Political party primaries conducted across the Nigeria states in preparation for the 2019 general elections exposes the country inability to conduct a violence-free election. Some party members that participated in the exercise accused party leadership of conducting elections full of malpractices that were characterized by violence.
For instance, in the Imo state All Progressives Congress (APC) primaries, the media reported the killing of one person at Orodo ward, while three buses were burnt at Amike and Mbieri communities in Mbaitoli Local Government Area.
The case of Abeokuta, Ogun State, is no different. The APC governorship aspirants’ meeting prior to the party primaries was dispersed by armed thugs. At the Rivers state APC primaries, the media reported bomb explosion at the venue.
In Zamfara state, the APC crisis was so prominent that the party could not conclude its primaries and submit candidates’ names to the Nigeria election management body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 2019 general election within the timeframe stipulated by the Commission. In the same vein, Adamawa state APC recorded crisis in its primaries, the former EFCC Chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, and Mahmud Halilu accused the Yarima Giade-led committee of conniving with Governor Jibrilla to manipulate the primaries and they rejected the results from the primaries.
In Benue State, attempts to hold the People Democratic Party (PDP) senatorial primaries at the AperAku Stadium, Makurdi was disrupted by armed thugs, with 10 people recorded as haven been injured and 20 cars destroyed. In addition, the party effort to hold primaries at Otukpo was disrupted as party members stopped the process for an alleged forgery of the delegates list.
In Kwara state, the Peoples’ Democratic Party governorship primaries were also disrupted by armed thugs. However, the rescheduled primary was held under heavy security presence.
The trend continued in Anambra state. The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) senatorial primaries were scuffled by armed policemen who invaded the venue and stopped the process.
Overall, nine APC controlled states recorded intra-party crisis at the concluded party primaries. The experience and absurdities recorded in the party primaries in preparation for the 2019 general elections have further exposed Nigeria’s inability to have a peaceful election. And the implication is, if the election stakeholders do not work together towards mitigating the re-occurrence of such issues in the 2019 general elections, the Nigerian state is likely to encounter violence in the forthcoming elections.
For the 2019 general elections to be free from violence, the relevant stakeholders need to begin now to engage the political parties, the security agencies, and the election management body. And in that engagement, stakeholders must adopt rules of engagements and code of conduct that must ultimately compel political actors to play by the rules as we approach the 2019 general elections.
Jokpa Erusiafe, CLEEN Foundation