Barely a month to the long awaited 2019 general elections, Bayelsa State is still experiencing a lull in political activities. Politically, the riverine, oil-rich Ijaw speaking state is as silent as the graveyard. Unlike other states where political campaigns have reached a crescendo politicians who have secured tickets from the various political parties in the state are not showing signs of readiness to hit the roads with their campaign messages.
The silence pervading the political landscape in cuts across party lines. Under normal circumstance, serious campaigns would have been on by now. The electorate would have been abreast with the various candidates and would have begun to make their choices from the manifestoes of the candidates, ahead of the polls.
Having secured their tickets, majority of the candidates, especially those of the 'big' parties, are seen to have gone into oblivion.
The expectation has been that the emergence of more political parties, with the All Progressives Congress, APC, being the major opposition party, the state should be bubbling with political activities.
In the nutshell, political parties would have intensified campaigns, moving from one local government to another, from ward to ward and from community to community, selling their candidates and the stuff they are made of to the electorates.
Unfortunately, the APC which is supposed to mount pressures on the ruling Peoples Democratic Party PDP by embarking on a radical campaign mechanism is deep asleep. It has not shown any sign of its existence in the state safe for the pasting of posters of candidates at the party secretariat in Yenagoa, the state capital and a few other places. Posters had not won elections for candidates before now and will not do so in this election. The other political parties also are not helping matters. They have equally joined the fray of political slumber in the state.
The development has given room to speculations that the various candidates may just be contemplating rigging, as opposed to relying on the people's votes, to win the election.
This has been the practice in the past.
The act of politicians abandoning campaigns and thinking that they may win elections based on their political platforms is not only unacceptable but dangerous to our fledgling democracy. It portends grave danger in the sense that the electorate may make wrong choices which would in turn result in bad leadership at all levels of governance and bring about retardation in development.
Candidates and their political parties state should therefore begin campaign processes.
The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC should also strictly monitor and sanction politicians who may be involved in sharp electoral practices. One way of dealing with the situation is to bark and bite. The electoral umpire should ensure that politicians caught either trying to buy votes, or engaged in ballot box stuffing or snatching should be made to face the music.
The electorate should shine their eyes and give their votes only to those who have presented convincing manifestoes to them. The era of winning through money and by bravado should end.