The Upper Crust

Ojoku Violence: O tun ya for peaceful democratic process


It is appalling that we are yet to get it right with electioneering in this clime.  With just two days away for the people of Kwara State to go to the polls to elect the president and members of the National Assembly, who will run affairs of the nation for the next four years, there seems to be an air of easiness pervading the atmosphere; people are gripped with  palpable fear. This, no doubt, has been precipitated by the latest episode of violence recorded in Ojoku, Oyun Local Government Area of the state, on Tuesday. The violent attack is indeed poignant coming at a time like this when anxiety has reached its crescendo over the forthcoming elections.
It is quite unfortunate that politicians and supporters of political parties have refused to toe the path of peace, which is a prerequisite for democratic consolidation.  Pre-electoral violence has become a recurring decimal and a sad narrative in the political history of the state.
Since the Ojoku political violence occurred, the two major political parties; the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) have continued to trade words over the sad event, which reportedly claimed the life of one person with several others injured. So pathetic, it is, that supporters of political parties who are mostly youths have failed to realise that no election is worth their life. They need to be reminded that life has no duplicate and also made to realise that elections will come and go but  Kwara will remain. Since elections represent the expression of the sovereign will of the people, hence it behooves electorate  to ensure that the process is not fraught by animosities and violence. It is noteworthy that political violence  undermines attempts at institutionalising a democratic tradition, which is detrimental to the development of any society. It is known fact that campaign is an integral part of elections, however, political players must eschew hate speech; spewing insults and making reckless, unsubstantiated statements that directly threaten peace. They shouldn’t directly incite people to violence particularly during their rallies, rather, they should preach peace. Political leaders, politicians and parties supporters need to appreciate  the strength that lies in tolerance for different political persuasions and not see it as a reason for conflict. Election is not a warfare it is a contest that must be played according to the rules for positive outcome.
On their parts, youths who are widely  believed to be future of the state, have huge role to play in charting a path for a greater Kwara. Towards this end, it is incumbent on them to protect the sanctity of the ballot. They should not allow  themselves to be used by desperate politicians to subvert a peaceful electoral process.
It is needless to say that the cost of political violence is grievous; when anarchy reigns, mostly than never, no one is spared the pains. People need to understand that there cannot be winners in bloody clashes. There can be no winner when kinsmen are mauled down in cold blood and investments are reduced to ashes in orgy of violence; the memories and the scars will haunt for a long time. In the light of this, well meaning Kwarans must unequivocally speak up against those fanning the embers of discord and  stoking violence.
With the elections at the corner, parties and political  leaders should focus more on mobilising their supporters to vote, as opposed to war mongering. Unnecessary provocation should be avoided.Political party  leaders must abide by the peace accord they signed with respect to political campaigns in the state.
To avert violence before during and after the  elections, security agencies particularly the police must be alive to their responsibilities by curbing violence or acts that could jeopardise peaceful electoral process in the state. They should also shun partisanship. While commending the Kwara State Police Command for rising to the occasion and quelling the violent  political upheaval in Ojoku, it is hope that all those involved in the fracas will be arrested and brought to book to serve as deterrent to others. The police must, however, be seen to approach the issue without fear or favour for equity and justice to prevail.
While saying enough is enough (O to ge) to political violence in the state, we say (O tun ya) for a peaceful democratic process. No election is worth dying for, Kwara is worth living for. Let’s decide for a bright future with our votes.
Meanwhile, Kwarans should not allow the botched Saturday elections to dampen their enthusiasm to exercise their franchise. They should not lose hope in the electoral system, therefore, they have to come out en-masse to make the decision that will shape the future of our beloved state-Kwara.

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