By Alkali Danjuma
The 2019 election is a conclusion that Nigeria has now finally accepted violence as part and parcel of our electoral processes. What is more appalling is the silence of our intellectuals, human rights activists, journalist and everyone who should be talking about this.
First of all, looking closely at the gubernatorial election in 2019 using Lagos State as a case study, the members of the ruling party deliberately sponsored thugs to disrupt the election anywhere they were not winning in polling booths in the State. Election materials were seized and burnt openly in the presence of the voters, the policemen and other security operatives who stood and watched while these perpetrators of evil also took pictures and recorded the event without being stopped.
We saw what happened with the supplementary election in places like Kano where the Lagos tactics were deployed in winning the election. Violence was so much in Kano that the election was an eyesore, an embarrassment to a nation that is regarded as the giant of Africa.
The silence all over the country over the violence cannot be ignored as this is a clear indication that violence is now an integral part of our election. It has always been part of elections in Nigeria, which is not new, but the silence after the election has made it become more accepted.
You will recall what happened to Senator Dino Malaya who would not have survived in Nigeria if he had not won election to come back to the senate in Nigeria. He had just two options, to leave the country and be safe or stay behind and face persecution, even assassination, for opposing the presidency and supporting Senate President Saraki. Senator Dino Melaye was almost killed when his vehicle was shot at because he left the ruling party All Progressive Congress (APC) and defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). If a Senator would go through this form of violence and attempts to assassinate him, we can imagine what the people at the grassroots would go through.
There is the case of Hon Kehinde Okeowo, an IT professional turned politician, who was almost assassinated on March 2018, because his political opponent thought he and his party had the chance of winning the LCDA Chairmanship election in Agboyi Ketu of Lagos State in 2017 after they alleged that they have evidence of rigging in the election. Mr. Kehinde Okeowo who represented Alliance for Democracy (AD) as deputy Chairman, was targeted severally for assassination but nothing was done about it by the authorities.
Also, in this same country, on the 26th of February 2010, Mr. Dipo Dina, the AD gubernatorial candidate was assassinated the same way Bola Ige, former Nigeria’s Minister of Justice was killed, till date; his assassinators are yet to be found.
It is so worrisome that no one cares for the lives of its citizens in Nigeria if anyone is marked for death; it is either you run away or stay to protect yourself with every means. The incompetent police force is also not equipped nor properly trained to protect lives and the government does not care about this.
What is scarier is that the election violence is now being displayed on television and no one is talking about it neither has anyone especially the hoodlums been arrested. The killings which were recorded and shown on camera with the thugs have a view where the policemen said they were not interested in arresting or investigating it. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has also said they will not be investigating most of their staff that was part of the mass rigging all over the nation. The country just moves on.