It is no longer news that the electioneering process in this part of the world to elect leaders into political offices is heavily characterised by pre and post election violence. Majority of the perpetrators of this ugly trend are youths who are employed by politicians as tools to achieve their political ambitions.
Violence according to Wikipedia is “the use of physical force so as to injure, abuse, damage, or destroy.” The World Health Organization also defines violence as “the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation.”
Political Thuggery in the same vein can be described as violent behaviour, especially of a criminal nature. It is the victimising, terrorising, intimidating, and injuring of innocent individuals and politicians or groups for political reasons.
The rate of violence in Nigeria’s electioneering process is quite alarming and should be of deep concerns to all. Violence per say cannot be totally eliminated in elections, especially in this part of the world where the quest for public office and personal gains supersedes public interest. Violence may not be completely nipped in the bud, but with the right mind set, orientation and re-orientation of youths; as well as a good attitudinal change and mental fumigation; violence can be reduced to the barest minimum.
As Nigeria, Cross River State and many other states head to the polls by February 23 and March 9 to elect leaders who will represent them for the next four years in all spheres of office, there is need for youths to shun violence before, during and after the elections. Violence anywhere in the world has never been a tool for development, rather violence only sets a path of retrogression to it’s initiators.
When youths have no skills, no job, no degree, no family responsibility, no self worth, no Integrity, nothing positive to fight for; When you haven’t enjoyed the bliss in a little comfort or the respect from people or recognition from the society or even your immediate family; When you haven’t traveled wide to learn the depth of life, be sure that desperate people will exploit your conscience, ignorance, poverty and integrity especially during elections.
Worthy to note is that politicians recognize these “human tools” only during elections which comes just once in four years, afterwards, they vanish. They buy ammunitions that are more expensive than the money they ordinarily should give to their preys for something positive and impactful and invoke fetish powers into the gullible ones. They all of a sudden, become “lords of doom.” Such characters in our dear land will fail any election and fail overwhelmingly. A person that is in charge doesn’t need violence to prove it, all arguments should naturally fall in place.
This is not about APC, PDP, SDP or any other political party. This is about us, as young people and the development of our Nation, Nigeria, it’s a clarion call.
People tend to forget that politics and politicians will come and go but family and friends will always be there, or like the popular parlance “soldier go, soldier come, barracks still remain”.
I have kept sensitising people not to allow the selfish interest of politicians to influence the beautiful relationship they have built with friends and family over the years.
I have also kept orienting the minds of fellow youths that steering up enmity and hatred between friends, family, neighbours, colleagues and loved ones in the name of elections and politics which will only leave them in a world of regrets, despondency and distasteful situation; because after the whole thing called “Elections”; the same people you are fighting for will still sit in a round table, drink the best wine behind closed doors at their usual place, where neither you and I will be.
Unfortunately, not everyone will be privileged to read this piece, because some are in villages and bushes, fortifying themselves, some are out there, looking for posters/billboards to destroy or supporters of their opponents to beat up while others may see this advisory piece but yet, not know what it means. However, it is better to die once as a brave man than to live a thousand times as a coward.
By the way, who has ever asked himself where the children of these so called politicians are? And why they are not with you at the forefront of their parents’ struggles for power, greed and selfish interest! This alone should prick your conscience that all what these so called leaders want is the best for their children but worse for you. Their children are in Havard, Oxford, Yale, Surrey, MIT and other Ivy league schools, having the best of education so they can take over and continue from where their parents stopped. While majority of youths who fight for these politicians have not smelled the four walls of a university, and can’t afford a square meal per day; talk more of boasting of an average 1$ per day.
Dear youths, the truth about the matter is that we all know our leaders, we know who they are; beyond what they tell us they are. All they do is use you to kill, maim, malign and destroy the lives and properties of your fellow brothers; just for people who don’t care about you and your future.
A man who gives you arms and charms is not your boss but your enemy. He will never consider you when brilliant opportunities to work in reasonable places come because you’ve proven yourself a necessary nuisance, fit only for filthy assignments. He will never want you to grow beyond that level of thuggery and servitude.
Worthy to note is that when you need help, the first and closest people you run to are family, friends, colleagues and neighbours, and not the so called politicians.
If we must insist on good governance and representation from our leaders, if we must request for infrastructure and rural development, qualitative education and affordable health care; If we must request for employment and job opportunities; If we must request for youth empowerment and human capacity development; if we must request for economic and social intervention, security and institutional reforms; then we must democratically elect our leaders through the ballot with our PVC’s and not through guns and matchets.
If the process of democratically electing our leaders through the ballot is defeated, then we would have no choice than to prepare to live under perpetual political subversion even for the next four years.
So whatever your ambition is, no matter the circumstance, no matter the political party, don’t allow yourself to be used as a tool for for political violence, thuggery, and the destruction of lives and properties, the person using you will never use His or Her Child.
Shun violence, go to school, get an education, Volunteer for an organisation or a cause, learn a skill and create an identity for yourself.
When all these are in place, the era of politicians subjecting youths to tools for political violence would have been eliminated or subdued.
“Vote Not Fight, Election No Be War.”
Obeten Godfrey, is a Journalist with CrossRiverWatch, a Social Media Analyst and Content Developer.
NB: Opinions expressed in this article are solely attributable to the author, Obeten Godfrey and do not in anyway represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organisation the author works for/with.
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