INEC concerned about violent campaigns

The The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed concern that despite its efforts to ensure the holding of credible general elections in 2023, violent clashes between political parties and their supporters in some states of the federation could cause derail the agenda. The electoral agency is further concerned by the growing use of inflammatory comments by politicians, despite the recent signing of the peace accord by the leaders of the 18 political parties ahead of the upcoming elections.

The INEC also expressed its dismay at the reported cases of denial of access to public facilities to opposition parties and their candidates in some states of the federation and the tendency of some political parties and their supporters to launch in defaming their opponents rather than engaging on issues. -based campaigns.

Following the horrific development, the agency decided to summon the leaders of the various political parties to a meeting to deliberate on the issues. INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who revealed this in Abuja following the attack on Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) supporters by suspected political thugs in Kaduna State, described the evolution of disturbing.

He noted that the acts of violence not only constitute a violation of the electoral law of 2022, but also nullify the voluntary commitment of all political parties and candidates to the letter and spirit of the peace agreement.

The 18 political parties that will take part in next year’s presidential election signed on September 29, a day after INEC officially lifted the veil on election campaigns for the presidential election and national assembly, l national peace agreement pledging to respect the rules of engagement.

Predictably, the peace accord set the standard for the countryside. Under the terms of the agreement, which was crafted by the National Peace Committee, the candidates and their political parties agreed to conduct issue-based campaigns. They are also expected to promote their party’s manifesto and ensure that their spokespersons and members uphold the rule of law and refrain from corruption, extortion and violence.

During the signing of the peace agreement, the chairman of the Nigeria Peace Committee and former military head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, had stressed the need for the parties to focus on national development issues rather than on the insults and violence in the run-up to the elections. . However, the violent campaigns that followed shortly after the signing of the peace accord underscored the danger ahead.

Besides the reported attack on PDP supporters in Kaduna, there are other cases of intolerance towards opposing political parties. A fortnight ago, dozens of All Progressives Congress (APC) members in Oyo State were reportedly attacked by an alleged leader of a rival political party. Labor Party (LP) supporters have been regularly attacked and their meetings disrupted several times in Enugu State. The party also cried out against the harassment and intimidation of its members and supporters by security personnel in Ebonyi State. Some members of the Labor Party have reportedly been assaulted in Lagos State.

In Imo State, the APC and the main opposition PDP accuse each other of fomenting unrest ahead of the 2023 elections. While the PDP has accused the state government of trying to make the environment toxic for any peaceful election, the APC alleges that the PDP is stoking violence.

There have also been allegations of states not allowing opposition parties to hold their rallies; sponsoring thugs to attack and disrupt opposition party rallies, refusing to allow opponents to advertise their platforms on billboards, and using inflammatory language against their opponents. It is worrying that this is happening months away from the 2023 elections. If the rampant culture of violence and intolerance is not curbed, the election may be in jeopardy. It would be a sad story for Nigerian democracy.

It is regrettable that despite the elaborate display of understanding shown by the presidential candidates during the signing ceremony of the agreement, some party leaders and their supporters have not yet avoided violence and politics without bitterness. It is sad that some politicians insist on reducing our politics to a “do or die” affair.

This is probably why the CENI has enjoined parties, candidates and their supporters not, by acts of commission or omission, to further complicate the prevailing security situation in the country through violent campaigning. For peaceful and credible elections, the political class must refrain from making inconsiderate remarks and focus more on thematic campaigns.

Nothing should be allowed to truncate the 2023 general election. The struggle for power cannot degenerate into open hostility. The election is the celebration of democracy. It must be devoid of violence and immoderate language. Although the INEC president’s expression of concern is in order, the agency should not hesitate to warn those who flout the peace agreement.

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