By Shafi’u Hamidu
Don’t gain the world and lose your soul, wisdom is better than silver or gold – Bob Marley
he die has been cast, the drums have been rolled out and the dancers have already taken the centre stage. It is a very rough road that leads to Armageddon and some may never even reach there. We have crossed this bridge before and it was not an easy way to Terabithia. General elections in Nigeria are a very serious business – too serious to be left in the hands of politicians alone. Since another general election is just around the corner, it is time for me to pen down my piece of peace (#PieceOfPeace).
In the past few weeks, political parties were preoccupied with party primaries across all level of governance. Party tickets have been won and lost. The winners are engulfed with joy and they are looking forward to form more alliances ahead of the February general elections, while some losers are still aggrieved, dissatisfied and angry. Some are even looking for ways to cause chaos during the elections. Only a few of them understood the real meaning of sportsmanship in politics and that brings us to where we presently find ourselves. Many politicians in Nigeria are very selfish and they are always ready at any given time to do whatever it takes to get elected. The life of the poor in our society and the peace of the nation mean nothing to them in as much as the elections did not go in their favour. The opposition will do everything within their arsenals to muscle their way into power, while the incumbents will also use all armaments to keep power. All the dirty tricks in the books will be deployed by all and at the end of the day they leave blood in the streets. Oh yes! We have crossed this bridge before and it never leads to Terabithia.
The 2011 elections were marred by wide spread violence in some sections of the country. The federal government constituted a twenty-two man committee headed by a Minna-based former Grand Khadi, Sheikh Ahmad Lemu. Nobody was in any doubt when the highly respected Sheikh presented a very meticulous report with insightful recommendations on how to forestall future occurrences. But very typical of this administration, the report, just like many other committee reports before it, was dumped in a shelf somewhere in a corner of Aso Rock villa. No surprise that nobody heard anything about the Lemu’s report or its recommendations that was submitted to the current president. Ironically, this and many other good intentioned works for promoting peace and religious understanding earn the Sheikh the 2014 King Faisal Prize at the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Since then many things have change in this country. The Fulani man carrying stick before is now carrying gun. The repentant Niger Delta militants carrying guns before are now warship importers. The Boko Harams carrying AK47 before are now controlling Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) and the Ombatse militia of Nasarawa state are now gun runners. Our territories have been annexed by religious extremists that claimed to be fighting for Islam. Weapons, weapons, everywhere, but not enough for the Army. Of great concern are the recent serial jailbreaks that took place at different locations in the country. The pattern of these prison breaks have political colouration written all over them. Everyday there is a terror story in Nigeria and no one is feeling secure. Unfortunately, the government of the day has its priorities and providing security to the citizenry is not at the top of their scale of preference. Winning election and retaining their offices is all they have ear for. At the top of these all we are facing a general election in an uncertain, insecure, vulnerable and defenceless situation.
It is important to point out that no politician is worth dying for and no one deserve to die because of an election. Rewind: actually, not even an ant deserves to die because of an election. I also believe that the security of lives and properties of the citizenry is the responsibility of all, but the bulk lies on the table of the Commander-in-Chief and the Executive governors of the states. History shows that the utterances of some political gladiators during electioneering are clear pointers that motivate violent tendencies in the electorates. Therefore, it is high time we start holding our leaders responsible for their unguided utterances in the run-up to elections. The way and manner some electorates easily become willing tools for political manipulations to cause violence during or after elections calls for a serious concern. It still beat my imaginations that in this year and age some people still participate in political thuggery without their political godfathers and their children leading the way in the streets. It is totally against the law of fairness for politicians to incite the masses to kill themselves on the streets during elections while their children are sent to the most expensive schools abroad studying. Indeed, common sense is not always common.
The politics of tribe, religion and region is a very sensitive thing to play with in Nigeria, but unfortunately that is what the politicians are using to divide us. The moment any of these is mention, we quickly loose our senses. We quickly take sides depending on which side of the argument we come from. The election is just around the corner, but no one is discussing issues yet. No one is discussing the peace and security of the electorates before, during and after the elections. As far as I am concern, the security of lives and properties of the citizenry is far more important than the value attached to winning elections. Without peace and security in the nation, there will be no country to rule.
Let us be our brother’s keepers and let’s shun any act of violence that will jeopardize the peace and tranquillity of the nation. Vote wisely because your vote is your right. This is my #PieceOfPeace.
Shafi’i Hamid on Twitter: @shafzon and FaceBook: Shafi’iHamidu