By Elvis-wura Towolawi
From all indication, it appears the political wind in Benue state is beginning to turn into a whirlwind – with violent repercussion. Last weekend, supporters of both the All Progressive Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate, Dr. Samuel Ortom, and Terhemen Tarzoor, of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) clashed in Makurdi; resulting in damage to properties worth millions. Both parties have lived in self-denial and continually traded words over the incident. However, our intent in this blog-piece is to look at the big picture; the possible root of the violent outburst and the way to nib it in the bud before the Election Day.
Political tussle is hardly a fair play especially in our clime where politicians see it as a “win-all or loss-all” game. There are no middle grounds. Thus, once the whistle goes, the political players bring out both the ‘beast and saint’ in them to woo ad hood-wink the people into giving them the much coveted mandate. And the socio-economic environment of a particular terrain conditions the moves and outcomes of the game. Benue state, one of the oldest states in Nigeria is a land of paralyzing paradox. Blessed with a fertile land and other natural resources; with a burgeoning human capital; yet majority of the people live in undesirable and impoverished circle created by untoward political gimmicks and greed. The idea is this – ‘make’ the people dependent on government; fail them and during electoral processes drop some honey on their tongue and they’ll go berserk and do your bidding. We’re sure majority of the young foot-soldiers that clashed are hardly gainfully engaged in any craft or service beneficial to self or society. Hence, violence becomes a trade; a tool to further political ends.
Furthermore, we’ll like to put the blame squarely on the politicians for being inflammatory in their speeches. Their body language and acts surely give impetus to the ballooning populace of supporters to move heaven and earth to win the elections. And the political players have not shown any enthusiasm to douse the impending fireballs. For example, Lawyers’ Alert planned a candidates’ parley with civil society body in Makurdi – to create a peaceful synergy towards the electioneering process. Yet, many of the candidates did not show up for what-not reason. They tactfully avoid dialogue and debates. Most prefer to war than to talk.
In sum, as the election approaches, it is pertinent that politicians go about their campaign in a manner that engenders and fosters debates and dialogue; not violence. In fact, we at Lawyers’ Alert would like to propose a Benue Peace Pledge in Makurdi by all contesting parties’ candidates – to ensure that the boiling provocation does not spill over into a free-for-all violent outing on the Election Day!