2019: Of thuggery, violence and victory

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A protester hurls a rock at United Nations peacekeepers outside the electoral board offices in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Dec. 8, 2010. Angry protesters torched the headquarters of the government-backed presidential candidate and blocked streets with rubble from earthquake-destroyed buildings hours after the late-night release of preliminary election results triggered violence and new questions about vote rigging. (Damon Winter/The New York Times)

 

By Wahab Oba

These last few weeks have been very dismal in our state. First, it was abrupt end of our yearly celebration. And they caught everyone by surprise. I am talking about the ugly incidence of December 25th, when some people suddenly turned the annual meeting of the IEDPU into a political theatre, breaking the age-long sacred tradition of neutrality the programme has enjoyed as a platform for all sons and daughters of Ilorin emirate, irrespective of their political leaning and sympathy. But they caught everyone by surprise, when instead of following the laid down protocol of every dignitary, they began shouting political slogans to promote their party and their man, the APC and Abdulraham Abdulrazaq. That was what went wrong on that faithful day. It was a serious breach of protocol and could only have indicated that those who did it were not conversant with the tradition of the annual meeting. Obviously,  they have not been attending the IEDPU programme. Or, could it be that they just didn’t care and were ready to damn everyone present, including our royal father.
In the end, it was apparent they chose to damn the royal stool as their action led to the cancellation of the historic gathering of Ilorin sons and daughters. That was unfortunately the first of such development in the 53-year history of the IEDPU. What a shame!  If you want to win election, is it at the IEDPU meeting you will do so? Is the IEDPU annual conference the venue to campaign? Our leaders who are organisers of the event quite understand that it is not possible for the entire emirate to be in one political camp, thus they allow and respect individual decisions on political choice. And they always warn that whatever politics we play must be to improve our community; to move our dear state forward. That is one of the core reasons for the annual fund raising at the conference; the union uses such fund to undertake projects that are to the benefits of all of us, irrespective of political associations.
If we do not have previous editions of this event which featured politicians from different divides, it would have been possible to claim that the event of 25th December was a challenge of pioneers. But in the last few years, we have had dignitaries who belong to different camps gracing the event and behaving maturely; putting political differences aside when the issue is all about Ilorin, our heritage and our identity. But our brothers (yes, they are still our brothers even if they are currently misguided and goaded by hate) threw caution to the wind and usurped the system. They have brought great consternation to critical stakeholders in the emirate. The morning shows the day; are these men the ones to take over the leadership of our state? Men who have no respect for the throne of Alimi? Men who will insist that their will supersedes the collective aspirations and decisions of all of us? May God forbid!
Does it not appear that these ones seek to be governed by a strange system; a structure and an institution strange to the emirate philosophy and culture? These ones appear to be satisfied with lording it over us, whether we like it or not. Their slogan says it all:  it is a call to battle, ‘we don’t want to be under anybody’.  Including the royal stool? And perhaps to prove that the event of December 25th was no accident, they went ahead two days later to insinuate wrongly about the immediate past National President of  the IEDPU, His Excellency, Ambassador AbdulAazeez, claiming that the diplomat resigned because of pressure due to what occurred at the conference.  Even if that was true, isn’t that itself a damning verdict against the protagonists of December 25th? Have they won his support, and by extension those of his constituency by ‘forcing’ him to resign because of their shameful act? And of course, the truth is that the man stepped aside to enable him face a more challenging job at the national level, another opportunity for the emirate.
Thus by their allegation, these men of strange drums, strange voices and strange messages have shown their disdain for the honoured institution of the emirate. They deserve our pity. They deserve our vigilance more so that we do not allow them to lead us astray. It will be a disaster. Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq must apologise to the Emir of Ilorin for his insensitivity to our tradition. AA must apologise to IEDPU for disrupting their yearly programme. AA must tender an unreserved apology to our community for causing apprehension and tension in the Emirate.
Secondly, the agents of horror invaded our community; they vandalised our neighbourhood with unprecedented vandalism. In what seems to me like a chronic dementia, the boys; and I’m yet to be convinced that they are our sons, invoked horror to our community. At the end of what looks like an impossible scene in a comprehensive narrative for the companions of the celluloid and the pen, not less than sixty cars and property worth millions were lost. Many other innocent citizens, including children, were injured. Never had we witnessed this kind of violence in the recent political history of our community. Those who aspire to lead us with their Ót ó gé slogan are raining violence and destruction on us. They seem to want a stop to the peace in our state. They appear to be saying Ó tó gé to the harmony that we enjoyed over the years. Their kind of change seems to be violence and destruction.
Then also came the sad story that campaign billboards are being destroyed in various parts of the state. Whatever the excuse, except where it has offended the law, either with its content or by failure to be registered, destroying billboards does nobody no good. We should rise above partisanship and tolerate such global democratic norm and prove to the world that we are capable of allowing the expression of opinions to flow freely. I’m sure if we study it properly, there is a limit to how much billboards impact on the outcome of elections. I dare to say, most of the real voters do not even read the posters. So, why do we waste our energy on destroying what has little value and impact on the direction of election outcome? Why not spend such time canvassing votes, moving from door-to-door, and ensuring that we sell our candidates in the most acceptable manner?
We should not descend to the level of the intolerant. And I’m here talking to all the parties that indulge in this act. We must stop forthwith this unwholesome idea of destroying what people have spent huge resources to build. Our community is not a destructive one. We were born into a culture of tolerance, perseverance, love,  endurance and faith. If we are not please with a particular billboard, which has passed through regulatory approval, then the response should be for us to create our own, pay for it and erect it appropriately. Shikena!
And even if there is a billboard that has circumvented regulatory processes, which must not only be torn but pulled down completely, then let it be done through the official channels.  To me that is a better response. As we get closer to elections, our security agencies must not only be neutral but must be seen to be neutral and professional. They must be more proactive in preventing violence and sustaining our endanger peace and harmony. A situation where some security agencies are alleged to have accompanied perpetrators of heinous crimes to scenes of crimes is unacceptable and indefensible.
The other time, the Department of State Security Services, DSS, invited editor of the National Pilot Newspapers, and I became highly inquisitive and suspective. Why! I learnt on allegation of alleged fake news and incitement. Hmmmm. Excellent! And within the arm pits of their responsibilities. Media houses must be factual, objective, sensitive and progressive.  But the social responsibility theory of the media goes beyond the simple “Objective” reporting of event to “Interpretative” reporting or investigative reporting. The total news is complete facts and truthful but the commission of the freedom press stated that “No longer giving facts truthfully rather than give a necessary analysed or interpretative report on facts with clear explanations”.
Even at that, the DSS should do more on identifying media houses which are obviously incitive, provocative, subjective and subversive. Rather than give impression that the agency is subjective in its handling of the media reportage of political violence in the state. *Oba can be reached via e-mail: abdulwahaboba@gmail.com

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