THE ROOT CAUSES OF ELECTORAL VIOLENCE
The aforementioned are some of the major causes of electoral violence in Ghana, but in indeed not the actual ROOT CAUSES. The root causes of electoral violence are:
|The root causes of electoral violence are: 1. Sense of shame 2. Sense of Worth 3. Pride and ambition 4. Productivity 5. Lack of mentoring|
Lack of Sense of shame
One of the major root causes of electoral violence is actually lack of the sense of shame. Various acts committed in this country that brought disgrace and dishonour to our dear country were treated with laxity, without any feeling of remorse. National instrument meant to deal with such issues are never brought to bear, when they are, selective justice is made rendering the efforts ineffective. The truth is that instigators lacked the shame of accepting that they are not worthy of the offices they occupied, appointments they got through their investment in electoral violence. How about the implementers, the do-gooders, who sell their sole for peanuts to unleash terror on their fellow being? This lack of feelings of dishonour, unworthiness, and embarrassment of our actions and inactions is the root cause of our involvement in electoral violence, just like many other bad things we do.
Sense of Worth
Youths must cultivate a strong feeling of wanting to be successful in life by doing something legal and positive. To be worthy means there is something at your level that you can do and be proud of. It means striving to achieve something special that other people might admire. No matter how small a worthy thing a youth is doing, really worthy, the youth would not succumb to insults of collecting peanuts to partake in electoral violence. The absence of this dissipates youth’s enthusiasm, energy and/or interest in anything worthwhile. This apathy and caprice makes the youth gullible stooges to the instigators of electoral violence or godfathers. However, this is not the same with the feeling of superiority. This is what the godfathers and other instigators haughtily display to the collaborators and implementers to incite electoral violence.
Another calamity that is causing havoc to the Ghanaian youth is lack of productivity. The mono economy has affected other productive sectors – like agriculture and manufacturing. At the individual level, it is the major cause of corruption in Ghana. Public officer amass more than they can use for a life time in one bit because of the fear of what would become of them if eventually they leave government. Retirement is a scary lion that most civil servants are afraid of. Many of the Ghanaian civil servants no matter what they legally and illegality amass while in government at all level sooner than you can think fissile away taking them back to an abysmal position far deeper than they started. The next option is to patronise godfathers, incumbents or strong opposition pay allegiance to do whatever to ensure winning an election, no matter whose ox is gored. It is this same line of action that even serving officers take to secure juicy patronage to augment their salaries, their next promotion, foreign trips, chief executives of parastatals, board members of organisation, ministerial and ambassadorial appointment and party nomination to stand for elections.
It is in the course of this that those in government are fighting to remain in government and those out of government are fighting to push those inside away from government. The worst hit is the youths. Already without employment, without capital, without sound knowledge and information, how productive can he/she be? Lack of productivity is truly a devils workshop. The energies of youths are dissipated on daily bases, doing nothing. So they gladly welcome the first opportunity to get themselves ‘useful’ and often it is the job of electoral violence that comes knocking with enticing promises.
Lack of mentoring
If one is required to summarise the entire causes of electoral violence into just ONE, it would not be wrong to pick on LACK OF MENTORING. Favouritism and nepotism and godfatherism only clone youths, who virtually disintegrate when adversity confronts them. Youths without mentoring cannot stand the challenges of legal contest because they cannot match up in terms of merit and lacking in the wherewithal to seek legal redress, plunges the youths into electoral violence.
Godfathers invest on aspirant for their sole selfish benefits, while mentors invest in youths for the benefit, NOT of the mentor but solely for the entire society. After assuming office, the incumbents might become threats to their godfathers. They might refuse to do some really dangerous bidding of their erstwhile godfathers. Again they may become threats when they too have accumulated ill-gotten wealth and aspired also to become a godfather to some other upcoming youngsters.
Lack of mentoring has left the youths at mercy of fate and instigators like godfathers exploit the lapse to achieve their selfish goals, one of which is to incite the youths to participate in unleashing terror through electoral violence. Lack of this important aspect of our youth development – mentoring, is indeed another root cause of many of Nigeria’s woes, including cankerworm of electoral violence.
The Consequences of Electoral Violence
Electoral violence has serious wholesome consequences for democracy, respect for human rights and good governance as already highlighted in the opening pages.
- Electoral violence affects the entire credibility of the democratic system, human security and wanton destruction of properties.
- Electoral violence also erodes the credibility of the rule of law and impact negatively in democratic activities.
- One of the consequences of Youths involvement in electoral violence is legitimising and perpetuating the vicious circle of the existing culture of corruption of public office holders. They must secure the financial means by which they would finance another round of electoral violence to either maintain power or to force power shift. Therefore as a result of electoral violence the capacity of government to deliver social services like maintaining roads, providing electricity, water, schools and health systems, has drastically reduced or are even completely nonexistent or ineffective.
- Apart from these, the youths themselves are being destroyed in three main ways. One, many are wounded and even killed in some of these violent acts. For every young person killed by electoral violence, an estimated 20– 40 receive injuries that require hospital treatment. In some cases, the ratio is even greater.
- Two, their future is negatively affected. Instead of being engaged in productive ventures that would prepare them for future leadership and productive adult lives they are rather engaged in violent activities that destroys them.
- Third, by engaging in electoral violence, Ghanaian youths are helping to erode confidence in democratic system, which is supposed to help in grooming the youths to take over the mantle of leadership. By destroying themselves and the system, the youths are costing Ghana both present and future credible leadership. There is a widening gap between ‘rebellious’ youths and adults, which is a bigger threat to the future leadership of the Ghanaian state. This leads to the emergence of mediocre leaders in politics and government because honest, God fearing and credible leaders who can provide the required leadership are either destroyed or scared away from participation.
- Basically, the government would not be accountable to the people, rather corruption, dictatorship, nepotism and related features of mal-administration take the order of the day. In essence, the main objective of democracy and good governance is defeated.
- While death, injury, displacement, and property damage are the most obvious effects of electoral violence, the most widespread impact arguably relates to increased fear and heightened perceptions of insecurity among civilians.
- Electoral violence is also responsible for massive disruption of socio-economic activities across the country. Most victims of electoral violence lose their businesses to looting and their homes are often destroyed and many sink into poverty.
- Electoral violence also erodes positive social capital across Ghana’s political landscape. Long years of peaceful co-existence and flourishing socio-economic ties between different ethnic, religious and communal groups has given way to bitter armed confrontation within and between political, religious and ethnic communities.
- Politics is supposed to enhance positive relationship marked by inter-group networks, co-operation and trust. But electoral violence instead destroys this and supplants bitter mistrust, suspicion and confrontation.
- Again after those who are employed to perpetrate electoral violence lost their “jobs” when the election crises are over, they readily engage in other criminal activities as a means of survival. Thus electoral violence aided in emboldening criminals, bandit activities and secret cults, to continue terrorising the nation. This also results in another vicious circle of considerable deaths and injuries.
- By destroying themselves and the system, the youths are costing Ghana both present and future credible leadership. In essence, the main objective of democracy and good governance is defeated
Certainly, our nascent democracy would be consolidated if the youths are firmly committed to the propagation and promotion of the principles of peaceful, free and fair elections in Ghana. Everyone agrees that the youth has significant role to play towards ensuring that the electoral process is played according to the rules. These youths however, need to be adequately mentor before the leadership baton could be handed to them. The youths can do this in their official active capacity as the referees, the organizers, media reporters, security operatives, crowd controllers and the spectators.
In other words, it is important for the youths in EC to ensure an even playing ground, with all sense of neutrality. The youths saddled with the responsibility of law enforcement need to be impartial in policing the process, the media youth must be objective in reporting the happenings. In addition, religious/traditional leaders must not succumb to the appeals for ethnic or religious sentiments.
Above all, youthful politicians who are the main instigators and perpetrators of electoral violence must realize the need to salvage, protect and safeguard our democracy which has become a cynosure in the eyes of the world. The clarion call to the youth is that any effort whatsoever to lull them into electoral violence in order to subvert or undermine the electoral process must be met with staunch resistance from all quarters within the ambience of the law. The youths must place national interest above any individual or party of individuals.
Thank you and God bless our motherland Ghana.
By Gh. Kojo | myactiveonline.com