AHEAD of 2023 general elections in the country, political activities have commenced in earnest with political parties holding congresses at local government and state levels preparatory for the national convention to discuss ideas, take firm decisions and elect party leaders in conformity with party guidelines.
ALTHOUGH, violence is one of the phenomena that is abhorred in the practice of politics in every society, it is inevitable in the political system and is employed by political actors when there appears to be uncertainty of achieving their political ambition.
EXPERIENCE over decades has shown that political violence sometimes occurs due to opposition and is enhanced by dissident ideologues who do not hold government power and often challenge established authority and to some extent, protest existing policies and offer proposals for change.
FOR instance, during the pre-independence era, violence erupted between the Hausa and Igbo over a motion raised by Chief Anthony Enahoro of the Action Group (AG) for self-government on the 31st March, 1953 for Nigeria to be self-governing and was opposed by Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto through an amendment to replace the 1956 proposed date with the phrase “as soon as applicable”.
SIMILARLY, conflicts among political actors sparked off in Tiv land in 1960 and 1964 during the first republic between the ruling Hausa-Fulani aristocracy in the North and the emergent Tiv petty bourgeoisies claiming over 2000 lives, with properties destroyed.
IN 1965, the Western Regional election witnessed violent political crisis as a result of personal and ideological conflict between Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief Samuel Akintola.
EQUALLY worrisome, was the crisis that characterized the second republic federal government headed by Alhaji Shehu Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). There were also reported cases of wrangling either within the parties or one party against a coalition of others – NPN, PRP, GNPP, and NPP.
MORESO, the aborted third republic under General Ibrahim Babangida witnessed physical confrontations, bare-faced intrigues and fraudulent tactics to outwit political opponents. Moreso, the fourth republic which appeared on the political theatre on the 29th May, 1999 with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), experienced a lot of bitter pills of violence including religious crisis in Lagos-Shagamu, Kano, the South Eastern states, the Odi community military invasion, the Tiv crisis in Nasarawa, Taraba and its spill over to Benue State and subsequent military invasion of Zaki-Biam and other communities in the Sankara axis of the state.
ALL these are aspects of political violence that if not properly checked, could disrupt political processes as can be seen in the truncation of the first and second republics in Nigeria.
ABOVE all, political violence negatively affects implementation of government policies and leads to political apathy and marginalization of the opposition.
AS political parties prepare for the next round of elections, it is imperative that political gladiators should learn how to be tolerant to other political opponents knowing that constructive criticisms from opponents would pave the way for government to make a careful assessment of their performance and make adjustment where the need arises.
IN addition, there are no differences that cannot be resolved through dialogue and consensus. Therefore, political actors should ensure the creation of avenues for political discourse where various views and opinions shall be aired for the resolution of intra and inter party feuds.
FURTHERMORE, violence should not be used by political actors to achieve their selfish political ambition, rather a sound programme of development should be enthroned to ensure equity and justice.