Rumbles From The Niger Delta Ex-Militants
THE Niger Delta ex-militants are regrouping and threatening war. And going by the reason they regrouped and issued threats, which is the assault and intimidation that President Goodluck Jonathan and his campaign train have suffered in some States in the north, their new posture is, without a shred of doubt, an ill omen.
This potent group, which had once held the Nigerian nation to ransom and crippled her economy by crashing daily crude oil production to a paltry 700 barrels from 2 million barrels through militancy, can be ignored at nation’s peril. They are simply saying that forcefully removing President Jonathan from power is only unacceptable and promised to resist and retaliate all ill-treatments to the President and, going by their antecedents; they apparently have the capacity to make good such threat.
Come to think of it: could the ex-militants be right that the assaults and intimidations suffered by President Jonathan and his campaign train in parts of the north are part of ‘the list of actions that our party intends to take’ announced by the All Progressives Congress (APC) at their pre-election Walk Rally in Abuja?
It will be recalled that at the said Walk Rally of the APC late last year, where Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State said his Party would not go to court if it loses the Presidential Poll, but would instead form an alternative government. His words: “…in 2015, we will not go to court. We will form our own government. We have met on that and we have agreed on that. We will install our own government and there would be two governments…”
At the said Walk Rally also, the APC National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, was far more elaborate; he declared among other ominous statements that “If we do not see any discernible change of attitude on the part of the government, then we will move to the next stage on the list of actions that our party intends to take to stop the rot being perpetuated by the PDP-led Federal Government.” He did not however disclose what these other measures are, leaving so much to speculation.
In 2012, the APC Presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, also promised that ‘dogs and baboons will be soaked in blood’ if the 2015 polls do not meet his expectations. His exact words: “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.’’ Nasiru El Rufai, while predicting massive bloodbath for 2015 elections, had also said the only option left for the opposition is to take power by force for which the Directorate of State Service invited him over for questioning. Governor Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State of the PDP has also made an unsavory comment of referring to those who oppose him as cockroaches to be crushed, to say nothing of the orgy of violence in Rivers between APC and PDP supporters.
The ex-militants, perhaps following deductive reason, are now alluding to the embarrassment, intimidation and even assault being suffered by President Goodluck Jonathan in the North as part of the acts of desperation of the APC aimed at ensuring victory at all cost. Whereas the APC and its Presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, have toured the lengths and breadths of the South South and South East, which are the strongholds of President Jonathan and his Party the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) without any form of molestation, President Jonathan and his campaign convoys have been stoned and pelted with pure water in Katsina State the home State of Buhari and in Bauchi. The Gombe rally of the PDP was disrupted by thugs.
This development is lending itself to much speculation and apprehension. Like the act of terrorism going on in the northeast, the aim is to instill fear in the President and his supporters. Whereas the President is fairly protected and can resist and silently repudiate such acts of intimidation, many of his vulnerable supporters are already negatively responding to these acts in northern Nigeria. Up North, where these acts of intimidation and violence against the President’s re-election are clearly rife, southerners who form the bulk of the President’s supporters are leaving for the southern parts in droves.
While many of them left behind may be either too afraid to even collect their permanent voter’s card (PVC) let alone voting or are being frustrated from getting them, those who have been forced out of the northern parts by these deliberate acts of intimidation and violence, can no longer vote from their new locations going by the Electoral Act. Since most of these Jonathan’s supporters being threatened cannot vote, it constitutes colossal losses for Mr. President in advance.
These are part of what the militants are considering as ‘forcefully removing President Jonathan from power’- forcing his supporters not to vote – the same reason they are now vowing vengeance.
These are certainly no ordinary times. These drums of war beating up north and down south Nigeria in counteracting manner are simply a result of cliques of politicians and interests desperately pushing to circumvent the democratic process and get to power, ignoring the collateral damages inherent in their methods. They are now thrashing their way like a rot, not minding dragging the nation down with them.
Democracy should not be the undoing of Nigeria; it is government of the people, by the people and for the people. It is the people who must decide what they want and not any oligarchy as is the case in the present-day Nigeria.
How the hell did we get here? How come politics and elections in Nigeria have suddenly become a do-or-die game? Some say it is because some people in Nigeria have been carrying on as if they were born to rule or should decide who rules. Where this is not the case, mere anarchy will be unleashed upon the country as a consequence. This is reducing the electoral process ignobly to a conflict between those who want Jonathan out at all cost and those who want to resist any undemocratic and violent process of forcing the President from power.
The ex-militants are determined to retaliate what they called ‘coordinated attack on President Jonathan’ in the North presumably in the hands of APC supporters and have gathered in Yenagoa to harmonize their position and begin to articulate adequate response. In the face of this, what appear to be in serious short supply are statesmen who would stand in the gap for country.
Memory lane is replete with how the absence of statesmen who can speak up at such unnerving moments in the nation’s evolutionary history, has resulted in confusion and conflict in Nigeria and ultimately in a civil war, which claimed over a million lives. Leaders in other regions in Nigeria, not just in the North must rise now and prevail on those who are provoking violence to toe the path of peace and honour, and give the masses the chance to choose who governs them.
Unless Nigerians have made up their minds to go the way of Yugoslavia and Sudan, the citizens must also act more decisively and prevail on those making the country ungovernable. More importantly, the law enforcement officers should be prevailed on to treat the criminal content of this political rascality. This way, we may be able to pull back our nation from the precipice and ensure a violence-free 2015. Project Nigeria is beautiful, but there must be no slaves, no masters.
Law Mefor, Forensic Psychologist and Journalist, is National Coordinator, Transform Nigeria Movement (TNM), Abuja: