“I am brave”, says Phillip Green, “but I take a view. It is an educated view. I am careful. I am not reckless…
Governor Nasir el Rufai of the ruling APC and Mr. Peter Obi, vice-presidential candidate of the opposition PDP, can’t make similar claims. Both men have no respect for either semantics or exactitude or the possible consequences of their utterances. And because, by some queer logic in Nigeria, politicians believe that the easiest way of talking yourself out of a reckless statement is to make an even more outrageous outburst, we shall continue to have people like Peter Obi and Nasir el Rufai with us for some time.
El Rufai is not known for sedate interlocution. He has always been a stormy petrel. He was not at home on the day God was distributing humility. Under normal circumstances, he is a competent professional. I scored him more than 65 percent when he was minister of the Federal Capital Territory. But el Rufai could also be inconsiderate and unfeeling. We are not discussing his politics but his recent internationalisation of his verbal recklessness.
“Those that are calling for anyone to come and intervene in Nigeria, we are waiting for the person that would come and intervene, they would go back in body bags… because nobody will come to Nigeria and tell us how to run our country. We got that independence and we are trying to run our country as decently as possible and we know the history of those countries that are trying to teach us these things”, said el Rufai.
Apparently, the European Union is not fazed by el Rufai’s incendiary statement: “While the security of EU observers is of paramount importance, and will remain under constant review, EU observers will continue their work across the country in the run-up to – and beyond – the 16 February elections,” it said in a statement.
The EU explained that, “EU election observation missions give commentary and analysis and make recommendations about the electoral process. EU election observation missions are impartial, do not interfere in the electoral process, and operate according to a strict code of conduct.”
International observers are in Nigeria on the invitation of the Independent National Electoral Commission. Nigerian civil society organisations also routinely monitor elections in other countries. It is a globally accepted convention. Granted that some embassies have been sounding paternalistic in their comments about the forthcoming elections in Nigeria, nothing justifies el Rufai’s crude comments.
And I disagree with those who think such reckless comments are psychological props employed by pint-sized men to bolster their stature. I know even smaller statured people who are the epitome of grace and consideration and who would never ever make utterances that would otherwise have been proudly claimed by Mushin’s Omo Pupa of our bloody First Republic.
No decent Nigerian, let alone an elected governor, should be making threats of putting anyone in bodybags. We don’t need such an imagery in these politically charged times.
Politically exposed persons have to make conscious efforts not to be ruled by the age-old vice of arrogance. They would do well to remember the words of Christie Hartman, author of ,’It’s Not Him, It’s You’: “Arrogance is being full of yourself, feeling you’re always right, and believing your accomplishments or abilities make you better than other people. People often believe arrogance is excessive confidence, but it’s really a lack of confidence. Arrogant people are insecure, and often repel others.”
One Aisha Yesufu tweeted a reaction to Governor el Rufai’s comments: “Just so you know, nobody has monopoly of violence! You keep waving violence at us as if you alone own it. YOU DON’T! Zamfara bled yesterday. They have been bleeding. We all have bled!”
Just like el Rufai, Mr. Peter Obi over-reached himself once again with cheap, pedestrian talk. The PDP vice-presidential candidate told his audience in Awka that Nigeria would collapse if the incumbent president is re-elected? That is scare-mongering taken too far! It is okay to sell your programmes to the electorate, but to say the country will collapse if you don’t win? I beg your pardon! Post election warriors take their cue from such statements.
Since there is no formal school for training elected public officials, it is the responsibility of anyone who aspires to public office or finds himself occupying one to acquire the necessary communication skills to avoid sowing the seeds of violence and fouling the political air with tendentious outbursts which may sound good to partisans but have the potential of activating latent violence.
We are in the midst of a long-drawn-out war against terror. Armed robbers and kidnappers routinely hold the people hostage and we are still trying to figure out how to get out of the problem. Political assassination breathes on our necks from in the background, harvesting souls at will. Ritualists have spread their tentacles all over the federation in search of human body parts required for demonic minting of fresh currency. We can’t afford to add one ounce of violence to what we already have in our plate.
BUHARI OR ATIKU?
Finally, we are on the threshold of the 2019 presidential elections. It’s a straight fight between the ruling APC and the PDP. Going forward, I will like to see the wining party incorporating some of the younger outsiders in the fringe parties in governance. We are spoilt for talents in all areas of endeavour. Let’s use them.
And may God’s will be done in Nigeria.