'Night soil men' and their provocative statements
By Chika Onuora
When President Goodluck Jonathan told a delegation of Bayelsa prominent indigenes that some elected government officials do not deserve constitutional immunity because some abuse such immunity to make statements that threaten the survival of the nation, many suspected he was referring to one of the All Progressives Congress (APC) latest night soil men from Rivers State.
It was Rotimi Amaechi, when he was in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), that told Nigerians that “those who carry brooms are night soil men and juju priests,” but little did he know he was going to downgrade himself one day to that status and turn full circle to return to where he actually belongs.
Recently, Amaechi reportedly threatened that the APC would form a parallel government should the 2015 elections fail to meet the expectations of the party. He was reported to have said he would lead a rebellion and spearhead civil disobedience across the country, adding that the days were gone when any figures ascribed as votes for former Head of State and presidential aspirant, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, by the electoral umpire in Rivers would be accepted.
If Amaechi, indeed, made these comments, then it behoves him to tell the rest of us if he was part of an illegality in 2011 that presided over the allocation of votes to Buhari which were not his deserved votes. Is Amaechi telling us that he sat with the umpires and allocated votes to candidates in the last election?
At the “Salvation Rally,” of the APC in Abuja, its chairman reiterated Amaechi's position declaring that if the party did not see what it described as a change of attitude on the part of the government, it would move to the next stage on its list of actions.
Typical of the party, after Governor Amaechi came under verbal vituperations from the PDP and other commentators, its spokesman, Lai Mohammed, insisted that what the Governor said had the backing of the party
The Party declared: “Those who are fretting about this statement are those who are planning to rig the elections and they should be warned that Nigerians will no longer accept the outcome of any fraudulent polls. Those who incite the people are those who steal their mandate. What we made is a conditional statement. If A happens, then B will follow. That means if elections are not rigged, there will be no problem. It is therefore laughable that anyone will call that statement treasonable.”
Typical of what has often been described as its Janjaweed mentality, the opposition party went on to hint at bloodshed: “Let us remind the presidency, in case it has forgotten, that election fraud triggered a civil war in Algeria in the early 1990s, led to the killing of over 1,000 people in post-election riots in Kenya in 2007/2008 and fired a near revolution in Iran in 2009/2010. Electoral frauds also corrupt democracy and breed dictatorship, and risks making the people to lose confidence in democracy. Why then would any government react violently if warned against election rigging?
“For us, the gloves are off. We will no longer engage in any nicety as long as some people are bent on thwarting the will of the people through electoral fraud. All we are demanding is a free, fair and credible election. All we are saying is that no one should incite the people by stealing their mandate. How these demands can be construed to mean treason is as baffling as the do-or-die disposition of the ruling PDP to elections.”
In his usual less than combative manner, President Jonathan, at a meeting with prominent Bayelsans, noted that there were people, including some with immunity, making statements threatening the survival of the country. He noted that it was why some Nigerians wanted the immunity removed. According to President Jonathan, “Some people are making remarks that are more or less treasonable; don't be worried, nobody can upturn this country. This country must continue and we'll not give up to blackmail by anybody, we will do our best and Nigeria must survive these temporary setbacks like Boko Haram and other security challenges.”
It shouldn't be strange to the president the desperate extent that opposition figures like Amaechi and others can go because, in the past, several leaders of the APC had made incendiary comments intended to instill fear in everyone, and give an impression that if the party does not win next year's election, then all hell will be let loose.
A fact check of some of these comments may be necessary here: Malam Nasir el-Rufai, the resident APC prophet of doom, in January this year, said: “The next election is likely to be violent and many people are likely going to die. And the only alternative left to get power is to take it by force; this is the reality on ground.”
Amaechi, a few days later said: “I came to Bori to prove to you that you don't need to run away from violence. If a man is chasing you with AK-47, you should carry machine gun and the man will call for peace.”
Buhari, touted as a religious extremist, has never denied his comments two years ago that “There is another developed Boko Haram of
criminals who steal and kill while the biggest Boko Haram is the
Federal Government. God willing, by 2015, something will happen. They either conduct a free and fair election or they go a very disgraceful way. If what happened in 2011 (alleged rigging) should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood”
Tinubu, as a prelude to the last Osun gubernatorial elections, in a paper he delivered to the young minds at the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, spoke about the APC's new “rig and roast” policy; and there is, of course, the APC spokesman, Lai Mohammed, who dishes a monthly feast of inflammatory comments. With a company like this, it is incumbent on Nigerians to be wary and “shine their eyes” and know the calibre of politicians seeking votes next year.
Onuora contributed this piece from Asokoro, Abuja via [email protected]
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