Opinion: That attack on Alex Otti’s convoy in Abia

by Onyebuchi Onyegbule

There are two major parties in Abia State contesting the gubernatorial seat: the PDP and APGA.

Under sane circumstances, they should find themselves cooperating for reasons not far-fetched. One, they’re both victims of bad governance, two, their people are endangered and finally, APGA adopted President Jonathan as their presidential candidate. The last should attract reciprocity in kind, that is, PDP should find in APGA, a partner.

But it’s not so. Jonathan is on his own as far as the Abia-PDP is concerned. He should be separated from Ikpeazu, the PDP governorship candidate. To them, it’s Ikpeazu by all means. That’s really the obsession in error pummeling the remnants of the Abia-PDP; remnants because, many have left for APGA and some have quit politics entirely due to the intolerable internal injustice. Invariably, the PDP’s problem is the PDP.

The victim is Ikpeazu who wants to be governor but won’t be. They have all the money, security, connection but something is working against them, the PEOPLE and PROVIDENCE. No matter how they try, the people say no, it’s time for change and the preferred agent of that change is Alex Otti.

They don’t allow him to use public facilities for campaigns, so he clears bushes overnight and the crowed surges in the morning; they harass and beat up his supporters and run to the state radio to accuse him of harbouring trained men to cause violence; they even instruct some stations not to promote his campaign or face sanctions. But all these to no avail.

The people say, it’s Alex we want. Now their next tick is open violence and that’s not playing out well for the PDP as a party. This column counseled the national officers to call their Abia-ward to order; it will be tragic to lose an election and lose the name too. I don’t know if they have done that. I would say, not yet because on Monday, March 9, 2015, Alex Otti’s convoy was attacked with guns and matchetes on their way to Ikwuano for a town-hall meeting.

Eye witness account said they saw many members of the PDP youth wing who came to the venue to prevent them from mounting their canopy; they relocated to another venue and the thugs followed. There was resistance. Part of them went to ambush the Otti campaign crew to cause mayhem and part stayed on ground to do combat. Vehicles were destroyed, people sustained injuries but Alex and crew were safe.

One would ask, what’s the motive for this violence- to become Governor? But the PDP has retained that slot since democracy 3 arrived Nigeria in 1999. If they had done well, would the people be against them? Certainly not. They have done so badly that most of their members with conscience have left in protest; the people are bitter because they found that their votes became tools for their enslavement.

The result: both the aggrieved members and the people have voted with their feet. So, would violence change that? No. To restate the people’s grudge once more, it’s that the present governor has made governance a family affair, that workers are not paid and their dependents in limbo, that the state infrastructure is decrepit making life unbearable, that propaganda, rather than performance  holds sway, that rather than listen to critical voices, they’re clubbed down in terror, etc.

Will Shooting erase these misgivings? No, they harden them and the people plan to pay back on April 11. So what we’re witnessing is the hysteria of April 11 and the rehearsal of a failed project. The question comes again, can the security agencies handle these explosive situations? A simple question with a difficult answer.  Well, it depends. If they’re sympathetic to the candidate, they will; if they’re not, they’ll show passive presence.

The latter was the case during the attack. Some police personnel were there but not there. Some suspect the other side may have ‘seen’ the right officers for such job before the act. So what happens when police with sympathy faces police without sympathy?  Danger? No, they know how they sort these things out. But a time comes when such practices get out of hand.

The result is casualty and image-smear. If what happened is a test, the security snored off. Worry then is what happens in the big theatre? What’s the consequence of people not feeling adequately protected?  Self-help? It means many things not good for the memory.

This is where the PDP as a party should come strong to supervise the path of sanity of its members; it’s after all, the ruling party. Its failure is radicalizing the people and no threat to democracy is as dare as that. Power-to-the-people should be in slogan and practice.


Dr. Onyebuchi Onyegbule

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija


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