By Quadri Yahya
In December 2022, two months before Nigerians will elect a new Commander-in-Chief and members of the legislative body, Nurudeen Ogidi already perceived the violence that may mar the polls.
Ogidi, a resident of Lagos State, is an eligible voter but he will not exercise his civic right because of electoral violence which has distorted the beauty of democracy in his locality.
Killings, thuggery, and attacking of contestants and party members as well as electoral umpire’s facility have been the tales of grassroots politics all year round; and on the actual voting day, snatching of ballot boxes and suppression reign.
Most times, politicians cry foul while playing the blame game, and sometimes send a save our soul message to the outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari.
But Ogidi said of the violence, “Politicians are the architects of the act”. He added, “They do it against one another, not to themselves.”
Trail of assaults, death
Elections in Nigeria have arrays of challenges. Plus the fact that the dynamics of politics in the country are largely based on the ethnicity and religion blocs. Separatists and gunmen attacks have also dealt a blow to Africa’s largest democracy, shattering the franchise of millions of Nigerians.
The violence has also cost the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission. The Commission has recorded 50 election-related violence on its facilities across 15 states.
No fewer than 1,149 Nigerians have been killed in three years.
While Ogidi was apathetic, an actress, Chioma Akpotha, who was out to cast her vote on the election day, was attacked at her polling unit in Eti-Osa LGA, Lagos.
“I can’t believe this. Jesus! Look at what is going on..oh God! My fellow woman, I say I dey outside, this woman still touched me,” the helpless Akpotha took to her Instagram page to cry out.
An attack that happened in a community in Gwoza LGA of Borno State also left five persons injured.
Two persons in a stationary vehicle inside a building were burnt to death by suspected thugs in Kano State.
The Kano State Police Command said it received reports of the incident around 4 pm during the collation of results at the INEC office in Tudun Wada Local Government Area (LGA).
Social media has also been littered with videos of unconfirmed attacks on voters on election day.
From his Abeokuta residence of Ogun State, a former President, Olusegun Obasanjo sent out a letter, raising the alarm that Nigeria is in danger and may be consumed if President Buhari failed to meddle in an election that could ‘set this country on fire’.
“At this stage, we do not need wittingly or unwittingly to set this country on fire with the greed, irresponsibility and unpatriotic act of those who allegedly gave money to INEC officials for perversion and those who collected the blood money”, Obasanjo wrote out of concern.
In the same vein, Foreign observers under the aegis of the National Democratic Institute (NDI)/International Republican Institute (IRI) on the Nigeria 2023 International Election Observation Mission have urged the international community to sanction perpetrators of electoral violence in the just concluded general election in Nigeria.