With a few days to the national elections, very many wonders are happening. Traditional rulers, who are expected to be custodians of our values and culture, can no more hide their political partisanship. They now display with aplomb and candour their loyalty to the government in power. Unfortunately, many of them do it with poor justification and with reckless abandon.
Methinks it is only rational and decent for them to wear the toga of civility and non-partisanship. After all, we all refer to them as fathers of society. No wonder, the larger society is looking for soft landing for them, in order for them to continue to be relevant and have proper engagement in governance.
Nigerians are not saying that they should not have political leanings. Far from it. But society is insisting they should play politics with fairness, decency, decorum and civility.
Last week, a audio recording that went viral was credited to one loquacious Baale Gbara Jakande in Eti Osa Local Government of Lagos State. In a meeting summoned by him, he urged all residents to vote for the ruling party and their candidates, otherwise, residents should be ready for trouble. He instructed that all his subjects must come back and show him how they voted. This had provoked negative reactions. In sum, it calls for concern.
With temerity and tendentiousness, he announced that those who failed to do his bidding must be ready for his trouble, which includes banishment from the community.
What an affront on democracy!! The situation in the last few weeks lends credence to this assertion and has become more precarious. Most opposition parties in Lagos State are hardly able to campaign or sell themselves to the electorate.
In Kosofe Local Government, where l have been a participant observer, most opposition political parties could hardly campaign.
Thugs and street urchins were unleashed on candidates and their supporters. In the ensuing melee, vehicles were damaged and people got severely injured.
A particular ugly scenario was created at Oworonshoki, when the Campaign team of Dr. Olajide Adediran, aka JANDOR, attempted to enter the town during his ward to ward tour. The campaign trail was blocked by thugs carrying cudgels and other dangerous weapons. It took the intervention of the police and other security agencies to quench the mayhem.
It’s been the same sad experience in other parts of the state. And ditto for other parts of the country. The nation must find solution to the problem of political thuggery and other sundry crimes. Our traditional rulers must endeavor to show maturity and non partisanship in the affairs of the people.
Unfortunately, government, in their act of desperation, encourage traditional rulers to intimidate and coerce their people. They indeed pass instructions to them to ensure they “deliver” all polling booths in their domain. And if not, government says, they would be removed and disgraced.
All this arrant nonsense must stop. The brazen show of raw power and brutalization of their citizens, are to say the least, condemnable. Why should a traditional ruler threaten a resident of a community with banishment if they don’t agree to vote a candidate? It’s the most uncivilized thing to do.
The Baale of Gbara Jakande should be charged to court for activities likely to breach of peace in his domain.
l am told he has been invited by security agencies to explain his actions. The man must be made a scape goat in order to teach others of his ilk, a lesson they will not forget in a hurry.
FORMER EDITOR OF PRIME PEOPLE AND PUBLISHER/CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF TODAY’S CHOICE MAGAZINE (TC), COKER ONITA IS DIRECTOR, INFORMATION AND STRATEGY OF THE ATIKU PEOPLE UNITED (APU)