Making political capital out of national tragedy



The series of mortal, early morning blasts at Nyanya Motor Park in Abuja last Monday which sent seventy-five people to the great beyond was indeed a very heartbreaking development which bothered every right thinking Nigerian. It also sketched the glaring inability of the authorities to nip in the bud that unwanted situation which hovered over the country menacingly for the past four years unabated, causing loss of innumerable lives and reckless destruction of valuable property.

Initially the remote cause for that unfortunate situation which precipitated extensive insecurity in the North-east area was linked to the callous indifference of top government functionaries to remedy the circumstances that led to the cold-blooded murder of Mohammed Yusuf, the leader of a belligerent Boko Haram group that was violently protesting the inequities meted out to his bellicose followers by unreservedly enthusiastic security forces in Borno State who acted on the orders of enemies of peace. The resultant protests and subsequent rebellion embarked by the slain leader’s fanatical disciples were responsible for the initial skirmishes that eventually snowballed to include unwarranted insurgency. The situation had escalated and spread rapidly to other parts of Northern Nigeria especially the North-east zone as a result of the inability of the authorities to contain it effectively.

Presently majority of citizens in the remotest villages of the North-west zone are living in extreme fear of assault from strange and dreadful gunmen that pillage and sack their settlements and homesteads with amazing impunity. The cattle of the nomadic Fulani and those belonging to sedentary farmers were craftily rustled by ruthless night marauders either from their allotments or ranches on specialized farms. Even now a huge conflagration is raging on in the North Central Zone as a result of violent farmers-herders clash where large number of lives is lost and unquantifiable property destroyed on daily basis.  Although occasional frictions between Tiv farmers and ubiquitous Fulani had almost become a routine affair from time immemorial no government had made any strenuous effort to stave off that revolting situation. Such clashes are now deliberately provoked by mischief makers to further make the causative circumstances even more severe and complicated.

Despite the effort by the people of the three Northern zones afflicted by that calamity to foster peace and bring about the cessation of all hostilities, there seemed to be no solution in sight and no reprieve appeared to be forthcoming. It is possible somebody, somewhere, somehow is intent on destroying the North and nobody elsewhere appears to be doing anything to forestall that impending catastrophe. The southerners who have apparently been spared from these devastations are totally complacent, believing that all is well that ends well with them. The pervading theatre of aggression in the North has not extended to their insulated domains

While all concerned Nigerians were busy expressing deep sympathy and sorrow over the Nyanya tragedy, some unscrupulous elements found it expedient to pass guilty verdict on their perceived enemies and political foes even as they did not advance sufficient evidence to support their wild and unsubstantiated contention. Many more had also accused an unnamed foreign power of aiding and abetting the dishonorable Boko Haram insurgents. Such was the characteristic of Nigerians in the face of any calamity; they are never circumspect when commenting on grievous matters. What if their verdict is after all proved otherwise after comprehensive investigations? That was why President Barack Obama of the United States found it necessary to caution Nigerian leaders against taking hasty and precipitate decisions over the Nyanya disaster.

It is also fundamental in a situation like that for politicians not to treat felonies as a matter of political rhetoric, uttering pretentious words that would further stoke the fire instead of dousing it. But the National Publicity Secretary of the ruling PDP and  his counterpart in the opposition APC were embroiled in a deplorable verbal war that totally betrayed their political pettiness and which also seriously undermined the institutional development of our burgeoning democracy. What that had shown was the politicians’ inability to know when to thrust aside partisanship during a period of national emergency.

It was painful and distressing to see how Nigerian politicians were busy making political capital out of that disastrous incidence. That was exactly what the PDP’s mouthpiece Chief Olisa Metuh had done by his thoughtless attempt to blame the Nyanya bombing on the opposition APC leaders whom he said were responsible for the escalation of violence in the country through what he called their unguarded utterances and vexatious comments which have promoted violence and blood-letting in order to gain political control.

The APC organ, Lai Mohammed responded in an unpleasant language, accusing the PDP government of insensitivity by playing politics with lives of innocent victims and berated President Jonathan for campaigning a day after the blast. Responsible national officers of distinguished political parties should always be beyond reproach and refrain from imprudent acts that could lead to litigation. Both have not been helping the situation by making blatant partisan comments on a matter that involves the destiny of many Nigerians simply to score political point.

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