NIGERIA’S ruling party for 13 years, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, makes the point emphatically that Nigeria’s politics reflects the personalities and not party policies, which in most cases are ordinary words.
Known for its robust appetite for violence, PDP does not blink an eye in explaining violence, some resulting in deaths, as “families affairs” that would be settled without inviting the law. For years, ordinary party primaries in Oyo and Bayelsa States have been greeted with more violence than in elections against other parties.
In Bayelsa, bombs go off regularly at party rallies. Razing of opponents’ campaign offices is part of the game. Security agencies, before the pre-occupations with Boko Haram, made no serious investigations of these matters. Not even the bombing of the President’s home in Bayelsa caused any arrests.
Pre-election violence was so much last year that Joseph Dawudu, President of the Nigeria Bar Association said, “Various parts of Nigeria have been assaulted by a spate of violence ranging from assassinations to terrorism.
For a purpose, that brings men and women leaders into the executive and legislative arms of government to be facilitated by undemocratic measures such as rigging, thuggery, corruption of electoral officials in exchange for winning votes is alarming and usually portentous of great and irreversible danger to the ship of state.”
The dangers from electoral violence persist.
PDP primaries in Cross River State that returned a second term governorship ticket to Liyel Imoke clearly departed from PDP’s famed notoriety for violence. The primaries did not generate much attention because it was devoid of the violence that heralds such high profile quest for elective office.
No part of the State is on fire. No bombs are exploding. The people are waiting for April to vote. It is an example worthy of emulation these days that less important matters result in violence that take hundreds of lives.
Challenges like the crisis in some wards in Bakassi, Boki, and Yakkur were tackled by excluding them from the primaries. There were agreements on this hence no protests on the decision.
Officials of the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, who supervised the primaries and the Deputy Speaker House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, an observer, commended the peaceful conduct of the primaries and the maturity of those involved.
It is easy for the PDP to appropriate these accolades as pointers to the sanity in the party and its new attitude to violence. Followers of the party know better. The primaries in Cross River show that violence can be dealt with, depending on the attitude of those in the political contest. PDP, and other parties, should curb the excesses of their members to stem violence.