‎Osun Election: Candidates’ ‘unhealthy’ campaigns may cause violence, group says

“If politicians continue to adopt this practice, it is going to affect not only the 2014 governorship election…”

The unhealthy campaign strategies adopted by the major contenders in the August 9 gubernatorial poll in Osun State show proclivity to election violence, the Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD, has said.

In a policy paper released, Monday, the group accused the candidates and supporters of All Progressives Congress, APC, and Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, of engaging in acts capable of breaching the peace in the state during and after the election.

“Although Osun State has had challenges in its democratic transition just like other states in Nigeria, apparently, the nature of its political actors and their nature of state politics is a fundamental factor that will shape its democracy and governance,” said Hassan Idayat, Director, CDD.

“Inciting the citizens to take to violence, allegedly preparing a youth group to provide security as against using the police, military or other para-military for the forthcoming governorship election are indicators that the state political actors do not understand they have the responsibility to ensure peace and stability in the state,” Ms. Hassan said.

“Across board, candidates contesting the state governorship election are not engaging citizens on issue based campaign such as building strong institutions, legal frameworks, rule of law, job creation, education, housing, agricultural improvement, etc. but rather they continue to incite the people to take to violence,” she added.

Ahead of the polls, Governor Rauf Aregbesola and Iyiola Omisore, the APC and PDP candidates respectively, have continued to accuse each of other of plans to foment political unrest.

The group frowned at the use of “unhealthy” and inflammatory campaign languages by the leaders of both parties during their electioneering campaigns.

“If politicians continue to adopt this practice, it is going to affect not only the 2014 governorship election, but the entire peace and stability of the state,” Ms. Hassan continued.

“More worrisome is that the types of violent conflicts that characterized south-west in the First Republic might re-emerge. However, the 2011 post election conflicts in northern Nigeria are just one indicator of the reality of this threat.

“The major threat therefore is, if the supporters of APC or PDP take to violence if any of their candidates loses, what is the likelihood that post-election violence will not breakout and if it does, do we have the capacity to quell the situation considering the fact that we have over stretched security personnel at the moment.

“From the threats of violence by party candidates for the upcoming election, the chances of free, fair and credible election is threatened in Osun State unless some of the issues discussed in this paper are promptly addressed,” she added.

In its recommendations, the group urged the federal government to ensure that security operatives are impartial and committed to free and fair elections.

“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should ensure a level playing ground for all the political parties contesting elections in Osun State, ensure compliance with provisions of the 2010 Electoral Act as amended, and ensure that aspirants and party members abide by the provisions of the Code of Conduct voluntarily signed by all political parties,” the group said.

“All political parties and their aspirants should abide by the provisions of Electoral Act 2010 as amended particularly sections 95 and 96, as well as the provisions of the Code of Conduct for political parties voluntarily signed with INEC.”

The group further urged the National Human Rights Commission to commence the monitoring and documentation of infractions of the Electoral Act with a view to recommending appropriate sanctions against defaulters.


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