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Edolites, We Are Brothers And Sisters Despite Our Political Differences In The Upcoming Election!

By Isaac Asabor
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It is not an exaggeration to say that the perception and interpretation of the game of politics by most politicians and their followers are often distorted so much that some see it as a war between different parties, and even among kindreds, especially when the same political affiliation and ideology are not shared.

To me, the upcoming election, come September 19 should not be seen as a “Do-or-die-Affair” as it is very possible that some politicians and their supporters are already exhibiting behaviors that points to that. This plea is for all Edolites, particularly those that usually registered their presence through offensive and insulting comments or postings on the social media, particularly on Facebook. They should understand that the upcoming election does not worth a drop of blood from any Edolite. Reiteratively put, the election should not in any way be seen as a war by some notorious and belligerent politicians and their followers when there are personality clashes; either within or without any party. To some of them, campaign period is the right time for exhibiting retrogressive McCarthyism, horse trading and thuggery. It is a period when some youths that would immediately be forgotten after the election by the politicians do not even know their elders any longer. They literarily pour invectives on their seniors as if doing that amounts to achievements.

To those who do not know how brotherly and sisterly the Edolites are, they should have a glimpse on the following facts gathered from Edo State’s website on Edo people and their demography.

“The main ethnic groups in Edo State are Edos, Afemais, Esans, Owans and Akoko Edos. Virtually all the groups traced their origin to Benin City hence the dialects of the groups vary with their distance from Benin City. The Bini speaking people who occupy seven out of the 18 Local Government Areas of the state constitute 57.54% while others Esan (17.14%) Afemai comprising Etsako (12.19%), Owan (7.43%), and Akoko Edo (5.70%)”. Further buttressing the foregoing view, there is no denying the fact that a common thread of the same culture and tradition run across the ethnic groups despite different languages spoken across the State.

Also to be reckoned with in the ethnic equation of the State, particularly in terms of huge population and political awareness cum maturity is Igbanke in Orhionmwon local government area of the State, and which is made up of six (6) villages namely; Ake, Idumodin, Igbontor, Omolua, Oligie and Ottah.

Against the foregoing backdrop, it goes without saying that we do not have any justification to turn polling booths to battlefields. Can Edolites build off the success of its historic 2016 elections, or will electoral violence impede progress? This is the question which political observers in other states are asking having witnessed how the flag bearers of the People Democratic Party (PDP), Governor Godwin Obaseki emerged, and how that of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu also emerged. There is no denying the fact that their respective emergence as the flag bearers of the two biggest parties in the State was characterized by political rancor.

Election-related violence, sadly, has been a feature since the beginning. Elections in Edo State; right from when it was known as Midwestern State to Bendel State till now, as elsewhere, are high-stakes, winner-take-all contests. With so much on the line, they are often, if not always, accompanied by violence. Politicians are all too willing to exploit the gullibility of the electorates. They stoke community tension and even target their rivals and their rivals’ supporters. Not only do average Edolites bear the brunt of such violence, the knock-on effects to the credibility of Edo’s political processes is hard to understate.

In view of the forthcoming election on September 19, it would be nice if all political aspirants and chieftains of the participating political parties see politics as a sport rather than as a war. In sports, there is always a winner and a loser. The loser in sports always accepts defeat with equanimity.

The question now is, is it possible to achieve electoral peace during the forthcoming gubernatorial election? Yes! It is very possible but on conditions that are explicated in this piece.

The first condition is that for a politician to go through a period of election without being at the Centre of any crisis or controversy, he should meticulously be conscious of his image. In the course of being conscious of his image, he will automatically stay away from trouble. This is because image is of vital importance to a politician. Any politician that is notorious for being at the Centre of crises and controversies before, during and after any electoral period may not be able to win the sympathy and votes of the electorate. It is therefore no more a surprise that most politicians have resorted to rigging of votes. If a politician has a rosy image, so to say, in the perception of voters in his constituency, there is no way he would not achieve electoral victory or political success. One of the best ways a politician can keep his image rosy within his constituency is to stay away from crises and controversies.

Any politician that appreciates public relations as a tool of gaining the acceptance of the electorate should know that what a layman may call ordinary handshakes, delivering of speeches, or making statements on topical issues will, no doubt, project his personality. Also, the totality of a politician’s public conduct would aid recall and, perhaps, provide the winning votes.

There are some politicians whose names are spontaneously recalled in our memories whenever crisis or corruption is mentioned. Whatever the activities of any politician, good or bad, would always be recalled in the memories of the people. Whatever a politician does would stick on his personality like a leech. A wise politician would endear himself to his publics (his constituency) by staying away from crises or controversies.

When a politician takes the issue of his election as a do-or-die affair, such a politician would be seen as one who merely got involved in politics because of monetary gains. Politicians who took to politics because of the pecuniary gain always see an election as a do-or-die affair or rat race. The way a politician projects his personality within his constituency in particular and the larger constituency in this case, which is Nigeria, matters a lot, and it goes a long way to determine the success or failure of such politician in politics. Another good reason why politicians should play politics devoid of crises is that political crises would make the nation as a whole to be seen as politically volatile. It is no more news that foreign correspondents assigned to Nigeria from other countries are wont to see Nigeria as a hot beat for bad news. Negative reporting, no doubt, is really affecting our economy especially when foreign investors refuse to invest in our country because of media reports about its volatile nature.

Still in the same connection, politicians and their supporters should see this election as purely that of Edo people, and we should in that light see ourselves as brothers and sisters even as we will liken the election to sport. Going to other states to import thugs and troublesome politicians by virtue of being affiliated to the same party should not be condone, and Edolites should treat politicians that are involved in such retrogressive act as enemies.