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Potential election flashpoints
THE April elections will not travel a new road, a road of floral freshness, of unsullied innocence. The elections will be found on the road always taken, a road with the cynical knowingness of an old cheating gambler. It is a rutted road of recriminations, a road whose milestones are an oppressive millstone of violence, incompetence and unfairness.
The April general election campaigns have not been gentlemanly. Violence has been starkly talked up and there have been frenzied engagements. Heads have been broken and murders casually committed. A virtual state of war exists in some states.
All the states are susceptible to election violence, and many of them have experienced it, but the tinder of political rivalry, intolerance and suspicion burns more fiercely in some states than in others. It seems supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in the North cannot stand each other.
There will be no gubernatorial election in Edo State in April, but the state is one of the potential flashpoints. There is a bitter rivalry between the PDP and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the party of the governor, Mr Adam Oshiomhole. Mr Oshiomhole went to court after the April 2007 gubernatorial election claiming that he had been robbed of victory. He said the victory of his opponent, Professor Oserhiemen Osunbor, had been fraudulently won.
An election tribunal agreed with Mr Oshiomhole that he had been the victim of vote tampering. This was confirmed by a Court of Appeal panel in November 2008 and Mr Oshiomhole was sworn in as governor.
Mr Tony Anenih, who had claimed the credit for Professor Osunbor’s ‘victory’,sucked up to Mr Oshiomhole and some of his nominees were appointed commissioners. Mr Anenih is that kind of politician; he wins even when he loses disgracefully. Rolling principles gather a lot of money in Nigeria.
The two men’s secret political marriage- it was not generally known that Mr Anenih had men in Mr Oshiomhole’s cabinet-ended in a noisy public divorce. Mr Oshiomhole and Mr Anenih swapped searing insults; it was a spectacle that exposed scandalous opportunism and a demeaning fixation on fortune.
The PDP had split into two when Professor Osunbor, then the governor of the state, rebelled against what some people called Anenih’s authoritarian tyranny. Professor Osunbor was backed by Mr Samuel Ogbemudia, a retired general and at different times a military and civilian governor, and some other high-ranking party members.
Mr Anenih pulled strings in Abuja, where he has walked in the corridors of power for years no matter the company, and his faction of the PDP in Edo State was recognised by the party headquarters as the legal one.
But Mr Anenih was outmuscled by Governor Oshiomhole in the Edo State House of Assembly. There was a battle and ACN legislators, helped by a PDP defector, took control of the Assembly. By-election victories gave a veneer of legality to the governor’s party’s takeover of the Assembly. The by-elections were a bruising affair.
The PDP has repeatedly said that it will reclaim power in Edo State which it almost ran aground. Professor Osunbor practised a decent kind of politics, almost always polite, but two courts ruled that he had no mandate to exercise. But some PDP members in the state have the charm of a charging bull.
Governor Oshiomhole needs a majority in the state House of Assembly in the new legislative session. Governor Peter Obi is like a hostage in Anambra State, where the PDP is chokingly dominant in the state House of Assembly. Mr Oshiomhole clearly does not want to be in such a difficult, even humiliating, situation.
The Senate and House of Representatives seats are also very important to Mr Oshiomhole and the PDP. The April elections are not likely to be fairly fought in Edo State.
The stakes are also very high in Oyo State. It seems the leading candidates are engaged in a grudge match. It is certain no quarter will be asked and no quarter will be given.
Thugs love to chop off limbs. Some bus drivers, who believe they have a licence to kill, may soon be upstaged and even supplanted. Motorcycle taxi operators, veterans of mob action when their member is killed or injured in an accident, appear in the ascendancy. They are, it seems, the new soldiery and are being recruited by top politicians.
It is, however, not only thugs who engage in violence. Thugs are hired hands of harm, but some party supporters seek what they believe to be the thrill of violence. They are like football hooligans in their knee-jerk bellicosity.
There is bitterness in Ekiti and Osun states after the judicial decisions which removed the PDP governors from office. There was vast violence in Osun State after the 2007 gubernatorial election and many people were attacked in Ekiti State during the governorship rerun. The legislative elections in the two states will undoubtedly be fiercely contested.
Some states in the South-East and the South-South may also be scarred by election violence. Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State is fighting for his political life. There was a bloodbath in Akwa Ibom State on Tuesday. Many new cars were smashed.
It is the familiar road of fatal foolishness.
Why is there bloodshed in every nook and cranny of the nation? Today political killing, tomorrow bomb blast, But I am certain those behind the carnage will meet their Waterloo soon
Taiwo Julius Sangotikun, Iseyin, Oyo State, 08056309372
Re: Ducking debates
Our politicians have been campaigning without people asking them questions that are bothering the mind of the electorate but the debates will give room for that.
It’s unfortunate that some of the politicians will not be able to withstand some questions from the audience and they equally have nothing to offer. This is one of the major reasons they duck debates.
It’s true that irony sometimes wounds more than insults but you don’t expect a sitting Governor to be molested by his opponents.
Why must President Jonathan and others duck debates if they have something to offer?
The president is the man of the people and must come out and prove his worth. If President Barack Obama could face his opponents before their election, what is stopping our politicians from doing so?
I am suggesting that during the debate, viewers at home should be given the opportunity to ask questions by phone.
Nigeria is on the path to greatness.
Oloyo Toyin, TAC LAWNA Secretariat, Ketu, 08057195427