Abu I. Michael
It is with huge excitement that Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999. The military had governed the people for long after sacking the the 1st and 2nd Republics in 1966 and 1983 respectively; the excitement that greeted the inauguration of the 4th Republic was expected.
The expectations as they were are for the country to achieve rapid socioeconomic advancement, soar in shaping the affairs of Africa, and build on its democratic gains as the hegemon of the sub region. But alas! The greed and selfishness of the contemporary political class has kept Nigeria in the wood. One of the major banes of our sociopolitical development that killed the excitement is political/election violence usually orchestrated dubious and unpatriotic politicians.
Whatsoever! Violence is evil. Election violence has continued to maim or claim the lives of innocent Nigerians, many which were of the productive age. Some media reports have indicated that no fewer than 40 persons might have lost their precious lives in the current elections. Reuters reported that 39 persons have been killed in connection with the rescheduled Presidential/National Assembly elections of February 23.
The National Human Rights Commission recorded the death of 58 people from 61 incidences of election related violence from 22 states spread across the 6 geopolitical zones of the country in the 2015 general elections. In the 2011 elections according to the Human Rights Watch, 800 people will killed including 7 corps members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), 65,000 others displaced and as usual goods and property worth millions of naira were destroyed.
The election violence of 2007 took religious colouration and lead to sectarian bloodletting in parts of northern Nigeria with a record of 300 deaths; that of the 2003 elections which occurred more in the southeast and south-south were unacknowledged according to the Human Rights Watch publication, 2003 Elections: The Unacknowledged Violence, 2 June 2004, unofficial reports said there were many deaths. What are the gains from the loss of the precious lives of our fellow compatriots? What are the gains from the destruction of public assets and facilities? What do we gain from disrupting a process at all? Nothing, but loss, loss, and….
The Almighty Creator abhors violence so much that in anger He had to destroy the world with flood in the days of Noah. The Scripture tells us in Genesis 6:11 that violence spread everywhere and the world turned wicked. Noah and his family were spared because of his faith, obedience and perseverance. The events of the time of Noah have many lessons for us.
Like Noah who believed in God and depended on His Will, our politicians must learn to accept the fact that it is God that gives power to whosoever He wills. One cannot fight His design. This does not mean that the election results cannot be contested. We all went into the elections either as contestants or as electorates in the February 23 elections, yet, it is God Who decides our fates. Losers of the elections must exude the spirit of sportsmanship; the best way to live is to have faith in the system in which one belongs.
Noah was also obedient. The book of Romans 13 informs us that all authorities are from God and we bound to be obedient unto them. It is wrong to call for anarchy because of grievances over the election results hence this itself could lead to violence. The existence of the country should be appreciated by our obedience to constituted authorities, and people must not be made to break the law as social unrest or disorder cannot resolve issues. Rather than taking the law into one’s hand, aggrieved parties should resort to the courts for redress.
Noah persevered. There is always a tomorrow. If you lose today, you will win tomorrow. We must help to build the system and not to destroy it. Nigerians, and the youths in particular must repudiate violence and must not allow themselves to be used as agents of destruction. Peace is Godly! Violence is Satanic!
Michael is the Resident Information Officer (RIO), Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) Abuja