Denouncing Violence and Intolerance in the 2015 Campaigns

The 2015 election campaign season has certainly thrown up a lot of robust conversation about the candidates, their qualifications, their antecedents, and the visions they have mapped out for the country.

With many predicting a very close race between the two leading candidates, the campaigns have also been characterized by a lot of personal attacks, disinformation campaigns, negative ads, and an unhealthy fixation on issues that have little or no bearing on the developmental aspirations of our communities and country.

Some of this negativity has often spilled into the streets with very unfortunate consequences. The recent stoning of the convoy of President Jonathan, who is also the flag bearer of the People’s Democratic Party in the upcoming presidential polls is the latest in a series of violent incidents in the run up to the elections. There have also been shootings of supporters of various parties, in different states.

It is worthy to note that the parties committed publicly to conducting their campaigns with respect for each other, and without violence. They have also been swift to denounce the attacks on their opponents’ supporters. The latest attack on President Jonathan’s convoy has been swiftly denounced by the spokesperson of the opposition All Progressives Congress.

While these condemnations are commendable, we wonder if the message is getting to party supporters on the ground in the communities who sometimes carry out these violent attacks.

How can we get one and all to embrace vigorous campaigning without violence? How can parties make it clear to their members and supporters alike that violence is no longer an acceptable currency in our electoral system? How do we take the message of #SHUNWAHALA to the grassroots?

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