Long ago, I had a compelling need to visit the headquarters of the Imo State police command which, ordinarily, was a beehive everyday. For some reasons on that day, the place was unusually calm, almost like a church compound on a Monday morning. No activities. I was visiting the station as a peace maker in a case concerning a relation.
As I stood contemplating my inevitable but reluctant presence in a place where mainly violent and criminally-minded persons are frequent sojourners, a policeman walked past me. He suddenly stopped on his track, gazed up the sky as if he was watching the weather. He hissed and sighed in disgust, gesticulating into thin air. Soliloquizing in broken English, apparently oblivious of my presence in the surrounding, he said, “hey, why everywhere quiet like this? Nobody de commit crime again? I beg make people the steal, make una the kill, rob, so that una go come see us.” I was about to wonder why such a cruel prayer when I remembered the saying in Igbo that trouble in the land is usually the delight of corrupt elders’ council in the village.
However uncanny this expressed feeling of the cop might be, one thing that is clear is that crime and bloodletting have become money spinners for the people trained and employed by the nation to prevent it. They relish it because it fills their pockets with wads of the naira. And when there is no trouble, they go about creating one to keep their stream of income flowing.
Talking about trouble, the off season elections scheduled for this last quarter of the year in some states, Imo State inclusive, have the potentials to breed enough troubles that are capable of keeping the states on edge. The election season in Nigeria means diverse things to different persons. While some see it as a period to gain political power for dubious reasons, others believe it’s a time to line their pockets. Criminal elements win contracts to take out political enemies of those who contract them.
For the Judiciary, both bar and bench, it is a period of windfall as the barristers harvest clients upon clients who pay through their nose to engage them so as to “reclaim their mandates” in court. It’s not yet clear from which tree the benchers pluck their own fruits, but Nigerians witnessed a damming assault on the lords in our temple of justice by men of the Department of State Service (DSS) during the previous administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari and large bundles of foreign currencies were said to have been uncovered in their homes.Whatever, the argument is that the men of the Judiciary prepare for their field day as soon as elections are conducted.
Besides, the official referees in the game, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) deliberately do shoddy jobs so that clear and convincing winners hardly emerge, giving room for litigations. Of course, it’s obvious that the INEC men and women, ad hoc or full time staff, are first hand beneficiaries of the backhand business at the polls, usually initiated by the unscrupulous politicians.
We might have to return to the police station scene narrated above to understand why it’s been difficult for Nigeria to conduct elections devoid of violent crimes and graft of all kinds.The moment elections are mentioned, the cautious ones look forward to taking a holiday abroad, away from the rancorous moments generated by the win or die political contests. Only a negligible fraction of the populace perceive such periods as opportunities to elect those who have the capabilities to bring the country out of the woods it has been since independence from the British colonial masters.
As these conflicting interests continue a struggle for domination, violence heightens. Like the Americans would describe certificate forgery as a Nigerian thing, we can also add that the SGR formula has become a constant feature in our elections. At this point, we must decode this SGR formula and end the curiosity. It is simply the formula for “winning elections” propounded by no one else but the current Nigerian president, Ahmed Bola Tinubu.
Before he became president, indeed at the heat of the 2023 campaigns, Tinubu was seen on tape telling his boys that power is not served a la carte, that they must “Snatch it, Grab it and Run with it”. Those of us who would readily doubt that the president said such a thing might rely on our knowledge of how naughty the new technology called Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be if found in the hands of mischievous elements in the society.
However, since there has not been an official statement from the President’s men denying the video which keeps trending in the social media up until today, we have no choice than to believe that the content of the tape is a true story. In the manner of academics, and for convenience, we would condense this wonderful formula to SnatchGrabRun (SGR) Formula.
As November 11 approaches for the gubernatorial polls for Imo State, the Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC), a faith-based and non-profit organisation of the Catholic Church, the Caritas and the Maka Odimma Imo group recently organized a peace accord for the political parties concerned to sign against violence during the elections.The idea was to get a commitment from the players that they would not engineer their supporters to cause problems during the process. Although this has not proved to be a sure antidote to election violence, it has always given the voting public hope enough for them to set aside their apathy to the polling stations.
There is, however, a concern about the absence of about 12 political parties in the contest at the peace session in Imo. More worrisome is that the incumbent governor and flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Hope Uzodimma, was reportedly among the candidates that were absent.
The absence of the APC at the peace gathering might have sent disturbing signals to the polity as the key player in the party and the president of the country happens to be the one who propounded the SGR formula. It’s easy to fall to the argument that anyone who appears unperturbed by the violence that characterises our elections each time the people troop out to choose their leaders has the potentials of being seen as a beneficiary of the sordid state of affairs.
Signs that the SGR may have begun to gain legality, perhaps indirectly, emerged early September when the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal (PEPT), threw away the report of the European Union observers group on the 2023 elections in its judgment on the petitions against the election of President Tinubu.
Despite the overwhelming evidence before it, the court had turned a blind eye to the gross violence and irregularities that characterised the 2023 elections and pronounced the president “duly elected.” How so powerful the SGR Formula can be!
On October 2, the Supreme Court appeared to have stamped it.Elections are also to be conducted in Bayelsa where it’s likely to be a clash of the titans. How do we expect something new in Kogi, the hotbed of election violence? On telly, Nuhu Ribadu, the Special Adviser to the President on Security, was seen thundering, “This election is without interference. This election is without violence.” Hahaha!!!
BY RICHARD ODU