With Joke Adeniyi-Jackson
Recent happenings in the political sphere in Kwara State, has no doubt, left sour taste in the mouths of many people. Politics which has taken the centre stage is setting brothers apart in the state particularly in the ancient town of Ilorin.
Ilorin people one can boldly say enjoy close kinship, in which everyone seems to be related in one way or the other. But recent happenings where ‘brothers’ are taking up arms in the name of politics is, highly condemnable
There is nothing wrong for ‘ brothers’ to hold views that sit on very different sides of the political spectrum, what is not right is for them to go to war over their opposing views. They should not allow politics to define them rather it should be the other way round. The unsavoury development in the state political scene is thinning out the binding fabric of a closely knitted people. The kind of politics that is being played in the state is no doubt destroying the relationship between the people, which has continued to generate tension among Kwarans ahead of the 2019 elections.
With just few weeks to the polls, there is heightened concerns over recent developments that are pointers to the war ahead. The actions and rhetoric coming from political camps have no doubt raised worries over the election in the state. The threat of violence in the state is gradually assuming an alarming dimension.
Stakeholders have expressed concern over the spate of violent speeches and actions by politicians as the elections draw near. Hate speeches have become order of the day with politicians heating up the polity with their views and opinion on issues. Campaigns of calumny has become the mainstay displacing issue based campaigns. Political rivals have continued to show lack of tolerance for themselves, thus unduly charging the atmosphere.
Recently, quite a number of campaign billboards of major political parties displayed within Ilorin metropolis and outside, were vandalised by suspected party loyalists, with the political parties pointing accusing fingers at each other.
It would be recalled that on Christmas day, political rivals made palace of the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Sulu Gambari, scene of their inglorious drama. An annual event organised by the Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU) which had in attendance prominent sons and daughters of the emirate, was disrupted by party supporters.
The disruption was as a result of an alleged move by the governorship candidate of APC, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq, to use his political slogan, ‘O To Ge’ at the event which was allegedly rejected by the supporters of PDP who were also at the event.
When the APC governorship candidate was called to the podium to announce his donation, he made an attempt to chant the slogan of his campaign organisation, “Kwarans, ‘O To Ge.’
Admirers of the Senate President Bukola Saraki, however, countered him by shouting “Sai leader, Sai Bukki, Atunwa 1”.
The development sparked off pandemonium at the event as the rival supporters engaged themselves in war of words, which forced the organisers to abruptly bring the programme to an end.
All attempts by the organisers to restore normalcy and continue the programme proved abortive as members of the union and other invitees were forced to leave the venue of the event.
The incident also forced the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu- Gambari, to leave the venue of the event in anger.
The security guards had a hectic time before the emir could be ferried out of the venue of the event.
Alarmed by the rising waves of violence in the state, the state Police Command on Tuesday, held a stakeholders meeting towards ensuring violence free election in the state . Speakers upon speakers at the well attended event expressed views on how election in the state can be rancour free. This is a move that is very much commendable.
Nevertheless, inspite of people’s different ideologies, they should not be confrontational. Politics should not be allowed to destroy the bond that exists between brothers. Towards this end Kwarans must desist from actions that could undermine peace and harmonious coexistence that Kwara State is renowned for. It is the responsibility of all concerned to ensure that Kwara State maintains its reputation for rancour-free campaigns and elections.
Nonetheless, there is the need to remind our politicians that election of any sort is a mere political contest, which should not be turned into a bloody battle. Kwara with the sobriquet, ‘State of Harmony,’ must not be known for political violence. The violence that preceded the 2003 election is still fresh in the memories of many Kwarans particular victims. Political thugs, hoodlums and other criminal elements unleashed terror during that period as there was orgy of violence. Such should not be relived in the 2019 general polls in the state in general. As it is known that credible election cannot be conducted in rancourous atmosphere, it behooves politicians to conduct themselves in a peaceful manner.
The security agencies on their part should live up to expectation by not compromising or being complicit as this could derail the election. There is no doubt that some desperate politicians may want to use morally bankrupt security agents to thwart the electoral process. It is for this reason that all must act according to their conscience and the fear of God before, during and after the election.
The electoral officers, who are the umpires of the contest should shun inducement by politicians in order to create level playing for contestants to ensure a credible electoral process.
The political class, the government and all other stakeholders must work together to ensure that a positive outcome is achieved. Politicians also need to realise that there are laws guiding political interaction and as such they are supposed to play by the rules. Consequently, violation of electoral laws must have consequences on the culprit. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must work with security agencies to prosecute electoral offenders, to serve as deterrent to other would – be offenders.
However, in the build up to the 2019 general elections, political parties in the state must not engage in unhealthy campaigns, especially on social media, as posing a threat to the elections. They should also desist from hate speech, rhetorics or actions that could derail the electoral process and for peace to be sustained in the State of Harmony. Politics must not be divisive but a uniting force for all Kwarans.