Rallying Round Non-Violent Political Rallies Ahead of 2023 General Elections in Nigeria

Rallying Round Non-Violent Political Rallies Ahead of 2023 General Elections in Nigeria
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Political rallies are essential parts of any electioneering, and 2022 will witness the commencement of numerous political rallies from different political parties.

 However, the need to avoid violence, arson, and killings cannot be overemphasized. Political rallies could be described as the most funfair part of all electioneering activities as both old and young party stalwarts usually put their strength, agility, and creativity into it.

Political rallies are also sure time for political parties to tell the electorates their manifestoes based on their political ideology.

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As part of the ongoing writing series to appeal to all politicians in Nigeria to exercise caution about the 2023 general elections; I was fortunate to meet another young Nigerian who believes in doing everything timely and rightly against violence-free elections in 2023. Teju (his real name and he is in early thirties) studied political science but has shelved venturing into politics soon. 

He was beclouded with fear of violence and killings that have consumed many souls, even at political rallies. After a few minutes that we had commenced conversing, I understood another reason that might have made him embrace political apathy.

I got more insight about this political phenomenon (i.e. Political rally) as Teju referred me to the preparation for the 2015 general elections, and it seemed some ugly incidents then justified his position to approve political apathy for now.

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“For remembrance, I love politics right from higher institution”, Teju started.  “I have participated in my political rallies before and am not interested in it anymore. We were from one political rally to another before the 2015 general elections. Everyone was in high spirits each time we went to a political rally until that fateful day- April 9, 2015, a rally was held in Oshodi, Lagos state in preparation for the governorship and House of Assembly elections of April 11. It was like a movie scene when many hoodlums started shooting into the air, and everyone scampered.

 I took a refuge not so far from the venue just like many others. It seemed they had their target before coming because they shot at a man named Ebenezer Olakunle Oke on his left chest region, and another man, Olayemi Eniola, popularly called Esi Oluwo were accosted. I later heard that Oluwo was eventually murdered”. I could read his sad grimace, countenance and perplexity as regards such an incident but in addition to that, another friend who served as one of the party agents in Oshodi-Isholo constituency then mentioned that the said Oluwo and Ebenezer were targeted. He said that on October 30, 2021 (after 5 years Ebenezer was shot), his immediate brother, Emmanuel Oladimeji Oke was also shot and killed by the same suspected political hoodlums while returning home from a ceremony.

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 The main crime Ebenezer committed in 2015 might be linked to his agility and persuasiveness to lure other opposition party members to his own party.

The above narrations are not doubtful as I have also written and read about related issues that ushered in the 2019 general elections.

Notably, intelligence gathering and general policing against violence and killing during political rallies have not been taken very serious like those conducted for voting days. The recent Anambra governorship election has shown that hoodlums have targeted political rallies to even intimidate and scare the opposition party members and eliminate anyone who may stand on their way just as people have witnessed in the case of Olayemi Eniola, Ebenezer Olakunle Oke, Emmanuel Oladimeji Oke and many others.

Must killing and violence at political rallies continue without being checked?  Should we fold arms and allow such events to happen at numerous rallies to be conducted for the 2023 general elections in Nigeria? While many may finger ineffective policing system in the country as the main cause, there are other factors that are essential for consideration.

 Politicians for instance are number one solution-finders to this ugly incident. They should by now understand and admonish their party loyalists not to bother disrupting, maiming, or killing anyone in the name of vying for political positions as the electorates have power to choose their preferred candidates.

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In addition to that, it is imperative to take political rallies seriously to avoid violence, killings and disruptions by informing the security agent ahead in order to ensure provision of adequate security at venue of each political rally. As the place of intelligence gathering ahead of each rally cannot be neglected in this case, the populace with credible information about issues relating to disruptions of political rallies, and violence in any form should also wade in and help the security agents.  

All stakeholders in Nigerian politics, including the mass media, public and private organizations should begin to sensitize the public about the need to conduct violent-free political rallies as well as the general elections comes 2023.

Olumuyiwa A. Kehinde writes on socio-political, business, and education issues in Nigeria and beyond.

He can be reached on writingsplendour247@gmail.com

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