Ballot and blood? Never again!
“Oppressed people kill each other all the time. Angered by the misery of their lives, but cowed by the overt superior might of the oppressor they shrink from striking out at the true objects of their hostility. They strike instead, at their more defenceless brothers and sisters near at hand.” -Frantz Fanon
“No Nigerian politician is worth dying for, not one! They are all a bunch of overtly greedy, irredeemably corrupt, self-elevating and vainglorious political parasites who serve the self rather than the state. Forget their party affiliations, they are all the same chameleons changing colours with every electoral season.” That was vintage Andy, my good old friend. He is back on the turf and brutally frank, as usual.
But I had my reservations to his comment. Though he was ventilating his views because elections are around the corner and the monsters of political violence have started raring their ugly heads, I felt he was a little bit too harsh in his views. It was more or less a sweeping, generalised statement. Yours truly feels that there have been some exceptions to the rule. At least we have seen, since 1999, some politicians delivering the so called dividends of democracy to their people. I told Andy so. But it was like adding fuel to the flaring flame. He was livid with anger and told me so.
“Look Mr. Baje, the writer. I know you have many readers and admirers across the globe that follow your writings with dedicated passion, every blessed week. But tell them the truth. We are all suffering today because we love to paper over cracks. We pretend that all is well with us but it is not so. Tell me, for how long are we going to sweep the growing dirt under the carpet? For how long?” he asked.
That kept me thinking. I know that not a few of our politicians take some obscene pleasure in telling listless lies. They have no scruples or iota of moral compunction. 2019 is inching closer and with it come the antics of the actors; doing all they can to win, more by crook than by hook. To them Machiavellian tactics is the name of the game. The end simply justifies the means. They cheat and pander to perverts, just to get their plum political posts. But once that is done, they turn their back on the so called electorate that lifted them up to their dream podium. Andy broke into my silence.
“Tell them that I am warning the children of the poor Nigerians to be more careful than ever before. They must not allow themselves to be used as political thugs, blackmailers, mischief makers, snatching ballot boxes or wielding machetes to kill some innocent souls. It is not worth it, more so when these same politicians send their children to the choicest schools abroad and come home to run their parents’ empires, worth billions of the tax payers’ stolen sweat.” Andy surmised and it became the point of convergence. One could not agree any less.
Truly, they must not become cheap pawns in the chess game of power politics. Or used as cannon fodders in the hands of these power poachers all because of the forthcoming elections. They should be reminded that we do not want to go back under the despotic jackboots of the military.
What agitate the mind of any concerned citizens are the reasons behind the spate of politically-motivated killings, prelude to every general election. The first is the huge pay package of political office holders. These favoured few Nigerians keep creaming off the nation’s oil wealth, all because they are in positions of authority. The temptation to go into party politics is therefore, obviously compelling. No one can blame those who have seen politics as the main means of survival in Nigeria today. Decent, well paying jobs are as scarce as rain in the deserts. Not helping matters is the decrepit infrastructure that does not assist entrepreneurship. Long-term loans for those with viable ideas are never offered. A jungle situation of might-is right is therefore, unleashed on us all.
This accounts for the brazen mindset of political office holders. They first sell their souls to the devil by joining cults or swearing to hideous oaths of their political godfathers whose words they dare not disobey. As predators one can liken them to the carnivorous clan such as the hounding hyenas, the lordly lions, and tigers, or even the eagles and kites. Their stock-in-trade is to stalk their helpless preys, swoop on them, grip them in their jaws or crippling claws, tear them into pieces and feed fat on their flesh and blood!
To this set of politicians the life of their political rivals is worthless. Such people should be crushed under foot, like irritating flies and cockroaches. They cannot brook any form of opposition. Dissenting views and the purveyors must be summarily dealt with.
The second pertinent reason for the increase in blood-letting is the culture of impunity. Those responsible for previous politically-motivated murders are hardly fished out. And where they are identified they are subjected to weak legal procedures that take too long to be of any meaningful consequence. This prompted Mallam Shehu Sani, the author of “Political Assassinations in Nigeria” to note that: “Suspected assassins stroll in and out of the court with impunity. Some judges are being arm-twisted and intimidated, while others appear to have succumbed.” This perhaps explains why years after, the evil masterminds and killers of the late Chief Bola Ige, Harry Marshal, Dikibo Aminasari, Funsho Williams Dr. Ayo Daramola and that of Dipo Dina still walk our streets as free men! But we cannot go on this way.
Sequel to my earlier opinion essay entitled, “Politicians and the dogs of death” published on February 3, 2010, I wish to advocate a stakeholders meeting involving INEC, representatives of all security forces, the judiciary and political parties to seek for permanent solutions to politically-traced crimes. While it is a commendable idea to have a Federal Government agency to try culprits of electoral crime, prevention is wiser and cheaper than cure.
Beyond that, we need a thorough amendment of the constitution and holistic re-structuring of the polity to make political offices less attractive. Also, the process of getting into office as politicians should be as affordable to an average Nigerian as possible. True servant-leaders should be ready to serve, instead of gorging on the state treasury. But first, let the law be strengthened to apprehend and bring perpetrators of electoral crime to speedy justice. Only these measures would cleanse the Augean stable.
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