By Josef Omorotionmwan
WHAT is the first prerequisite for development? Peace. What is the next most important prerequisite for development? Peace. What is the third most important requisite for the development of any place? Peace.
It is peace, peace and peace! Actually, no meaningful development ever takes place in an atmosphere of rancour. That explains why, as we move to the most critical stage of the gubernatorial election in Edo State, we must strive for maximum peace. We cannot afford to miss it again this time around.
Come to think of it, it is only a fool that would continue to do the same thing in the same old way and be expecting different results. If the development of a place were based on the amount of electoral violence obtained from that place, of course, Nigeria would definitely have been one of the most developed countries on planet earth. But here we are, virtually marching on the same spot – motion without movement! Every election year has become a year of war; war among brothers.
It is time for change. We must constantly remember that the purpose of protecting the life of our state and preserving the liberty of the citizens is to pursue the utmost happiness of our people. No matter who governs us, our success in this pursuit will remain the best test of our success as a state.
Edo State must be developed! We must all make deliberate efforts to make Edo State great. As we march towards the election, we must remember that our imagination, our initiative, and our indignation will determine whether we will build a society where progress will be the servant of our needs, or a society where old values and new visions will be buried under unbridled growth.
We must be determined to build a society where people will be concerned with the quality of their goals than with the quantity of their goods.
The change we desire must be dramatic. Admittedly, it is quite difficult to break old habits. The bottom line still remains that nothing good comes easy. Nothing goods comes in an atmosphere of rancour and in-fighting. We must all say NO to violence. Our youths must come out with an iron determination not to allow themselves to be used as thugs because the development of Edo State does not reside in the pittance they get to foment trouble.
The journey has already started. By now, the electioneering campaigns that have been going on in the past six months or so must have equipped us with the wherewithal to make intelligent judgements as to who will best serve our interest. We should go to the polling centre peacefully and vote for that person.
We have said elsewhere that nobody ever gets elected based on the number of people he has killed. The development of Edo State will not depend on snatching and stuffing of ballot boxes. Neither will it depend on the shooting and maiming of our neighbours. Rather, the desired development will require peace, a lot of genuine peace.
It will require patriotic and ceaseless work from all Edolites. In times like these, every man, every woman and every youth, irrespective of party affiliation and irrespective of religious and ethnic differences, must quickly banish from his heart, all feelings of disappointment, all sense of chagrin and like the gallant soldier, fall in line, salute the colours and face the common enemies, which include unemployment, poverty in the midst of plenty, inadequate women and youth empowerment, insecurity, paltry educational and health facilities, infrastructural deficiencies, environmental degradation, etc. These are the common enemies that the guns originally intended for the polling booths must be used to kill and destroy.
This is an open invitation for all of us to gear up for a most peaceful election in the next three days. Rigged elections have been the greatest obstacle to meaningful development in Nigeria. The time has come for us to outgrow that level. In fact, anyone who is rigged into any position will have no moral obligation to provide any development to the people. The duty to have a good election begins with all of us on Saturday, July 14, 2012!
In the election, like in every contest, there will be winners and losers. We must also have at least a word of caution, even for the winners. Yes, you are bound to jubilate over your victory. As you bask in the euphoria of your success, you must not allow your jubilation to degenerate into violence and destruction. After all, Edo State belongs to all of us and its development is a duty on all of us.
We remember Adlai Stevenson (1900-1965), one of the greatest politicians in recent history. Some of the warnings he gave as far back as 1952 are still very relevant today:
“Even more important than winning the election is governing the nation. That is the test of a political party; the acid final test. When the tumult and shouting die; when the bands are gone, and the lights are dimmed; there is the stark reality of responsibility”.
As Edo people go to the polls on Saturday, July 14, 2012, they are already aware that whoever emerges will be the Governor of all Edo State, not the Governor of a political party. They are determined to let the best emerge. Above all, they are determined to make this the dawn of an era where elections will be truly won or lost at the polling booth, not in the courtroom. Here’s wishing all of us a most peaceful and most successful election!