2019: Perfecting the art of stoning
Dearth of leadership has become a well-worn phrase but the masses often at the receiving end of leadership deficit in Nigeria have become desperate and resolved in their determination to get back at their elected elite on account of poor governance. They no longer have the patience to wait for the state or national assemblies to address errant elected officials, knowing they are hand in gloves in corrupt practices.
With nowhere to run to, the people have resolved to pelting their representatives with stones at public functions. This new trend, which gained prominence in 2015 only speaks to a known fact that when the poor are hungry, the rich cannot sleep. With nothing left for the poor to eat, they will turn against the rich who would make a good delicacy.
Definition of the rich in Nigeria political context, is those who have cornered public funds for private use. While in 2015, some innocent politicians were pelted by sponsored thugs to satisfy vindictive cravings of some politicians swept into power by the strength of the APC broom, the trend has however gone viral. Hungry Nigerians are now armed with pebbles to deal with those leaders they feel have fallen below expectation of service delivery. Stoning which was used politically to shame defeated PDP politicians in 2015, has flipped against APC politicians who are already getting stone-storms from angry electorate. Before 2019, stones would have become a very scarce natural resource.
It would be recalled that Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar of Bauchi State was stoned after last year Eid prayers in Bauchi, Governor Aminu Masari, Senator Abu Ibrahim and traditional rulers were pelted during a reception held to receive alleged PDP decampees in Funtua. Same last year, some youth destroyed official vehicles of Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State. The Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello was pelted with stones and garbages after Jumaat prayers in Lokoja. It was the turn of Abdullahi Ganduje Governor of Kano State this year, when he got showers of pebbles at Kano stadium during a match.
The list of politicians escaping lynching is endless. Senator Dino Melaye escaped by the whiskers on the 4th of November 2017. He was escorted out of the venue of Kabba Day celebration with showers of stones. According to reports, the governor of Kogi state had to quickly make a dash for it when he learnt of what had become of Dino. The trend shows how strong ordinary Nigerians are becoming in the face of helplessness. The people have started taking back what is rightfully theirs from the hands of corrupt politicians. Some politicians are administratively corrupt, while some are thieves, taking all for themselves and trampling on the millions of people starving under them. Others have a combination of both ugly characteristics.
As 2019 beckons, most politicians need more than police and DSS protection. Before the next electioneering period, their most valid protection would have been service. Most have failed to deliver quality service, hence they must brace up for the street justice that awaits them.
The north has recorded the highest number of cases of politicians attacked by angry mob. It goes to show that the APC bandwagon votes brought in political mistakes and misfits to rule the states. The people are already giving a stoning revolt. Already, some aggrieved youngsters have concluded plans to stash venues with pebbles close to handing over in 2019. Shower of stones awaits many politicians. The art and science of stoning may not be the answer to leadership deficit in the country, but it is a starting point to stemming the ugly trend of criminals occupying public offices. Each time Nigerians attempt better leadership option, they experience bitter unction. Desperation has indeed informed the stoning trend.
So many politicians come wearing the garment of people-based, service-oriented leaders, who however turncoat shortly after they are elected. These people become greedy despots despite the seemingly democratic process that brought them into office. The mistake of 2015 election is most devastating in the north. Many have vowed to look beyond political party platforms to value individual politicians for the jobs they are vying for. It is indeed important to ask politicians of what they have done for their community as private individuals before coming out to ask for votes into political offices.
The year 2018 is already upon us. It is a year in which the usual political lies will be told. It is a year when elected officials at federal and state levels will razzle-dazzle the electorate with make-shift projects and half-baked policies. It is time for the electorate to make the year 2018 count against political jobbers, pretenders and thieves. Yes, they must indeed stone those who have been tested but not trusted enough to return to their elected positions. It is time to change the game. It is indeed time to look for service.
Ebije is a public affairs analyst.