With few weeks to the commencement of the 2019 general elections in Nigeria, there is need for Nigerians, political candidates and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to thread the path of peace devoid of hate speech, fake news and political violence to sustain the nation’s democracy.
Most political parties in the country are already gearing up for what may be one of the country’s most anticipated elections based on some of the controversial antecedent that transpired during the selection of candidates in the party convention.
There is no doubt that the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are two of the leading political parties in Nigeria among 91 others of their kind that have set tongues wagging with the different campaign strategies aimed at winning the attention of the electorate.
It is a fact that two of the gladiators for this year presidential election remain the APC presidential candidate and incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari; and former Vice President and PDP Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, battling for the seat in Aso Rock.
Posters, fliers, jingles and political rallies at every nooks and crannies of the country explain the preparedness of all the parties involved in the 2019 elections and their desire to win at all cost.
However, there are growing fears among some Nigerians and the international community that the manner in which some parties are approaching the election may create some level of chaos if the situation is not well managed.
This is where the security agencies such as Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Nigerian Army, Department of Security Services, National Intelligence Agency, and Defence Intelligence Agency, will play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of lives and properties and not to be used as political tools to intimidate candidates of the oppositions and the electorate during the election.
Besides, the call by the Buhari-led administration to deploy the Nigeria Army to all the regions in the country, in an exercise tagged Operation Python Dance, has been criticised by some political analysts and groups in the country.
They alleged that the timing for the exercise could create fear in the minds of the electorate and can as well be hijacked by some wealthy politicians in a bid to ensure that the election is in their favour.
Also, the timing of the exercise might be a good agenda in the right direction going by the state of insecurity in the country; however, it would be ideal for the Nigerian government to clearly sideline the army from interfering in the election procedure.
As in politics and elections across the world, social media is set to play a major role in Nigeria’s 2019 campaign.
In the 2015 elections, hate speeches and fake news spread far and wide, with Buhari targeted in particular. After the elections, incredible rumours and lies continued to abound, to the extent that there were even allegations that the man that eventually returned from London after prolonged illness was not in fact the real Buhari, but a cloned version from Sudan.
It is paramount for the Nigerian government not to condone any form of hate speech that may potentially spark violence in the country if not curb.
By and large, the administration of Buhari must make all efforts to ensure that the 2019 elections do not create any sort of crack in the wall of Nigeria, so that Nigerians will continue to enjoy the dividends of true democracy.