Our Security, Our Peace by Dr. O.E Bassey
The eve to the elections is here, and the build-up is not ceasing anytime soon. The feeler we get, in this part of the world, when this time is here is the fear of violence erupting when the election takes place as we have seen happen in times past.
This fear mostly accounts for why majority of the electorates sit at home, watching TV all day or busying themselves with other activities when they should be at the polling units casting their votes for their favourite candidates.
You won’t deny that this is a thing in the country, and that elements of electoral violence start getting fanned from the build-up to the election. This consequently creates fear in the minds of electorates and dissuades them from coming out to vote during the election.
Rumours have had it that the propaganda of electoral violence erupting and abusing the day in terms of ballot snatching, kidnapping, killings, beatings is a ploy always devised by politicians to keep a large section of the electorates at home and have others who they might have greased to come out and vote preponderantly to their favour.
But be that as it may, even though the widespread threat of violence never takes place, our elections, especially the general ones, have still not been devoid completely of violence as we see in their few counts killings, harassment, beatings and what not. And frankly, this is an anomaly and should not be as most people are still imprisoned with the impression that election will always come with violence, hence, you won’t find them on the election day casting their vote, let alone going all out to get their PVC.
Security is an integral part of an election, and you cannot compromise on it if you innocently desire a democratic result from it. I don’t hold the opinion that we should qualify our elections as free and fair when majority of the people who should vote are imprisoned at home with the fear of their safety not being guaranteed. Democracy should cover the majority availing a free and fair platform for them to contribute to its process. And a revolution in this happening should start from now because right now is when the seeds of electoral apathy spiked by fear of violence are being planted, and programmed to mature when the election comes around.
The minds of the people are where the change should be projected to flag off. From the government, to NGOs, to political parties, to media, to groups, religious institutions, there should be a unanimous stance to reorientate the people towards understanding how propagandists most likely wield the threats of electoral violence to stop them from correcting the atrocities in the land with their votes. How it is a subtle political strategy to have more of their fanatics deciding the fate of others. Statistics should be brought out as to how in times past these claims don’t always come true as we have for a long time enjoyed relative peace during elections as against the exaggerated claims these propagandists come with.
Also, it must be asserted that having a mass crowd of people coming out to vote on election day as insidiously undesired by these propagandists is a detterent to any actual violence that might be cooked up for such day. From experience, when people are out en masse, united towards a cause which in this case is voting, it sends shivers down the spine of any evil perpetrator, intimidating them into dropping any ill-intention they might have for fear of having a large number of people against them.
So people should note that on no occasion is staying at home, all on account of the threat, wise. If we all take an undivided stance to counteract their apparent game of chess with our attack of coming out en masse, they won’t see it coming, as such, intimidated into hiding.
Fundamentally, in stemming the outpouring of such hideous and seemingly delusory messages, the media should start being very stringent with them. Not every message that borders on threats of insecurity should be allowed in the media space knowing how it sears the heart of the people and stops them from exercising their franchise. The media should do their homework well, and not just rush to the press just because a particular person or individual said that “the election will be bloody”.
These groups or individuals, as rumours have had it, are always sponsored to create a thick cloud of fear in the country to have the gullible, which they want in the majority, play into their hands.
Information is very crucial at this time of our political season, and the media, being a major source of the spread of it, needs to come to the party of being contributors to a democratic election by ensuring it does not allow to the public propagandas and fake news.
Ultimately, the incumbent government has more to do to ensure that a peaceful transition from one administration to another that allows for a larger number of electorates to participate in its process becomes the lots of the country.
What we most likely find in most cases is the security apparatus of the country paying loyalty to the sitting government, and doing their bids even if it means disrupting peace and putting majority of lives at risks.
That narrative should change with the election coming forth. Just because you have an exclusive power to the armed forces does not mean you use them only to your advantage, caring zilch about what happens to others. You have been given the mandate to parent over every single individual in the country, and whether or not that individual or groups falls within your political allegiance, you have sworn to be for nobody and to be for everybody, as such, that should be the compass directing all of your activities.
The government, therefore, needs to start from now — that is if they have not even started already — in putting the right pegs in their right holes to ensure no one’s safety is compromised regardless of their choice in the electoral scheme.
We should learn from the mistakes we have made in the past that gave access to violence. We should know where we failed, where we succeeded, and therefore, improve and consolidate on them respectively.
Complaints during elections have always been that some polling units are usually devoid of adequate security personnel. Such should be looked into and every polling unit given the right number of security personnel to see to it that security is not risked, and that everyone can always stroll in, smile and laugh back home after casting their votes.
Aside putting this together and having them implemented come election day, the government should keep the people abreast of its security preparation to evince to them that they are not trifling with their security, and that peace will be their lot before, during and even after the election. Getting to work right now, and keeping the electorates informed on its security plans is a way to boost confidence and make rubbish the seeds of diffidence on peace propagandists will be planting to imprison people to their houses on election day.
It does not stop here however. As it is one thing to understand the game, and it is yet another to beat them to the game. To play this game, and beat them to it requires our PVC in line with our willingness to come out en masse and beat them to their game. This is why I will be using this opportunity to urge all Nigerians — 18 years and above — who haven’t registered for their PVC to do so as registration is still much ongoing. Additionally, mobilization and influence are quite instrumental in charting people on a course. Thus, I implore all community stakeholders and leaders plus religious leaders to preach about the PVC registration to members of their community and members of their faith. If we are going to get this country back into sanity, then we need numbers on our side.
For the Lord is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap. – Proverbs 3:26
Dr. Ofonime Emmanuel Bassey is a Security, Peace and Conflict Resolution Coach with decades of experience in the practice and promotion of Law Enforcement, Peace and Security through the Nigeria Police and the United Nations.
He is an advocate of Peace Leadership and Child Protection.
He has served and interacted at the top level management of the Nigeria Police as well as internationally as a United Nation’s Monitor/Mentor in Kosovo, Europe.
A professor of Peace Advocacy and Conflict Resolution, Dr. O.E Bassey is a certified United Nation’s Trainer, and currently the Director of ICOF Institute of Leadership, Peace and Conflict Resolution in Africa.
With his marks well-established in Peace Leadership both in Nigeria and Africa. Currently, he is the President, NISSI Safety Management Institute: An Institute of Peace Leadership.
Presently, he is spearheading a campaign tagged “The Next Peace Leaders”, a campaign that is billed to run from 2022-2023 with a target of training 37,000 young peace leaders.
For peace and security tips, consultations and trainings, reach him via:
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