APC leaders and the drums of violence
By Abba Adakole
In the run-up to the 2011 presidential election, it was General Muhammadu Buhari, candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), who sowed the wind by telling his supporters to go on a lynching spree if the result did not favor him. Confronted by newspaper interviewers later, he had declared that “there may be no Nigeria” if the election was rigged, drawing a curious parallel with the events in Somalia. Though he eventually lost in a contest adjudged free and fair, it did not stop the post-election violence that arose from that careless pronouncement. Gangs of irate supporters of the CPC in Bauchi, Gombe, Katsina and Kaduna states tracked down and murdered defenceless members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), most of them Christians of different ethnic groups, from the Southern part of Nigeria.
The presidential panel that investigated those outbreaks of violence, headed by Sheikh Ahmed Lemu, was on target by submitting a report that largely indicted the former Head of State for making inflammatory comments that contributed to the violence. From little acorns, the mighty oak has since grown, and innocent Nigerians are now reaping the whirlwind from that –and similar — irresponsible utterances. Today, by coincidence or design, Buhari's prediction appears true as Nigeria is fast heading down the road to Somalia with the ravaging carnage dressed as insurgency.
Last week, his political soul mate and fellow All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, followed in his footsteps. The Asiwaju who was only a boy when Operation Wetie turned his Yoruba homeland into the Wild Wild West, is on the verge of re-enacting the scenario once again. At his investiture as the Chancellor of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso and award of honourary Doctor of Science in Management Science on him, the former governor of Lagos threatened fire and brimstone should the forthcoming governorship elections in Osun and Ekiti states be rigged. From the old ashes of Operation Wetie that led to killings and maiming in the old West, Tinubu may be preparing them for a much bigger Rig and Roast. From his queer political dictionary, rigging means when any other party different from the APC is returned as winner of the poll; when that happens, as it is increasingly becoming obvious, roasting will commence.
If Buhari's reckless utterances have contributed to the ongoing spate of violence, Tinubu's threat of violence by roasting his fellow citizens may make Operation Wetie of the 1960s look like child's play. When you add the scenario to the insanity being displayed of recent by the Adamawa state governor, Murtala Nyako, you wonder what really is up the sleeves of these APC leaders. Nyako's consistent attempts to incite the North against the Federal government have not only rattled Nigerians, it has set their teeth on edge. The April 16, 2014 letter by the retired Chief of Naval Staff, addressed to his colleagues in the Northern Governors' Forum, has all the trappings of incitement to violence. The Satanic letter which accused the Jonathan administration of “full-fledged genocide” against Northern Nigeria, was not only incoherent, it was shameful coming from an elected governor, a retired Admiral who once held the enviable position of Chief of Naval Staff and Deputy Chief of Defence Staff.
It was not the first time Nyako had made such incendiary statements that have the potency to incite the citizenry to violence. Earlier in the year, while on a visit to the United States, Nyako had poured all sorts of invectives on the Jonathan administration, stopping short of calling his Northern kinsmen to take up arms against the state. It still surprises many why he has been consistent in preaching violence when solutions are being sought from all quarters to douse the tension in the land. His unguarded utterances over the activities of killers posing as Fulani herdsmen, give him away as a man who is out to promote violence and divide the country along regional, ethnic or religious lines.
His is yet the most irresponsible outburst by an elected official in Nigeria. For such a high-ranking state official to make such sweeping characterisation of the counter-insurgency as “genocide” without any shred of evidence is baffling. More baffling is that his Northern colleagues and especially his party members in the APC have not bothered to disown him. The general interpretation is not just that he was out to incite the governors of the region to rise against the government, but to set the nation ablaze with his evil-intentioned actions. Retired military officer, Colonel Abubakar Umar, said the other day that Nyako's statement coming from a retired military officer, “is shocking and worrisome,” and hoped people like him should not put the nation on fire.
True, for every practical reason, Nyako appears to be on the brink of sanity. That such an experienced military man who should understand the need for non-partisan approach towards our peculiar security challenges could abandon sobriety and play to the gallery of political partisanship is most absurd. More absurd is that he fails to realize that as a retired military officer his ranting disposition has the potential to provoke mutiny within the military.
While Nigerians were still chewing over the incoherent accusations from the Adamawa state governor, another colleague of his in the APC broke his years of deafening silence over the violent acts of the Boko Haram sect. Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, former Governor of Borno State during whose tenure the violent Islamic sect came to national limelight, came out to condemn the group. His statement in which he described the group's activities as “sheer madness and an affront on all Nigerians,” comes after years of silence, considering the rumour that his role in nurturing the sect was less than honourable. Sheriff's silence on the rising spate of Boko Haram violence was as loud as Buhari's before the later bowed to public pressure and issued a public condemnation of the sect's activities.
The questions that keep agitating the minds of Nigerians is: why does the ongoing cycle of violence that has gripped the nation revolve around known leaders of the main opposition party? At a time that some of them are making amends and retracing their steps – which is what Buhari's volte-face and Sheriff's condemnation of the sect's activities are – why does the party not sanction the Tinubus and Nyakos who are still beating the drums of violence? These are questions begging for answers, which if not provided, will lead to a conclusion that both men are speaking the minds of the party that violence is an option in seeking political power in 2015.
Adakole contributed this piece from Abuja via [email protected]