Peaceful Election In Edo State: Need To Call Party Supporters, Others, To Order ~ By Isaac Asabor
It cannot be said to be a misnomer when the view is expressed in this context that there is considerable concern about the role which supporters of political aspirants play ahead of an election. Either physically or on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, some political supporters play ignoble role in promoting the misperceptions of the image of the candidates they are not in support of during political campaigns.
Regrettably, most supporters are unarguably ignorant of the fact that politics, or rather election is not a-do-or-die affair. In the same vein, not many of them know the dictum that says there is “No permanent friend, no permanent enemy but permanent interests in Politics”. Without any iota of exaggeration the dictum is best understood when it is looked at from the perspective of the peaceful moves which the incumbent governor of Edo State, and the gubernatorial flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the September 19, 2020 election and his major challenger in the election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the gubernatorial flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have so far made.
With few days to the September 19 gubernatorial election, both contestants have met twice at the instance of peacemakers to ensure that the ongoing campaign is peaceful, and that the election itself is peaceful and consequently that the post-election days are peaceful.
For instance, early this month, precisely on September 2, 2020, Edolites; both at home and in diaspora and other Nigerians were hopeful of a peaceful governorship poll when the highly revered paramount traditional ruler in the State, the Oba of Benin, Ewuare II, took a decisive step by inviting the duo to his palace, and urged them to make peace and on that note end the trend of violence in the state. Not only that, he urged them to ensure that their supporters imbibe peaceful approach to the campaign ahead of the election as well. The peace meeting, which was appealing and exciting to many Edolites saw both aspirants embraced each other for the first time in many months.
Notable among those in attendance were the PDP candidate, Obaseki; the APC flagbearer, Ize-Iyamu, former APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole; his predecessor, John Oyegun, and the state Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, among other political actors in Edo.
In the same vein, they were together again for the same peaceful purpose just few days ago with other governorship candidates in Saturday’s Edo governorship election were they pledged to embrace peace irrespective of the outcome of the election.
The candidates made the pledge at the signing of the peace accord organized by the National Peace Committee (NPC) which took place at the Oba Akenzua Cultural Centre in Benin City.
Addressing the contestants, the chairman of NPC, Abdulsalami Abubakar, urged all stakeholders to be committed to the spirit of the accord.
The former head of state, who urged the candidates to use the Edo election as a test for future election in the country, called on the electorate to cast their votes in the September 19 governorship election without fear of intimidation or coercion.
He explained that those who signed the peace accord have committed themselves to ensuring peace in Edo State and Nigeria at large before, during and after the election.
Against the foregoing backdrop, it is expedient supporters of both candidates are called to order, and urged to emulate the peaceful dispositions which their candidates have already exhibited publicly. The other day, both of them were engaged in a debate on Channels Television, and there is no denying the fact that they exhibited a tolerable measure of maturity contrary to what their supporters expected.
The level of bickering observed in that debate, to any right thinking person is normal as such body language can as well play out even in the absence of frozen relationship under the same condition. To my view, if there is any rancor between both candidates, it is been fuelled by their supporters.
It is not an exaggeration to say that the perception and interpretation of the game of politics by most political supporters are often distorted so much that some see it as a war between supporters affiliated to other parties, and even among kindreds, especially when the same political affiliation and ideology are not shared. To my view, this is not the kind of politics that should be allowed to entrench its root deep down the seeming political landscape of Edo State.
It is high time politics and campaign electioneering in Edo ceased from been seen as war by some politicians and their supporters. In view of the forthcoming gubernatorial election on Saturday, it would be nice if all political aspirants, chieftains and political supporters of all the 14 participating political parties see politics as a sport rather than as a war. In sports, there is always a winner and a loser. The loser in sports always accepts defeat with equanimity just the way former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan accepted defeat by making a historic phone call, and in that vein congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari, and admitted defeat even before the result was announced.
The question now is, is it possible to achieve electoral peace during the forthcoming gubernatorial election on September 19? Yes! It is very possible but on conditions that are explicated in this piece.
The first condition is that politicians and their supporters that are Christians should religiously and faithfully hold on to the scriptural injunction in Philippians 4 verse 8 throughout the election which says “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things”. Their Muslim counterparts should also search the Koran parallel of this scripture and abide by it as well. Without mincing words, this scripture in the book of Philippians should be faithfully held on to throughout the period of the elections.
All items in their campaign activities and utterances that contradict this scriptural injunction should be eschewed for the sake of the peace of Edo State and Edolites. Our dear State is bigger than all the politicians put together.
There is no denying the fact most political supporters in the State, and some of the candidates are Christians and Muslims, and it is by virtue of their religious background that they are been urged in this context to as much as possible during the election behave like sportsmen, in both defeat and victory.