The sordid narratives on election profile in Nigeria, remain a bane to Nigeria’s democracy. The ills of political misconducts and belligerent machinatIons that characterise elections in Nigeria, have apparently left the world with no better deduction than the perception that elections in the Country are more or less baskets of irritating worms. While some observers have come to argue by experience that election can hardly be conducted in Nigeria without flaws, some critical observers have asserted that recording a free and fair election in the country is a costly luxury that may be unattainable any time soon.
The election in Edo, slated for Saturday 19, 2020, has been projected to record another version of the usual belligerent contest often experienced in the country overtime. The heated verbal wars that have characterised the campaigns and the prevailing stance of the political gladiators are sources of concerns that have informed projections of an election expected to be fraught with political vices and violence.
The manifestation of such anti-democratic practices is clearly inimical to the image of the Country, which prevalently is suffering a reputation crisis in the international space. The stench and embarassment that such violent and foul political disposition by political gladiators pose to the Country is doing more damages than could be estimated. The effects of such defects transcend political damages to indirectly impact negatively on the socio-economic spheres of life. It is quite unsavoury that Nigeria is still wallowing in the web of poor political culture, while struggling with political processes that should easily be addressed and anchored on established structures without hitches.
It remains clearly succinct that the image of the Country is facing deeper perception crisis before nations of the world. This crisis majorly draws bearings over the inability to successfully conduct the operations of the least of political activities without much ado. Using a stick approach against Nigeria, the Government of the United States on Monday gave a blow that it has imposed visa restrictions on some Nigerians for their involvement in ill machinatIons during the November 2019 Kogi and Bayelsa State elections. Those who have been noticed to be masterminding political foul play in the run-up to the Edo and Ondo State gubernatorial polls respectively are also on the sanction list.
While the Edo poll is scheduled to take place on Saturday, 19, 2020, and that of Ondo states, by October 10, it is apparent that the United States in their close watch has already recorded for note, the activities of mischievous political gladiators whose actions are repugnant to civil and liberal principles expected to guide the conduct of stakeholders while participating in political activities. The Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, imposed the visa restriction on the individuals due to their conduct in the run- up to the polls.
A statement to this effect, signed by the spokesperson for the Department of State, Morgan Ortagus read in part: “In July 2019, we announced the imposition of visa restrictions on Nigerians, who undermined the February and March 2019 elections. Today, the Secretary of State is imposing additional visa restrictions on individuals for their actions surrounding the November 2019 Kogi and Bayelsa State elections and in the run up to the September and October 2020 Edo and Ondo states’ elections. These individuals have so far operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and have undermined democratic principles.”
Stating that the decision is a reflection of her commitment to strengthening democracy in Nigeria, the US said further: “The Department of State emphasises that the actions announced today are specific to certain individuals and not directed at the Nigerian people. This decision reflects the Department of State’s commitment to working with the Nigerian government to realise its expressed commitment to end corruption and strengthen democracy, accountability, and respect for human rights.”
Certainly, while individuals can not be prevented from participating actively in political activities, which is one of the core character of democracy, it is however insightful that in such practice, they conduct themselves in the best standards of moderation, civility and liberalism. Resorting to violence and aggressive contest-posture is antithetical to the principles of democracy, which the Federal Republic of Nigeria has subscribed to. Professing democracy while all the conducts of the political gladiators themselves are anti-democratic, is manifestly a clear falsehood. The sustenance of such modus operandi is a continual settlement for political set back.
It is worryingly saddening that while Nigeria has no insight for sanctions against mischievous gladiators whose conducts during political activities are hostile and antithetical to democracy, a foreign country is so sensitive to this. Such insensitivity is a clear limitation to forward and civil navigation for political development. It is therefore apparent that Nigeria has embraced as part of her political culture, the tolerance for political mischiefs and errant misdemeanors.
As the Edo and Ondo election draw near, the need for political gladiators to call themselves and their supporters to order is a national call with strong gravity. Subscribing to violence and political machinatIons is inimical to the Country’s image in the international community. The resultant effects of such political flaws on the state of affairs domestically, is a clear deepening of the intersectional challenges ravaging the Country. While it has been disclosed that 31,000 and 30,000 Police officers would be deployed for the Edo and Ondo polls respectively, it is essential that the Federal Government under whose command, the Nigeria Police Force lies, remains unbiased without coercing security architectures against opposition elements. Since such tendencies have the potentials of instigating aggression with strings of effects that may erupt during and after the polls, it is significant for the peaceful conduct of a free and fair election that the Government distance itself from such uncivilized political gimmick capable of erupting crises.