10042019 - Politicians, traditional rulers aiding bandits — DEFENCE MINISTER


18 — Vanguard, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10, 2019 FOLLOWING the recent killing of a Lagos football fan, Mr. Kolade Johnson, by stray bullets fired by policemen in pursuit of suspected cultists, spokesman of the Lagos State Police Command, Mr. Bala Elkanah, gave a controversial insight into why many youths are falling victim to police harassment which sometimes turns fatal. Elkanah, in an interview with the BBC Pidgin Service was quoted as saying: “Tattoos and dreadlocks are strange to our culture, especially for Nigeria. Most times when you arrest cultists many of them have signs on them.” As much as this candid assertion explains why policemen sometimes act strangely in their pursuit of alleged criminals, we consider it not only ridiculous but also a totally unfounded claim. The rank and file of the Nigerian Police, with the upgraded educational Police should maintain the law, not ‘culture’ requirements for their recruitment, should know better than that. In the first place, tattoos and dreadlocks are parts of the Nigerian and African culture. A lot of people wearing dreadlocks were born with them while others adopt them as their preferred hairstyle for reasons best known to them. Tattoos, on the other hand, exist in many cultures. It is part of body arts which are also expressed through tribal marks, signifying certain cultural and existential experiences of a people. If our contemporary youths have opted to wear tattoos and dreadlocks as part of their personal fashion statements, they have the right to their choice, so long as in doing so they do not harm anyone. That cultists also like to wear dreadlocks and tattoos should not lead the Police to conclude that anyone who wears them is a potential lawbreaker. In the second place, the Nigerian Police was not set up to maintain “our culture”. Its job is to maintain law and order as defined in our constitution and other extant laws. It is true that there are many aspects of our cultural practices which are generally frowned upon because they no longer have a place in the contemporary world. Many such practices are systematically being legislated out of existence, and the courts have followed up with verdicts to enforce the laws. These include laws against social discrimination (such as the Osu Caste System) side-lining of women and widows from inheritance, among others. Other practices considered as taboo and unacceptable in our society, such as cultism, gay lifestyle, human sacrifices, killing of twins and others, are now adequately covered by law. Let the Police face their constitutional duty of law enforcement and leave the maintenance of cultures to traditional rulers and community leaders. Law enforcement requires great skills in investigation and intelligence. The Nigerian Police obviously need more training so as to know the difference between policing, frivolity and impunity. Fallout of 2019 elections By Sunny Ikhioya BARRING ongoing dramas at the petition tribunals, the 2019 elections have come and gone. We must give thanks to the Almighty God that the whole suspense is over. Some are happy, while others are still licking their wounds; the rest of the populace are simply indifferent. What could be worse than the situation that they have passed through these past four years? That is the spirit. Overall, what are the takeaways from the elections of 2019? What have we learned, what have we gained and what should we expect in subsequent national elections? Professor Yemi Osinbajo was at his eloquent best on Monday April 1, 2019, during the pre-convocation lecture of the University of Lagos, where he reeled out figures and enumerated achievements of the present government. One began to wonder if he was referring to another country because all the things he listed as achievements or programmes are very difficult to verify. The people can now see through their leaders. You can see this in Bauchi, Oyo and to some extent, Kano. Though some of them barely scraped through, it was clear that a significant percentage of the population did not want them back. Given the heavy defeat that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, suffered in the 2015 elections, nobody expected that they will bounce back so soon, especially when you consider the fractious role played by the Ali Modu Sheriff faction of the party. To put up such a strong performance shows that the people are increasingly aware of what they want. Yes, it was difficult to dislodge President Muhammadu Buhari because of his alleged cult-like following. Despite his poor performance they still believed that he is the best for the country and no matter the circumstances, must be allowed to continue. At the national level, nobody of substance has this grace. So come 2023, it will be every man for himself and people will not come under the cover of Buhari to win election. When he decided to face his business during the governorship elections, we all saw what happened. The elections of 2019 also exposed us to the fact that when our men in uniform decide to over step their bounds during elections, they will be resisted by the people. It happened in Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Imo and other areas. It is, therefore, important for our armed forces to begin to behave in a manner that the civil populace will respect them. Following certain embarrassing allegations, the army was forced to interrogate the performance of its men after the last election in Ekiti State. I am sure that by the time the investigation of the military’s role in the 2019 election in Rivers State is concluded more heads will surely roll because it was glaring that some soldiers conducted themselves unprofessionally in the performance of their assignments. The outcomes of elections also debunked the myth of incumbency in Nigeria. That was the case in states such as Bauchi, Gombe, Oyo, Ogun, Kwara, Adamawa and Imo where incumbent governors either lost election or could not impose their candidates. It shows that the people are no longer ready to succumb to any form of manipulation or imposition. It is also a good thing that the big bosses controlling the parties are being taught a lesson or two on the way to conduct party OPINION primary elections; that is, they can no longer pick candidates at their whims without following party rules and democratic standards. That was the reason the APC could not field candidates for elections in Rivers and Zamfara states, which was a huge loss for the party. If everyone follows the rules, election disputes will greatly reduce in our courts. The same picture played out in Okorocha’s Imo State. At least leaders now know that imposition cannot be possible without the support of the people. In the case of Lagos State, the people had to force the leaders to change the governor because of his perceived indifference to their plight. For democracy to thrive anywhere, there must be a strong opposition; it is always better for people to have alternatives. The elections of 2019 exposed us to the fact that, when our men in uniform decide to over step their bounds in conduct during elections, they will be resisted by the people It was rumoured that the Kano State government quickly mobilised tractors and road construction equipment to sites to complete projects that were hitherto left hanging. This was in order to woo the electorate for the re-run election. Who would have thought that this will happen in Kano. In the 2019 presidential election, every candidate was fighting for his survival; some that were not known for campaigning in the past found it necessary to do so this time around. Even the President, with his perceived health situation, managed to go round the country to campaign for votes. Indeed things will continue to get more demanding for politicians in future elections. They must be able to show to the people the impact that they have made on people’s lives. Another fallout of the election is the perceived scarcity of free money to dole out. Because of the frugal disposition of President Buhari, it was not easy for government and its agencies to dip their hands into funds that are in their possessions. Aside the freebies given out by the office of the vice president in the name of empowerment, no such conspicuous display of extravagance was witnessed both on the side of government and the opposition. If we can de-emphasise the influence of money, we are more likely to have the way open for more credible candidates to emerge in future elections. It was also clear that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was not prepared for the challenges associated with the elections. So, in several areas the elections were bungled. It is also necessary to certify correctly, all certificates presented to INEC by candidates and not to wait until after people start going to court. We must also improve in the area of technology; we do not need to shut down the whole country for elections to be carried out. The elections of 2019 were sweet, bitter and characterised by many shortcomings. It further exposed our politicians as extremely selfish and wicked; but the resilience of the Nigerian electorate will contain them; henceforth they will not be taken for granted. •Ikhioya, www.southsouthecho.com, Twitter: @SunnyIkhioya

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