Electoral violence has become a national gangrene —Obahiagbon
Honourable Patrick Obahiagbon (alias Igodomigodo) in this interview conducted by SAM NWAOKO, spoke on his last electoral pursuit, the violence in Nigeria’s elections and what Nigeria must do to overcome insurgency in parts of the country. Excerpts:
Sir, you contested the last Senatorial election in Edo state and lost. What’s your overview of that election? What’s your opinion on the outcome? How satisfied are you?
The starting point is to pay supreme obeisance to God for giving me the opportunity for the privilege of flying the APC flag in the Edo South senatorial elections that has come and gone. It was an election I gave all my best and the APC had no reasons at all to have lost that seat or any of the seats for that matter within the political hemisphere of Edo South senatorial district. This is because apart from the political demoticity of the candidates that lost (an exempli gratia is the fact that E.J AGBONAYINMA also lost his seat inspite of his well earned looming popularity and daunting legislative solidity) is also the fact that the Edo south senatorial district is the political domicile of the seating Governor of the state.
So why did our efforts come to naught in Edo South senatorial district inspite of the hereinbefore pleaded facts? I have all the answers as a political historian and it’s a putrescent vaudeville of ratiocinations but I shall be speaking to those facts very robustly and intrepidly so in the womb of time.
You are a very visible person physically and linguistically. Not fact, but it’s the general impression that the National Assembly is missing you, and that you are expected there as soon as possible. Do you also hear people make such demands and when should Nigerians expect you at the National Assembly?
We thank God that after clear eight years of my parliamentary egress from the national canvass, Nigerians still continue to yearn de die in diem for my brand of passionate, fearless and vocal utilitarian representation with the halo of a philosopher king. We gave this last electoral effort a noble and humdinger pursuit with a bid to showcasing but not necessarily showboating one of the primus inter pares from the fecund land of IGODOMIGODO in the art of legislative advocacy, but we are robots in the hands of Omneity and have since felicitated with the winner and shared in his joy whilst thanking very profusely all those who supported our laudable efforts all over the world, particularly our teeming APC party members and the coruscating National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and our “wake and see” Governor Godwin Obaseki.
The South-South always harvests deaths during elections. This year’s elections have been particularly violent. What do you think is the cause of this: The INEC or the security forces or the political class?
Let me start by positing that the macabre dance of violence that has characterized elections in Nigeria is not limited to the South-South for it has become a national gangrene. With all sense of responsibility, it’s not also traceable to the security forces or INEC. It definitely would have nosedived into a sanguinary ambience but for the immolation of our security apparatchik who gave their lives for the maintenance of law and order. Without a doubt, the desperation, internecine modus operandi and Machiavellian predilection of the political class propelled by its practiced prebendal proboscis for the primitive accumulation of capital has remained the fons et origo of the deprecable carnage that has visited our chequered electoral peregrination.
Nigeria has been in the news for some unpalatable reasons, like its classification as “the poverty capital of the world.” What’s your take on this?
How can anyone guided by the ethics of fair commentary stigmatise Nigeria as the “poverty capital of the world”? It simply means that such a critique has hardly travelled outside Nigeria. How do you classify the Democratic Republic of Congo inter alia? Let’s not make light of the daunting efforts by President Muhammadu Buhari to deal with the searing monster of poverty and underdevelopment that he met on ground by the cumulative asphyxiating policies of egocentric and megalomaniacally disposed government before it. We can’t certainly sing te deum laudamus yet on the economic front but there’s steady work in progress.
We still have security issues in parts of the country, especially the North East. We can also argue now that states as Zamfara and Katsina and Sokoto have joined in the unenviable team of afflicted states. How do you think we can overcome this security challenge?
It’s debatable if we can categorically daub states as Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara as “afflicted” with insecurity. No doubt at all that the escalation in security incidents over the last couple of months has led to nascent internal displacements with its concomitant challenges. My approach to understanding the security challenges and the way forward in the North East is strictly dialectical, meaning that we can’t divorce it from finding a lasting panacea to the conundrum of our unresolved National Question. And part of that national question is the intimidating rate of poverty, illiteracy and unemployment in the North which has made it easy for the religious indoctrination of the talakawas. We encourage the present government to continue in its efforts to reduce the illiteracy rate in the country particularly the North, bridge the gap between the plebeian majority and microscopic suzerains which has endeared President Buhari to the Northern masses and of course provide employment and also foster a climate of transparent colloquy among the centrifugal tendencies in the North and the country in caboodle.
This is also not to underplay the need of the Federal Government to spare no efforts in daily retooling our armed forces with modern day equipment needed to be up to speed with unconventional warfare.
President Muhammadu Buhari has won reelection. What would you advise him to do differently in his second term?
The first thing for me is to congratulate Mr President on his second term victory despite the stiff opposition from anti progressive forces that became very ossified and uncomfortable with Mr President’s efforts in cleansing the augean stables. I suggest that he should spare no efforts in fighting corruption to a standstill no matter whose ox is gored. This is the only opportunity we truly have to win the war against corruption very decisively. Its also not a bad idea we address the national question and cut the gordian knot of decentralising powers from the federal to the state governments. We also have to heal the fractious polity by giving every segment a sense of belonging.
The PDP is alleging massive rigging of the elections across the country by your party, the APC. What are your reactions to this claim?
It would not be ethical for me to join issues with that position now because as a legal practitioner, I am not supposed to be discussing matters that are in court. The matter is subjudice to the extent that the presidential candidate of PDP has already invoked the cohesive sanctity of the election tribunal. We should at this stage take in a deep breath and exhale slowly whilst we await the terminus ad quem in the various election tribunals.
The way you express yourself has endeared you to millions of Nigerians and they want to hear your views always. Some learn from you and pattern their imaginations after yours while others use your expressions to further their research. How does this make you feel?
I feel humbled that young Nigerians call upon me daily both privately and in public places to mentor them in the art of oratory and I felt amazed when it came to my knowledge that not less than two scholars have rendered their Doctoral dissertation on my style of speaking. But I must confess that the one incident which made me lachrymose was in far away Chicago when a non-Nigerian who has never been to Nigeria from birth saw me at the reception of a crowded hotel hall (and to realise he recognised my face only through his interface with the You Tube) and went down on his knees- yes on his knees-grabbed my two hands, placed them on his head, muttering the words, “please bless me with your grammar Sir” to the consternation of people around. That incident really got to me but we are careful to return all glory to the good and compassionate Lord.