Political Rallies: A Stitch In Time

By Adamu S. Ladan

POLITICIANS worldwide love to equate their popularity with the size of the crowds they gather. Is that really a good barometer when that crowd is rented and has been promised incentives for showing up?

Recently, there was a commotion in Funtua, Katsina state where a crowd protested that they had been paid less than what they’d been promised.

This happened when one of the prominent political parties flag off its state wide campaign in the city.

The party according to some of the hirelings had offered them  N2000 each, but they received either only  N500 or nothing at all. Some who claimed to have been transported from Kano state alleged that they were dumped after the rally.

This even as they have discharged the job they were contracted. To attend a rally that was addressed by a Gubernatorial candidate and his team.

For long, we’ve heard about the unofficial rate card for crowds  in form of various permutations of cash, food, drinks and some other incentives. Of course, these people are transported to and from the venue in trucks and buses.

When questioned, many of such people said before they were brought there they were given some peanuts to “energise” before embarking on the journey. When it’s said energise gues what it meant.

However, the mind boggling question is how could such crowds be transported in large numbers via interstate borders without catching the attention of security agencies? This is despite the current security situation the country and the region in particular is passing through.

This is indeed a pointer to all security agencies, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and all stakeholders that they need to be alive to their responsibilities in ensuring that the 2023 elections are conducted in atmosphere of peace and tranquility.

But if this trend of engaging hired cross-border mercenaries continues unabated then Katsina state and Nigeria at large should be prepared for an unimaginable consequences. Allah forbid.

It therefore behooves on all stakeholders to rise up to the occasion and ensure that inglorious violent political culture is not imported to Katsina state. Moreso Katsina state is not known for such uncivilized and archaic political behaviour.

If persuading voters is the essence of a political campaign then, candidate’s words, actions, and even perceived thoughts should be paraded before the public to make informed decision before the polls. And this should be done without resorting to any form of hooliganism.

However, we have  so far enjoyed atmosphere of peace and concord even as the APC had traversed two Senatorial Zones of the state for its state wide campaign tour.

Through out the campaign the party has crisscrossed 230 wards in 23 of the  34 local government areas and not a single incident of thuggery or violent behaviour was reported from the APC team.

It’s therefore hope that the PDP and all other parties would emulate this exemplary conduct as they begin their campaign tour.

The people of Katsina state would now be on the watch to see whether this serene atmosphere would be maintained by the new entrants.

For the APC it’s a new down for politics of ideas hinged on the principle of “mai abun fada baya fada”.

The APC Gubernatorial candidate, Dr. Dikko Umar Radda noted this when concluding first leg of the tour in Kankia.

While commending the APC  and people of the state for embracing the culture of peace and tolerance,  he particularly singled out the youths in the entourage for civil and examplary conducts  through out the tour.

This perhaps is in tune with the promise made by the campaign Director General, Arch. Ahmad Musa Dangiwa  who in his acceptance speech promised to give Katsina state a “modern compassionate democratic campaign approach that is right for our times and right for our state”.

Let us hope that the regulatory bodies would not pander in their duties.

It’s then instructive to recall that, INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, had three months ago in Lagos at the 6th Annual Conference of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP) urged political parties and candidates to carefully study the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 and familiarise themselves with their obligations as well as the penalties under the law.

He also reminded political parties and candidates of the Peace Accord they signed, which was organised by the National Peace Committee (NPC) in which candidates committed themselves to peaceful campaigns.

Yakubu said the commission will pay particular attention to the conduct of parties, candidates, and their supporters to ensure compliance with the provision of the law as well as our guidelines and regulations.

“We will pay particular attention to peaceful campaign devoid of abusive, intemperate, and slanderous language as well as the use of innuendoes or insinuations likely to provoke a counter-reaction resulting in the breach of peace”. He stressed.

A word is enough for the wise, and a stitch in time it’s said, saves nine.

Ladan is a member, Media and Publicity Committee, APC Campaign Council of Katsina state.

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