Combating Intra-State Political Xenophobia in Imo State: Task facing Governor Okorocha and CP, Imo State ....Could resonate in another Otokoto imbroglio
By John Mgbe
The Police in Kano State have arrested former Governor of Jigawa State, Mr.Sule Lamido, for making statements capable of inciting violence.
The Police Spokesman, Sambo Sokoto, gave the official reason for the arrest of Mr. Sule Lamido.
Sule Lamido was sarcastic and baying for blood in his speech to his supporters in regard to how they would behave during a scheduled Local Government election in his State of Jigawa.
Hear Mr.Sule Lamido: “Before the election, I will make every one of you swear with his life to protect our cause. No matter what, I will not listen to you for complaining. All I want is to come for your bail in the police station for breaking another person’s head or you fought someone because the administration belongs to mad people.”
On the other hand, a similar incident happened in Imo State even before the one of Sule Lamido.
A panoramic view of what took place in Imo State can be captured by reading a press release from the Office of the Governor of Imo State. Now hear from the Chief Press Secretary(CPS) to the Governor in the press release which reads thus: ”The attention of the Governor and Chief Security Officer of the State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, has been drawn to the recent threat by a group of politicians from a particular political zone in the State to kill and burn the properties of people from their zone who would support candidates from the other zones of the State for the governorship of the State in 2019.”
“This uncivilized and undemocratic threat bothers(sic) on the lives and properties of Imo citizens, and no responsible government would fold its hands and watch few overzealous politicians threatening the lives and properties of the citizens for political reasons.”
(Culled from Whitepaper newspaper of Monday, May 1-Tuesday,May 2nd )
Most of us are shocked that in spite the government’s statement that: ”No reasonable government would fold its hands and watch few overzealous politicians threatening the lives and properties of the citizens for political reasons, the same government has virtually maintained a deafening conspiracy of silence over this demonic threat of some misguided politicians from its own political party, even though this threat is capable of resonating into another OTOKOTO imbroglio in the 2019 electioneering season.
The offence which culminated in the police arrest and the planned prosecution of the former governor of KEBBI State, Mr.Sule Lamido, is the same in every material particular with the offence committed by the political group in Imo State who threatened Armageddon on their kinsmen in the 2019 governorship poll.
It is also a matter for grave concern that the Commissioner of Police(CP) in Imo State has not issued any official statement in regard to this dangerous threat. If the Police in Kano could swiftly arrest Mr. Sule Lamido for prosecution on the grounds of making inciting outburst which could pose a threat to peace and tranquillity in his state, why is the Imo State Commissioner of Police indifferent to a similar offence/ dangerous aberration in Imo State?
The worry stems from the fact that some people feel that these politicians are being protected because they are members of the Governor’s political Party, All Progressives Congress(APC). Could this government say in conscience that they would have taken this dangerous outburst lightly if it had been made by members of the opposition parties or a private citizen in the State?
The new Commissioner of Police should please tell us where he stands on this issue. While one must commend Governor Okorocha on the courage to condemn his party men who made this dangerous threat , we expect the Commissioner of Police to go beyond where the governor stopped.Perhaps,. he does not even need to prosecute those who made this offensive threat, but he can issue a stern warning against a re-occurrence of similar outburst in the future.
At our level of politics in the Third World(a.k.a Developing Countries),while the State Governor may be applauded on his courage to lambast members of his party who are beating the drums of war, there is a limit to how far he can go on sanctioning them.
There is a need to emphasize the inescapable fact that those swashbuckling politicians who are intimidating the other zones in Imo State ahead of the 2019 elections should come to terms that no zone has a monopoly of brute and coercive forces. Imo State and indeed Nigeria is a nation that is practising the democratic philosophy of government which is anchored on rule of law and due process and any efforts by any groups to turn the State to an Ochlocracy or mobocracy will be vehemently resisted.
While NDIGBO are being harassed and intimidated by the BOKO Harams and Fulani herdsmen,it is inconceivable for any section of Imo State to have a mindset that some people from zones outside theirs are lesser mortals on whose heads they can stand and get a balance. It is also erroneous for any section of Imo State to transmogrify to a local Boko Haram /Fulani herdsmen in which other zones will be in panic whenever they are sighted.
It is in our overall interest that the predisposition and penchant of using sabre-rattling, incendiary and inflammatory jeremiads by our politicians should be banished now. Perhaps, present realities make it pertinent to repeat the epic statement of the former Governor of Imo State, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, while delivering his inaugural address to Ndi Imo in 2007.
Hear former Governor, Chief Ikedi Okadim,: “My emergence as governor should not be seen from the perspective of the zone I am coming from but the wealth of knowledge I share about Imo State and what is required to move it forward to a level beyond where it is now.” (Sunday Independent newspaper of 6TH ,May, 2007).
Furthermore, in his maiden inaugural broadcast to the people of Imo State, the same Governor Ikedi Ohakim said:”Zones and zonism will disappear except as a means of electing senators to office and achieving a geographical spread in both the things we do and things we share. Preoccupation with where people come from is a disease that afflicts little minds. Henceforth, we will see Imo State as one people with a common destiny.”
(Culled from The Statesman newspaper of Thursday, June 7th,2007:13).
So, no one gets an uplift in the political sector by haranguing or intimidating his opponents. Political power is anchored on meeting of minds, lobbying, moral exhortation/persuasion, concessions and trade-offs. Those who think they can corner power through the harassment of their opponents are chasing after the wind. You can also say that those who revel in the delusion and illusion that they can corner political power through self help and intimidation in Imo State are living in a state of phantasmagoria- a classic case of Alice in Wonderland. Let every zone strive to put their political house in order instead of dissipating energy in threatening hell fire, brimstone and Armageddon on others. Unity is the corner stone of political victory, more so, in a pluralist and highly educated ambience as Imo State.
All in all, I wish to conclude with the ageless Latin maxim which posits:”UBI CONCORDIA, IBI VICTORIA” which translates to:”Where is the unity, there is the victory.” Of course, the above Latin maxim has its equivalent in French:”L’union fait la force” which translates to:”United we stand, divided we fall.”A political zone that is mired in an interminable cesspool of fratricidal conflict and backstabbing cannot grab political power through the backdoor or through intimidation and harassment of law abiding members of the electorate.
There is a dire need to alert the security agencies and the State Governor that if the penchant for making belligerent tirades and rhetoric by some members of the political class in Imo State is not nipped in the bud , it could culminate in a recrudescence of the infamous OTOKOTO saga of 1996 in Imo State. In a State where the State governor has been magnanimous to provide a FREEDOM PARK-the local equivalent of HYDE PARK LONDON, it is expected that those who feel aggrieved over any actions of the government should take their turns to unleash their venom or bottled -up grief in a manner that will not catalyze societal dislocation and conflict. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.