Oshiomhole: Governors contribute to election violence
Adams Oshiomhole, former governor of Edo state, says political leaders must support the efforts of security operatives in ensuring the 2023 elections are violence-free.
He said the security challenges in Nigeria are not novel and can only be tackled through the collaborative effort of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political leaders and security agencies.
The deputy director-general of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential campaign spoke on Tuesday during the citizens elections dialogue hosted by YIAGA Africa and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with Channels TV.
“Police sending two or ten men to a location doesn’t necessarily guarantee security. I’ve been a victim of election rigging which was why I launched ‘one man one vote’ because if it’s about survival of the fittest, people like me can’t get elected,” Oshiomhole said.
“The ingredients for free and fair elections don’t just lie with INEC. Escorting the materials to make sure they’re not hijacked by hoodlums is a function of security and the president has a duty to ensure that the security forces are not only briefed that they mustn’t be partisan but that they have the support and logistics they need to discharge their responsibilities.
“But we must also know that we [political leaders] have a role to play. If I go to my polling unit and say ‘it’s not a do-or-die affair, let the people vote freely’ and Dino [Melaye] says the same thing in his unit, our followers will not resort to violence.”
Oshiomhole added that governors contribute to violence recorded on election days, adding that the weapons used by disruptors cannot be easily obtained.
“When I was a governor and I mean this, you can ask [former] President Goodluck Jonathan, I did say at a meeting at the villa that sometimes governors contribute to election violence because AK-47 is not as cheap as buying akara,” he said.
“And when you see many young men who are unemployed wielding AK-47s, who is providing them? So the political leadership has a responsibility, we need to take that responsibility.
“If 500 voters choose to resort to violence, how many policemen do you want to deploy? Let us accept that as political parties, we agree that in the course of the campaigning, at every point, we must emphasise that this election is about freedom to choose and that what is more important is the process, not even the outcome.
“Let us resort to telling our leaders that they must preach violent free elections. I insist that all of us here have a duty. Nigeria is much more than the sub total of all the political parties.”
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