Saturday, March 12, 2011

The politics of bombs and voters wooing

It is election season in Nigeria. Surely, everyone – even those not usually concerned about things of that nature – must know that. Constant adverts on TV, Billboards and posters, pasted on buildings and streetlights – which by the way, break the very law politicians swear to uphold – make sure ones attention – no matter how unwilling – is drawn in and held.

Just like Christmas spirit afflicts the very air, election fever chokes the very essence of the country. The main actors, those who have more stake in the scheme of things – those a seasoned writer, whose name is jumbled with hundreds of other names – great and not – in the recess of my mind, called “the political class” – are out in force. Like in the not-too-distance past, they are all jostling for the right to govern our very existence, to impose their will us for another four years – which essentially, is what leadership in these climes entail.

Though the fever is yet to peak, the usual bloodletting, which many had hoped would not play out this time around, has already claimed Nigerian lives. Early March, at a PDP rally in Suleja, Niger State, Nigeria, the culture of indiscriminate bombing – Middle East style – was introduced to the Nigerian political equation.  This new tactic is a very clear departure from the old method of eliminating opponents via assassinations. Opponents, it would seem, are still the target of this new tactic, which appear to be an indirect attempt to scare away potential voters.

In suleja, 10 lives were untimely sent to the greater beyond. For what? Does stopping the election of one man justify the taking of human lives? NO! I say, not by a long shot.

While I do not seek to hold brief for the crop of people that call themselves politicians in Nigeria, who mostly lack a sustainable plan to move even a small local government forward, not to talk of a state or the Nigerian nation, it is imperative that we reassess ourselves. We need to call to mind those core values that used to be our bastion – whatever happened to being our brother’s keeper – and I very much doubt if there is any glory in planting bombs that go off when the perpetrator(s) is too far away to be harmed. That, I believe, is the height of cowardice.

There is no gainsaying the fact that the perpetrator(s) of this and similar heinous crimes against the Nigerian nation need to face hard-hitting justice, at least now we have the anti-terrorism law in effect, some examples need to be set.

This assertion should not read as exonerative to either opposition forces. Violence, it seems, is one thing the Nigerian politicians do not have in short supply. They swagger around during campaigns with a “do or die” mien that signals their intention to take on all comers. They buy thugs indiscriminately and sponsor same to follow them around in motorcades that remind one more of an all-conquering army advancing against enemies, than a peaceful political movement heading to actualise our collective dreams. The bitter truth is, if they devote half the resources they put into seeking for votes and strategising new rigging methods into the job of governance, Nigeria would be a much better place to live in.

The present state of Nigeria calls for us all to not just be onlookers. We should do more than pray for change, we should make change happen. The Nigerian youths have already proven that they have the power to make things work for them in a very oppressive environment, need I point out the growth of the Nigerian Movie, Music, comedy industry, and upcoming, the literary arts. Perhaps it’s time we transfer this ingenuity to the political arena, by not just voting in the right leaders, but constantly snapping at their heels to keep them on the right track thereafter.

first published in

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