Posted by News Express | 9 May 2017 | 1,544 times
One of the essential ingredients of democracy is the opportunity it affords the people to have plurality of choices and opinions. Prof. Ben Osisioma in a public lecture in 2010 in Awka said it poignantly that: “The beauty of democracy rests in the opportunity it affords to the people to elect at one point, their representatives; and in the next dispensation, utilise the sanction of the ballot box to substitute them for others , if they so wished”. Onitsha born highlife musician, Ikem Mazelli a.k.a Material Onye Nwe Egwu rubbed the message home when he sang in one of his lyrics that ochilimma ga achi ozo, ma ona eme mma.
But that same democracy is on trial and also endangered when an incumbent who is elected into office by the same wish of the people and sanctity of the ballot box now begins to use the same position to muzzle the voice of opposition, bully dissenting voices, and exert the power of incumbency to frustrate the chances of any other contender desirous of giving the people an alternative choice even when the people are still at liberty to either go for the alternative or maintain the status quo.
A mild but very unpleasant and dangerous drama played out in Awka recently during the Media Summit organised by the Anambra State Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ).
The planning committee headed by Mrs. Uche Amunike of Fides Newspaper, Awka, had in their genuine intention of assembling resource persons who will talk to the journalists so that they can be enriched in their practice carefully chose, Mr. Oseloka Henry Obaze, renowned Diplomat and former Secretary to the State Government in both Obi and Obiano administrations in Anambra.
Obaze had left Obiano’s government when he realised that he was no more wanted in the government and his views seems to go in contrast with what the Oga wanted . He has also signified interest presently to contest in the November Governorship race.
Sources said immediately the Obiano administration got wind of the information that Obaze was billed to speak in the summit, arm-twisting started immediately too. The NUJ leadership was allegedly cajoled into dropping Obaze’s name in the summit if they wanted the government to be part of it or support the program. The leadership also in trying to impress the government tried to see how Obaze will be persuaded to now feature in Day 2 of the summit so that there won’t be any ‘clash’ between the two in Day 1 but Obaze who never knew what was brewing behind reminded the organizers that the key note speaker was supposed to speak at the opening ceremony and also gave them the condition that if he was barred from speaking on the Day 1, he will pull out of the program entirely despite the fact that he was also billed to chair the session in Day 2.
The NUJ leadership was left in quandary on which side to toe but knowing that the governor holds the ace in terms of funding and the implication of losing the fund expected from him, they allowed the Governor have his way more so when it was alleged that the government allegedly bankrolled the election that tilted the result in favour of the incumbent leadership.
That was how Obaze’s picture and name as the keynote speaker was conspicuously missing in the Summit brochure if not for the fliers which the organisers printed earlier. The main drama of the day started that morning when the Protocol people from the government house in acting out the handed script refused to brand/tag Obaze’s seat when they came as Governor’s advance team. To cut the long story short, Obaze sat in the front row seat facing the high table instead of joining the governor and other dignitaries in the high table.
He delivered his excellent key note speech devoid of any name calling or foul language and left but never came back the next day to chair the session.
This is a sample of what to expect in the coming election. The Governor and his aides from their body language don’t brook any opposition at all. Recently, Chief Ken Emeakayi of the PDP raised alarm that the governor threatened his life over the phone because he called on the House of Assembly to impeach the Governor for not transmitting a letter to the House of Assembly when he went on vacation recognizing his Deputy, Dr. Nkem Okeke as Acting Governor.
Presently, the reenactment of the Daniel Kanu era of the Youths Earnestly Ask for Abacha time may be in the offing in the state. Using the state paraphernalia, it has been endorsement galore for the governor for a second tenure. The traditional rulers council took the lead in the endorsement galore even without consulting their subjects and the state governor allegedly funded the paid advertorial of their endorsement of him in some national dailies. The President Generals through the ASATU town union umbrella also joined the fray together with the youth bodies. Traders Unions in the state has been made an extension of the government body too and their own endorsement is a done deal. The church painfully has become a veiled campaign ground for Obiano’s second tenure too and the Pentecostal fellowship had even gone full blast in their reelection campaign for the governor through a ‘crusade’/ political awareness campaign organised at Ekwueme Square, Awka on 7th April 2017.
We acknowledge the fact that it is the right of the governor to seek re-election and we wish him good luck in the venture but it is also the right of the electorates to either accept him or reject him during the polls.
There should be no veiled inducement of any kind to sway the people in making their choices neither should be coercion as well whether veiled or frontal.
It is the right of other candidates and aspirants as well to air their views, move freely in the state and attend public functions unhindered. The state information and communication apparatus should be made available for all. There should be free speech devoid of hate and campaign of calumny.
The security agencies should make unbiased investigations on the alarm and allegations raised by Emeakayi.
Anambra from tradition are not known for political killings and haughtiness, the Governor as the Chief Security Officer of the State should ensure the safety and protection of all and sundry. He should restrain some of his overzealous aides who may go out of their way to bring him vicarious liabilities in their conducts and actions.
Power belongs to God despite the fact that humans now play god most especially in Nigeria when it relates to politics but we urge the Governor to resist any temptation to choose the devil’s option while prosecuting this re-election bid.
•Excerpts from the report of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), South East Zone, presented by the Zonal Chairman, Comrade Aloysius Attah, after their recent Zonal Management Committee Meeting in Onitsha.
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