The trend of politicking preparatory to the forthcoming gubernatorial election in Edo and Ondo states is giving every right thinking Nigerian real cause for concern. The politicians in the two states and their rhetoric are stoking the embers of violence in a manner that gives the impression that the two main political parties and their supporters are aiming for mutual self-destruction. The way they are mobilizing for what they consider a show down is akin to preparing for war. And yet they claim that they are out to seek an opportunity to serve. The living or the death? One may be tempted to ask.
Recently, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr Mohammed Adamu, announced to the whole world that politicians in the two states are arming those he described as thugs ahead of the polls. In the view of this newspaper, the Police Chief is not telling us what we do not already know. By every stretch of the imagination, what he said is not new. What is actually surprising is the tone of despondency as if the entire Force is helpless in the matter.
That is the aspect that is very worrisome for the simple reason that the Police know what the problem is, they know the cause of the problem, the political actors involved and for whatever reasons are still lethargic in addressing it in a manner that will solve it once and for all.
Even more disturbing is the fact that the Commissioners of Police in the two states have waited this long to be told that they should rejig their security apparatus so as to effectively manage the security challenges that confront the states in particular and the nation in general. Are Nigerians to believe, then, that they are not reading the security barometer in the states accurately? Or are there other interests at play that are trying to take advantage of an anticipated violence for political and other gains.
The IGP is the main man when it comes to providing security to the civil society. He is in a position to know the movement of arms and ammunition in and around the country. If he has any challenges in this regard, he has access to other sister agencies with whom he can collaborate and fish out the bad elements and make them face the wrath of the law.
We are already aware of the hard line positions of the political gladiators in the state. That alone is sufficient to attract the attention of the Police. Instead and beyond the usual security meetings during which the Police chiefs merely appeal to the politicians to tone down their rhetoric when they should be giving them direct orders with a threat of severe reprisals, nothing else is coming from the Police to indicate that they mean to take serious actions against those heating up the polity in the name of politics and jeopardising everybody’s security.
Another issue of concern is that watching the campaigns and the political rallies, the way the politicians and their supporters wilfully violate the COVID-19 protocols, again, one is tempted to believe that the Police do not appreciate sufficiently the security implications of a likely heightening of the disease. If the Police do not know, it is also their business to ensure that the protocols are observed even at political rallies.
In the opinion of this newspaper, the Police are not seemingly proactive enough in whatever arrangements they are making towards nipping in the bud any situation that may lead to a breakdown of law and other in the election.
We are not unaware of the penchant on the part of the political class to infiltrate any public system they think can further their political interests. And that includes the Police. It has happened before and with what is happening in Edo and Ondo States, we have no reason to believe that it will not happen again. We have seen politicians dress up their thugs in police uniforms and use them to intimidate and harass their opponents especially on election day. With the level of desperation observable as the Election Day draws close, Nigerians have every reason to be apprehensive. That on its own is enough to warn not just the Police but other security agencies of the need to move in and arrest the impending cataclysm.
On our part, it is pertinent to call the politicians’ attention to the whole essence of democratic practice – public interest in words and actions. Anything contrary to this hallowed principle is from the devil and will not be condoned by the Nigerian people who have the God-given right to reject those agents of darkness masquerading as political leaders at the polls. They owe themselves that duty.