Nigeria is at the thresh
old of 2015 elections with political assaults, inflammatory statements and of course violence defining events of the moment. Signals across the states of the federation indicate that there is fear in the land as drums of war rage on; an indication that the major stakeholders in the Nigeria’s election project – the political parties and their supporters have not learnt anything from past elections.
If the politicians across the board have learnt any lesson, how come that it is not manifesting in their actions during the electioneering process? Looking at the unwholesome actions of political party members and supporters, one is tempted to ask, “politicians where art thou?”
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and his entourage narrowly missed being mobbed in Katsina State by a large crowd chanting ‘Sai Buhari” on January 21 when the President visited the residence of the mother of late President Umaru Yar’Adua at Yar’Adua quarters. The mob reportedly threw stones at Jonathan’s convoy, but thanks to anti-riot policemen and soldiers who acted promptly to disperse the crowd. The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) pointed accusing fingers at the main opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the assault on the President.
In Jos, some irate youths, said to be supporters of the APC, also set ablaze two buses decorated with PDP design and pictures of President Jonathan and his vice. The unfortunate incident occurred two days before the inauguration of the PDP governorship campaign in Plateau State. Before going into rampage and destruction of other vehicles in the vicinity, the youths had also touched vehicles with PDP logo.
The embarrassment suffered by President Jonathan’s re-election campaign team in Bauchi State was another act of provocation and drum of war. At the venue of the event, some people suspected to be APC supporters, threw stones and other objects at the canopy where the President and members of his campaign team were making speeches.
Although the security agents did all within their powers to prevent the hoodlums from disrupting the presidential campaign, there were reports of vandalisation of vehicles belonging to the PDP presidential campaign by the hoodlums.
If the political assaults in Katsina, Plateau and Bauchi States did not record any fatal human casualty, the story in Kano is different as one person lost his life and campaign vehicles numbering about six were burnt after a clash between supporters of the APC and their PDP counterparts.
The political tension in Rivers State and many other states is so high that many believe the polity is sitting on a keg of gunpowder ready to explode. For instance, an explosive device believed to be dynamite rocked the APC secretariat at Okrika in Okrika Local Government Area of Rivers State, prior to the governorship campaign rally in the area.
Apart from blaming PDP in the state for the explosion, Rivers Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari who also doubles as Director of Communications, Dakuku Peterside’s Greater Together Campaign Organisation said a situation in which heavily armed thugs invaded venue of the APC governorship rally in Okrika and opened fire on the workers preparing the rally venue was condemnable and a bad omen to the growth of democracy in the state nay the nation.
The political tension in Rivers State, however, took another dimension when two groups of armed youths reportedly shot at vehicles conveying supporters of the APC from Khana and Asari-Toru local government areas to the inaugural presidential campaign of APC at the Adokiye Amasiemaka stadium, Igwuruta-Eli in Ikwerre local government area of the State. According to reports, only one person died while many others sustained serious injuries.
When some members of PDP and APC clashed in Alimosho area of Lagos State, the story of the 2015 general elections that promise to be the most beleaguered since post colonial rule in 1960, was glaring even as the political parties are locked in an intractable crisis. At the Alimosho attack, no fewer than eight vehicles were destroyed, while an undisclosed number of persons feared dead and others injured.
Is it the type of democracy Nigerians cherish to have and sustain? The answer is definitely no. While the political parties, supporters beat the drums of war, they are equally busy trading blames and accusing each other over any form of political violence.
The PDP, in a statement, had accused the opposition party (APC) of instigating attacks on President Jonathan and his ruling party. But APC lashed back, claiming that the hostilities were the handwork of PDP in order to justify its ploy for the shifting of the 2015 general elections.
Memories of 2011 general elections in which hundreds of lives were killed in post-election violence, are still fresh in the minds of many Nigerians. Apart from leaving in its trail the features of misery, anguish and bitterness, the post-election riot of 2011 also left the country deeply divided along religious and ethnic lines.
Nigerians are apprehensive of an impending danger in the air. Against this background, a former head of state, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd) recently met with the service chiefs and the Inspector-General of Police, warning that the 2011 post-election violence should not be repeated in 2015. Abdulsalami, who spoke in his capacity as the Chairman of National Peace Committee on 2015 Elections, said there is apprehension in the land, urging Nigerians not to repeat the mistakes of the past. The committee was a fallout of the peace accord signed by party presidential candidates and their chairmen.
If the concern of the ex-Head of State is anything to go by, then “any Nigerian who loves this country must preach peace” because the wind of violence does not bring any good.
The pronouncement by the APC to form a “parallel government” should the 2015 elections be rigged amounts to heating the polity. The same is also true of the threat by a coalition of former Niger Delta militants and their followers that any attempt to unseat President Jonathan in the forthcoming election would be a direct attack on the Ijaw people and would be met with violence.
The ex-militant leaders, at the end of a crucial meeting with Bayelsa State governor, Seriake Dickson, in Yenagoa, said Jonathan’s anticipated victory in the election is non-negotiable, threatening to unleash violence and deny the rest of the country access to the oil fields in the region if Nigerians fail to re-elect the President.
The reactions of the ex-militant leaders, according to reports, followed recent attacks on President Jonathan during his campaign tour of parts of the North and other issues affecting the Ijaws.
However, elections are not war. Neither is politics a battle. Political leaders and their supporters must adhere to the code of conduct of political parties, especially in the areas of consolidating and deepening democracy, ensuring an environment conductive for successful and non-violent elections, political stability, enduring democracy and the overall wellbeing of Nigerians.
Why the threat of a parallel government or violence in the event of any shortcoming in the elections when the rule of law is there to guide every political activities and actions? As a matter of necessity, all political parties, their leaders, members and supporters should endeavour to adhere to existing laws and regulations pertaining to elections and the conduct of elections and should not do nothing whatsoever, individually or collectively to undermine, flout, disrespect or circumvent them.
Just as the political parties lack visible internal party democracy, it is not uncommon to see them engage in violent activities or resort to the use of inflammatory comments, provocative actions, or manifestations that incite violence, hatred, contempt etc. All political parties and members have crucial role in ensuring a free, fair, credible and non-violent elections. And it is not late for politicians who have fallen short in their utterances and actions to have a rethink in the interest of national peace, unity, stability, and development.
The signing of the peace pacts though commendable, the government should go a step further in bringing to justice those who incite violence before, during and after elections no matter how highly placed.
Election is not only about winning or losing contest. Importantly, it is about creating and sustaining an enduring society in which nobody should be sacrificed for others to win or lose. And elections will work only when major players like the political parties and their supporters are willing and committed, irrespective of party affiliations, to make such elections work.
CAN Accuses El-Rufai Of Hidden Agenda
The Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has accused Governor Nasir El-Rufai of engaging in politics with civil servants and residents of the state.
This was contained in a statement issued on Tuesday by the state chairman of CAN, Rev. John Joseph Hayab, in the aftermath of the pronouncement of a four-day work week by the governor.
El-Rufai had said the state government would begin implementing the transitional arrangement in the public service starting from December 1, 2021.
However, the CAN Chairman urged caution, stating that the citizens of the state had been subjected to pains by this government through some of its unpopular policies.
He advised civil servants in the state not to celebrate the policy yet until they were convinced that there was no hidden agenda behind it.
“Workers must be sure that the policy is not aimed at reducing their salaries.
“They must be convinced that the government will not wake up one day with another shocking news of salary reduction since the five working days have been reduced to four.”
“How can a state that is not secured talk about giving workers time for agriculture and be with family when bandits move about freely, terrorising people in their homes, on the farms, and on the highways!
“How can one spend time with family when you have nothing to feed them or provide for their basic needs?” he said.
Meagre Allocation Stalls Adamawa LG Polls
The Adamawa State Independent Electoral Commission (ADSIEC) has postponed the December 4 local government council polls indefinitely due to lack of funds.
ADSIEC Information Officer, Innocent Daniel, said on Monday that the commission was awaiting funds from the government to conduct a free, fair and transparent election.
“Among the major challenges that led to the postponement of the election was the meagre allocation to the commission in the state’s 2021 budget.
“The allocation is too meagre for the commission to organise and conduct the election.
“Also, the re-usable election materials such as ballot boxes, duty vests, bags and kits were completely vandalised during the #Endsars protest,” he said.
The Information officer said that the commission was also faced with the problem of handling the new polling units that were converted from voting points by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He said that the conversion had raised the polling units in the state from 2,609 to 4,104.
“This development will lead to an increase in facilities and ad hoc staff. The ongoing registration of new voters will also have a resultant increase in ballot paper requirements.
“It is in this regard that the preparations for the local government council election for December 4, is hereby suspended to give the government time to source for funds,” Mr Daniel said.
2023: Northern Youths Urge Old Politicians To Steer Clear
Politicians above 60 years of age have been urged to stay away from the presidential race come 2023.
The appeal was made by the leadership of the Concerned Northern Youth Forum (CNYF) in Kaduna yesterday.
They argued that in developed nations, people of that age and experience were mostly engaged in charitable activities, free consultancy services and other forms of selfless services.
The spokesman of the group, Comrade Abdulsalam Moh’d Kazeem, called on youths to take advantage of the “not too young to rule” to participate actively in the political arena.
Also, a north-based group has tasked Nigerian youths to join politics to free the country of bad governance.
Coordinator of the group, National Youth Movement for Good Governance, Nasiru Aliyu, who disclosed this at a news briefing in Kaduna, said Nigeria requires young hands that can work assiduously to address its developmental challenges.
Meanwhile, some stakeholders in the North Central zone and bigwigs of the PDP in the region, have thrown their weight behind the candidature of Bukola Saraki in the 2023 presidency.
The group, led by Professor Iyorwuese Hagher, stated this on Monday during the advocacy committee meeting for Saraki with party members and delegations from across the zone at the Nasarawa State party secretariat in Lafia.
An associate of Saraki, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, urged the party to consider Saraki as its presidential candidate for 2023 to salvage the country from total collapse.
Also, the campaign team of a former presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on Monday met with the party’s officials and stakeholders from the three senatorial districts of Benue State over the 2023 general elections.
The leader of the team, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, said they were in Benue as forerunners of Atiku to consult with the elders of the PDP in the state and ask them for support for their principal who will be contesting the presidential poll in 2023.
Similarly, a support group, Tinubu Legacy Forum (TLF), has said the national leader of the ruling APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is not too old to contest the presidency.
While 69-year-old Tinubu has not formally declared his presidential interest, his recent visitations and series of support groups, rooting for him, show his interest in contesting the 2023 presidency, probably under the APC.
Addressing newsmen on Monday in Abuja, the Coordinator, TLF, FCT Chapter, Barrister Abdullahi Awwal Muhammad, said Tinubu was not too old to contest for the presidency.
In Lagos, a Yoruba group yesterday endorsed the former Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha as the next president. The group, under the aegis of Oduduwa Sons and Daughters for Equity and Justice, declared that the Yoruba people have decided to support a South-Easterner as successor to President Muhammadu Buhari.
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