MEET FRANK OSHANUGOR
By Frank Oshanugor
Over 100 pro-democracy groups in Nigeria have called on politicians in the country to shun direct or indirect acts of terrorism that could work against a smooth transition process this year.
The activists specifically expressed serious concerns over alleged utterances and activities of some politicians in Kogi State following an explosion in Okene on the day President Muhammadu Buhari visited the state to commission legacy projects of the state government, noting that Governor Yahaya Bello should rather be celebrated for executing so many impactful projects during his administration.
They made their positions known at a press conference, in Abuja on Tuesday, convened after a new year gathering of over 100 pro-democracy groups with more than 3,000 members, which took place in Lagos on December 31. The event was tagged: “2023 polls: Call for Caution”.
Co-conveners of the “Call for Caution”, who jointly signed the communique issued at the end of the Lagos deliberations of the pro-democaracy groups, and presented it to the press on Tuesday include: Comrade Olufemi Lawson, Executive Director, Center for Public Accountability; Madam Gift Yusuf,
Secretary, Northern Women For Democracy and Justice; Barrister Benjamin Emeka Igwe,
Member, Steering Committee, CUPP; and Hon. Razaq Eyiowuawi, National Vice Chairman, Southwest, African Democratic Congress.
They noted that the array of impactful infrastructural projects, some of which were commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari in Kogi State, last Thursday, had exposed what they described as campaigns of calumny against the Governor of the state as “simply unfounded.”
“We would not even have taken an interest in Kogi State this much if the President’s visit had not exposed a case of deliberate misrepresentation of facts on ground by those who the people of the state should regard as their enemies. We want to categorically state that the campaign of calumny against the state governor is unfounded and those who sponsored the dastardly act on the day the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria visited the state, either remotely or directly, must be fished out and dealt with decisively,” they said in a communique jointly signed by the co-conveners.
According to them, if these kinds of actions are not nipped in the bud, other politicians across Nigeria with the same mindset would set the country on the brink of collapse even before the elections are conducted.
The coalition noted that the likes of Mrs Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan, a Senatorial candidate in the state who allegedly gave out casualty figures of the bomb blast on social media even before police preliminary investigations, and other politicians said to have celebrated after the deadly attack, ought to have been invited by security agencies for questioning.
“What we joke with in this country cannot be allowed in other climes. It is a crime against the President and the whole of Nigeria and not against Governor Yahaya Bello or Kogi State alone. Security agencies cannot joke with this,” they stressed.
The activists called on stakeholders in Kogi State to caution Akpoti-Uduaghan to desist from uttering inflammatory statements and further heating up the polity at the expense of the people.
“We view with serious concern the recent bomb blast at Okene in Kogi State that coincided with the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari which was apparently to disrupt the President’s schedules or paint a picture of an unsafe state. It was a dastardly crime no doubt, but more dastardly was the actions of some politicians in the state allegedly celebrating the bomb blast. We state unequivocally that security agencies must fish out those unpatriotic politicians for questioning.
“In all, we call on politicians and those saddled with the responsibility of seeing to the socio-economic wellbeing of Nigerians to rise up to the challenges we have currently in the country, ensure free and fair elections and also deal decisively with those instigating violence, either with fake news or unverifiable allegations.”