If This Is What It Takes To Win Elections… By Sam Nda-Isaiah
The people of Osun State have spoken. And they have spoken very loudly and clearly. Nigerians from all over the country have been rejoicing since the result of the election in Osun State was announced. Nigerians know exactly who they vote for in elections even though, occasionally, names other than the ones they voted for are announced as winners. The celebration of Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s victory goes beyond the boundaries of Osun State. For now, we are all indigenes of Osun.
But beyond the euphoria and celebrations, we must not forget what every one of us had to go through to enjoy that elementary privilege of electing leaders of our choice in this democracy. I say “every one of us” because whatever affects one person affects every other person in a democracy. Everyone assumes that the essence of democracy is the power to elect leaders of the people’s choosing. This ideal is taken for granted everywhere there is democracy, whether it is Ghana, Senegal, India or the United States. It is only in Nigeria that opposition politicians are told to protect their votes, whatever that means.
Aregbesola’s victory yesterday was actually the victory of vote protection. Voters learnt from the experience of Ekiti and they were ready to protect their votes with their lives. They defied the military intimidation and official acts of terrorism by the Jonathan government. It was tedious, too tasking and too time-consuming. That is not how democracy is meant to be. If this is what it takes to win elections in Nigeria, then, there is nothing to rejoice about. Nigeria is not yet a democracy.
First, before the election, just like it happened in Ekiti a few months ago, many APC bigwigs were arrested – more than 250 APC members were arrested. And just as in the Ekiti election, not a single PDP member was arrested. This act of official brigandage cannot continue. Nigeria is not a jungle. Nigerians should not just sit by and watch this level of abuse of office by President Jonathan continue to happen unchallenged. In the case of Osun, the impunity was even taken a notch higher. Lai Mohammed, APC’s spokesperson, was arrested for doing nothing wrong. The police did not accuse him of doing anything wrong. Some jesters, obviously speaking on behalf of the Jonathan government, said he should not be in Osun on election day. If that is the federal government’s reason for his arrest, then, that is a breach of his fundamental and constitutional rights to freedom of association and movement. And I think Lai Mohammed and all those arrested without any other reason should sue the police and the Jonathan government for false imprisonment and claim huge damages. This kind of nonsense must not be allowed to go unchallenged. This did not happen even in the elections conducted by military heads of state in this country and we must not condone it now.
There is no civilised country in the world where 250 people would be arrested on election day simply because they belong to the opposition party. Jonathan must be told that this is state-sponsored terrorism and his government must not push innocent Nigerians too far. The Nigerian president is obviously not a good student of history. Jonathan also needs to know that it is a crime that warrants impeachment and removal from office for any president to deploy the institutions of the state for personal use, as he has been doing so recklessly. Democracy must also be about the rule of law. And what makes democracy different from other forms of government is that even the president is not above the law.
And what is this thing about some policemen and military men dressed in masks? The pictures of these hooded military men are not different from those of similarly hooded Boko Haram operatives, especially since Boko Haram terrorists also dress in army uniforms. The only difference between the groups is that one comprises Boko Haram terrorists and the other, state-sponsored terrorists. But they both behave the same way. They are terrorists. It is very difficult to tell between them. The assassins that nearly killed Senator Isiaka Adeleke, APC chieftain and the first executive governor of Osun State, in Ede on election morning were also hooded men in army and police uniforms. So what should we make of that? What is happening to us? If Jonathan had done the heavy deployment of soldiers and policemen that we saw in Osun State on election day in Borno and Yobe states, Boko Haram would not be flying their flags in several villages as we see today. On one single day in Gwoza, just as the election was taking place in Osun, more than 100 Nigerians were killed in the town and the new emir’s whereabouts is still unknown as I write this. Instead of Jonathan to deploy security agents to protect Nigerians, he is deploying them to help him manipulate elections. This has to stop for the sake of all of us.
Ultimately, we must congratulate Osun people on defying the intimidation and coming out en masse and also ensuring that their votes were not stolen. A few days to the election, many PDP people said the results had virtually been written, and they were probably right. There were even reports that more than 400,000 votes had already been awarded to the PDP. In the week leading to the election, soldiers and policemen shot into the air sporadically almost on a daily basis and this was supposed to intimidate the people. But each time this happened, the people responded by bringing out their brooms with chants of “APC!” In the end, it was obvious that the PDP people could not implement their original plan for the election.
My candid advice to security agents who are going to be used against civilians and even possibly kill some of them during elections is to remember that there will be life after President Jonathan. They should ask Major Hamza Al-Mustapha and Sergeant Rogers.
As The People Of Gwoza Threaten To Join Cameroun…
It is difficult to imagine what Gwoza people are going through at the moment. On a single day last week, Boko Haram killed more than 100 of their people. A few weeks earlier, their emir was killed by Boko Haram as he was travelling to Gombe. And now the whereabouts of the new emir remains unknown, several days after Boko Haram had ransacked the town. As at the time of writing this piece, Jonathan’s government had not made any statement on this desperate situation.
Last week, a few of the leaders of Gwoza town threatened they would denounce their citizenship of Nigeria and merge with Cameroun if the Jonathan government failed to secure their homeland. But do they think Jonathan cares?
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