By BEN LAWRENCE
The name of democracy in Nigeria today is “violence” which has become the daily fare. Majority rule here is anomalous because crude force purchases the prize. A winner does not need the votes of the electorate to grab power. In most cases, at all levels, the electoral authorities are extensions of the ruling parties. So when Nigeria’s chief security man, General Owoye Azazi, revealed that the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP was the father of the nation’s current insurgency and instability, he was firing from a sure ground: a promontory in battle which offers a clear perspective of the field.
No general deceives himself by playing down obstacles. He identifies the roadblocks and maps out how to effectively overrun them. Certainly, no army officer will talk glibly as President Goodluck Jonathan does when the lives of officers and men are at stake. Azazi is a soldier.
It is not that the three other main opposition political parties are better. Only that they have managed their internal squabbles without resorting to bloodshed in most cases. The PDP has spared no effort to prove that it sires insurgency, murders, arson and assassinations. This year alone, the lives of about 10 PDP members have been untimely terminated. Their deaths are traceable to intra-party fights for the booty from the looting of the national till. Recent happenings in Edo State, for example, point to the machinations of the PDP. A stalwart of that party and top businessman, Tomline Sorae, and his wife were gunned down at their residence in their vehicle as they returned from a night vigil in their church. A police escort was also slaughtered in that ambush. The PDP had been riven, before those murders, by intra-party feuds. Those killings were just the climax of the many that were committed in that state for political posts in the nation’s ruling party. The police are yet to blow the cover off the executioners and their masters.
Murder has now become so brazen in Edo State with the latest attempt on the life of Governor Adams Oshiomhole in broad daylight. It was a suicide bid by the Kamikaze driver who rode straight into the middle of the convoy of the governor’s motorcade in the attempt to kill him. He succeeded in cutting short the lives of some journalists and aides in the convoy and escaped, not for too long. This incident must not be swept under the carpet. The Edo killers are so hardy that a few days later, they murdered the principal private secretary of the governor at home in the night. Are those murderers less vicious than the Boko Haram militants’? The Islamists are not killing for money. They are not even asking for political appointments. They are crusading for a strange claim in a secular society. It is different for the killers in Edo State. That state was ruled by the PDP for 10 years during which the leadership of the government there creamed off, for selves billions of naira of the people’s money.
The change came and the people are seeing a return to the dream of their past that the nation celebrated. Edos are an ancient people who for centuries ruled territories from the Gulf of Guinea to beyond present-day Benin Republic. They came from Egypt through Sudan. They produced some of the most celebrated nationalists and journalists like Michael A.O. Imoudu, Anthony Enahoro, Bankole Erhunse Akpata, Abiodun Aloba Ja’Isuma and others. Even Eric Moore and Dr Kofo Abayomi (John) could trace their ancestries there. They are known to be fearless and administratively adept. There was no cowing them to toe a cause they rejected, as could be seen when Owegbe militants confronted the government in Ibadan in the 1950s. So no grandmaster of evil could turn the table against their choice.
Unfortunately, with the recent actions the blood letters have touched the raw nerve of the people, a leader they regard as God-sent. Oshiomhole should counsel his people not to retaliate but to leave it for the police and other agencies to investigate the promoters of these bare-faced murders. Nigeria moans under the weight of the insurrection of Boko Haram. The nation groaned when Niger Delta militants cut off its economic life. To invite the most tried-and-tested section of the country to join in the fray is to ask for the liquidation of the country called Nigeria. Edos fought the British for a year before they surrendered. Their intervention in the Nigerian civil war, because they felt they were humiliated by the Biafra invasion, changed the course of that conflict. They poured out their thousands to the federal side to save their heritage, though it was a cause misunderstood. The PDP became a scandal in Edo State before Oshiomhole was drafted into the rescue. It will take it years to regain its lost face in Edo. If it tries to seize the state, it will be a boomerang beyond any imagination.