2015: A season of verbal attacks

With just 11 clear months to the 2015 general elections, SAMUEL OGIDAN  writes on the escalating verbal exchange  between the ruling PDP and the opposition APC, and calls for caution

PDP in days past
Gone are the days when the road to Aso Villa, the seat of government was paved with gold and diamond. In the days gone by, whoever clinched the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was sure of winning the main election.

Changing tide
Today, things have changed as 2015 general elections appear different, because of the stiff opposition and the challenges faced by the ruling party. It appears the road to the exalted seat at the moment is no longer paved with gold and diamond but strewn with thorns, thistles and brambles.
The road could be said to be hazardous to all the political parties, including the ruling party, wanting to occupy the seat. The verbal missiles spewing out from high profile individuals, group and political parties either for personal or collective benefit, have further endangered the process.
As if the verbal attacks were not enough, political analysts and self styled prophets, who claimed to see beyond tomorrow are already predicting the division and collapse of the country after 2015 general election.
Though many pray that the 2015 general elections do not tear Nigeria apart, it is however clear that the country has never had it so bad, as religious and ethnic advancement have today become the norm.

Mounting tension
While it is not in dispute that tension is usually heightened in every election, the build up to 2015 general elections, is however beginning to give stakeholders cause for worry, especially with the gutter language employed by politicians.
The recent gale of defection and counter defection has contributed immensely to this show of shame. The merger of political parties and defections have left in their wake a lot of issues that make the Nigerian masses to see things differently, with the conclusion that the current leaders of the country have no interest of the electorates at heart.

The supposed beneficiaries of the dividends of democracy have resigned to their fate, in the believe that God would raise somebody in the nearest future to fight their cause and bring government to their level.
The welfare and interest of the masses are relegated to the background. Even when the next general elections are still eleven months away, the focus and attention of the leaders and politicians, who have the mandate to rule the nation, is on how to win the elections to the detriment of the masses, who  look up to proper  implementation of government policies to better their lots.

2015 time-table
Immediately the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced its timetable for the general elections few weeks ago, hell was let loose, as most political parties and politicians have abandoned their duty post to strategise on how to win more seats in the forthcoming elections.
While the PDP at the moment busies itself with salvaging the party from its ruins, with the national chairman, Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu, touring the country to reconcile aggrieved members, the All Progressives Congress (APC) is all out  mobilizing members in preparation for the 2015. The interpretations of these moves by both parties have led to verbal attacks, where missiles are being thrown from different angles without sense of decorum.

Harassment of APC members
The APC, during its recent registration exercise across the country, alleged that its members were being harassed and intimidated by PDP thugs, a claim countered by the ruling party. Rather, the PDP accused APC of embarking on a fraudulent exercise to deceive Nigerians by bringing out bogus figures during the elections.

APC alleged that its registration exercise in Rivers state was quite impressive despite the alleged move by the PDP to thwart the exercise in some parts of the state. The Acting Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, Chief Andrew Nweye said in Port Harcourt that the registration exercise was disrupted in some areas by sponsored thugs believed to be working for PDP.
He added that the intimidation and harassment of APC in some areas left six of their members seriously injured in Andoni local government area of the state, in the hands of hoodlums believed to be PDP supporters.   The party however warned the PDP to stop forthwith, saying it (PDP) does not have monopoly of violence.

The national leadership of the party also condemned the disruption of membership registration in Rivers, calling it assault on Constitution and democracy. It further said the attack represents a shot at the heart of democracy and a breach of the country’s Constitution.
In a statement by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said “these deadly attacks hinder people’s participation in democracy and violate the fundamental rights of the affected citizens,”
It added that the attacks, undoubtedly masterminded by the Nyesome Wike-sponsored Grassroots Development Initiative (GDI) and the PDP in Rivers, was aimed at covering up the glaring rejection of the PDP by people of the state.

PDP reaction
Reacting to the registration exercise by the APC, the PDP accused the opposition of over bloating figures from its on-going membership registration process to set the stage for disputing the forthcoming 2015 general elections
The PDP specifically alleged that the opposition party was plotting to announce a fathom figure of 29 million registered voters across Nigeria, as a process towards causing mayhem in the country if the party is not declared winner after the 2015 polls.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Oliseh Metuh, said “our great party has received reports from various states, calling our attention to an on-going, well planned clandestine moves by the All Progressives Congress, APC to lay mines in the way of a successful conduct of 2015 general elections, using its nationwide membership registration as a ruse.

“It is very unfortunate that while the PDP-led federal government is solidifying the foundation of a credible electoral system it has already laid, and INEC yet to release the final details of the 2015 general elections timetable which is still a year ahead, the APC is already introducing weird inventions, calculated to torpedo the process and blow sky-high, the huge expectations of Nigerians and the international community.”
“We are all aware that the APC is currently conducting a nationwide registration of its members.

The Peoples Democratic Party whole heartedly welcomes this development as it tallies with our avowed commitment to political plurality and the freeing of the democratic space so as to enable every Nigerian find expression on whatever political platform that he or she so wishes.
“This is because we firmly believe in competitive democracy as an antidote to mediocrity and complacency. That informed the choice, the resolve and the commitment of
the PDP led federal government to the rule of law, due process, freedom of information and the non-negotiability of free, fair and credible elections,” the party added

Continuing, Metuh  claimed that “it is clear from the statements, actions and the activities of the leaders of the APC, that the opposition has only been changing names without changing its character. Their commitment to being a credible alternative, leaves a yawning gap in the face of its furious self willed handicap to genuinely contribute in building the fabrics of our democracy.
“Our investigations revealed that part of the plot by the APC is use to this fraudulent membership registration exercise to hype a phantom public support after which it will declare a particular bogus figure and create a false impression of massive public followership ahead of the 2015 general elections.

“We wish to alert Nigerians therefore to the incontrovertible evidence at our disposal to the effect that the APC is
sadly and currently using every foul means at its disposal to build a particular membership figure, running into tens of millions, which it intends to use as a justification to fault, dispute, reject and subsequently take to violence when it loses the 2015 general elections.”
The PDP further said it gathered that in the states controlled by the party, pupils and students were lured or persuaded to get the passport photographs of their parents and guardians, “which are thereafter secretly affixed to the APC membership forms without the knowledge of the innocent students or their parents.”

Echoing same line of thought, PDP National Auditor, Adewole Adeyanju, claimed governors of the APC controlled states were coercing civil servants in their respective states to partake in their membership drive before it closes.
Adeyanju, in a statement he personally signed, alleged that the plot informed the reason why the exercise earlier slated to end on Monday was extended by two working days by the party for the civil servants to be briefed on the new development and get registered within the period.
“This madness on the parts of the APC governors of forcing the innocent civil servants to register for their party must stop, it is real especially in the South-west where I come from, I have been receiving series of reports on this since the beginning of the exercise.

“The innocent civil servants will have no option than to succumb to the directive for jobs security since they have no jobs elsewhere. APC is desperate, they have been telling the civil servants to go and register with APC and that without the party’s membership card there will be no promotion for them, and later they will go a step further that without it you cannot enjoy certain services being provided by the APC controlled states,” he said.
The PDP leader further alleged that the APC had in another attempt to convince the rural dwellers, cajoled the innocent people to register with the party by telling lies that the membership registration was organised by the INEC which they must partake ahead of the 2015 general elections
He disclosed that the intention of the APC was to fool the nation that they had registered over 100 million membership at the end of the exercise.

Jittery PDP
But in a reaction, the deputy governor of Kano state, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, said the registration exercise had sent jitters into the spine of the crumbling PDP, describing the allegation of the ruling party that the exercise was designed to rig elections as the “ranting of a loser.”
Now that both political parties have resolved to verbal attack, there is need  for caution  because their actions and inactions will certainly have an effect on the conduct of 2015 general elections.

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