TAMING VIOLENCE AT POLITICAL RALLIES

Political campaigns have only recently commenced in preparation for the general elections in February.

However, the trend of violence and unnecessary clashes during such campaigns and rallies should worry all of us.

Only last Tuesday during the Flag off Campaign of the Lagos APC at the Skypower Ground, G.R.A, Ikeja, dangerous weapons were freely used by suspected thugs and some people were said to have been killed and others injured.

Pandemonium broke out during the inauguration of the APC campaign as hoodlums invaded the venue and engaged in a supremacy battle.
Several journalists were among those who reportedly sustained gunshot wounds during the clash.

A leader of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, Musiliu Akinsanya, alias MC Oluomo, was allegedly stabbed during the clash and that enhanced fears of possible retaliation by his group against those responsible.

The hoodlums and miscreants who were responsible for the violence in the arena were said to be have been armed with guns, daggers, matchets and other dangerous weapons.

Such violence is fast becoming the norm in our political life. Politicians have always been accused of arming thugs and supporters with a view to cowing their opponents and their supporters to ensure easy victory for such politicians at the polls.

These thugs and supporters more often than not pay the supreme sacrifice while fighting for their principals and leave behind widows and orphans to mourn their demise.

Apart from internal party violence, intra party clashes are also common place across the country, with the parties concerned blaming each other publicly for the ensuing fracas. 

How many times do we need to remind these so-called supporters fanatical followers that their deaths do not in any way affect their paymasters, who continue with their political careers without a hint of remorse or even sympathy over the death of their followers?

The political opponents they fight for during the day become friends in the evening after their rallies. Such opponents may be seen at pepper soup and suya spots sharing banters and drinking beer while their foot soldiers are killing themselves.

Just two Sunday’s ago, the governorship candidates of APC and PDP in Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Jimi Agbaje respectively attended Sunday Mass at Holy Cross Cathedral in Lagos and even took photos with the Archbishop. 

The onus is on party leaders to educate their followers on the need to avoid violence within or without their parties, particularly during this campaign period preceding the elections.

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