How Gombe mayhem might induce voter apathy

Map showing Gombe state. Photo: Worldatlas

As the governorship and state Assembly election holds across the 36 states of the country this Saturday, there are indications that the violence, which broke out in the state on March 2, 2019 was intended to stoke voter apathy.

That fateful Saturday, the gubernatorial candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Usman Bayero Nafada, accompanied by some political miscreants arrived the Gombe State Airport, ostensibly to welcome Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo.

Somewhere along the line, on their way from the airport into Gombe town, the miscreants unleashed mayhem, destroying properties and threatening anyone that tried to restrain them.

Ever since that unwholesome display, leaders of the two major political parties, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), have continued to trade blames and accusations against each other.

However to discerning residents of the state, the madness, which led to the destruction of campaign billboards around the airport and Lafiyawo village in Akko local government area, was premeditated.

The cloudy event comes as a harbinger of overt plans to intimidate, cow, frighten and terrify voters, thereby discouraging them from coming out to perform their civic responsibilities during the governorship and state Assembly poll.

It is obvious that in the ongoing attempts to incubate an atmosphere of fear ahead of the election in Gombe State, the patrons want to create voter apathy that would in turn give them room to manipulate the election, especially following the political routing of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the presidential election.

APC maintains that PDP had eight years to deliver the dividends of democracy and endear itself to the people, but that the party took the sour path with their massive looting of the commonwealth, excessive borrowing that left the state economy in critical condition.

On the other hand the PDP claims that it has impacted positively on the lives of Gombe people, stressing that through Governor Dankwambo, the party institutionalized good governance and environmental sanity in the state.

In his broadcast, Governor Dankwambo declared: “We have also noticed recent developments, some people going out in the night to destroy various properties of other people and to also threaten peace of cordial existence in the state. They do not deserve the kind of treatment some people are treating them, but this is the signals of the things that are coming if things go wrong in Gombe State.’’

However, APC condemned the violence, saying it was piqued by the ravaging by PDP, the people of Gombe moved quickly to salvage their state from the hands of those who have made democracy more devilish than expected, by endorsing the opposition APC with their ballots.

It is this exchange of preferences that is brewing anger from the outgoing PDP administration, thus disposing them to punish the people by out-rightly threatening the citizens of Gombe and destroying their properties, not excluding campaign offices and materials of APC.

Reacting to the violence, APC’s Adamu Billiri said: “We want to expose the political madness of the PDP in Gombe as well as PDP’s use of thugs and hoodlums to regain the already lost grounds in the race for Gombe Government House.”

What happened in Gombe State on Saturday, March 2, is a clear indication that democracy has been slaughtered on the altar of tyranny, thuggery and political rascality. Video evidence shows that PDP thugs went to Gombe airport to welcome the incumbent governor. 

Billiri continued, “Shortly afterwards, the thugs accompanied their general on a destruction spree, burning shops, threatening the peace of many, destroying the campaign materials of the APC. Surprisingly, the hoodlums also attacked a private radio station, Progress FM, a move many have described as a trend that can discourage investments from coming into the state.

“They attacked the block industry belonging to an APC faithful, Alhaji Kurugu Na Babayo Goje, and destroyed it and all APC properties on sight and they also burnt some houses. As if that was not enough, the family house of Alhaji Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, the Gombe State gubernatorial candidate of APC in Jekadafari was also attacked thus endangering the lives of members of Alhaji Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya’s family.”

“All these happened under the watch of Senator Bayero Nafada and Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo,” with APC alleging that it was all in the quest to assert political dominance.

Insisting that there are more questions than answers, APC queried: “Do people not have the right to associate with a party they feel can protect their interests? Should we all keep mute and allow the recklessness of PDP to go on without consequences? Must our youths be agents of political rascality? Should our leaders stoop so low as to begin to supervise wanton destruction in broad daylight?”

APC recalled that when the state government said it spends over N170million annually in rehabilitating youths out of cultism and other social vices, many Gombe people welcomed the idea, even as some were wary of the motives.

“Time being the gentleman that he is has revealed the reason for that humongous spending- political thuggery,” he said,. Now, it is clear that such payments were made to bake some youths for their self-centred ambition during the election year. 

“In a video released recently, Dankwambo had attributed his loss to an ‘act of God’. In as much as I agree, I would also like to add that the voice of the people is the voice of God. So, whichever way one looks at the act of God and the voice of the people, it is a matter of six or half a dozen,” the party said.

The APC added that “what is more important is the recognition of the voice of the people and the unhidden quest for change, stressing that for a state that has given Dankwambo eight years to run its affairs, the best way to return the favour is to allow the same ‘act of God’ to take prominence in the forthcoming governorship election. Not to force an ‘ungodly act’ on the people of Gombe State, which may end up making peace a scarce commodity in the state.”

The party added, “When exactly did things start going wrong in Gombe State? As stakeholders in the affairs of the state, we urge the people to remain peaceful and undaunted in the face of severe provocations and charge security personnel to study the antics of democratic terrorists, who want to circumvent the wishes of the people of Gombe State in broad daylight.”

It was this intolerance of opposition that many PDP bigwigs saw before defecting in a Tsunami-like manner to APC.

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