The long-awaited off-cycle governorship election in Ondo State comes up tomorrow, October 10, 2020. Even though some sabre-rattling and isolated political skirmishes shadowed the campaigns, it is gratifying to note that the atmosphere appeared to have calmed down towards the actual election date.
The peace accord signed by the contending parties on Tuesday, October 6 ought to further put the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the police and security agencies as well as the contestants and their supporters in the right mood for a free, fair and peaceful election.
This need for a peaceful election has been reinforced even by concerned groups. The National Peace Committee led by former military head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, with eminent Nigerians such as the Sultan of Sokoto and the Bishop of the Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Matthew Hassan Kukah, as usual, committed the candidates and their political parties to a peaceful election with an accord signed in Akure.
Also, the Embassy of the United States of America has lent its voice to the need for a peaceful election that will reflect the true choice of the people. During the Edo election of September 19, 2020, the war-like electioneering atmosphere elicited threats from the US, United Kingdom and European Union to deny visas to election riggers and promoters of violence and facilitate their sanctions under international law.
We call on all political contestants to comport themselves and justify the confidence that the INEC and the European Centre for Electoral Support, ECES, have reposed in this election’s prospects for a peaceful outcome.
The political contenders should be mindful that though our powerful foreign partners have not issued threats this time around, violators will still be made to pay. We look forward to the day when our laws and institutions will be able to visit the full weight of the law on electoral offenders rather than depend on foreigners to tackle our political outlaws.
Nigerian politicians will not, on their own, behave. They are used to corrupting the process and sabotaging the will of the people, knowing that the law is powerless to bring them to justice.
The security agencies should re-enact their competent handling of the successful Edo gubernatorial election in Ondo State tomorrow. The presidency should show the same commitment to a free and fair election in Ondo as was done in Edo. No election in Nigeria will be free, fair and peaceful unless the Federal Government really wants it to be so.
The Professor Mahmood Yakubu’s INEC, which has been heavily criticised for its many “inconclusive” incompetently-conducted elections over the past five years, should show Nigerians that the success of the Edo election was not a fluke.