‘Fanatics are like debris following the course of the wind; they are swept around like sand, and convinced to believe in what they do not understand’—–Caleb Colton
What could be the mindset of Gani Adams, factional leader of Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) when he chose to lead a violent protest, which according to him, was meant to call for the removal of Prof. Attahiru Jega, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) from his post on March 24? Besides, the disgruntled militia’s main grouse is how to guarantee the inept President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election into power.
Adams led the chaotic protest march from the old tollgate through Ikorodu road to the National Stadium in Surulere area venue of the pro-Jonathan rally. The Oodua protesters reportedly brandished weapons such as cutlasses, guns, knives and others while occupying one side of the highway, harassing road users, including motorists and pedestrians. These apparently sponsored fake democratic campaigners went about destroying campaign posters and billboards of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in their venal best. They, for effect, purportedly came from different zones in Lagos and neighbouring states including Ondo and Oyo. This column gleaned from reliable sources that they were also joined by some individuals in black vest, believed to be FERMA/SURE-P personnel that were, sometime ago, given military training at a yard located around the old toll gate area.
Adams’ protest is misguided because it is not the people of Nigeria that appointed Jega but President Jonathan with the approval of the Senate. And if he is not knowledgeable enough to know this, he ought to seek legal counsel of many brilliant Yoruba lawyers around him that would have advised him to take his gun, cutlasses and amulet-wielding protesters to Aso-Rock Villa, Abuja and the National Assembly to protest the removal of Jega. The major impediment here is that it is obvious that this faction of OPC could not establish any prima facie case against Jega, except that his appointor wants a desperate second term, and gave them billions of naira pipeline protection contract as Greek gift.
And again, the fact that Jega’s insistence on using the card reader for the election is unfavourable to the re-election ambition of their mutual benefactor – Jonathan. While it is good that the contract will avail jobs for ‘15,000 Yoruba youths,’ it is equally disgusting to note that Adams is equating this figure to millions of others who are well educated but could not get jobs because of the lack of innate capacity of and inept approach of Jonathan to governance in the country, thereby necessitating the clamour for CHANGE by most young and old Nigerians.
What is the goal of OPC’s terrorisation of Lagosians going about their daily activities in a lawful way through its members brandishing guns, cutlasses and amulets on major roads? Is the leadership of the organisation unaware of the fact that the only people who are validly allowed to use violence in our society are the police, the army, and, very occasionally, few licensed individuals, under provocation and in self-defence? During the last imprudent violent protest of OPC, the group stepped outside the legal charter and ought to have lost all protection for themselves from the compromised police that watched helplessly as they unleashed terror on inhabitants of the state.
Questions for Adams’ OPC: What unknown existing real problem is the group trying to divulge? If it is Professor Attahiru Jega’s removal, that is no problem for the man has not committed any crime or abused his position as at the last time this column checked. Even if the group does not like the INEC man, for induced partisan reasons, what alternative is being pushed forward other than creation of more problems that would ensure the elections did not hold, being the failed reference term promised Jonathan which dubiously facilitated the curious N6billion pipeline contract… and would that solve any problem or further throw the country into more avoidable constitutional problems? In Adams’ moment of personal reflection, does it not occur to him that the said contract is clear usurpation of police and other security agencies’ duties? Must the OPC be involved in intentional law-breaking antics by putting self in arrestable situations in order to make a political statement just because the presidency is behind their injurious procession?
But for the sake of working as a group to collectively fleece the state, it is settled that Adams and his ferocious men cannot in their individual capacity publicly commit such worst barbaric acts of persecuting and harassing fellow countrymen/women that ordinarily should have revolted against their whole being. Adams should realise that the waste bin of history in Yoruba land is replete with men that, at one time or the other, and for pecuniary reasons, jettisoned the larger interest of Yoruba. Their enjoyment later proved to be evanescent while the pains and anguish associated with such betrayals against the larger Yoruba interest is forever.
It is an irony that a Jonathan administration that postponed the February elections simply because of violence in some parts of the country is sponsoring violence through OPC and the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) in the west and eastern parts of the country, despite its still being unable to abate the earlier northeast insurgency against the state.
The most reasonable thing under the Nigerian situation is to assume that violent tactics, as being deployed by the PDP and the Jonathan presidency, through unthinking militias and other state’s instrument of coercion is wrong and unacceptable. The deployment of militias and the security agencies to fight sitting president’s electoral battle can only breed chaos in a polity where majority of the populace have already made up their minds not to vote in a particular way not favourable to the incumbent. The OPC protest that paralysed parts of Lagos that Monday sent wrong signals to the electorate on how far the OPC would go on the day of election to protect the electorally infamous interest of President Jonathan. The truth is that millions of Adams and his OPC and even MASSOB’s induced savagery, under the guise of expression of ‘constitutional rights,’ cannot stop the electorate of this country from expressing their free will through the ballot come March 28 and April 11. The induced minority, under the prevailing circumstances, would have their say; but the law-abiding rampaging majority that are tired of Jonathan’s ineptitude in the management of the affairs of this country would have their way. Let us all keep our fingers crossed till the election days – being the days of actual decision for CHANGE.