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Sunday, 18 November 2012

WHY POLITICAL KILLINGS WILL PERSIST

                                                                                                                                                        
Since the return to democracy in 1999, political killings have become a common incidents Nigerian politics. In the first and second republics: 1959-1966 and 1979-1983 respectively, political killings were not known in Nigeria. The reason was that politics was service-oriented than money acquisition and political office holders were on part time bases. Then politics was like sport competitions where losers congratulate winners and not “a do or die affair” as we have it. Political offices were not avenues for amassing wealth or get-rich-quick syndrome but opportunity to serve the people and humanity.
 Though, political office holders were able to live comfortably or averagely, they did not become rich overnight like what we are experiencing in Nigeria presently. Then, the salaries and allowances of political office holders were little higher than those of other civil servants. However, all that have changed since Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999, when former President Olusegun Obasanjo introduced the monetization policy. The monetization policy enable political office holders and certain government employees receive cash in place of free housing, electricity, telephone, medical services, drivers, domestic servants etc. Before monetization was introduced, the above mentioned services were provided by the government. With monetization policy in place, those affected by the policy now receive cash and in turn, employ cheap labour to provide such services for them. The monetization policy now makes political office holders receive huge sums of money in place of these services why they pay peanuts to those who render the services to them. Meanwhile, the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), has also increased the salaries and allowances of lawmakers astronomically several times. Presently, a senator earns as much as #15.18 million monthly and a member of the House of Representatives earns #10.59 million. Also, a senator is entitled to an annual #500 million constituency allowance while those of the House of Representatives, receive #450 million. A councilor earns #120, 000 per month. Thus, with these jumbo salaries and allowances, politics is now the most lucrative business in Nigeria today. What kind of business will one do in Nigeria today that will yield as much as #10.59 million or #15.18 million profit in one month? A professor in the university earns #280,000 per month. With so much money in politics, people see politics as a big business and the easiest means of acquiring wealth. In other climes where politics is basically service to humanity, political office holders who wish to make money, resign from their political offices to pursue private businesses in order to make money. In Japan, in the last five years, about five prime ministers have resigned their political appointments for mere accusation of corruption or misconduct. They resigned because politics is not an avenue for making money so why will one be troubled over what is not giving them so much money? In Nigeria the reverse is the case because nobody resigns from political offices because it is a money spinning ventures. It is a big business and the only business which every Nigerian wants to do and knows how to do best. Politics is the only active business in Nigeria now. In Nigeria today, politics is the only thriving business and this is the main reason why a large portion of the population is rushing into politics. People rotate from one political position to another. Recently, three ministers resigned their appointment in order to contest for the posts of governor and senator respectively. Also, two ambassadors have resigned to pursue their gubernatorial and senatorial ambitions too. What is common with Nigerian politicians is that they are now behaving like prostitutes because they move from one political office to another. So, former governors who have spent two terms in office would go to the senate and after spending some years in the senate, they would seek ministerial appointment. From a ministerial appointment, they become vice presidents and from vice president to president. After spending two terms as president, they would seek the post of chairman, board of trustee of their political parties. Sometimes, after the brother has ruled as a governor of a state, the sister will take over as the governor. In other case, after the husband has completed two terms of four year as a governor, he will impose his wife on the people as a senator. They have all abandoned other businesses for politics and they are not even making positive impact on the society. Thus, politicians steal the people’s mandate by rigging themselves into elective offices. If their opponents take them to courts, they do not bother because they will definitely complete their tenure before the court will give judgment. By the time they had completed their tenure, they would have stolen enough money to seek reelection into their former offices. Political office holders even go to courts to fight for reinstatement if they are impeached or removed from office. Those who the courts have upturned their elections, still hold on to such positions because of the huge salaries and allowances attached to such offices. In Nigeria, people resign from private businesses and go into politics in order to make money. With the greed for money, you see thousands of people vying for one political office. Take for instance, the senatorial district position which has opening for only three senators, more than one thousand persons usually contest for them. The House of Representatives that has only ten openings in each state, has millions of people vying for those slots. In the states, from the office of councilor to the office of the governor, millions of people also jostle for them. Other political offices like party chairmen, board of trustee (BOT), secretaries, publicity secretaries, legal advisers etc are all juicy positions which aspirants kill their opponents to occupy. Since political offices offer mouthwatering salaries and allowances, aspirants and other political office seekers, now apply different methods to outdo their opponents. They employ campaign of calumny and also engage in character assassination. Under character assassination, they say all manner of uncomplimentary things about their opponents. If such methods do not work for them and remove their opponents from their way, they resort to outright murder to pave the way for them. Meanwhile, since 1999, countless innocent Nigerians have been killed by their political opponents. Political killings have become commonplace that ordinary Nigerians no longer feel grief when somebody is assassinated based on politics. And since politicians have not performed better than the military, when political killings occur, the masses will say, “they are killing themselves because of money”. This is not far from the truth because year in year out, budgets are not implemented by politicians but are shared among themselves, leaving the masses to suffer abject poverty and untold hardship. Political killings began with the killing of Chief Harry Marshal who was the PDP Chairman in Rivers State. Immediately after the death of Chief Harry Marshal, that of Chief Asari Dikibo followed in quick succession. In December 23, 2001, Chief Bola Ige, a Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation was murdered in his Bodija home, Ibadan. Chief Dele Arojo, an accountant from Yewa Awori area of Ogun State was killed in 2003. He was the most preferred gubernatorial candidate under the PDP in 2003 before he was murdered in Lagos by unknown gunmen. The unknown gunmen also snuffed out the lives of Barrister Barnabas Igwe and his wife, Abigail. Late Igwe was until his death, the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Anambra State Chapter. Chief Jose Aruku, a gubernatorial aspirant under the Advanced Congress of Democrats in Plateau State, was abducted on June 30, 2006, but later found dead on July 2, 2006, in Bossa Local Government Area of the State. Nigerians were still mourning the death of Josse Aruku when the news of the death of Engineer Funsho Williams struck them like a thunder storm. Engineer Williams was the most popular governorship candidate under the PDP in Lagos State. Nigerians had not recovered from the shock of Engineer Williams’ death when the news of the death of Dr. Ayo Daramola hit them as tornados. His death was not the first politically motivated killing in Ekiti State. In 2005, the Chairman of Ado Ekiti Local Government Council, Chief Taiye Fasuba was murdered in cold blood. Early in 2010, Chief Dipo Dina, a popular Action Congress governorship candidate in the 2007 elections was eliminated in the Sango area of Ogun State. Last June, Chief Paul Indogisiet Inyang was killed in a Church, in Akwa Ibom State. On January 28, 2011, Alhaji Modu Fannami Gubio, the ANPP governorship aspirant in Borno State, was also killed. Many people have been killed politically that time and space will not allow us to mention here. Political killings cannot be curbed as long as politics is a now a “thriving business”. Politics is the most lucrative business in the country today. So, everybody is now into politics, but the available spaces cannot take everybody, this is why there are killings all over the country. Every politician wants to outdo the other person in order to occupy their political position. So, to curb political killings in the country, the salaries and allowances of political office holders should be reduced drastically. The salaries and allowances of political office holders should be made to be equal to those of civil servants. This will force politicians who want to make money to go into private businesses and create opportunities for credible politicians to be elected into political offices.

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