Several campaign offices and posters of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) were allegedly vandalized and torched in Maiduguri, Borno State yesterday during the presidential campaign rally of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) takes strong exception to this act of recklessness and unprovoked aggression. We commend the security agencies for exercising restraint in the face of such lawless behavior.
It is unfortunate that, 55 years after independence, Nigeria still wallows in a barbaric political culture. The current trend of political violence is repulsive, despicable and alarming. This trend is characterized by physical attacks on members of other political parties, vandalisation, arson and even murder.
The spectacle is disturbing because of its capability to discourage the injection of new blood into the political system. Elites and youths who have good ideas about moving Nigeria forward are most likely to be pissed off politics by the ugly phenomenon. The end result is the endless recycling of Stone Age politicians who are only marketable for their nuisance value.
The fact that the orgy of violence involves mainly the two main contending parties, the ruling party, PDP and the main opposition party, APC is quite instructive. It gives stakeholders an area of concentration.
MURIC is optimistic that the trend can still be reversed if the police, elder statesmen, religious leaders, traditional rulers and other stakeholders call leaders of the PDP and APC to order now. We are aware that the Nigerian Police has organized peace meetings among political parties in most states of the federation. We commend the police for initiating this move.
But just as the police alone cannot maintain security without the active support of the citizens, the police alone cannot successfully perform the task of peace-making in a political process. There is urgent need to involve people who can influence the citizenry. We therefore charge elder statesmen, religious leaders, traditional rulers and other stakeholders to take up the challenge immediately by calling leaders of the PDP and APC to roundtables.
This must be done urgently before the elections. Nigerians are on edge. Many people are afraid of travelling or even moving around the city for fear of being caught between two hostile political groups.
MURIC affirms that the offenders must not go scot free. Beginning with the Maiduguri thugs but not limiting action to the ugly event, those responsible for acts of violence must be made to face the wrath of the law. Political parties whose supporters are clearly and unambiguously identified as being responsible for violent attacks on other parties should be made to repair damaged properties or pay compensation.
Finally, we remind politicians and the rest of the citizens that it is high time Nigerian politicians evolved a civilized political culture which must be characterized by maturity, tolerance of opposition and the adoption of a liberal attitude towards elections instead of the current desperado politics whose only dogma is ‘do or die’.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)