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No cause for pre-elections exodus

Other accounts said some well-off citizens are going abroad. Nearly all of them said that they would not return to their familiar places of abode…

Other accounts said some well-off citizens are going abroad. Nearly all of them said that they would not return to their familiar places of abode until the elections next month are over or after the swearing-in of the new administration in May.
From South-West, North-South and South to North, people are relocating. In Anambra, like other southern states, citizens of northern origin have been relocating to their states, despite assurances by the community leaders.  Same is applicable in the North, where many Ezes Nd’Igbo have tried to persuade their compatriots to stay; citizens of southern origin have been relocating in droves to their states of origin regardless. Governors of many of the states have called on people not to panic and to go about their normal businesses, pledging the safety of lives and property. Among the Northern community in Warri, Delta State, Alhaji Musa Gidado, said that many people have moved from the town and from Sapele and that entire families have already relocated to the north ahead of the elections. Niger State Governor Babangida Aliyu, not too long ago pleaded with non-indigenes of the state not to leave, noting that in the past many who did so ran into more problems than they thought they were running away from.  
Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Adenrele Tasheed Shinaba, also called on Nigerians to desist from relocating from their places of residence over the forthcoming general elections. “I am advising those leaving their states of residence to their places of origin to stop because if all stakeholders, police, electoral officials and all others discharge their duties, the election will be free, fair and credible and their outcome will be accepted by all”.  
The Nigerian Army said it has also intensified campaign for a violence-free election. It said there have been massive patrols and efforts were being made to assure residents of their safety.
Mr Idayat Hassan of the Centre for Democracy and Development noted that with the most keenly contested election since the return of democracy in 1999, next week’s poll would not just be about the political class, ‘but the citizens’ participation we are witnessing is unprecedented. However, the fear of post-election violence has led to mass exodus of people back to their homes or country.”
 In the past, there were reports of people relocating ahead of elections. People sold their belongings and relocated for fear of post-election violence.
 The government and the security agencies should do much more to give people the confidence they need to trust that the electoral process would be respected, no matter what the outcome of the elections may turn out to be.  The aftermath of the 2011 post-presidential election is still fresh in the minds of many. Most of those who lost their property have either not been rehabilitated or compensated. Only recently, and about four years after, there was a protest by people affected by the 2011 election, urging government to redeem its pledge to them.  Politicians have not helped the situation either through their actions and utterances and those of their supporters.
 Not much can be achieved if their actions and words scare the voters they need to achieve their campaign goals. Politicians must call their supporters to order and to desist from engaging thugs to harass people during campaigns. They must also stop creating an atmosphere of war, so as to give the public some form of assurance that the country will still be standing after the elections.
The security agents, on their part, should note that their duty is to the state, not individuals, candidates or parties, in the drive to ensure free, fair and credible elections.   No party can achieve its aims if it tries to impose its candidates through violence. It is the resort to the use of foul language and projecting the imagery of war that have unsettled many people, hence the mass movements.  This attitude should stop.

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