By Taiwo Francis Akerele
Following the resurgence of thuggery and hooliganism in Edo State after three years of concerted efforts by the government of Mr Godwin Obaseki to stamp this anti- development vice out of the state and create employment opportunities for young people in a productive manner, I am forced to cry out, as a democracy activist/advocate, who joined forces along with others across Nigeria as a 17-year-old in 1993 after the annulment of June 12 election, to say democracy is under threat in Edo.
I will not keep quiet and allow those who never took risk either openly or secretly to fight the military to appropriate democracy to themselves, their pockets and their cronies. Fighting alongside the present Deputy Governor of Edo State, Rt Comrade Philip Shaibu, Comrade Equity Ohonbanmu, Dr Osagie Obayuwanna, Ephraim Ubaini, Festus Ukejie, Sylvester Odion Akhaine, Dr Beko Ransome-Kuti, Friday Ughoriakhi and others too numerous to mention, I never imagined that one day, after 20 years of successfully wrestling Nigeria from the stranglehold of the military, some miscreants hiding under thuggery and hooliganism will attempt to hijack democracy from the people.
This is a warning to those who believe they have the machinery of violence with them, aided by some people who think they presently occupy high offices, to shield criminals from the long arm of the law that the military did not exit politics to pave the way for another form of dictatorship under the guise of democratic dictatorship, this is a final warning to these set of people that those who genuinely fought for democracy are still alive, hale and healthy and capable of defending democracy all over again till all pseudo anti-people renegades are defeated.
The scenario that is building up in Edo, if not tamed, is capable of derailing democracy where an elected governor, who has been adjudged as civil, well trained, educated and working hard to make the state an industrial hub, eliminate youth unemployment, eliminate multiple taxation, streamline land ownership to encourage private investment, promote citizen engagement and popular participation of the people in governance, making Edo safe for all, building institutions and providing conducive atmosphere for civil servants and building a state where merit, excellence and social values are held high, will be intimidated by those who claim they brought him to office.
This is against the spirit of June 12 that we celebrate every year. The will of one man must not be manipulated to mean the will of the people. I stand by the principles of farewell to poverty, I stand by the principle of NO to dictatorship in all guise.
We have opened several channels of communication with those who are genuinely aggrieved both within and outside of the party to come for dialogue and peaceful settlement of the issues if really they exist, but some of them, who do not mean well for the people of the state, have remained recalcitrant and hell bent on causing disharmony due to selfish interests. If they really fought for this democracy the way some of us did between 1993 and 1999, they would have looked at the bigger picture and they will sheathe their sword(s).
I will end this piece with a quotation from the book written by Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart “Let those whose palm kernel were cracked by the benevolent chi (spirit) remain humble”. Quietness and peaceful demeanor does not mean cowardice. Silence does not mean foolishness; there is blood in the human system yet we sweat out water; a goat pushed to the wall will react and for the first time the pursuer will realise that the goat has teeth.
A word is enough for the wise !!!
- Akerele (AKA Karl Marx) is Chief of Staff to the Government of Edo State.