HONEY is sweet and a healthy product for the consumer. When tinged with wormwood extracts, its taste becomes less savory; even then, it isn’t any less therapeutic in quality. ‘Bitter honey’ – an oxymoron – typifies the body of sanctions recently applied by some foreign powers against perpetrators of electoral atrocities in Nigeria: it is honey because it promotes good health in our electoral experience as a country, but bitter because it nettles national ego.
The Nigerian government beefed with the sanctions last week, saying it considered it disrespectful to our sovereignty for any foreign country to apply punitive measures such as visa restrictions on Nigerians. It spoke against the backdrop of the United States government slamming visa bans on certain Nigerians who it said undermined the conduct of the November 2019 Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections, with similar measure awaiting those adjudged liable for misconduct in the just-concluded Edo State governorship and imminent Ondo governorship elections. The United Kingdom likewise threatened sanctions against anyone found culpable of electoral violence in the Edo poll and 10th October Ondo governorship.
In a statement by the Foreign Affairs Ministry, government took umbrage at those measures. “It should be noted that there are ample provisions in our laws to sanction violators and perpetrators of electoral violence and fraud. It would be considered disrespectful of the sovereignty of Nigeria for any outside authority to sit in judgment over the conduct of our citizens and apply punitive measures such as visa restriction unilaterally,” the statement said inter alia.
Sovereignty is doubtless a sensitive appurtenance of every country that must be jealously protected against infringement. But many Nigerians have always applauded the applied sanctions because highly placed electoral offenders who should be brought to hard justice typically manage to thwart the framework of domestic law. There are far too many cases of grievous electoral violence that have not been requited, or suspected offenders indeed called to question. Moreover, after setting their own country on the boil, it is to countries applying visa ban that the culprits flee to evade the consequence. Hence the sanctions threatened by the U.S and U.K. are actually helpful to demotivate and deter potential culprits of errant political behaviour. Besides, our national experience showed that some persons who should have anchored the enforcement of justice themselves turned out offenders in the past. That, obviously, isn’t a situation that insular sovereignty can redress.
So, though the tendencies being sanctioned by these other countries aren’t peculiar to Nigeria, it is picking a wrong battle to fight the sanctions. What to do rather is more rigorously fight the tendencies that attracted the sanctions, and the political class to wean out of primitive electoral culture that hazards our democracy.
Read the original article on The Nation