Liberal Mind

2019 electioneering Campaign is here, let’s do it with decorum


With Adetunji Ayobrown

I read with disdain and agony the sad news of campaign tragedy that occurred on 11th June 2018 in which one Mr Yemi Oyelere Abel, who was said to hail from Ogbomoso in Oyo state, met his untimely death while struggling to get his own share of the campaign freebies, small 2kg bag of semovita that was being shared by a politician as part of electioneering campaign in Ilorin. This sad and unfortunate incident happened along the Geri Alimi roundabout road towards the Saw Mill Bus Stop. Only God knows how many other places such and similar incidences are happening which are under-reported or not reported at all.
That this type of preventable disaster can happen in this century with the noise the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and other road marshals, including the Nigerian Police Force are making and subjecting motorists and other road users to on daily basis, leaves much to be desired. The question all well meaning Kwarans and myself inclusive, are asking is that are there no government agencies saddled with ensuring orderliness, securing lives and properties during electioneering campaigns and rallies? This chorused many other relevant tunes many are asking on seeing or hearing of this type of unfortunate campaign incidence.
It’s ok for political parties to go to the nook and crannies of the state singing what they want to do, what they cannot do and praising their individual parties while also condemning other parties in the process of towards wooing more electorate to their sides.
Now the 2019 election campaign season is here again and over 26 registered political parties have started one form or the other types of campaign for and against different policies of government in order to outsmart one another come next year when all Nigerians will cast their votes for candidates of their choice.
But a rather sad story was what happened in Ilorin when a political party was distributing semovita as part of ‘stomach infrastructure’ as part of its campaign strategy along the Geri Alimi road. A man who tried to get his own share of the semovita windfall miscalculated when he hung on the truck but unfortunately fell down and hit his head on the road divider and another on coming vehicle finished the job of sending the helpless soul to the great beyond…only God knows how many people the shock of this death will affect. The saddest  aspect of it is that the victim was said to be ‘capable’ enough to even give out same.
Yes, political campaign and rally is a necessity since Nigeria is a democratic republic where every of its citizen of voting age has the right to vote and be voted for during elections. But there must be some decorum and guidelines guiding campaigns so as to protect the electorates before, during and after campaigns and rallies, whichever government agencies are responsible for this, Nigerians need to know and be properly educated about them.
Also, these agencies must always be present anytime and anywhere the political campaigns and rallies are going on to prevent a reoccurrence of Geri Alimi campaign tragedy that occurred in the ancient city of Ilorin last week.
World over, parties campaigned and rallied for supports in order to make popular their manifesto, programmes and policies for their party but they always put emergency side by side security apparatus in other to prevent loss of life and property; Nigeria should not be an exception.
Are there guidelines for parties with regards to campaign in any part of this country? This question is because life of every Nigerian is supposed to be precious and sacred every time and all the time and election campaign time must not be an exception.
Is peaceful conduct of election campaign not part of the responsibilities of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the body officially saddled with registration of political parties, regulations of political campaign activities and funds among others?
If yes, why then is INEC not alive to its responsibilities in protecting lives of the electorates during this type of campaign rally…and if it is not INEC’s duty; then which agency is responsible for it?
Securing lives and properties during campaign and rally should be as important and made to be a necessity as the nomination form collection for candidates and parties before they are allowed during the electioneering season.
Our umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other relevant government agencies and parastatals should take it upon themselves to be better prepared to enforce strategies that must be put in place during campaign or rally.
No political party will target the dead as its electorates/audiences during rally or campaign or preaching its manifesto and promising better life to decaying bodies in the morgue or graves but only the living can cast votes for political parties of their choice… rallies are suppose to be for the living.
Campaign of calumny should also be put away during rallies and campaigns as well, and by mandate, INEC should ensured this and many other electoral laws that are there within its rules and regulations books, and the enforcement of these should not be left in the hands of securities agencies alone. The INEC should not be biased towards the enforcement and must always be on the lookout for violators of the electoral laws by virtue of its importance. INEC should have the right and might to call for partial or outright cancellation of elections anywhere violence, loss of life and even properties are recorded in the land. This will serve as punishment for any party that violates this provision.
Political rallies and campaigns are not for the dead as only those alive will cast votes. Campaign towards 2019 is here again, so let us do it with all needed decorum and decency in other to contribute meaningfully and make Nigeria a better place for our future and towards realising our dreams. God bless Nigeria!

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