By Godwin Etakibuebu
WE commenced this journey last week when, after taking a very keen observation of the recently concluded congresses of the All Progressive Congress, APC, we identified, most unfortunately, the return of politics of violence back to the land. The purpose of this exercise is not to mock, ridicule, deride or even abuse any individual political party but to sound a note of warning that Nigeria cannot “flow” backwards to the politics of bullet and blood. It is meant to keep all of us at alert in rising stoutly against blood shedding in our politics.
Look at how prophetic this work and warning have proved to become when the events that happened in Ado Ekiti; the capital of Ekiti State, last week Friday, June 1, 2018, are to be considered. It was during the first campaign rally of APC in preparation for the governorship election slated for July 14, 2018. It does not matter either the bullets, that kept Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele battling for life in an intensive care unit of a hospital [as l write this] and injured many others, is of “accidental discharge” of a policeman’s gun [as the police authority claimed on Saturday] or not, it is one ugly incident we don’t need in Nigeria.
It is a fact of life that one can only give what one has. What you don’t have, you cannot give. Unfortunately, the APC has not demonstrated enough capacity for peace creation or bringing about an atmosphere that creates and enforces maintenance of peace since its inception. Since it took over governance, brutal killings have taken a frightening crescendo all over Nigeria; it is so overwhelming that nearly every ethnic nationality is falling back to the state of nature for survival. The danger of falling into the state of nature is obvious because that is the place where there is “no brother in the jungle.” Thomas Hobbes [1588-1679] described it as a place “where life is brutal, short and uncertain.” Is this what we want in Nigeria?
It is what APC has that it took to, and manifested in its recently concluded congresses and what it took there was not peace. It is introduction of politics of violence which is actually very sad. But then, it shouldn’t have been our business except and until we look at the implication of the action as it might affect the national psyche of what may be facing us in 2019. This is where it gives us deep concern.
It had been said earlier in this work that former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure turned political killing to an art. At a time during his tenure, the President became the spokesman for the Nigeria Police Force whenever there was a political killing. He would be the first to tell the whole world that “it was a case of robbery.” In some instances, he would visit and promise heaven and earth without actually doing anything. He promised hope when his own Chief Law officer; the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Bola Ige was politically killed but delivered nothing.
He (Obasanjo) visited the mother of Funso Williams who was politically murdered in his residence in Dolphin Estate in Ikoyi, Lagos, and promised “everything to bring the perpetrators to book.” At the end of the day, Obasanjo did nothing, as usual. Space will not permit me to mention all but Harry Marshal, Aminoasari Dikibo and hundreds of others who fell during Obasanjo’s tenure would do. Suffice to say that the government which Obasanjo handed over to his successor was a “killing organism.”
Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (Obasanjo’s successor) did not continue along that path. And of course, he did not live long enough to be read like a book along this manifestation. His successor, Goodluck Jonathan publicly declared that “my ambition is not worth any Nigerian’s blood.” He walked and lived the talk. He removed Nigerian from the map of “politics of kill and go.” He removed the two big “B” – Blood and Bullet – from the battle ground of electioneering in Nigeria’s body politics. We owe this man; Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the duty of eulogizing him on this feat.
The game looks like changing again since the APC took over the reins of governance. Ilegal detentions of citizens, police brutality which include escalation of extra-judicial killings, are now common place.
It is for this reason that we must be concerned and worried about congresses that are now unveiling bullets and blood again. In Lagos for instance, someone was reportedly shot dead somewhere at Agege during the congresses while blood flowed very freely in some other local governments, Amuwo Odofin inclusive. In Ondo State, we had earlier spoken about what happened there – gory story of bloodshed. In Port Harcourt, Rivers State, there was enough shooting that the judiciary was shut down. It was the same story in Ekiti State, ditto in Ibadan, Oyo State, and many other places throughout the country. If this type of violence is what APC shall be introducing to the general election of 2019, then we have much to fear for the survival of democracy in Nigeria.
It is this dangerous trend of political violence being introduced by the APC that the former Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Attahiru Muhammadu Jega spoke about recently when he said that “if political parties cannot observe internal democracy and conduct peaceful congresses, referring to APC’s just- concluded congresses, “it was dangerous sign over what would happen in the general elections,” concluding loudly that “there are danger signs over the 2019 general elections”.