I was the lead discussant at Delta State Round Table conducted by Academic Associates (AA) PeaceWorks at the Best Western Wetland Hotel, DSC, Warri. Also, present were Chief Dr. Judith, an American who has been in Nigeria for 47 years, the Chairperson of the roundtable, HRM Obi Martha Dunkwu, and the state coordinator, Henry Hope Bubor. Other discussants were Barrister Micheal Ukusare, Rev. Benson German, Professor Tony Akpoborie, Chief Mrs Victoria Jowah, and Rex Anighoro.
The representative of the Independent Electoral commission (INEC) was also a discussant. Representatives of various youth groups, political parties and civil society organisations were present. These where my thoughts and presentation apart from being the moderator of the round table.
Election violence can be pre-election, intra-election, and post-election violence. The consequences of election violence include injuries, deaths, disruption of economic and social activities, and subsequent underdevelopment and economic backwardness because of capital flight and disruption of production. It also scares foreign investors.
The Niger Delta is relatively underdeveloped relative to the large sums of money generated from oil exploration.
Questions We Needed To Answer.
Does election violence Pay?
A thug for a political party was stabbed recently in a party rally, and he was flown in a special flight overseas for treatment. It was revealed his family lives overseas. Meanwhile, a Senator was sleeping in the open in front of a police clinic.
Many of the political thugs operate with impunity; some drive the biggest cars in town. They eventually become special assistants to politicians in high levels. There is a case where a robbery suspect was found to be one of the boys of a top Nigerian politician.
Why were the key actors like the governorship aspirants, aspirants to the legislature, and party chairmen not present?
They usually send low-ranking aids to represent them.
Is the body language of the president and his antecedents in Osun and Ekiti States indicative of a president who will conduct a peaceful election?
Remember his “baboon and monkey” comment and the subsequent bloodshed that followed. Will he be willing to hand over if he loses? There is a strong likelihood of tension between the All Progressives Congress (APC) Party and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), because for the first time, the PDP is facing the greatest opposition since the advent of party politics in Nigeria.
Are we going to hear the voice of a dove but with fangs of a viper and the claws of a lion?
Do they have the will to ensure free, fair, and credible elections? Would the police not look the other way when thugs come to the station to cause violence?
Would INEC not be seen to be an agent of richer and more desperate political elites?
Do we still have men and women who have integrity, authority, and moral power to dissuade people from violence?
Even religious leaders who are supposed to be neutral receive money from politicians. One recently took his members into the streets to do a rally for Atiku. No APC member will take him seriously. A thug will just say he has had his share but wants to deprive him of his.
Have the conditions of unemployment, underdevelopment, and poverty been solved?
With poverty and unemployment, it is very easy for you to see a master’s degree holder throw punches to protect his principal.
Are we using social media platforms enough to preach the message of peaceful election?
What do we need to do now and after the elections to prevent violet elections in your communities?
Just like I said in my post on Youth Participation In Delta State Politics, every young man must ask himself this question: Where are the children of the politicians that want you to kill other poor youths for?
They are overseas most likely. Why do they not be in the forefront of the violence just as they stay in the forefront of their father’s businesses? Would any of these politicians allow you to marry their only child and daughter?
With the rate of decamping of politicians, what will happen to those who you committed acts of violence against when the people you supported previously go to other parties and previous rivals become allies?
Our youths need to be wise and stop being tools of violence for their mutual oppressors. No political thug has ever left a good legacy in Nigeria. They are just like donkeys and bulldogs.
Help answer these questions and pray hard till God hears our voices.