibility of running affairs of the local councils to provide purposeful governance. More than ever before, there are high expectations of good governance at the grassroots. So, the chairman- elects should endeavour to run all inclusive government in the interest of development.
All Kwarans irrespective of political leaning must learn to live in peace and shun bitterness, hatred and divisive tendencies for the state to make progress. The peace and development of the state is unnegotiable.