Is the El-Rufai vs Obi clash the red flag on electoral violence ahead of 2019?

The 2019 general elections are a few months away but the atmosphere is already charged and the ominous signs are beginning to emerge which calls for caution from all players.

Elections in Nigeria have always been a matter of interest with each player deploying his arsenal to convince voters on why his party should be chosen over another. As much as this is expected, the joy that comes with the ability to exercise one’s franchise is mostly truncated with electoral violence.

The 2011 election is a recent example. The post-election violence that happened after the declaration of results led to the death of several individuals; for some, the wounds are still fresh.

It’s with a knowledge of this and the long-term effect of electoral violence that the recent outburst by the Kaduna Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai signals a red flag towards the 2019 election.

The Governor on Friday, November 09, 2018, took to Twitter where he referred to the former governor of Anambra, Peter Obi, as a “tribal bigot” owing to his experience with the Department of State Service (DSS) in Anambra in 2014. He also made it known that they are waiting for Peter Obi in Katsina (it’s up to El-Rufai to tell us what that means) 24 hours later, the tweet has been re-echoed by several individuals including the Special Assistant to the President on new media, Bashir Ahmad which is dangerous for a nation like ours.

It is important the Kaduna Governor considers the weight his words carry before making public statements. This is important so we avoid unnecessary inter-tribal attacks. I know that Governor El-Rufai will not pray for a repeat of events in Kaduna in 2011 come 2019.

Hate speeches and inciting words as contained in his tweets must be condemned by any peace-loving Nigerian including the President. Politicians have become notorious for inciting the masses against each other to curry political favours but such must stop forthwith. We must make sure that the 2019 elections is violence-free especially by watching our words.

El-Rufai needs to realise he is a state Governor and role model to many. His infamous tweet on vengeance against killers of Fulani is still fresh in our memories. He should act like a true leader and stop making divisive statements.

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