Take it easy, you two

Daily Trust - - VIEWS -

ast week’s very pub­lic po­lit­i­cal al­ter­ca­tion be­tween Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan and Kano State gover­nor Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso was a dan­ger sig­nal that the leading politi­cians in this coun­try in­tend to heat up the polity with un­couth and un­guarded ac­tions and ut­ter­ances. It is an un­for­tu­nate de­vel­op­ment in the run up to the 2015 gen­eral elec­tions and it did a lot of dis­credit to the two men in­volved and to Nige­rian pol­i­tics as a whole.

Gover­nor Kwankwaso fired the first salvo when, two days be­fore the Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party (PDP) rally in Kano to wel­come for­mer state gover­nor Malam Ibrahim Sheka­rau to the party, he said he re­gret­ted voting for Pres­i­dent Jonathan in the 2011 gen­eral elec­tions. Ad­dress­ing a meet­ing of All Pro­gres­sives Congress (APC) elders, Kwankwaso fur­ther al­leged that PDP is plan­ning to dis­rupt APC by de­ploy­ing money to buy people over. He also blamed Jonathan for cor­rup­tion, in­se­cu­rity and em­bez­zle­ment of pub­lic funds in the coun­try.

All these would per­haps have been tol­er­a­ble but Gover­nor Kwankwaso went over the top when he de­clared that the people of Kano State [mean­ing the Govern­ment of Kano State] will not wel­come Pres­i­dent Jonathan to the state when he ar­rives for the rally. Kwankwaso was quoted as say­ing, “Kano people will not wel­come the pres­i­dent be­cause he has done noth­ing to make life bet­ter for them.” He ful­filled this pledge by re­fus­ing to turn up at the air­port when the pres­i­dent ar­rived in Kano. The po­lit­i­cal en­mity be­tween Kwankwaso and Sheka­rau is well known but it was to­tally wrong to refuse to ac­cord pro­to­col cour­te­sies to the pres­i­dent be­cause he is vis­it­ing the state for a po­lit­i­cal rally.

No mat­ter their po­lit­i­cal or ide­o­log­i­cal dif­fer­ences, state gov­er­nors es­pe­cially those who be­long to op­po­si­tion po­lit­i­cal par­ties should see it as a mat­ter of state to wel­come the lat­ter each time he is on a visit to their states. It is im­ma­te­rial whether the visit is per­sonal, po­lit­i­cal or of­fi­cial. If it is po­lit­i­cal, of course the gover­nor is not ex­pected to ac­com­pany the pres­i­dent to his rally, but he should wel­come him at the air­port, ac­com­pany him to the Emir’s palace and pro­vided lunch for him and his en­tourage, for ex­am­ple. Gover­nor Kwankwaso could be ab­solved of blame only if, as hap­pened in Sokoto not long ago, pres­i­den­tial aides failed to in­form the gover­nor that the pres­i­dent was com­ing.

Pres­i­dent Jonathan’s re­sponse to Kwankwaso’s charges to­tally went over the top. Speak­ing at the PDP rally, Jonathan said Kwankwaso was ly­ing when he claimed to have voted for him in 2011. He ac­cused Kwankwaso of em­bez­zling cam­paign funds given to him for the PDP pri­maries and gen­eral elec­tions. Jonathan, who spoke loudly at the rally, said “Even the lit­tle money that was meant for Kano del­e­gates, Kwankwaso re­fused to give them be­cause he wanted them to be an­gry with me. In the gen­eral elec­tions he also re­fused to use the money that was given by my cam­paign of­fice for the elec­tion.” In his un­guarded charge, Jonathan in­ad­ver­tently con­fessed to com­mit­ting an elec­toral of­fence by send­ing money to con­ven­tion del­e­gates.

At the same rally, Pres­i­dent Jonathan also ac­cused Kwankwaso of squan­der­ing N255 bil­lion meant for lo­cal gov­ern­ments (LGs) in Kano state. In yet an­other ugly twist to the tale, Jonathan said at the rally that Kwankwaso called him a devil. He said, “They say I am a devil and that any­body wear­ing a hat is a devil and that was why I re­fused to wear the white that was given to me at the air­port.” If in­deed any­one called any­one a devil based on his cul­tural dress, then that is de­spi­ca­ble and to­tally in­im­i­cal to peace and se­cu­rity in Nigeria. There is no rea­son at all why po­lit­i­cal con­test should de­gen­er­ate to a level of in­ter-cul­tural in­sen­si­tiv­ity of the kind that could threaten peace in the coun­try.

With 2015 gen­eral elec­tions less than a year away, we would like to urge all po­lit­i­cal lead­ers and their sup­port­ers to de­sist from un­states­manly con­duct and un­guarded lan­guage. For the sake of peace in the al­ready volatile Nige­rian so­ci­ety, politi­cians should choose their words care­fully dur­ing po­lit­i­cal meet­ings or ral­lies. This will go a long way to fore­stall un­nec­es­sary po­lit­i­cal bit­ter­ness as next year’s gen­eral elec­tions draw closer. If they wreck this coun­try through un­guarded ut­ter­ances, they will not have any­one to rule over.


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