This is a serious post, about politics in Nigeria, so please bear with me.
In the Western world, elections are a straightforward matter. You run for election, and you win or lose. As simple as that. Also, when there is inter-party rivalry, it is done in the most civil way possible. Gordon Brown has been waiting to be Prime Minister for years, but his friend Tony Blair isn't ready to leave the top job just yet. But their feuding has been confined to body language, closed door meetings, but as far as I'm concerned, it's been handled in a noble way.
If the Tony Blair and Gordon Brown situation was in Nigeria, I can assure you that one of them would be dead by now. Because in Nigerian politics, defeat is not tolerated, you win by any means necessary. And when your opponent looks to have the upper hand, you kill him. When someone doesn't dance to your tune, you kill him. It is for this reason why there has never been a civilian handing power over to another civilian in the history of the country, political violence always creates an avenue for the military to seize power and restore order. And, as in 1983, it seems that it's happening all over again.
2003 was the first time civilian run elections were held without a military coup. Not to say there was no violence or election irregularities, but it was of 'an acceptable level'. 2007 is meant to be the year that President Obasanjo finally hands over power to another president. He tried unsuccessfully to amend the constitution to secure a third term in office, but most Nigerians, including myself, were happy when that failed. And the search for the next President has begun in earnest.
However, it is at the lower levels of power that there is a crisis. As in 1983, the governorship elections has resulted in death of more than one contestant.
Yesterday, another governorship aspirant was brutally killed in his ownÂ bedroom. Shot twice, hit with a club (breaking all his teeth), and then stabbed in the stomach. His assailants waited for him to die, before they fled. His death has led to riots in the state, and youths have burnt down the houses of all his political rivals. His crime? He was the favourite to win his party's nomination for the governorship election, despite the fact that the sitting governor was from his party. He has previously been bullied and threatened if he decided to stand for election. And so ends the life of Dr. Daramola, killed for participating in politics.
JustÂ a few weeks ago, on July 27th, Funsho Williams, who happens to be a close friend of my family, was killed forÂ similar reasons, in Lagos State. A complete gentleman, his death sent shock waves around the nation. His assassination was eerielingly similar and brutal, he was killed in his own bedroom, stabbed and strangled as he begged for his life.
In Nigeria, to say that the police are useless is an exagerration. They are a farce, a bunch of useless men who have no idea what their job entails, and are more of a danger than a public service. So you won't need me to tell you that political killings almost always go unsolved, even though everyone has 'an idea' who is responsible.
In 2001, the Attorney General of Nigeria and Minister for Justice, Bola IgeÂ was also killed in his own bedroom (sense a pattern here?). When the head of the Justice system is killed, and no one is brought to justice, then there is a serious problem. His crime? His party, which was largely a tribal party, was a threat to the ruling party, and his death paved the way for the PDP (People's Democratic Party)Â to win all but one of the AD's (Alliance for Democracy) governor seats in the West of Nigeria, and almost all of their senate seats in 2003.
So will the 2007 elections descend into violence. The entire nation is worried, and everyone is trying to get their politicians to 'behave themselves'. But unless the killers of Funsho Williams and Dr. Daramola are brought to justice, I'm afraid that these killings can only continue. Human life cannot be perceived as worthless. An example needs to be set. There are even rumours that the military are behind all this, trying to get back into power. Some people are saying we should have an 'Interim Government' till things settle down.
August 29th, 2007 is the date power is set to move hands from one civilian president to another. God help Nigeria.
I leave you with a list of political killings since the military handed power over to civilians in 1999.
Sep 9 - Sunday Ugwu, elder brother of Nwabueze Ugwu, a legislator representing Nkanu East LGA in Enugu killed in a case of mistaken identity
Feb 4 - Governor James Ibori of Delta StateÂ escaped death in an exchange of gun fire between two factions of the PDP
March 5 - Momoh Lawal, a relation of Umar Akaaba, former Chairman, Okene LGA in Kogi State killed
August 24 - Four killed in Abakaliki when Senate President Chief Anyim Pius Anyim's supporters clashed with Ebonyi Governor Sam Egwu's supporters
Dec 21 - Odunayo Olagbaju, member of the state assembly in southwestern Osun, is killed by unknown gunmen in his hometown of Ife.
Dec 23 - Justice Minister Bola Ige is shot dead in his bedroom inÂ Ibadan, in Nigeria's most high profile political killing for 20 years.
March 7 - Three students reportedly killed at Effurun, Delta State, after a PDP rally turned violent
Aug 13 - Janet Oladapo, a PDP leader in Odigbo LG clubbed to death by gunmen
Aug 15 - Ahmed Pategi, chairman of the PDP, and his police orderly are murdered by unknown assailants on a highway near the state capital Ilorin.
Aug 29 - Gunmen kill Victor Nwankwo, younger brother of opposition PMPÂ leaderÂ Â Arthur Nwankwo (and founder Eastern Mandate Union (EMU)) in the southeast city of Enugu.
Sept 1 - A vocal critic of the governor of southeastern Anambra state governor and local branch chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Barnabas Igwe and his wife, Abigail, are gruesomely murdered in the commercial hub of Onitsha. The killers use a truck to run repeatedly over their dead bodies.
Sept 26 - John Nunu, treasurer of Akassa local government area of southeast Bayelsa state, is killed by unknown gunmen.
Oct 20 - Prof. Chimere Ikoku, former Vice Chancellor, University of Nigeria, killed in his residence
Nov 25 - PDP governorship hopeful Dele Arojo is assassinated in Lagos by unknown gunmen.
December ? - Alhaji Isyaku Muhammad, United Nigeria Peoples Party (UNPP), National Vice Chairman, North West was assassinated
Jan 18 - Three killed in an ANPP, PDP clash around Buhari - Bularafa - Dokini area in Yobe State
Feb 10 - Ogbonnaya Uche, a senatorial candidate of the main opposition All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) dies two days after he is attacked in his home in southeastern Owerri.
Feb 18 - At least seven people are killed in clashes between PDP and ANPP supporters in Jato-Aka village in central Benue state. The bloodletting was sparked by the killing of a security guard at the residence of ANPP's governorship candidate for Benue, Paul Unongo.
Feb 22 - Theodore Agwatu, principal secretary to the Imo state governor, is murdered in his Owerri residence by unknown attackers.
Feb 23 - Speaker, Borno State House of Assembly, Hon. Inuwa Kubo escaped assassination attempt
March 3 - Mrs. Emily Omope (aka Thatcher) an AD member in Ekiti State diedÂ at the UCH Ibadan after an acid attack in December last year by unknown persons
March 5 - ANPP regional chieftain Marshall Harry is shot dead in his home in the capital Abuja.
Jul 03 A candidate for governor of Plateau State, Chief Jesse Aruku,Â was killed in what police described as a political assassination,Â ahead of elections next year.
Jul 27 Funsho Williams, favourite for the PDP governorship ticket for Lagos State, Â murdered in his own home. His death brings the nation to a standstill as his was known to all as a complete gentleman, and an advocate for peaceful politics. He was strangled and stabbed in his bedroom.
Aug 14 Dr. Ayo Daramola, another PDP governorship candidate (Ekiti State), who looked set to win his party's nomination, killed in his own bedroom. His assaliants apparantly came from out of town, were seen at a local beer parlour discussing 'the job' and broke into his house at 1am to kill him. He was beaten, stabbed and shot.
God help Nigeria.