By Dr. Arome Okeme
The state executives of the Social Democratic Party have found it necessary indeed to address the members of the press and, through them, Nigeria as a whole on the heightened threat to democracy and its ideals, and security of lives and property posed by the uncouth and uncivilized actions of the state government.
On the 9th of July, at about 9am, urchins, thugs and arsonists, unarguably on the payroll of the state government launched an unprovoked assault on the secretariat of the Social Democratic Party/Muri/Abene campaign office in Kogi State destroying and burning party flags, campaign banners and sacrilegiously, the Nigerian national flags.
It is no longer news that the Social Democratic Party over the years has suffered tremendous losses in the hands of the ruling party led by Governor Yahaya Bello as it has always posed the biggest threat to his continuity as governor or de facto. Maybe a journey down the recent past will juggle our memories a bit.
During the 2018 senatorial elections, the APC led by Yahaya Bello employed the use of rogue security personnel and thugs to physically assault the then candidate of the party for the kogi central senatorial elections, Barr. Natasha Akpoti, the popular choice of the people then.
It was under the watch of this government that two supporters of the candidate were shot and killed; her family house set ablaze in Okehi and many supporters maimed.
The candidate and the party paid codles amounts at various hospitals in Kogi state to manage the injured until they were healed and discharged. Many of them are alive today to bear witness.
In 2019, the same government under the direction of the same governor meted the party with another gruesome blow when it attacked and set its secretariat, located at paparanda square just opposite the local government secretariat, ablaze destroying property worth millions of naira in the process.
It was under his watch that thugs loyal to him accosted our then gubernatorial candidate, Barr Natasha Akpoti, and pushed her to the ground during a meeting called by the then commissioner of police in public glare and nothing was done about that incident up till this day. It demoralized our supporters and traumatized our candidate.
The governor ensured none of our candidate’s posters, banners or paraphernalia flew in Kogi state as all were torn and set on fire. Supporters of the party were physically assaulted and chased from polling units while being disenfranchised.
During the 2019 general election, the governor supervised one of the worst elections ever to be held in Kogi state where many lives were lost. Choppers shot at peaceful voters from the sky. Infact, if one was not familiar with the state, one would assume that it was a war theater.
Recently, the governor declared himself a lion while belittling our candidate by describing him as an antelope. He ultimately owned up to almost assassinating our candidate for the November gubernatorial election by acceding to being present on the day shots were fired at our candidate’s bullet proof car where he was seated in the passenger’s seat.
Today, as has always been the case, seeing that he has lost the confidence reposed in him by the voters and, to a large extent, his party, he has decided to employ violence as a last resort to cow and intimidate our supporters and candidate to give in.
As usual he has once again reignited his “tatatatata” formula to steal from the people their mandated choice of Murtala Yakubu Ajaka.
Consequent upon the foregoing, as loyal citizens, we are calling on the inspector general of police to call the commissioner of police in the state to order and immediately have him fish out the culprits of this unfortunate barbaric event, failure of which may lead to our resorting to self help.
We also wish to call on the president of the federal republic of Nigeria, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to as a matter of urgency, look into the excesses of the state governor and ensure he doesn’t cause further loss of lives and property. It is true that the governor has lost hold of and favor with Asorock as he previously did with the previous government, and this has become worrisome to him as the “federal might” he relied on may not be available for him to abuse after all.
We also call on the general public not to be cowed or intimidated by these actions as this is just a minor setback that will only engender the Muri/Abene campaign to intensify its activities towards liberating the good people of Kogi state from the shackles of their enemies who are unfortunately their current leaders.
▪︎ Okeme is the State Secretary, Social Democratic Party (SDP).