2015 Elections And The Growing Threats -Thisday
Even with two years to go, informal campaigns by virtually all political groups have kicked off in earnest for the 2015 elections. But that is hardly the problem. What is worrisome is the reckless and condemnatory utterances of some individuals. It is those utterances that are currently steering the country back in the direction of pernicious circle of violence. Ironically, some of those implicated in this politically dangerous game are people who hold official positions or others we look up to as leaders, people who command national attention and who ought to employ some form of decorum.
The spur of the recent controversy is a man named Kingsley Kuku, an aide to President Goodluck Jonathan who told his audience (including officials of the State Department) in far away United States, something amounting to the fact that the Niger Delta region would know no peace if the President was not re-elected. In 2015, that is. When his reckless statement stirred controversy, Kuku quickly recanted, arguing that his call was not based on coercion or violence 'but only natural'.
As if on a cue, the follow-up statement from Alhaji Mujahid Asari-Dokubo, leader of the Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force, was outright provocation, even polarising-spreading fear, ethnic hatred and resentment. Asari Dokubo said militancy would resume full throttle in the Niger Delta and the country would be made ungovernable if the president was not returned. He even went further to cast aspersions on some groups in a virulent attack that was more of a recipe for ethnic tension. But if the attack by Asari Dokubo, a man whose moods swing like a pendulum, are condemnable, many others who were drawn into the fray could just not use their accomplished positions to reinstate the need to build common bonds. Instead of calling for caution, they grew the storm, some of them yelling for war in a country where one of the longstanding worries is containing the growing insecurity engendered by the Boko Haram sect. Even members of the House of Representatives could not rise above the pettiness.
Yet it is clear to all that the threats from Asari Dokubo or co-travellers that the president must be re-elected on their terms cut no ice. It is as empty as it is irresponsible. The president of Nigeria is not elected based on the use of force or exclusively by a section of the country. Even with all its limitations, Nigeria is a democracy and presidents are elected through the ballot box with constitutional requirements of not less than 25 percent of the votes in no fewer than 24 of the 36 states. Therefore, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur was apt with his words of caution to the war mongers: 'It is wrong for anyone or group to threaten to go to war over election. Election is about people making their free choices.'
But former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Professor Tam David-West, got it dead right when he accused his fellow Ijaw man and president of shooting himself in the foot by not rebuking the campaigners: 'When these people make Jonathan an Ijaw President, they create more problems. Jonathan as president should not allow his ethnic group to insult other people because they are creating enemies for him. They are adding ethnic dimension to insurgency. This makes the situation more dangerous.'
Indeed, the 'Us versus Them' present outlook of the campaign to grab power cannot work for any section of the country, especially at a period we are still suffering from the aftermath of the provocative speeches made during the 2011 elections. At a time like this, it should be obvious that the volatile mix of insecurity, poverty and corruption in the polity are enervating and complex enough. The political opportunists who are beating the drums of war need to be cautioned.