Again, the nation woke up to the recurring decimal in our election process with the reported shootings and killings of compatriots whose only crime was to go to the polling unit to exercise their inalienable right to vote at a bye election to replace the vacant seat in the Ekiti state House of Assembly East constituency 1.
This incidence reminded us of the general decay in our democratic process, and successive governments have failed to guarantee peaceful elections over the years. We continue to face different challenges, from thuggery, ballot snatching, inconclusive elections, intimidations, violence and electoral inducement in the fashion of vote buying and numerous other vices that are a dent on our so called nascent democracy.
In realization of the damage vote buying was/is having on our leadership recruitment process for instance, SING Nigeria looks to float a campaign tagged: #EndMoneyPolitics which is intended to raise a new consciousness and vigorously campaign against vote buying which already is a menace in our electoral process, as the highest bidder now wins election, instead of the will of the people.
The Ekiti bye-election shooting and killings of innocent voters by hoodlums who are answerable to politicians is a sad reality in our democratic journey, and politicians who continue to sponsor these barbaric acts of violence against the same people they want to lead have only shown us how selfish and cruel they are when they eventually rigged their way to power.
While it is true that government at all level needs to strengthen institutions to prevent electoral violence at polls, including training of security personnel, intelligence gathering to foil such attacks, peace campaigns and advocacy by civil society bodies, it is our strong belief that Nigerians who are willing tools in the hands of these “enemy” of the state should reexamine their role in the continuous subjugation of the will of the majority and the resultant underdevelopment of our communities when power desperados find their ways into government.
The need for genuine attitude change, especially when every other means has failed to address the problem of violence in our electoral process must be paramount in our efforts to reduce thuggery and high-level acts of brutality before, during and after our electoral processes.
In the meantime, the government must be seen to be decisive in bringing to book perpetrators of the shootings and killings at the recent bye-election in Ekiti state; but again, this may be a difficult call, especially giving that in some cases, same people who are to take punitive actions against lawlessness are same people who directly and indirectly benefit from those acts of violence.
In the end, those who make themselves available for violence crimes at our election should know that communities hugely suffer when politicians smuggled their way into power by evil means. The journey to development and progress where there is democratic dividends starts from having the right people in power, hence, there is the need for the National Orientation Agency to institute nationwide campaigns beyond what we currently have that will lead to honest attitude change and rejection of the old and destructive order in our politics.