Season of endorsements – Leadership

By The Citizen
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Judging by the way incumbent officeholders are being endorsed for a second term, the campaigns for the 2015 elections have since begun. If a youth group is not doing the endorsement, it is a village group or an association of witches. It appears odd, therefore, that the National Assembly caucus of the Ogun State branch of the All Progressives Congress (APC) could describe last week's endorsement of the state governor, Ibikunle Amosun, for a second term by some of his loyalists as an exercise in futility and a charade. Across the country, it is the season of endorsements.

Almost everyone is jumping the gun. President Goodluck Jonathan has received endorsements from women's groups, politicians and ethnic champions in the last one year. Nobody has reprimanded them. During the yuletide holiday, senators from the three senatorial zones of Ebonyi State along with members of the House of Representatives from the state and the speaker of the state House of Assembly sealed their own endorsement of the president with an unusual motion. His Ijaw kinsmen have said it is Jonathan or there will be no Nigeria. Besides, the president's campaign posters for the 2015 election litter everywhere. Posters and billboards all over Kaduna State are yearning for Governor Yero who is barely one year in office. Most two-term governors are being 'pressured' to take a seat at the Senate.

As things stand, the endless warnings of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the provision of Section 99(1) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), which stipulates that 'the period of campaigning in public by every political party shall commence 90 days before polling day and end 24 hours prior to that day', are only good on paper. But if laws have been made, they should be enforced. INEC should not hesitate to apply appropriate sanctions against culprits as provided by the relevant sections of the law. Law enforcement agencies should dispassionately apprehend violators and must not be partisan in discharging their duty of guarding against threats to public order.

A situation where political organisations take the garb of non-government organisations to dish out putrid initiatives and divisive ideas should be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted. There would be no level-playing field if incumbents use the machinery of state to surreptitiously market their re-election bids. The rules of engagement should be observed to the letter. Much as freedom of association and free speech should be encouraged, their abuses should attract proper sanctions.

Endorsements are a ploy often used by incumbents to intimidate political opponents and convey real or imagined impression of political superiority. They are almost always sponsored by the person being 'endorsed'. They are used to generate false popularity and to justify rigging at the polls. Nigerian politicians should stop heating up the polity. Immoral and pernicious ventures should not be part of our political engineering. That is why we deplore the recruitment of women and young people as canon-fodders. Any politician willing to have thugs should first employ his wife and children, who could also endorse their 'God-sent' candidate.