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The Truth about Election Violence: Anger is the Root of Violence


By Emmanuel Igwe – While I am in a complete agreement with my fellow Nigerians that we the people have suffered a lot in the hands of our supposed leaders, I still hold one thought that we should not let our emotions dictate our behaviors in this forth-coming election. Leadership at all levels has been accused of self-serving, self-absorbed attitudes and narcissistic ambitions; always seeking the means to glut, their insatiable desires for money and power. Today, our leaders are perceived as a bunch of sycophants and groupies whose personal interest is on how to get their hands on the national cake or the nation’s wealth and then device ways to pocket those at the expense of the suffering masses.

Therefore, we are not surprised at the level of frustration and dissatisfaction that has greeted some of the candidates and the forth-coming general elections in the state and the country in general. This has raised the apprehension of the citizens, especially the young people, who just attained the voting age.

Pre-election violence has been sighted in many places including burning of campaign vehicles and party offices, destruction of campaign posters, attack on homes of some party leaders and rally attendants.
Some of the popular questions that still beg for answers today are: Where is the police and other security agents? What are they doing about protecting the lives and properties of the citizens? Why have the youth availed themselves to be used for these atrocious, damnable, and devilish acts? Off course, no life is worth loosing for the sake of other people’s selfish ambition.
While that should be the ultimate goal of every Nigerian, we must avoid this phenomenon known as transferred aggression/projection. It is possible that some of this maladaptive behaviors being displayed by some well-meaning citizens are because of transferred aggression.

Psychologists and sociologists alike described psychological projection as a defense mechanism that involves taking one’s own unacceptable qualities or negative feelings and ascribing them to other people. In this case, aggression may be displaced onto other people including innocent ones with little or no connection to the source of the anger. Some people kick their dog or slam their door when they are angry with their friend or spouse. Displacement has been found to have a chain reaction with people unwittingly becoming both victim and perpetrators. For example, someone is angry at his boss in this case a sitting elected official but doesn’t feel like he or she can express the anger to the official so he or she goes to destroy properties or people he feels mean something to the boss or the sitting elected official. The people that were hit will figure out a way to hit others sometimes disguising their action as punishment (Rationalization).
Fellow Nigerians, this kind of behavior may come back to haunt us. I understand that there is a place for emotions, but according to Rainer Maria Rilke, “ All emotions are pure which gather you and lift you up; that emotion is impure which seizes only one side of your being and so distorts you”. The show of passion and emotions are good but emotions should only be there to help us reason. The Chinese proverb constantly reminds us that if we are patient in one moment of anger, we will escape a 100 days of sorrow. Anyone can become angry — that is easy.

Nevertheless, to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way will save us of many aversive consequences (Aristotle- Greek Philosopher). The danger is that “In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves (Thomas Carlyle). The broad general rule should be that a man or woman is about as big as the things that make him angry. There is nothing wrong with anger provided you use it constructively (Wayne Dyer). Speak when you are angry and you will find out that you have just made best speech you will ever regret (Ambrose Bierce). Listen, Anger makes dull men witty, but it keeps them poor (Francis Bacon). Anger is a momentary madness, so you must learn how to control it or it will control you (Horace).
Let us learn to do nothing in anger or end up doing everything wrong.

By Emmanuel Igwe- PHD (ABD), Author & Psychologist


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