27th April, 2011
Last week, some cities in the Northern part of the country were embroiled in violence as youths went on the rampage to protest the victory of the Peopleâ€™s Democratic Party, PDP candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan in the 16 April presidential election.
The youths who are believed to be supporters of the General Muhammadu Buhari-led Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, reports revealed, went on the rampage in Kaduna, Yobe, Bauchi and Gombe states to protest the victory of President Jonathan, a southerner.
Apart from killing innocent citizens whose numbers cannot be ascertained as at now, the rioters also burnt properties, including shops, eatery, cars, houses, churches and mosques. The rioters, the reports added, also burnt the INEC office in Kaduna to protest what they perceived as electoral fraud against the CPC in the country.
This violence led to the imposition of curfews in Kaduna and Gombe states by their respective governments. Reports also revealed that apart from killing people suspected to be supporters of PDP, the rioters also targeted southerners living and working in the North.
It is disconcerting that an election that should have been seen as one to consolidate national unity is now being used as a weapon to perpetrate violence in northern parts of the country.
We are dismayed that the governments and the security agents in the states where violence took place waited for the situation to degenerate to senseless killings and burning of properties of innocent members of the society before springing into action.
Before the April elections, we had warned against inflammatory statements by some politicians who called on their supporters to kill and burn those they suspected of trying to rig the elections. We warned then that such inflammatory statements were capable of being misinterpreted by their supporters as a call to violence if they lose the election, as it happened in this case.
The current elections, which were concluded on 26 April with the governorship and House of Assembly elections, have been described by Nigerians, as well as international observers, as free and fair. In fact, some have described them as the best elections ever held in the history of the country where the votes of the people actually count.
In any case, if anybody rejects the results of the election, the electoral law has provided avenue an for redress through the law courts. There is no point in anybody resorting to self-help in order to correct any perceived injustice. The law courts are there to redress this.
General Buhari should have specifically doused the tension in the Nortern states where he has his support base by calling on his supporters to drop their arms. It was not enough for him to dissociate himself from the rioters who were carrying his posters. Our democracy is still too fragile to be subjected to the current strain.
Seeking a political office, like we stated in previous editorials, should not be a do or die affair. The ultimate deciders in any political contest are the electorate and they have spoken. Every contestant must abide by their decision or go to court to seek redress if they so wish.
The Federal Government should also not fold its arms and watch the violence continue. When a state of emergency is imposed in any state, leaders in other potentially volatile areas will call their supporters to order. Itâ€™s an option worth considering in states where terrorists are still wreaking havoc.