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APC’s violent primaries

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APC’s violent primaries

The All Progressives Congress (APC) swept into power in 2015 on the back of a promise of change. To many Nigerians, that change was not only about changing the government of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which had held sway for an unbroken 16 years, but also to change the ways the PDP ran the affairs of the country in many ways, including the now famous do-or-die politics.

Time has passed since 2015 and many things have happened in the life of the APC since its emergence as the dominant party across the country. Going into the 2019 elections, the APC appears overwhelmed by its powers and the anticipation that it is the party to beat in the coming elections. Thus, all over the country, the party is faced with serious challenges of conducting itself as that party Nigerians dreamed of that would replace the PDP and give the country a new lease of life.

The recent congresses of the party, which left in its trail, violence, deaths and injuries to many of its faithful is one of such instances that have portrayed the APC as battling with the same demons that consumed the PDP-power drunkenness.
In Ebonyi State, for instance, three people died with many injured in the battle for the Ebonyi Central senatorial seat during the primaries held in Onueke, Ezza South Local Government Area.

Two factions of the party had engaged in bloody clash over a contentious delegate lists for the exercise. During the primary election, there were heavy gunshots, resulting to the death of two persons at the venue. A day later, the police recovered another corpse that raised the number to three.

Those who died included Mary Innocent (40) of Agba in Ishielu local government and Ifeanyi Akwule (45). Also injured were Chioma Linus (43), Orawo Regina (32), and Ezinne (22). The third corpse is yet to be identified.
In Zamfara State, five people were also killed following violence that erupted at the polling centres during the botched APC governorship primary election in the state.
Dozens of other people sustained various degrees of injuries ranging from gunshot wound to machete cuts.

Among the victims was one Samaila Sani Afro, an undergraduate student of Federal University, Gusau.
In Delta State, two students of the Federal College of Education (FCT, Technical) Asaba were also killed by a policeman at the venue of the rescheduled primary election of the APC for the Delta North Senatorial District.
The students were allegedly killed as they tried to force their way into the school for lectures.

Also in Delta State, during the governorship primaries involving Chief Great Ogboru and Prof. Pat Utomi, at parallel primaries, gunshots boomed to the awe of delegates.

Yet in Lagos, there were also pockets of violence during the senatorial primaries across the state. From Agege to Lagos Island to Kosofe parts of the state, violence broke out as opponents tried to outwit each other for the seats.
There were also deaths and violence in other parts of the country over the primaries of the party. In Imo, for instance, one person was killed and three buses burnt in Amike, Mbieri during the governorship primaries. One person was also killed in Boi district of Bogoro Local Government Area of Bauchi State and two others injured during the governorship primaries in the state.

That does not mean there haven’t been some form of crises in some PDP primaries across the country. But we are taken aback by the level of violence displayed by APC leaders and supporters in most parts of the country. The violence, deaths, injuries, disputes and sheer inability to conduct the primaries without rancour are surprising, considering the burden of expectations placed on the shoulders of the APC when it sacked the PDP in 2015.

We wonder if these developments do not run contrary to the ethos of the party, which came in as a corrective government after the reign of the PDP. The bickering, disagreements and violence that have become of the APC all over the country point to the generally held notion that the difference between the PDP and APC appear to be only in the name.

Otherwise, perhaps tamed by its humiliation in 2015, the PDP appears to be saner now than the APC. Could it be that the APC has become swollen-headed with power while the PDP is battling to sell itself back to Nigerians?

We are at a loss at how too soon power could transform individuals from saints to demons. The APC as a party is fast transforming into what Nigerians detested of the PDP, under whose watch, several cases on controversial, unresolved murders hit the country.

We are of the view that the leadership of the APC and its supporters across the country need to rethink the objective of primaries, elections and service to the people. A situation where the party through its candidates and supporters resort to do-or-die politics in the name of primaries runs short of the expectation of Nigerians, who entrusted power unto it.
We find the desperation within the APC not only reprehensible, but equally despicable and unacceptable. We insist that the lives of Nigerians would not be used to oil the thirst for power by politicians. We say enough is enough.

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