There is need for all the actors in the forthcoming governorship election to exercise caution

As the September 2016 gubernatorial election for Edo State draws nearer, there are telltale signs that it could be marred by violence if the relevant authorities do not move in to restore a measure of order. A couple of weeks ago, the campaign train of the Deputy Governor, Mr. Pius Odubu was attacked by gunmen at Auchi. Five persons in his convoy, including police personnel and operatives of the Department of State Security attached to him, were injured. Thankfully, no life was lost.

Incidentally, while the deputy governor’s campaign organisation alleged that it was an attempt to assassinate him, the state government had a different story. After condemning the incident, the statement, which could be taken as the position of Governor Adams Oshiomhole on the issue, said it was a clash between the deputy governor’s thugs and some residents of Auchi. That sort of altercation points to the possibility of a breakdown of law and order as it is a definite manifestation of a crack in the governance structure of the All Progressives Congress-controlled state. Therefore, there is need for all the actors to exercise caution so as not to drag the state into a crisis, especially as they prepare for their party primaries.

We believe that the goal of politics is to organise to secure power to serve the people. That being so, it ought not to be a zero-sum game that would involve violence and needless bloodletting. Close observers cannot but notice that the campaigns in Edo State have witnessed threats of violence and all manner of intimidation. Yet violence and intimidation have no place in civilised society, especially for those who seek to serve the people. We therefore enjoin all the APC gubernatorial aspirants and their supporters to conduct their affairs before, during and after the coming primaries in such a manner that there would be no room for coercion and violence.

However, we must also sound a note of caution to all the critical stakeholders in the party that election is a process and not an event. To that extent, the role of the APC leadership both in the state and at the federal level is very crucial. They must not only be neutral and impartial, they must be seen to be so. Both the APC National Chairman, Chief Odigie-Oyegun, a former governor of the state and the incumbent governor must allow the people to make their choice without let or hindrance. The same goes for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) whenever they are ready for their primaries.

It is sad that our democracy has today lost its shape essentially because all the political parties want to be democratic in a manner that advances only the personal interests of some leaders and not that of the society. Yet until political leaders imbibe a culture that reflects and promotes good governance, transparency and accountability, our democracy will remain imperilled.

Therefore, as politicians in Edo State prepare for the gubernatorial elections, they must bear in mind the need to conduct themselves peacefully in order not to jeopardise the security of lives and property of the constituents they seek to govern. Politicians must realise that violence constitutes a direct hindrance to the exercise of citizens’ right to choose and participate in the governance of their affairs. Our electoral laws clearly prohibit this and they must refrain at all times from the breach of the law.

Now that the APC has moved from being the opposition to becoming the ruling party at the centre and in majority of the states, it must demonstrate a commitment to all the ideals it has been preaching in recent years. Edo State provides a good example to begin a demonstration of that resolve.