Signs that next yearâ€™s general elections may be turbulent have begun to manifest in some parts of the country where those aspiring to contest for some political offices have been shot dead in circumstances that point to political assassination.
Last week two aspirants were shot dead, one of them in Benin,Â the Edo State capital and the other in Ekiti, Ekiti State. Mr. Ayo Oghogho Omorogbe, a National Assembly aspirant of the Action Congress of Nigeria, A CN was gunned down by unidentified men at his residence on Idubor Avenue, Off 2nd Ugbor Road in Benin.
The incident happened shortly after he had gone out on political mobilisation and to declare his intention to run for the House of Representatives seat for Uhunwonde Orhionmwon Federal Constituency in next yearâ€™s election. His killers are yet to be found even as the incident has set tongues wagging that it portends a bad signal ahead of next yearâ€™s elections.
Another A CN aspirant, Kunle Ayaga, was also killed last week in Ekiti. He was aspiring for a seat in the State House of Assembly. The father of the victim and eyewitnesses said a man in police uniform shot at the victim on the street and escaped on a commercial motorcycle. These scary incidents clearly show that some politicians can go to any length to stop their opponents from confronting them at the polls. For these intolerant politicians, the do or die mantra of former President Olusegun Obasanjo is what matters to them. All the clamour about free and fair elections, the need for our votes to count, etc., will amount to nothing if violence is not curtailed before, during and after the elections.
In 2006 some notable governorship aspirants were killed by unidentified gunmen. One of them was Funso Williams who was assassinated in his home in Dolphin Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos. The police are still investigating the high profile murder. Another governorship aspirant in Ekiti State, Ayo Daramola, was equally killed in 2006 by assassins in his home.
Politically-motivated assassinations on the eve of every election year have been a disturbing trend in the country over the years. Cowardly politicians who are afraid of testing their popularity at the polls often resort to sending gunmen after those they perceive could defeat them. These are the people who give politics a bad name and scare upright people from vying for political offices.
Security agencies must move swiftly and nip this state of insecurity in the bud to enable INEC conduct a credible, free and fairÂ election. The security challenges that will be thrown up by next yearâ€™s elections are enormous. This requires a pro-active security personnel to grapple with these challenges effectively. They really have a great job to do, in addition to the menace of kidnapping in some parts of the country.
The success of the 2011 polls will not only be determined by the effectiveness of INEC but also largely by security agencies which must curtail the excesses of some politicians and their thugs who want to win at all costs. A level playing field must be created for all contestants. A handful of desperate politicians should not be allowed to truncate the wishes of Nigerians who want a hitch-free electoral process next year.