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Awkward democracy

In the end, the Federal Government had to deploy its armed forces to seize the stadium, a bid that did not leave an atmosphere good…

In the end, the Federal Government had to deploy its armed forces to seize the stadium, a bid that did not leave an atmosphere good enough for a peaceful political rally to hold. Just a few days before then, I watched as the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Bala Mohammed spoke at PDP’s Bauchi presidential rally, and sachets of punctured packaged water rained down on the podium and the public officers were being pelted. Governor Isa Yuguda blamed his brother Bala Mohammed and said the latter had hired the ruffians who engaged in the mischief. In Yola, former head of state, General Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress have been denied the use of Ribadu Square because security officials cordoned the venue for use by the State PDP hosting President Goodluck Jonathan a day after Buhari would have been hosted in the state by the APC.
Fortunately in Yola, gentleman Bala Ngilari the State Governor, sought understanding of the APC officials, profusely informing them apologetically that he would never deny indigenes use of a state facility. Suing for understanding, he caused officials to clear the new stadium which was offered to APC, and thus avoiding the unnecessary rancour that pervades all of Rivers State today. In Jigawa State, Sule Lamido ceded the Aminu Kano Triangle and in wonderfully working floodlights, General Muhammadu Buhari held a tumultuous and successful rally. This did not stop President Jonathan coming in a few days later and receiving one his most successful political rallies during this campaign. There is therefore no reason to have the Port Harcourt standoff and the embarrassments that followed. It speaks ill of our country in the eyes of the civilised world which sees democracy as a trust in Nigeria’s hand, for the continent of Africa. This trend of dastardly behaviour needs to be addressed by our political leaders if we are to deliver on this trust. One cannot be encouraged by the goings on. I think the President should lead by pulling the reins on attack dogs. President Buhari should likewise do. State Governor should call stakeholders to agreements to peaceful conduct, and so should Traditional rulers. The best and most lasting peace is not one that is forced, but that which is agreed upon by people’s volition. We should work towards commitments to peaceful conduct of the elections, more importantly, commitments to peace regardless of the outcome. More fundamentally, INEC should ensure an election whose credibility is not in doubt. This is the first guarantee for a peaceful negotiation of this critical curve in our democratic life.
In the press, it is not rumours of war, but drumbeats and trumpets, with intermittent outbreaks of explosions and gunshots. Here we have a threat that the forthcoming election must produce a victory for President Goodluck Jonathan or the nation would be faced with a war, and the threat is coming from well known combatants against the state.
On social media, fires are literally burning. If ink was used in writing the vitriol I see, we would be swimming in flaming rivers of the insults now. The viciousness of language in use, defies any definition. Are we Nigerians really mature for democracy? I ask myself. We are endowed with knowledge and intellect enough to practice democracy for what it truly is, a GAME of politics, yet in our experience even in this decade, we have seen fisticuffs in Legislatures, both State and Federal, resulting in fractures and even fatalities. We have seen as of late, Legislators pull down gates, climbed fences and brandished impeachment papers at the President.
I am disturbed. I did not think that the language employed by Dr Doyin Okupe and Femi Fani-Kayode on the opposition has ever been decent and civilised, but Lai Mohammed and other spokesmen of the APC have been equally guilty of this use of the language of the gutter. More so from elder statesmen Chief Edwin Clark, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and the now subdued Alhaji Lawal Kaita. The vileness appears headed towards the pulpits, for I shuddered to hear Bishop Oyedepo threaten to open the gates of hell to anyone who would not vote for Jonathan. A failure of the spirit, was it? I know many saints would, by Oyedepo’s condemnation then, end up in hell – their sin would be that they voted for President Goodluck Jonathan. Was this sin not included in the redemptive sacrifice of the life of Saviour Jesus? It is ugly by all accounts. Sheikh Gumi meanwhile fires a salvo, that is neither spiritual nor contains a grain of wisdom, at no one in particular. He likens a future Buhari rule of Nigeria to an ungodly occurrence.
What is this? This is not what politics is supposed to be, and yet, no one reproaches any of all these.
On the streets, my heart is in my mouth. You never know when violence will erupt. So you return home and on TV, there is no soap opera. It is a reality show. Nearly 1000 refugees are lined up in a school compound in cold Jos Plateau State, to receive relief that just came from good Nigerians across the country. I am drawn to them, because they are from my State, Adamawa. Tears well up in my eyes. These people from my rich state with major flowing rivers have no business with being homeless and helpless. In their quite abodes where in drudgery, they hewed a comfortable living from the land an all it provided, it does not belong to them, this misery that they never reckoned with. Yet this condition could be permanent, should they choose to settle in their dislocation as they are wont to do. Food, blankets, medicines, and wearing apparel make up the contents of relief. You notice children, caught in the midst of this tragic happenstance, looking forlorn, bewildered, and may be even lost. This is new Nigeria.
The Relief Coordinator speaks, oblivious of candid cameras. He points out that it has been long since help came from the National Emergency Management Authority, and the refugees have been coping with such trickling from civil society groups and other conscious individuals. The government is the first victim of donor fatigue.
These hundreds of refugees are counted in Jos. Many more thousands of refugees can be counted in every State of Nigeria, of people displaced by the invading insurgents, and living with just the dress on their backs. These are people who never ever demanded much, and never ever got much, and yet their little has in fact been taken away from them. To all these, of what meaning is nationhood, let alone democracy, and its elections. I feel empty and short-changed.

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