"I cannot teach you violence, as I do not myself believe in it. I can only teach you not to bow your heads before anyone even at the cost of your life". -Mahatma Gandhi.
The candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in the last presidential election and former head of state, General Mohammed Buhari in Kaduna last week predicted revolution which he said could take any form which the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) will not be able to cope with. He based his prediction on the absence of what he called social justice in Nigeria. For someone who ruled via a coup to achieve political objective, this may not mean anything.
However, Nigerians are not unfamiliar with such comments from the General. We could recall his directive to his followers "to deal with whoever tries to rig this election", which tantamount to asking people to take laws into their hands. It backfired as thousands of streets urchins went on rampage during and after the April 2011 presidential election, leaving blood and tears in its trails in some parts of the north. Those CPC members with milk of human kindness in them must have regretted what happened.
General Buhari was at first in support of the electoral processes, particularly when Professor Jega was appointed the Chairman of INEC. But he later changed his mind by pouring venomous comments on the process when the outcome wasn't favourable to him. These were comments enough to paralyze the system. Unfortunately, General Buhari had strong opinions of all the international and local observers to contend with since they had applauded the elections.
The recent bashing and discrediting of the Nigerian political practices by General Buhari is seen as another calculated attempt to diminish the legitimacy of the incumbent. And to do it effectively, he had to position himself politically by breaking his solemn promises. First, he broke his promise not to go to court if the presidential election was not favourable to him. Second, he broke his promise not to contest again if he lost2011 presidential election. General Buhari went full hug to get judgment from the courts. And now he may even contest the next presidential election at the age of 74 years in 2015. He will be setting a record of being the oldest to ever contest presidential election in the history of Nigeria.
One may want to ask what could be responsible for the vacillation between promises and breaking of promises and what they impact on the psyche of General Buhari's political followers. It seems this creates a perception for followers that when all is lost for your political leader's ambition to be realized; you set yourself on the desperate and violent path. You are encouraged to try alternative route to liberal democracy and that visible alternative is violence and anarchy. Little wonder there were sporadic violence and senseless killings after the last presidential election. The Sheikh Ahmad Lemu committee that investigated the violence that followed the last presidential election was able to draw this linkage which the CPC leadership did not agree with.
General Buhari's prediction of revolution has been addressed by the PDP Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, who noted that that the statements had disqualified him as a democrat, pointing to the 1983 coup that truncated a democratic government. In days that General Buhari was the maximum military ruler of Nigeria, it would have been treason for any democrat, human right activist or ordinary Nigerian to speak glibly of expectation of revolution. Chief Metuh did not add this to his response to General Buhari, and it would have made some sense. General Buhari ruled then with a fist of iron. Those were times when even your thoughts could be read and considered treasonable by the state. It was a time when governance lost all its human face.
One could also recall other combustible statements from the leadership of General Buhari's CPC, calling on voters to use "means" to defend votes and also their pledges to make Nigeria ungovernable if General Buhari lost the 2011 presidential election. All these statements put together were forerunners to the violent turn that the political culture is witnessing today.
If we go back in time a little, we will recall that the General Buhari's political party, had been accused of aggravating political tension through inciting statements made by its leadership during the April 2011 elections. For instance many had expressed bewilderment that the violence that accompanied the election targeted political opponents and were only widespread in places where CPC had majority support and won the election. It was enough for analysts to conclude that CPC had premeditated violence, planned to discredit the electoral process and cause anarchy. CPC explanation that the violence was spontaneous certainly did not hold water against the background of the above mentioned facts.
Musa wrote from Lokoja.
Source: Daily Trust