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Mixing insecurity with political vengeance

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By Mazi Sam-Ohuabunwa

LAST week, Nigeria’s killing fields expanded North Westwards. Indeed the entire North seems to have been partitioned by three non state actors into three fiefdoms. On the North East, we have the Boko Haram insurgents bombing and snuffing out lives and occasionally making territorial forays into the Borno, Yobe and Adamawa areas. In the North Central, including parts of Southern Kaduna and Taraba, the Militant Herdsmen hold sway killing the innocent, destroying farms and property and in the Northwest a band of marauders are freely raining terror. For a while, it seemed they were only interested in Zamfara State. But last week, they expanded their theatre of influence to parts of Kebbi and Sokoto States and when they were finished on this first assault, 32 citizens of Nigeria were dead, compounding the increasing statistics of the violently dead in these times.

Naturally the President was distraught with this new development and was actually short of words. He was thoroughly exasperated or so it seemed. You could hear his exasperation but he struggled to give hope and then he said “I wish to assure all Nigerians that their security is receiving the greatest attention from this administration and there is no compromise in this commitment. I appeal for your patience while my security teams crack their brains to put an end to this horrendous violence.”

And I was lost. My hope dimmed and my emotions ran riot. After three years of going through this chronic insecurity, our security chiefs are just now cracking their brains, perhaps wondering what to do. I thought we had a plan! Well, since the President is satisfied with their performance, how can anybody help? My only note of advice to the President is that he must realize that those Nigerians who are unhappy with the situation are transferring their unhappiness to him. If, therefore, I were him, I would rather that these cracked brains are broken and discarded. Naturally the President is not obliged to accept this advice or any other. He is the President and takes full responsibility for the actions or inactions of his appointees – with or without cracked brains!

This distressing spectre of worsening insecurity became depressing last week, when I watched Governor Ayo Fayose with collar on his neck and his hand in a sling, weeping like a baby on national television in what was decidedly a political vengeance. I am naturally a sympathetic person and easily identify with the underdog or mistreated. I felt sad and sorry for Ayo Fayose. I also felt sorry for Nigeria’s democracy. How could a governor that enjoys immunity be so treated and humiliated in the public?

Some people said he was acting. May be Ayo is theatrical but he is also macho. He gives the impression of a tough guy and does not sound like a guy who would show weakness by crying or indeed wailing in the public. But even if any one would give the benefit of doubt to such absurd acts of theatre, when you listened to the testimony of the his deputy governor and PDP governorship candidate for the elections held over the weekend you would dismiss such thoughts. Also when I listened to the rambling explanation of the Police Commissioner I was sad. How could the Police be talking of unlawful assembly of people or talking of obtaining permission for political campaigns in the last week before an election.

It was clear that the Police was on an assignment to assault the PDP politicians and their supporters, perhaps with intention to intimidate them. They were on a kind of revenge assignment to punish Ayo Fayose for the trouble he has been causing Mr President, especially the one he did a day before. I always had the feeling that trouble was brewing in Ekiti. Four years ago, Ayo Fayose who was a returning governor defeated Kayode Fayemi, then of ACN. After that, ACN and latter APC tried everything legal and extralegal to stop him from governing. He was chased around and harassed by EFCC and other security agencies. That Ayo Fayose survived to complete his term is a testimony to Ayo’s ability to fight and the extraordinary grace of God.

Now the time has come to stop Fayose by all means. Though he was actually not running for another term, but it was as if he was running. Ordinarily APC would do everything to replace a PDP governor as they did in Ondo last time, but more so Ayo Fayose (the enfant terrible) or his chosen successor. I was sure the desperation of APC to replace Fayose and his PDP would lead to some form of violence and that’s what played out last week.

The situation that unfolded last week was aided by previous and present events. In 2014, when Fayose was campaigning to displace Fayemi as governor, his party PDP was in power in Abuja and we know what help the government gave him. We know the effort made to stop the APC politicians from attending the closing campaign in Ado Ekiti. We heard of the closing of the Akure Airport to prevent APC bigwigs from flying easily to Ekiti. There was also a large contingent of security forces sent to Ekiti. So, as is the way of the world, and more so of Nigerian politics, the principle of tit for tat must apply. But as it always happens, vengeance often goes beyond the level of the original injury and creates a cycle of vengeance and reprisals.

Secondly, the day before this debacle when Fayose was prevented from moving freely and got gassed and rough handled by security officers, he was alleged to have motivated transporters in Ado-Ekiti to park their vehicles so that the supporters of APC would either trek to the stadium or stay at home. To me this was an unnecessary affront to the APC which controls the Federal government, more so when the President was at the campaign rally. I suspected there was going to be a reprisal and it came speedily the very next day. My people say that one should not touch the tail of the lion whether it is living or dead! Ayo decidedly stirred the bees and got stung!

Now we are running a nation of tit for tat. The Beron youth are alleged to steal 300 cows belonging to the Fulani and the Fulani kill 200 Beron men, women, youth and children. The Benue State government enacts an anti-open grazing bill and the cattle herdsmen open attack on everybody in the community, including Reverend fathers. Can a nation survive this kind of primitive inter-relationships?  What really is the purpose of government in our country?

This is actually a depressing reality in today’s Nigeria. Can anything be done? Let me recommend to Dr. Fayemi, who has been declared the winner of the Ekiti elections and Prof. Kolapo who is protesting that he was cheated and who will vigorously contest the victory to make a decision to break this cycle in Ekiti and eliminate vengeance and reprisals. And let us pray that whoever becomes the President of Nigeria in 2019 will change this debasing and depressing spectre. And one sure way to proceed is to agree to drastically restructure the country in all ramifications and empower the resultant governments to take full responsibility for the security of their citizens in addition to eliminating the culture of political vengeance.

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