VIOLENCE AND THE EDO POLL

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Election should not be a ‘do-or-die’ affair, writes Osa Igiehon

He spared no one in his rage. Philip Shaibu, the incumbent deputy governor of Edo State and the deputy governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in September 19 election in the state has become a person of interest to critical stakeholders in Edo State.

The 50-year-old politician has been over heating the polity of Edo State with incendiary and provocative comments. He was ready to set the state ablaze to return back to power. He adorns Khaki and also passes himself off as a comrade like the former comrade Governor Adams Oshiomhole but he lacks the grace of the former labour union leader.

By their fruits, we shall know them, not by adopting a dress style of a sage but displaying despicable acts unworthy of nobles. He started with God as a child of pastor in Kaduna where he was born but the cares of life and vanity of power has turned him into something else.

In a recent viral video clip, the deputy governor was seen talking to a group of boys suspected to be thugs loyal to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State. He boasted he was not a coward in the face of violence and concluded, “I have called the CP (Commissioner of Police) that they should arrest those boys. Failure to arrest them, I cannot guarantee peace”.

It is disturbing that Shaibu vowed there will be violence if his political expectations are not met. The deputy governor was undermining the core of the social contract he signed with the people of Edo. While taking oath of office, he had sworn to ensure protection of lives and property of the people of Edo State. But his desperation to remain in government regardless of the popular will should be checked. The people’s will should be allowed to prevail.

Many of his plots had been blown open by the vigilant All Progressives Congress (APC). After all, the third American President, Thomas Jefferson said, “Eternal Vigilance Is the Price of Liberty”. Shaibu once flew a kite that APC chieftains were planning to assassinate key political figures in the PDP which turned out to be false. When that failed, another sinister plot was unearthed. The deputy governor was orchestrating attacks on himself and his party and would later accuse the APC of masterminding the attack to elicit sympathy from the electorate and bring the APC into disrepute.

Col David Imuse (rtd), APC chieftain claimed that the Edo State Government, in connivance with a retired police officer from Kogi State, has been identified in series of plots in Edo State and beyond, plotting to stage an attack on their own convoy.

He said there was a planned contrived attack on the convoy of the deputy governor, in a bid to draw sympathy, pose as victims and set the stage for a new wave of violent onslaught on the people of Edo State, some of whom have fallen victims to the reckless shootings by thugs and criminals.

“According to reports available to us,” he said, “the mastermind of this disgraceful strategy has already recruited armed thugs for the mission with careful instruction to do enough damage on cars and other disposable items for the media drama that will follow.

“The plan is by upstaging this violent act, they can falsely allege that it is the doings of the APC, carried out to foil their ‘booming and flourishing campaign’ when in truth, their campaign has collapsed,” adding: “They have to resort to staging attacks on their own convoy as a way to elicit pity and bring attention to their empty campaign. This reveals the hollowness of the PDP as a party that has run out of new ideas, hence resorting to desperate measures to disrupt the peaceful conduct of an election it is convinced that it has no chance of winning.”

Chairman of the Edo APC Media Campaign Council, John Mayaki said “The PDP has continued its attack on our campaign with armed thugs, militias, and other groups. In Owan East, thugs invaded all three venues of our campaign events, breaking chairs, and destroying facilities in the area. In Jattu, thugs also ensured that no APC rally took place because the sheer number of residents who are planning to attend would expose his rejection to the world and advertise him as a liability on the PDP ticket.”

The revered Benin monarch, Oba Ewuare II at peace parley he convened at his Palace recently especially cautioned politicians against violence. The monarch was astonished by the desperation and violent-inclination of politicians.

“I have noted that Edo State’s politics has been in the news for quite some time for all the wrong reasons. I have been having sleepless nights for some days. We are all from Edo State. We are no strangers.

“I became so worried when the conflict between Oshiomhole and Obaseki started. I have a personal relationship with almost everybody here (at the palace)… Enough is enough. Let the September 19 governorship election in Edo State be peaceful. Be mature and be proud of Edo State. Do not make Edo State a laughing stock.

Tell your boys to cease fire and drop their arms. Let your boys calm down. Must it be a do-or-die affair? Do not turn Benin into a city of thugs. Do not kill yourselves, because of public office. Stop the shootings. I am very sad about what is happening in Edo State. This is the worst scenario. Let us eschew violence and give peace a chance in Edo State”, Oba Ewuare II cautioned.

Now, that the throne has cautioned all, perhaps, politicians should listen to the voice of reason and rein the rampaging thugs in the interest of Edo people. Election is not do-and-die affairs.