2015: POSSIBLE VIOLENT FLASHPOINTS
The 2015 general elections are some months away but in politics especially in the Nigerian context, a thousand years is like just the next day so most aspirants to political offices in 2015 are already galvanizing their machinery to take part in that elections that would remarkably become a defining period of Nigeria's national life.
Political and human rights scholars know that elections are essential ingredients for the sustenance of vibrant democracy and the constructive participation by the people to ensure peaceful, fair and transparent conduct of elections are imperative and indeed finds support in several provisions of both local and international humanitarian laws.
Mr. Manfred Nowak in his book “HUMAN RIGHTS: handbook for parliamentarians” reasoned that citizens of all democratic nations must become owners of the process that would lead to free and fair election of political office holders who would provide transparent services for the growth and advancement of such nation(s). Articles 21 of Universal Declarations of Human Rights and Article 25 of the International Covenant on civil and political rights [CCPR] support the aforementioned.
Democracy, Mr. Nowak said, is premised on the idea that all citizens are equally entitled to have a say in decisions affecting their lives.
R. N. Munshi in his book; “World famous Quotations”, stated that “elections are periodic features of politics”and philosophers view politics as the techniques for administering a nation state.
Nigeria has since 1999 recorded violence in most elections both at the state, sub-national and national levels leading to avoidable deaths of citizens.
In the 2011 elections in which President Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party defeated General Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), hundreds of innocent Nigerians were massacred in violent unrests that trailed the announcement of the results especially in the Northern parts of Nigeria.
Bauchi and Akwa Ibom States in both Northern and Southern parts of the country were the most affected. In Bauchi state, several young graduates of Southern extraction posted to do their national youth service were killed by street urchins and hoodlums who were allegedly sympathetic to General Buhari who lost that election but several months after that violence no one has either faced the wrath of the law nor has the federal government put machinery in motion to avoid a repeat.
There is every possibility that Bauchi state may witness a repeat of this bloody post-election violence given that the current minister of FCT Senator. Bala Mohammed is eyeing the governorship seat and the incumbent Mr. Yuguda is not favorably disposed to allowing the current Abuja minister to succeed him in 2015 because of the obvious fact that though Senator Bala Mohammed was a special assistant to him [Governor Yuguda] before he[ Bala Mohammed] hit the goldmine of politics with his election as a Senator and his elevation later to the office of minister of the Federal Capital Territory in the wake of the assumption of office by President Jonathan courtesy of the doctrine of necessity promoted by the Senate of Nigeria to enable the current President succeed his then boss now late Umaru Musa Yaradua who left for medical treatment abroad without handing over to his then deputy. Yuguba may not be comfortable allowing such a powerful politician to succeed him since he [Bala Mohammed] will no longer play second fiddle to the governor if he succeeds him.
In Akwa Ibom State, members of the then opposition Action Congress of Nigeria and the Peoples Democratic Party clashed in 2011 leading to the killing of over three dozen innocent civilians and several assets belonging to the Akwa Ibom State government were burnt by hoodlums angry that the ruling Party manipulated the outcome of that election.
Political pundits have recently identified Akwa Ibom as one flashpoint whereby effective proactive measures must be put in place to avoid a repeat of the scenario that violently played itself out soon after the 2011 election.
I was recently in Akwa Ibom and from what my organization were told, that state is one of the flashpoints that if not checked could witness serious post-election conflict not just between political divides but even within the ruling Party (PDP) whereby a recent cabinet change carried out by governor Godwill Akpabio swept away one of the most ambitious governorship aspirants.
This man who is said to find support among some key members of the Abuja political establishment because of his speculated healthy financial status, has however denied that he was stockpiling arms to cause chaos in the 2015 election should he lose out in the emerging power configuration.
There are also allegations in certain quarters that some politicians with enormous wealth whose sources of money in their hands are questionable may also want to constitute a threat to peace similar to the ugly scenario in 2011 if their selfish political agenda are not met.
These persons are said to have unprecedented confidence in their enormous monetary fire power to deploy these resources to unleash unquantifiable violence on the state to disturb the peace and cause violence.
This is the political and existential dilemma which must be arrested without further delay through peaceful and constructive dialogue by all political stakeholders including those persons that are currently having running political battle with the current powers-that-be in Akwa Ibom state for the sake of the future of the good people of that state and especially women and children who are always the greatest victims of any politically motivated crises. Sadly, there is no evidence to show that children of the political elite died during the 2011 pre-and post election violence in Akwa Ibom State.
“In politics, no one knows the extent to which such monies could be deployed. The rise in the crime rate in Enugu between 1999 and 2007 was traced to the deployment of illicit money at the governorship elections with which small arms were put in the hands of the political thugs. We fear same for Akwa Ibom state”, so say our some members of Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria who wrote our national executive committee to intervene by waging media advocacy to promote peace and social justice in their home state.
This is the reason for this EARLY WARNING SIGNAL that we are serving through the media so all hands in Akwa Ibom and Nigeria must be on deck to ensure that 2015 election in that state and indeed all parts of Nigeria do not experience a repeat of the horrible and horrendous bloodshed that characterize the 2011 elections.
* Emmanuel Onwubiko; Head; Human Rights Writers' Association of Nigeria and [email protected]