Monday comment1

Joe Adiorho urges politicians to be mindful of their utterances

The days of political reckoning are here. On Saturday, February 16, 2019, the nation’s citizens of adult age will be stepping out to exercise their power to install a new set of political leaders to govern them for the next four years in a popular suffrage.

Observably, political events and activities have heightened with the politicians and the two major political parties increasing the tempo of their campaigns to woo the electorates. It is natural that the parties especially the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) should be crisscrossing the entire nation canvassing for support and votes in order to secure the mandate and legitimate authority to govern the country.

But the tension and the concomitant fear of political violence being generated by these activities is giving the nation goose pimples as the drum of war from the camps of the political parties is getting louder by day.

The ruling APC, from the actions and utterances of its leading members is mounting a campaign that has all the trapping of desperation. They threaten, intimidate and put in great effort to cajole all their perceived enemies and opponents, even within their own ranks.

Not quite long ago Owelle Rochas Okorocha, Governor of Imo State told the nation that a war is raging in the country. He said that the ongoing war is unlike that of Nigeria and Biafra and warned that if nothing is done urgently to halt it, the nation will pay dearly for it.

But the most worrisome is the recent utterance of Malam Nasir el-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna State who has issued death warrant to any intervening bodies in the governance of the country. He told the bewildered nation during the “NTA Tuesday Live” that “those that are calling for anyone to come and intervene in Nigeria, we are waiting for the person … they will go back in body bags.” This by every standard a statement from a desperate mind laced with frustration. It must not be lost in us that the people he is threatening are the same people he ran to in 2015 and thanked for intervening to secure victory for APC, his party. But come to think of it, what could be more intervening than those two governors of Niger Republic who led a troop of supporters from that country to attend President Muhammadu Buhari’s campaign dressed in the APC’s attire in Kano State? Could it be that El-Rufai was not aware of this? I must say here that the most dignifying and reassuring event in the saga is the mild reaction of PDP, the main opposition party. It only threatens to pull out of peace accord signed by the parties ahead of the general election. And also the most gladdening aspect of the whole issue is that Nigerians and the international community rose in one voice to condemn the unguarded utterance of the diminutive governor of Kaduna State.

The feeling of those in the PDP is that the cloud of glory is gathering and hovering over the party with a litany of endorsements and adoptions, both locally and internationally. The floodgate of adoptions was kicked open by the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) which came out early to adopt Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as their sole candidate. Their belief is that the country’s presiding president has a high propensity of dictatorship and all hands must be on deck to manoeuvre him out of office before an irreparable damage is done to the corporate existence of the country.

What appears to be the most worrisome to the ruling party are the corporate and individual endorsements the PDP candidate is garnering even from most unlikely quarters as the election days draw close. Besides attacking and trying unsuccessfully to discountenance and trivialize President Olusegun Obasanjo’s endorsement, APC fought hard and dirty to stop the United States of America from issuing Atiku a visa. The Information Minister, Mr. Lai Mohammed had called an international press conference to persuade US not to avail Atiku Abubakar, a citizen of his country that he swore to protect and defend, with a visa as that will amount to a tacit endorsement. That did not ruffle a feather as Atiku has gone and returned from America and more endorsements have been pouring in.

Just last week, the ethnic nationalities of the Northern Elder’s Forum (NEF) Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo, the Afenifere, the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and the Middle Belt Forum which had individually endorsed him earlier, came together and in a voice adopted Atiku as the presidential candidate of their various zone.

 And just some days ago one of the most respected international magazine “The Economist” which predicted President Buhari’s victory in 2015 declared that Atiku would win the 2019 presidential election. This has nudged the APC into an over drive that culminated in Malam El- Rufair vertiginous diatribe, issuing death threats to foreigners he perceived to be interfering. The government has also deployed 95 per cent of the nation’s armed forces into election duties. Intimidation has no higher height, Nigeria is not going to war. It is an election and this is not the first in the country.

The threats and harassment are unacceptable. The PDP has warned that if these threats and hateful speeches are not stopped, it might pull out of the peace accord. It has consistently demanded that the ruling party should conduct free, fair, credible and peaceful election devoid of rigging. The nation and its citizens ask for nothing more. The election that brought APC to power was adjudged free, fair and peaceful. If they cannot improve on it, they should not degrade it.

This is why all men of good will have with one voice condemned all the utterances that stoke the ember of political violence. It is in our best interest that we have a stable country.

 The former Secretary General of the Commonwealth Chief Emeka Anyaoku came out to warn the federal government and President Buhari of APC to heed the warning of the international community to avoid returning to the pariah status that the nation exited in 1999. Abdulsalami Abubakar, the former head of state had reminded us that the immediate past president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan said that his political ambition was not worth the blood of any Nigerian.

When such men of stature lend their voices to an issue of national interest, those concerned must pay attention to avert avoidable catastrophe. Let us therefore rein in utterances and actions that have high propensity to gravitate the nation towards political violence which might jeopardize the corporate existence of the nation.