By Mohammed Sani Saleh
Regarding the recent outbreak of violence in parts of Kaduna, we make bold to say that responsibility for the mayhem, injuries and the loss of lives and property rest squarely with Mukhtar Ramalan Yero and his PDP government. It is a well known fact that since the launch of his campaign last month, Yero incited his supporters to violence, apart from threatening the property, liberty and freedom of movement of Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, our candidate for the governorship of this state. Our response to this threat was to ask our supporters not to respond to provocations. We also wrote to alert the National Human Rights Commission and representatives of the international community to this blatant instance of hate speech.
In addition, the APC Kaduna State Campaign has taken several steps to discharge its responsibility to preserve peace in Kaduna State so that campaigns and the elections can take place in a competitive but calm atmosphere. Despite the fact that our campaign itinerary had long been concluded, with a zonal rally for Kaduna Central fixed for Kaduna on Saturday, 31 January 2015, we delayed the conclusion of our Zone 2 tour last week once we learnt that the PDP had scheduled a presidential rally for the same day.
We followed up the suspension of campaign activities in Kaduna by running massive radio announcements to advise our supporters to stay off the streets during the PDP’s rally to avoid being the victims of the callous shoot-at-sight order given to soldiers and security agents. We also shifted our campaign activities to Zone 3, three days earlier than scheduled, precisely to deny and frustrate the PDP’s plan to unleash violence and blame it on us.
You can therefore imagine our outrage that Governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero yesterday supervised hoodlums and thugs on a rampage against people and properties. It is bad enough that his entourage attacked and destroyed billboards of General Muhammadu Buhari and Malam Nasir El-Rufai in the Bakin Ruwa and Kabala West areas of Kaduna, the state capital. It is worse that residents who challenged this act of wanton vandalisation were attacked and beaten by the thugs. It is worst that Yero was in the motorcade as his henchmen attacked persons and property with a ferocity that claimed lives. Yero’s security detail got in the unfortunate action, shooting at citizens who happened to be in the area.
Before the mayhem unfolded, there were reports of protests against the governor’s failure and incompetence by angry citizens along his route from Birnin-Gwari and in Udawa in Chikun local government. On entering Kaduna town, around new Panteka market, similar protests erupted. At Bakin Ruwa, his thugs decided to punish citizens who were screaming Ba maso. They destroyed campaign billboards of General Buhari and Mallam El-Rufai. They did the same at Kabala West junction.
Having unleashed violence, Yero has been using every available platform to deflect blame on to the APC. We have been busy enthusing and engaging the good people of Southern Kaduna with our message of change while Yero is revelling in anarchy. Nasir El Rufai, our candidate, also joined the APC leadership on national service in Lagos yesterday at an interactive session with the private sector. He has since returned to lead the change team’s Zone 3 campaign.
The Kaduna State APC has been warning for weeks that the PDP government has chosen a strategy of violence as the best guarantee against their imminent defeat in the 28th March to April 11 2015. Last week, thugs attacked APC supporters and campaign vehicles in the Badiko area of Kaduna.
As reported in the media, the PDP presidential rally failed with many of the attendees chanting for Buhari and El-Rufai. It seems that Yero is visiting his wrath at that embarrassment on the APC supporters who continue to do their utmost to reject provocation.
The Kaduna State APC is calling on INEC and the security agencies to firmly stop Yero from upsetting the peace and turning Kaduna into a theatre of war. We are appealing to the sense of honour of security agents and reminding them of their oath of allegiance to Nigeria, not any government or individual.
Election is a civilised contest and we cannot allow Yero to turn his impending defeat into an inferno for everyone.
Beyond the dangerous antics of Yero, the APC Kaduna State Campaign Council wishes to draw the attention of all patriotic Nigerians to the fact that the desperate actions being undertaken in Kaduna actually reflect the PDP’s desire to scuttle this month’s scheduled elections. Witness the sad events at their Bauchi rally which they tried to blame on others until Governor Isa Yuguda cleared the air that PDP elements organised and executed the violence.
The PDP is also attempting to distort and corrupt discourse. They are vainly trying to suggest that an election period abrogates the basic right of citizens to protest or show disapproval. Whenever any community exercises this right, they are dubbed APC members as if the right to protest can only be exercised on partisan lines. For instance, his attempts to lie about his achievements were booed by his Zaria audience recently, as is their democratic right.
Finally, we call on the good people of Kaduna State to remain calm and avoid any provocation. We will insist that this election is conducted in an atmosphere of peace and orderliness.
Gen. M.S. Saleh (Rtd) a Senator representing Kaduna Central sent in this piece.