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2023 GENERAL ELECTIONS: A Call For Peace

Byadmin

Feb 1, 2023

2023 GENERAL ELECTIONS: A Call For Peace

As we enter the month of February, 2023, which kick starts the general elections, it is imperative we discuss, highlight and tackle the need for all active and passive players to play the game by the rules and by the books.

Apparently the country is saturated and charged with heavy political activities and frenzy. There are key actors that need to navigate this process with tact, care and a sense of responsibility for the country to go through the electioneering process with ease, in peace during, before and after the elections. Of this first categories, the various political parties that have sponsored candidates into various elective offices.

There is every need for the political parties to educate their members on the need to practice politics without bitterness. Political jingles should be devoid of insults and inciting comments. Just as the language at political campaigns should emphasize on the programs of the political parties and not invectives on other candidates or parties.

The deliberate efforts of political parties to guide their members towards peace and decent campaigns is an imperative for a peaceful and credible elections. Where deliberate falsehood is spewed at political campaigns in order to incite it’s members, the seed of discord is sown and danger looms.

Conscious and deliberate efforts must be made by political parties as custodians of the candidates to propagate a message of peace and tolerance. Ugly incidents like destruction of opponents’ bill boards, attack on opponent offices should be seriously discouraged.

The Second players in the peaceful conduct of election and the aftermath is the Electorates. This is the bride that is being courted now by political parties. It is a good political culture to listen to different candidates so one can make a choice depending on the conviction a candidate can make. It is however very bad and a dangerous political behavior where the electorate is induced via vote buying and other overt enticement.

The Electorates can invigorate the polity by asking questions of how a candidate can make good a bad situation affecting them. The answers and how these challenges can be surmounted by a candidate is of far better outcome than a succumb to vote buying. This trend should be rejected out rightly.

INEC is the third and most important player in the electioneering process. The Independent National Election Commission is the agency that midwives elections in Nigeria.

The actions and inactions of INEC is by far of much more consequences than anyone. The INEC officials from it’s headquarters to the states, the Local Governments and as adhoc staff must be above board in their conduct for peaceful elections to occur.

The transparent activities of the Commission will be veritable confidence building before, during and after the elections. Where it is apparent that an election has been won or lost fair and square, there is less acrimony, less misgivings and no violence. The sanctity of fairness, equality and equity by INEC to all political parties cannot be overemphasized.

The management of the entire elections, from the electoral materials, the BVAS, the collation and announcement of results is very crucial and very serious business. INEC will make the work of everyone very much easier and simpler where they display a responsible tendency of an unbiased umpire. Needless to say that in the face of fairness, the heart losses the steam of mischief.

The 2023 electoral Act which has visible imprints of INEC should be adhered to strictly and religiously. It is through this Law that the role of all participants in the elections are spelt out and determined. It is also through this Law that infractions, (if any) during the elections, will be put to test by the judiciary.

The various innovative provisions in the 2023 Electoral Act has engendered wide spread conviction in the political parties and the Electorates alike that votes will count. It is my firm belief and desire that this hope is not dashed.

The Security Agents are the fourth key players in the general elections. This is primarily the duty of the Police. But it is not disputed that several other sister agencies are drafted to assist the Police, either to complement their efforts or offer far more complex intelligence to nip in the bud any untoward incident before, during and after the elections.

The DSS in the last few months of Political activity have fashioned a template for political to operate without collision.

The details allocating venue and ensuring there is no conflict of two parties or more being in one town at the same time. These efforts need be applauded.

The Army which naturally should not be involved in a process of this nature, must be involved because of the peculiarity of our security situation. The Paramount concern however is the need and indeed the imperative that all security agencies give security by and within the purview of neutrality.

There is absolutely no need to side one party against the other when it is the duty of security agents to secure and protect all.

Sadly our security agents are not appreciated by our citizenry in a tedious efforts at providing a level playing field. Most times bad elements that are prevented from mischief turn round to accuse security agents of bias. Citizens should be encouraged to assist our security agents in making elections violent free. Report that which is wrong. The best security is that in which everyone is a watch dog.

The arbiter and fifth player in the forth coming 2023 general elections is the judiciary It is said this is the last hope of the common man. This prisms connotes that justice is not for the rich only, but for all. By the provisions of the Law, all electoral disputes are to be settled by the courts.

The neutrality and fairness in the judicial process will go a long way in dousing tension, engendering peace after the election is won and lost. The sensitivity of the role of the Judiciary on the outcome elections is enormous. This much could be gleamed from the admonition of President of the Court of Appeals Hon. Justice Monica Dongba-Mensem on all judicial staff assigned to handle Election petitions at various levels. The need to adhere to the official oath of secrecy in matters of judicial process is very important.

To divulge privilege information which has no basis of influencing the outcome of an election petition in no way could create unnecessary doubt and tension. Such privileged information as to a when a tribunal will deliver judgment in an election matter if irresponsibly diverged could lead to doubts, even where such information have no bearing at all on the outcome of the ratio decidendi/ reasoning of the Judges in the judgment to be delivered. Conduct of our Judges, Registers, and all their support staff need be above board like Ceaser’s wife. Needless to State that this is a necessary the tools of building confidence in the judicial system, and also paving way for peace. This article cannot be concluded without highlighting the fortuitous presentation of political actors in the 2023 general elections.

The contest is not between South and North or between East and West. The electorate is presented with qualified and able candidates from all of the regions. Most fortunate for Nigeria as a country, our electoral law provide for wide spread of percentage votes acquired to be declared as a winner- be it at the Presidential or Gubernatorial levels. In all, it is about all Nigerians and each region counts! We must first of all have a country before we have elections. And even after the elections, we as citizens, must of course imbibe peace, unity and cohesion before meaningful development and prosperity can be attained.

Oko Pascal Adinya Esq is a Public Affairs commentator. He writes from Makurdi.

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