There is no denying the fact that prior to the uncultured and unhistorical display of crass act of thuggery by political party supporters at the palace of the Oba of Benin on Saturday last week that there have been allegations and counter allegations that bordered on the use of thugs and cultists in the upcoming gubernatorial election in Edo State.
The allegations and counter allegations were unarguably traded by the two major political parties in the State; which are the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
While the APC has for the umpteenth time accused the State government of recruiting cultists of notorious history and origin ahead of the upcoming election, the State government or rather the PDP has in turn alleged that Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the immediate past National Chairman of the APC and Captain Hosa Okunbo, a Benin Billionaire, were the ones that had concluded plans to sponsor thugs in the State with a view to undermine the will of the people in the forthcoming gubernatorial election.
Countering the allegations leveled against the leadership of the APC, the Publicity Secretary of the party in the State, Mr. Chris Azebamwan, at a press conference in Benin-City said Governor Obaseki had since his emergence as the gubernatorial flag bearer of the PDP embarked on “massive recruitment of thugs and criminals, but this time officially into government.”
At this juncture, it suffices to reiterate, as earlier mentioned, that a non-partisan and dispassionate view shows that there have been allegations and counter allegations from both major parties in the State, prior to the macabre dance that took place on Saturday last week at the Oba Palace. Against the backdrop of the foregoing view, it can be concluded that what happened unarguably finds expression in an African proverb that says, “An owl cried last night, a baby died in the morning.”
At this juncture, it cannot be said to be specious to say that the question that is proverbially been asked by many political observers and watchers alike is “From which political camp did the owl cried from on Saturday?” I think we should in this context leave the foregoing conundrum for the responsible security agency to unravel.
To my view, it is high time thugs are called to order by politicians from both political camps for the sake of our dear State; Edo, and for the fact that the world at large is watching us.
According to an African proverb, “If the keg of palm-wine is not quickly snatched from the hands of an exuberant drunk, he may drink himself to stupor.” A similar proverb also says “If an overzealous child is not assisted by his elders when roasting yams in the farm, he may innocently set the farm and the hut ablaze”.
There is no denying the fact that the foregoing African proverbs succinctly illustrate the repercussion of the future activities of political thugs and cultists in the State if not kept under watch, particularly now that electioneering is ongoing.
If these thugs that are literarily rampaging ahead of the election are not in a timely manner brought under searchlight and called to order, it may create a hydra-headed security challenge that may make the results of the forthcoming gubernatorial election to be neck deep in the quagmire of controversy and undue litigations.
It is possible for some unscrupulous politicians to resort to fomenting trouble instead of bravely and in the spirit of sportsmanship wait for the D-Day to show the stuff they are politically made of. To me, resorting to the use of thugs is an act of cowardice, and undemocratic.
Apart from the need for every Edolites, irrespective of the party he or she is affiliated to, to closely be watching the activities of thugs in the State, and reporting such to relevant authorities there is need to caution against the abuse of power, particularly that of power of incumbency as already being witnessed by non-partisan Edolites. Policy and laws should not be selfishly and obnoxiously made to unjustly checkmate aspirants that are affiliated to other parties which the governor is not affiliated to. In this case, it is expedient for traditional rulers, political leaders and even opinion leaders in various parts of the State to bring the power that is inherent in their different positions to bear by calling all stakeholders in the forthcoming election to order.
If these political thugs that have no doubt blighted the ongoing electioneering in the State are not called to order by their unknown sponsors, they may create a hydra-headed security challenge that may mar the gains that are expected from the gubernatorial elections. It is hard to grapple the fact that some unscrupulous elements in the State have resorted to fomenting trouble instead of them to wait for a free and fair election come September 19, 2020.
Ruminating over how belligerent the thugs were, it will dawn on anyone that it is just a matter of time before they would turn the State upside down even as they are boisterous enough to leave disastrous consequences ahead of the election, particularly on the D-Day. There is no denying the fact that if these thugs are not tamed as they have the predilection of becoming tribal warlords, particularly at post-election period in the State, that they will pose a hyra-headed security challenge.
Politicians that are sponsoring thugs in Edo State should realize that no man would decide to rear snakes and expect not to have sleepless nights.
At this juncture, it is germane to say that there is need for all Edolites to ensure that the forthcoming election and other political processes are peaceful as they are pivotal to the quality of governance that would be of betterment to all of us. Again, we should have at the back of our mind that our contributions to the ongoing political processes will, to a great extent, determine how greatly Edo State will progress or retrogress in its long-term democratic development.
We should not forget that the most fundamental principle defining credible elections is that they must reflect the free expression of the will of the people, and this can never be attained through the act of thuggery.
To me, for this election to be successful, there should be transparency, inclusiveness, and accountability, and there must be equitable opportunities to compete in the elections.
No politician or supporter deserves to be denied participation in the election by any thug of whatever hues. These broad principles are buttressed by several electoral process-related obligations, as well as a number of key rights and freedoms, each of which derive from public international law. The electoral cycle approach depicts elections as a continuous, integrated process made up of building blocks that interact with and influence each other, rather than as a series of isolated events. Never should we allow thugs and their sponsors to thwart our efforts in ensuring that Edo is highly reckoned with in Nigeria’s political equation.