Awka - Concerned politicians have called on political parties and politicians, campaigning for the November 16 governorship election in Anambra, to desist from staging negative campaigns.
The worried politicians made the calls in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Awka on Friday.
They said that the ongoing campaigns, which featured a lot of mudslinging and character assassination, could result in provocation and degenerate to violence.
Mike Kwentoh, the State Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), said that campaigns ought to be issue-based and modest, while projecting party manifestos, so as to enable the electorate to objectively assess the candidates.
"I have seen what has been happening in the campaigns: parties destroying opposing parties’ billboards and using abusive language in their electioneering; I seriously condemn that act in its entirety.
"I advise Anambra people that we are all one and we will continue to be one after elections; they should be guided by sound political norms in their actions and utterances.
"Considering the way these campaigns are going, it may degenerate to violence, kidnapping, maiming, arson and other vices, in view of the security challenges facing the nation,’’ he said.
Sharing similar sentiments, Emma Nweke, an APGA chieftain, reminded the people that campaigns represented an opportunity for candidates and their supporters to advertise their programmes to the electorate, stressing that it was not meant to destroy their opponents’ reputation.
"Campaign is a way of reaching out to the people to tell them what you will do for them if elected; but that is not what we are seeing in Anambra, the standard and quality of ongoing campaigns is not too impressive.
"The Anambra people want to hear about the candidates’ programmes and plans for them and not the defamation of other candidates in the name of politics; these candidates are successful in their own right and they should be respected”, he said.
However, Okey Nwoke, the Director of Publicity, Ezeemo Campaign Organisation, said that such electioneering was somewhat normal in politics.
"Apart from presenting the track records of candidates, like we are doing in PPA, campaigns represent a time to dig into the past of your opponents and tell the electorate why they must not allow bad history to repeat itself.
"When you tell an ugly truth about your opponents’ past, it does not amount to calumny or mudslinging, but if you cook up falsehood for the purpose of denigrating your opponents, that is what is not acceptable,’’ he said.
Nwoke noted that in an election where many candidates were vying for one seat, personal attacks were common, adding, however, that the issues raised in the confrontation were often statements of fact.