The decision of the United States of America and the United Kingdom to impose some sanctions on Nigerian election riggers and promoters of violence is welcomed.
We applaud it, though we would want these strategic foreign partners of Nigeria to go further in efforts to moderate the excesses of the Nigerian power elite who have reduced our democracy to a criminal enterprise.
In July last year, the US made good its threat to impose visa bans on unnamed Nigerian political leaders who perpetrated violence and rigging during the February/March general elections.
They have extended the same treatment to the perpetrators of violence during the November 2019 Kogi State and Bayelsa State elections and are threatening to deal similarly with those planning to violate the Edo and Ondo governorship elections.
The United Kingdom, which prides itself as Nigeria’s “friend and partner” also vowed to deal with election riggers in the Edo and Ondo polls. “Just as we did in the 2019 elections, (we) will continue to take action against individuals we identify as being responsible for violence during the elections”.
Apart from visa restrictions, culprits risk having their assets in these countries confiscated and being prosecuted under international law. These powerful Western nations are placing emphasis on election violence because their poll observation missions have established that it is one of the ways by which elections are compromised in Nigeria.
We would wish that the international community took a common stand on dealing with election riggers and promoters of violence, imposing a range of blanket sanctions that will force change in countries where impunity (especially by ruling parties), rather than the will of the voters, determines the outcomes of elections. The reign of impunity is the major reason why bad governance pervades Africa and Nigeria in particular.
Bad and corrupt leadership is responsible for the massive migration of Nigerians and Africans in search of better life in America, Europe and Asia. Violently-stolen elections can never produce good government. The international community, particularly the Western powers, should consider free elections that produce good governments in Africa as being conducive to their respective national interests in that it will help minimise the influx of unwanted migrants to their countries.
These evil politicians have overwhelmed their people and robbed them of their right and power to choose who governs them. The international community should help to re-empower the people to determine the fates of their politicians.
All efforts to establish a mechanism to punish election riggers in Nigeria have been shunned by the politicians and successive regimes. Election rigging is a crime that pays because it is never punished. That is why violent politics and elections will never on their own reduce. We need this external stimulus to save our democracy.