To start with, it is sad to note that in a multi ethno-religious society like ours, our politicians from all divides use our diversity as a weapon against us rather than a source of strength to us.
It worries one to note that, instead of issue-based campaigns, all manners of sentiments are being deployed deliberately by all our political actors from all political divides in order to gain political power. We are sadly divided by our ethno-religious group, but ironically united by our socio-economic problems.
Political calculations and or strategies used by our politicians towards electoral victory often exploit our fault lines. Based on the existing reality, the election in Kogi state is likely going to be a three-horse race among the governing All Progressives Congress, APC, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and Social Democratic Party, SDP.
The APC fielded a Muslim Ebira with a Christian Igala running mate (Kogi Central/Kogi East ticket). The opposition PDP fielded a Christian Okun with a Muslim Ebira woman running mate (Kogi West/Kogi Central ticket). The SDP fielded a Muslim Igala with a Christian Okun running mate (Kogi East/Kogi West ticket).
It is sad to note that most voters instead of considering the competence, experience, track records, and the manifesto of a candidate, they tend to consider his or her ethnic group or religion or region and)or money as the reason for casting their votes for him or her.
At birth, no one had the choice to be born as an Igala or an Ebira or an Okun or an Ogori-Magongo or a Kakanda or a Bassa Nge man or woman, etc. Our ethno-religious diversity is not really our problem. As ordinary Nigerians, we are all united by poverty, unemployment, and insecurity despite having different ethno-religious persuasions. Our problems are our political desperados who use our diversity as their political capital.
We need leaders with genuine ideas on how to create jobs, reduce poverty, tackle the problems of insecurity and put food on our various tables, not leaders from our ethno-religious group who lack what it takes to solve our numerous common problems.
However, there are two undesirable issues that have increasingly become very alarming and highly intolerable in our electioneering process which must be delt with urgently. These are elections violence and vote- buying, which have unfortunately become a strategy often being deployed by our political desperados from all political divides in order to get political power.
The electorate must be reminded that their lives are more important than the ambition of any politician whether on the basis of ethno-religious reason and or financial benefits. No politician will let his child die for his ambition. Don’t contemplate sacrificing your life for any politician. The electorate must be reminded that having sold their votes for a token they would have automatically lost their moral rights for demanding for better security, electricity, roads, hospitals, and schools, etc.
Our security agencies must be patriotic enough to stop elections violence and vote-buying on election day. Our security agencies must not compromise. The security agencies must rise to the occasion. Let them be patriotic enough not to be party to the alleged crimes. They must do their work with all sincerity and patriotism.
INEC, the media, civil society organisations, religious bodies, legal practitioners and the people of conscience have a lot of work to do in order to stop the twin menaces of election violence and vote-buying in our electioneering process. Let us continue to educate the electorate on its undesirability and consequences.
All hands must be on deck towards preventing election violence and vote-buying. The electoral umpire, INEC, should remain independent, fair, transparent and neutral in its conduct.
May we have credible and peaceful elections in Kogi state come November, 11, 2023.
May God bless Nigeria!
Kaduna, Kaduna state