by Yadoma Mandara
A society that presumes a norm of violence and celebrates aggression, whether in the subway, on the football field, or in the conduct of its business, cannot help making celebrities of the people who would destroy it.
An election is central to any democratic system, it allows ordinary citizens to choose who leads or represents them in governing their state, it also serves as a check on political leaders in the sense that they have to periodically seek the mandate of the people to either continue in office if the people are satisfied with them, or be voted out of office when the people are dissatisfied with their performances.
It is through elections that they exercise their sovereign power, election is the yardstick for measuring the maturity of a democracy. A major cancer threatening our democracy is election violence.
The International Foundation For Electoral System (IFES) defined electoral violence as “any act of threat of physical or psychological harm to a person or damage to property directly involved in an electoral process.”
Political violence is one variant in the struggle for power in our democracy, since the return of democracy in Nigeria in 1999,the conduct of elections has been characterized by violence and the wanton destruction of lives and properties,indeed electoral violence has caused division and stalemate in our developmental processes as a nation.
If an election is characterized by violence it has the tendency of ushering a democracy into recession or eventual collapse, on the other hand a peaceful election enhances a democracy and consolidates a nation.
Democracy in Nigeria is being threatened by violence along ethno-religious lines, politicians desperate to stay in power stoke the ethno-religious tension in Nigeria for political gains ahead of the 2015 elections. which poses a threat to Nigeria’s existence as a nation.
Nigeria is one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse places on earth with more than 300 tribes, it’s therefore vulnerable to electoral and all other types of violence, we must therefore as politicians, as stakeholders, as citizens uphold the highest of virtues in our daily manifestation in order to maintain a peaceful atmosphere at this fragile stage of our democracy.
We must also learn from history – the case of South Sudan, the Hutu-Tutsi massacre, the Arab spring uprising, all these people are not half as diverse as Nigeria is. If violence were to break out, it would bring double the damage it inflicted on those places, on Nigeria.
It has become clear that some politicians either due to the sentiment of ignorance are trying so hard to force this country into violence either by their actions or by making dangerous statements around ethno-religious lines – one governor was recorded referring to the opposition as “cockroaches,” the word used by the Hutu against their Tutsi counterpart an incident that caused one of the worst massacres in human history claiming 800,000 mostly innocent women and children.
One can’t help but notice the provocative actions taken by the incumbent PDP government to deliberately coerce Nigeria into violence to achieve their political gains, the scandalous comments made by the vice president about the APC being an Islamic party would have caused mayhem in this country.
This desperation has caused them to use these emotive sentiments to mobilize votes. It always seems that the only time these “sentiments” become serious national issues is when politicians want to stay in power, it ceases to count as soon as the electoral process ends.
Another fundamental issue that would have caused chaos was the unprecedented polls shift, an action seen by many as a provocative, deliberate attempt to coerce the country into violence in order to earn whatever legitimacy the government needed to d