There is pandemonium and fear in many Nigerians. This is because of the Saturday’s upcoming election. The presidential election and legislative elections will be held on Saturday, 16th February 2019.
Not less than ten deaths have been reported in pre-poll clashes so far.
In Warri city on Sunday, five members of APC ruling party were shot dead. Authorities called it a revenge attack by suspected opposition group.
There have been reported clashes between APC supporters and PDP supporters from different areas.
Moreover, there are records of election violence in Nigeria. Analysts are therefore warning that the Saturday’s presidential election may be bloody.
In 2011, presidential election violence claimed nearly 1,000 lives in Northern Nigeria. This was as a result of the defeat of Mohammadu Buhari by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The presidential contest will see incumbent Buhari seek to win a second four-year term against former vice president Atiku Abubakar. This is in what is expected to be a close race.
“Nigerian elections have often been characterised by violence with political tensions. This is further aggravated by current conflicts and deepening insecurity.
“There are fears that this election would be no different from the ones in the past,” Nnamdi Obasi, International Crisis Group’s senior Nigeria researcher, told Al Jazeera.
“The intensely acrimonious exchanges between the two major political parties have already resulted in many clashes, risking further violence during and after the polls,” Obasi said.
The election campaign has been dominated by politicians accusing their rivals of inciting violence.
A key ally of Buhari and governor of the northern state of Kaduna, Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, recently warned Nigerians who were living abroad to not intervene in the elections.
“We are waiting for the person who will come and intervene. They will go back in body bags because nobody will come to Nigeria and tell us how to run our country,” said El-Rufai.
El-Rufai’s comments drew criticism from international organisations. And from the opposition, heightening tensions further.
Two top officials of the PDP in Kaduna have also been arrested by security officials after they made provocative comments in their campaign rallies.
Security analyst Don Okereke told Al Jazeera that election violence would not go away soon.
“In 2015, nearly 58 Nigerians lost their lives in pre-election violence. This is a result of the do-or-die brand of politics played in Nigeria,” Okereke said.
The top political parties have witnessed defections of some of their leaders. The switching of party allegiance has not gone down well with their supporters, often resulting in attacks and killings.
Factions in his party were angry over the president’s support for another candidate, as intra-party bickering exacerbates the tense political environment.
Several warnings have been issued by local and international organisations, which say they are worried about security during the elections.
Security experts are calling for measures by the government to preempt poll violence.
“Granted some analysts believe that deployment of soldiers for election is an aberration, but if the motive is good and the soldiers won’t be overzealous or be used to intimidate voters, especially in the opposition strongholds, then the measure could be extenuating,” Okereke said.
The Nigerian army has announced that its troops will be engaged in ensuring the security of voters and electoral officials.
The opposition has questioned the plan, alleging that the armed forces could be used in elections rigging.
Nigerian leaders in the past have been accused of using the country’s security apparatus for their political goals.
The loyalists in the security service have often played a key role in safeguarding votes in areas considered to be the ruling party’s stronghold.
Experts are calling for caution in the handling of the deployment of security forces during the presidential elections.
“The government must deploy police and other security agencies in the most vulnerable states. But in a manner that inspires confidence rather than intimidate the voters,” said Obasi.
Source : ajazeera.com