Even before the ink was due to dry in my article “Why PDP Win elections in Nigeria”, we already have an explosion in Bayelsa state to prove that this stage of the heinous plot is at hand. Don’t be carried away by this publicity stunt designed to create the impression that there is unjust political atmosphere and insecurity for the opposition in the state because nothing is farthest from the truth. Of course any opposition faced with the array of facts suggesting victory for the ruling party in the State will be jittery and intimidated. The terrain of the state is already a natural impediment to campaign whistle stops if you are not financially fit. So frustration is bound to set in for those who may consider this uphill task an injustice. Like I wrote earlier, it is the path all aspirants and candidates chose with eyes open so each person has only himself to blame.
Yenagoa remains one of the most peaceful cities in the South- South geo- political zone today. It is extremely exhaubitant to cost trouble here. Yenagoa is so peaceful to the effect that such a weapon can only be detonated in those points or places homogeneous with the bomb itself. As you know birds of the same feather flock together; while smokers, drunkards will probably find themselves together, bombers will also grapple with bombs by law. Even the logistics of carrying or coupling bombs is enough deterrence here for a bomb to stay close to base and detonate.
Now understand the dynamics that pushes a political player to want out of any structured life, out of civility because he will become an underdog too quickly. Politics can be very tasking for some people and they succumb to this pressure if they are not in it for good purpose to really benefit the electorate. So put your self in their shoes and you can feel the anger get better of them especially when they realize they had made a mistake taking up the gauntlet at the outset.
Now put yourself in the shoe of a candidate who contrary to expectation discovers that he is disadvantaged in all departments of the game. Even his niche area of media propaganda, now has facts assuming an unprecedented visibility and conspiring to rubbish well built defenses. As you behold the odds, you realize that you cannot allow the election to hold if you can help it. You attempt to cause confusion both as a reaction and as an exit strategy. You flew the kite of helping the impeached deputy governor regain his seat knowing how to handle the judiciary. To your chagrin this strategy falls flat on its face. Since you came for a ‘rescue mission’ to ‘take over’, you know deep down that your success depends on finding people in dare need of “rescue”. If they become as peaceful as Bayelsa State is today, surely this situation becomes in itself a threat to your ambition. Peace means that the Governor is doing well and you would have none of that. How to go about things in a civilized manner? You decide to return to Hitler, Grobbels, and Machiaveli, your mentors. Then you store some bombs or you are aware your supporters do. Owing to tight security by the eagle eyed Famatungbe you are unable to take it too far away from its base thinking it might smell. To create public sympathy about perceived injustice meted to opposition having since joined the opposition’s grandstanding against President Jonathan which kicked off in the state already; you decide to turn the bomb on your campaign office, choosing to do so when casualty figure will be nil. Ingenious! “And your Ministry will never be the same again”- apology to the imitable Godsons.
Well I am not the only person who saw this trend. The official spokesman for the government of Bayelsa state has a similar thinking. His reaction to the news of bombing of the opposition’s office near the President’s home town of Otueke:
“It has come to the notice of the Bayelsa State Government that the Labour Party, in confirmation of the claim of their governorship candidate in the state, Mr. Timi Alaibe, to contest the governorship election to embarrass both Mr. President and Governor Timipre Sylva, has started its campaign in Ogbia, Mr. President’s home LGA with orchestration of violence.
“Knowing fully well that ordinary opening of campaign office may not be enough to attract the required media attention; they have once again introduced their favourite attention-grabbing technique, detonation of explosives around them.
“In their characteristic way, they ensure it happens close by, but not close enough to cause damage to them or any of their valuables.
“The government is calling on Bayelsans to unite against this violent trend. Let us imbibe democratic norms and learn to be sportsmanly in our approach to politics so as to avoid ridiculing our state before the entire nation”.
As expected the opposition goes to town and gets international reports of bombs in opposition party facilities in Nigeria. The blanket of ignorance remains firm in the international level so that if tomorrow they “retaliate” then the international community will understand. Does it not remind you of the tactics of MEND? I mean the old forgotten “Boyloaf”,”Cynthia White” stuff? Well that is a strategy to turn election into the dimension that gives them advantage and grabs global sympathy preparatory to the plan B already exposed. You can glean this from their reaction to the bombing. The party's campaign chief Thalford Ongolo condemned "the politics of violence”. A haa, this is it. He goes on to add:
"We will neither be intimidated ... (nor) diverted from the goal of liberating the people of the state," said state party chairman Aduo Bobo. So it is now a military matter? So it is no longer in the realm of verifying claims about competence and pedigree or promising development or employment for youths? So what about the running accusations in the press? Is this the best way to “wipe” it away? Will the debate now go away because of a bomb? Will the violent image foisted on a peaceful city by few people be allowed to persist? The answer this time is no. This strategy like others past has fallen on its face because the people were warned before it came and they now see the truth of this desperation to tarnish the image of the President before the international community. It would have been more believable if the bomb blast really hit a target but these people are also thinking of survival and peaceful existence. It is very difficult for police to guard private houses because it lies in the freewill of people to choose what gets into their compound through their disposition towards such things. So perhaps the apostles of violence have lost the battle also in this front. Is it not more honorable to give up the towel?
The political system with its skewed winner takes all arrangement makes room for such desperate moves to be relevant by those who are not. There is need to restructure this polity to give more sense of belonging to the loser, to strengthen enforcement of campaign spending and media balancing of reports so that political opponents do not consider the use of unholy methods to change the political balance to their favor in detriment to the very survival of the institution of governance itself. This is exactly what I was driving at when I insisted that we needed more legislative reforms to entrench better the democratic spirit before holding an election but some of these money bags opposed the idea. Now they face the imbalance their stubbornness has foisted on the polity and they cry foul and adopt terrorist tactics to stay afloat. Unfortunately they will not succeed. The truth is that despite the too short a campaign period imposed for this election, the opposition is already broke because unlike before when money can easily be laundered from abroad through foreign accounts, EFCC is tightening all the noose helped by the cooperation of the international community. The local banks are now no go area so only the porous Northern borders provide a chance to bring in something. But it comes with a price as I said: loss of national direction. There comes to the fore a viscous specter of violence and bomb making and even suicidal tendencies. The option of removing the incumbents legally is disappearing by the day as mobilization becomes more difficult in a peaceful setting. Yet the option of lawlessness will make everybody a loser and must be resisted by all Nigerians.
*Mr Nworisara, a political and Media consultant wrote from Yenagoa