Zamfara 2023: Dauda Dare’s political thoughtlessness

As 2023 general elections draw near, thought-provoking things are unfolding within the nation’s political landscape on daily routine. The gladiators and various political parties have since begun ceaseless permutations to position self at the lead spot during the campaigns and subsequently at the polls.

Certainly, and by the prescriptions of the electoral law, campaigns as part of electoral process are permissible but that must done within the dictates of the law and with modesty. The mood of the people, especially as regards to their security and wellbeing, should and must be supreme, it beats any other interest. It’s no longer news that the restraint placed on political campaigns and rallies has been officially lifted by Nigeria’s electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, signifying the start of the 2023 electioneering.

Sadly, in Zamfara state, it begins with an aberrant display of desperation and insensitivity to the plights and predicaments of both the government and the people of the state by the candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dauda Lawan Dare, whose inordinate quest for power know no bounds, including the security of lives and property of the people he desperately wants to govern.

I feel compelled to bring to the notice of Mr Dauda and his likes in the business of governance and politics that, in civilised climes, democracy and democratic processes are indeed sacrosanct to the extent that they do not muddy the water of peace. This, therefore, means the rights of political actors during phases of democracy like electioneering are not by themselves absolute. Their applications are only guaranteed to the extent that they do not threaten public peace and security by distorting the plans and security arrangement put in place by those constitutionally saddled with the same responsibilities; the government, soldiers, police, and other security formations and stakeholders.

Though, there’s a saying that common sense isn’t common but I think it is not for leaders or those who aspire to lead, for them its one of the foremost requisite qualities of a leader and without which, the person doesn’t have anything reasonable to come close to power. Thus, it is rational to expect any leader, especially from the North-western state of Zamfara, one of the worst hit by the dastardly acts of bandits that have left many dead in their wake, to put some measures in place to forestall any and all acts or situations that will expose citizens to the risk of attacks or any form of breakdown of law and order.

Normally, political rallies in Nigeria have been known to pull large crowds and where there are overzealous, unruly and outrightly uncontrollable supporters, the tendency for things to get off hand is very high. Notwithstanding, security agencies scrape through such situations in less volatile places, especially without the extra possibility of large scale armed attacks. However, in places like Zamfara state with the added layer of insecurity, formation of a large crowd without clearance from the authorities is a fertile ground for anarchy and bloodletting. This is what, I believe, the Zamfara state government under the leadership of Governor Mohammed Bello Matawalle was trying to prevent when it promulgated the Order banning large scale political gatherings. But unfortunately in Nigeria, we politicise virtually everything. Similar bans and restrictions were imposed on the state earlier and because the decisions were not taken during political season, no one raised an eyebrow.

Equally, It is expected that everyone in politics should be aware of the fact that the security of lives and property of the people is the primary purpose of government. And where such is under threat, every responsible government will put measures in place to curb it while citizens must be seen to obey such laws to the letter. This is what Zamfara state government has done with that blanket ban.

But it becomes very unfortunate and overly irresponsible of the governorship standard bearer of the PDP in Zamfara state, to blatantly disregard such an order in pursuit of political correctness. Now, this display of brazen irresponsibility of bringing together an unruly crowd has left some people dead with many others injured.

It remains to be seen how people like Dauda Lawan Dare who can’t even follow clear cut and good intentioned laws such as this, hope to lead. It is instructive to note that the sitting All Progressives Congress (APC) government is also seeking re-election and this means that the ban also affects the incumbent government. At least, a smart thing to do would have been to wait and see if the government can practice what it preaches. But violating the law and security arrangement put in place to forestall the breakdown of law and order, especially by the marauding bandits, is the height of desperation and callousness.

Instead, PDP and Dare decided to display their lack of restraints and irresponsibility by pooling together a mob that has now left death and injuries in its wake. The people of Zamfara state must hold these people responsible and government must deploy every legal means of recuse for the bereaved, the requisite redress commensurate with the loss of lives they have been made to endure. Where the deceased have children and responsibilities let it be seen that PDP and Dare are made to inherit them. This would serves as a deterrence to others who flout state laws and directives to the detriment of the majority.

It is only when such measures are taken, if only to serve as dissuasion to others waiting in the wings to flout a valid order, that people like Dare will learn their lessons. As for the media outlets that covered that outlawed event, the government needs to make a strong statement, using the instrumentality of the law to make them see reasons why giving people who break the law oxygen via media coverage endangers us all. The affected media houses should have ordinarily enlightened the public on dangers associated with violating orders imposed by the government for public good, not the other way round.

As it is, everyone in Zamfara state is feeling the heat of banditry. Hardly will you find anyone indigenous to the state that has not lost someone to bandits who are only now being curtailed. This is, therefore, why every person of Zamfara heritage needs to buy into all security measures geared towards returning our dear state to her peaceful and serene past. Regardless of whose ox is gored, laws must be obeyed. This is simply a matter of principle and patriotism.

PDP ought to bury their heads in shame for failing to call their candidate to order. The last thing the people of Zamfara state need right now is a loose Cannon trampling on the sanctity and sanity of the uneasy peace that the generality of the people are enjoying. Those urging these people should also bury their heads in shame. We should first be people before we are politicians. In this case, unfortunately, we are more interested in pursuing the politics of rancour than doing right by the people we claim to want to lead.

I don’t know if we hope to govern corpses, while dancing on the graves of the people whose deaths we orchestrated through actions unbecoming of statesmen that we want everyone to believe we are. Regardless, let it be on record that as citizens of Zamfara, we see these people for who they truly are and will not relent in holding the government to account until all people who lost their lives in the crossfire of the search for nirvana by people in the ilk of Dare are properly compensated.

For the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission, NBC, it’s pertinent to look at the government’s reasons for such bans rather than hurriedly issuing contradicting and impervious statements against Matawalle’s action. In the eyes of the law, the governor is the chief security officer of the state and he’ll go the extra mile in protecting lives and property in the state; it’s within his authority to legally deal with any situation susceptible to frustrating government’s efforts in maintaining law and order.

We are sturdily behind Matawalle and anyone who’s hiding under politics to create chaos in Zamfara state should look elsewhere, Zamfara is controlled by a constitutionally installed governor, Matawalle, who will always use his prerogative to give us the needed protection, particularly in the reign of banditry. Desperados be warned!

Musa writes from Gusau, Zamfara state