By Linus Aleke
As political gladiators in Bwari area council deploy their (political) biological and nuclear war machinery to strategic locations ahead of the March 19, 2016 area councils election in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), supporters of the two major political parties, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in the area are already mobilizing support for their respective candidates in the coming elections.
The ruling PDP in the area council is banking on its legacy projects in the area, power of incumbency, formidable political structure at the rural areas, amongst others to coast to victory.
On its part, the major opposition APC is cashing on the acceptance of the party’s philosophy of fighting graft by the people; popularity and ability of its chairmanship candidate in the area; the goodwill he enjoys from the electorate. It also relies on the popular ‘change mantra’ of the federal government which performed unprecedented magic and engendered nationwide victory which came to PDP like tsunami during the 2015 general election, to coast to victory during the poll.
However, there is a dramatic twist and negative dimension to the whole mobilization game by the major political parties in the area council, as their mutual suspicion that usually characterize politicking in Nigeria had snowballed into vicious intimidation and arm-twisting in a desperate bid to have an edge over the other.
The gladiators and supporters of the two opposing parties are accusing each other of one sinister move or another unwarranted actions and inactions.
While the ruling PDP is accusing the All Progressives Congress supporters of inciting violence and fomenting trouble in the hitherto peaceful area council, a situation that had landed some opposition faithful into security custody to answer to some of the allegations levelled against them by the chairman of Bwari Area Council.
Meanwhile it is instructive to note that all those who allegedly fall victims of the antics of both sides had since regained their freedom from detention as a result of their innocence of the unfounded allegations levelled against them.
The opposition APC is accusing the ruling PDP in the area of undue intimidation, harassment and arm-twisting, following what they described as ‘our growing popularity in the area council.’
They averred that the political harassment and intimidation of their members using state power and security operatives by the incumbent chairman is nothing but a clear sign of fear that his party is on its way out of power, just as it crashed out at the centre during the 2015 general elections.
One of the APC faithful who did not want his name in print told Peoples Daily Weekend that the mother of all intimidation was averted on December 25, 2015 when the executive chairman attempted to use the military to truncate the annual cultural fiesta organized by Ushafa community to celebrate Christmas as well as welcome and appreciate their daughter who won the Miss Gbagi beauty pageant in Nigeria.
He further explained that it took the timely intervention of the royal father in the community to salvage what would have metamorphosed into bloody clash between the two major parties and the ‘military mercenary’ that was allegedly hired by the chairman to unleash mayhem on innocent villagers who assembled to commemorate Christmas.
“The police were not also left out in the saga as the Divisional Police Officer in Bwari area council also led some of his men to the venue on the instruction of the chairman, but he however exhibited high sense of professionalism and wisdom in handling the situation unlike the military boys,” he said.
According to him: “The Chairman thought he can intimidate everybody into supporting his cousin, he imposed on the people as the flag bearer of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He is now suspicious of everybody in Ushafa his own village. The annual cultural celebration is not new to him, so why did he attempt to stop it by inviting military men to intimidate innocent people. He felt the gathering was an avenue for the APC candidate to further cement the bond that already exists between them and he made frantic effort to truncate it.
“Everything is now political to him; he cannot even distinguish between cultural event and political gathering. He claimed that he was organizing an event on that same day and needed the venue we had started decorating in the village square but God gave us wisdom and we told the military through the traditional ruler that we will move to another location. We changed venue but at the end of the day he could not use the place he claimed to be the venue of his own event. PDP has lost its relevance in Bwari Area Council and will definitely lose the election.
“Why will a man in his right senses be fighting his people and expect to win an election, that singular action of using security operatives to intimidate the whole community is enough to pitch him against the community and invariably rob him of any anticipated victory. He thought he can impose his brother as PDP candidate and force him down our throat that will not work. I do not want to go into his performance as the chairman of Bwari area council for two consecutive terms; the people’s vote will decide how well he had administered the area council.
“APC candidate, Mr Musa Dikko is a candidate to beat, his track record speaks volumes of his achievements. He is a philanthropist and lover of the people. In as much as we are not going to leave any stone unturned during the campaign, we are very optimistic that what we are waiting for is swearing in as the song on every lip in Bwari area council is Musa Dikko and APC. Do your independent findings by sampling opinions of the people and you will better appreciate what I am telling you?
“The people are tired of PDP ineptitude, lack of performance, alienating the people as well as constant harassment and intimidation.”
On his part, a close ally to the APC flag bearer, Mr A Shikwolo supported the aforesaid view when he noted that even civil servants like himself are being politically witch hunted for mere perception that they are close to APC candidate.
He however, noted that power belongs to God and he gives it to whoever he desires, adding that the cruel intimidation is unnecessary as the people will decide who will be their chairman at the polls.
Though some scholars view politics as a do or die affair, many others differ on that.
To Professor Dahl, politics is likened to a situation where “A has power over B to the extent that he can get B to do something that B would not otherwise do.” Giving credence to the do or die, another scholar, Professor Harold D. Lasswell defines politics as ‘who gets what, when and how.’
However, politics of intimidation is condemnable judging by the popular saying that politics and democracy are about popular participation and game of numbers. The gladiators in Bwari area council should therefore give peace a chance and eschew politics of intimidation and bitterness to allow for a transparent process.
Aleke writes from Abuja