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As political thugs go on the rampage

By Editorial board
08 August 2017   |   3:14 am
Political thuggery is on the resurgence and it appears the law enforcement agencies are either unable, or unwilling to confront it. Let it be said with every emphasis that this is dangerous not just for democracy but also for the physical safety of the Nigerian state.

Yahaya Bello

Political thuggery is on the resurgence and it appears the law enforcement agencies are either unable, or unwilling to confront it. Let it be said with every emphasis that this is dangerous not just for democracy but also for the physical safety of the Nigerian state. If immature and irresponsible politicians are allowed to advance their desperate quest for power and territorial control by every means at their nefarious disposal, anarchy may take over this land and too much damage may be unleashed on the country in no time. This must never be allowed to happen.

In Kaduna the other day, political thugs armed with dangerous weapons invaded the Nigerian Union of Journalists’ secretariat venue of a press conference by two federal legislators, unleashed violence on journalists, vandalized property and chased the conveners of the conference away, thereby preventing them from speaking their minds freely and fairly, on a delegates’ election held previously by the state branch of the All Progressives Congress (APC) party.

In Lokoja, political thugs, up to a hundred in number, invaded the Kogi State House of Assembly while it was in session, beat up everyone in sight and especially concentrated their assault upon a particular legislator and his aides.

It is noteworthy that in both cases, the harm was extensively done in spite of the presence of the police and officers of other security agencies. By every measure of common sense analysis, it would be difficult not to suspect collusion. The security officers at the venue of the Kaduna incident reportedly claimed to have allowed the assailants into the venue because they presented themselves as journalists. How come then that they went in with dangerous weapons undetected? Given the personal battles and politics of intolerance in the APC in Kaduna State, it would be unprofessional for security officials to be undiscriminating in allowing just about everyone into an event, especially the press conference by a factional group. In Lokoja, it is sensible to expect that the premises of the state’s house of assembly is fenced as well as guarded with a reasonable number of security personnel especially when the house is in session.How can it be, therefore, that three vehicles with a hundred unauthorized persons would drive through, disembark and move unchallenged in such number into the hallowed chamber? It is reported that security personnel ‘watched helplessly.’ Really?

Again, in both states, the respective governors have blown hot, as usual, ordered the police to apprehend and punish the perpetrators. But, expectedly, the victims are not impressed. They not only do not believe the sincerity of their states’ chief security officers, they even accuse the governors of complicity.

That some members of the APC would engage the services of thugs to harass and intimidate their opponents reveals much about this party, its disturbing lack of internal democracy and the disappointing deficiency of integrity in its leadership.

This party promised a ‘change’ from the strong-arm tactics of the Peoples Democratic Party government it replaced. Alas, like  many other promises  yet to be kept,  many APC politicians  display levels of  political immaturity, personal intolerance of  one another,  fiendish pursuit of self-interests on the one hand, and disdain for the interests of the electorate on the other that the question cannot but be asked: where is the change promised?

That members of a political party cannot, with maturity and  mutual  respect, disagree, discuss, and negotiate their differences, and  reach a win-win  agreement  for the sake of the party  and  the higher  good of the electorate is a clear indicator of  party members lacking in discipline, a party leadership not in control, and a  party in need of  soul-searching with a view to finding cohesion.

It should be observed that character deficit underlies the operating methods of most Nigerian politicians.  As good men shy away –or chicken out-from taking on leadership roles, unprincipled, aggressive men and women seize –not assume- the leadership space and foist upon society their unique but warped values- including of course, recruiting and arming hooligans to cow opponents.

The Nigerian environment is slowly turning into a lawless jungle where kidnapping, murder for ritual, political, and revenge reasons. Where armed robbery, violent ethnic and religious conflicts are now increasingly complicated by political brigandage.  In the face of these, Nigerians cannot but ask in bewilderment where the law enforcement apparatus is and where the government that is constitutionally charged to secure the state and the people is! For the sake of the peace, progress and prosperity of the country, safety of the citizens, and, in the not too distant future, the fate and fortune of the party, the All Progressives Congress must address these concerns, put its house in order and lead Nigeria the way the country should be led.