Nigerian Elections Have Been Turned Into Political Insurgency –Adikwuru | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Nigerian Elections Have Been Turned Into Political Insurgency –Adikwuru

Dennis Adikwuru
Posted: Apr 16, 2016 at 6:09 am   /   by   /   comments (1)

Hon. Dennis Adikwuru, former Senior Special Assistant to Governor Rochas Okorocha and Director General, Imo Pools Betting and Lottery Agency, and a Campaign Coordinator of Hon Emeka Ihedioha Governorship Campaign Organisation under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in this interview, recounts how violence marred the 2015 governorship election in Imo State. He also speaks on some lessons by politicians from the experience in this interview with EJIKEME OMENAZU.

The other elections in Imo State were generally peaceful. Why was the governorship election violent?
The governorship election was violent for some reasons. First, a change in government was feasible and the incumbent resisted that change with violence. Secondly, the incumbent deployed every machinery, using the the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential victory to cow the people and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials. Lastly, there was the insider factor where a few greedy and disgruntled party members found an unholy alliance and conspiracy with APC.

Would you say that events during the PDP primaries contributed directly or indirectly to the violence during governorship election?
I cannot say that any event of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship primary led to the violence at the governorship polls. It is public knowledge that Sen. Ifeanyi Ararume sold out, decamped and worked against PDP. But, it had nothing to do with the violence unleashed by the APC helmsman and his DG.

Would you say that your past roles as Gov Rochas Okorocha’s strong man contributed to make you a target during the election?
Yes, to an extent, one can say that my association with Gov Rochas Okorocha right from his presidential aspiration days, made me popular within his camp. When I left his government and the APC, it was with a big bang and obviously a large followership down to PDP. I was spotted as an obstacle to their electoral success around my area and everything was done to stop me. Yes I agree that I was a target and they actually exhibited it.

Do you have any personal experience of violence during the election?
Yes, of course. Because I was a principal campaign manager for the PDP candidate, who was a leading candidate, I was made a target. On the election day, an attempt was made on my life. Thugs suspected to have been hired from Aguleri who were dressed in Army uniform, under the directive of one of the government’s agents, ordered by abduction,. They beat me up with the butt of their guns, gave me machete cuts injuries. But one of our men appeared on the scene and raised an alarm, leading to my release. I spent several weeks in the hospital undergoing treatment for the injuries and trauma from that experience.

What lessons did you and other young politicians learn from your experience?
We have learnt a lot on the hazards of politics of bitterness, politics of aggression, politics of vindictiveness, politics of affliction and oppression by a cabal who have not ventured elsewhere than in politics and who call themselves founding members of the party. They are experts in anti-party activism. They will get you down in other polling units and political wards, but give you votes in their polling units and wards. They are traditionalists ready to take to oath anytime that they voted for you. But now, we have discovered their antics, they will be made to swear that they never aided anti-party elsewhere or collected money from opponents to run their party men down. I have also learnt that with goodwill built around the masses, one will always have the support of the masses and that is the greatest asset some of us have. Politics is a dangerous vocation. Most times, you are on your own, especially under high risky situations. Only God is there for you.

What are your advice to the Nigerian politicians as regards electoral violence and politics of bitterness?
Nigerian elections have been turned into a political kind of insurgency and it is not a good one for our democracy. For the politicians using youths, turning them into miscreants and militants, sending them on suicide missions are wicked and out of their conscience. I wish their children or relations are the ones being turned into urchins and not the children of the poor or helpless, jobless youths out there. I feel that it is indecent and unpopular politicians who have no electoral values that engage in violence. I can only advise the youths to shun violence and shun the politicians who send them on violent missions. As for the politicians, the weapons of their operation will soon turn against them because it will take a little enlightenment programme to get the youths off violent missions.

What is the position of things as regards PDP state executive in Imo state?
There is no controversy as to the leadership of the party in the state. The Okafor-led Caretaker Committee is in charge and there is no opposing group except those being sponsored by APC and they have been exposed. We are aware of visits by APC stalwarts to some of these people and their leanings against constituted authority in PDP. Incidentally, these people are engrossed in clan political wars wherein the clan is not structured in political organogram. And so they have limited themselves to the clans while real political action takes place at the national and state headquarters. This is in their bid to play subservience to the outside world against their own people. Generally speaking, the issue of wrangling in the state executive has been settled and the party is restrategised for 2019.

As a politician, you must have an ambition. What are your aspirations come 2019?
Yes, I will admit I have an ambition and that is first of all to see that my party is victorious at all levels come 2019. I know that I am quite qualified to vie for any of the electoral positions starting from the presidency, but it is a bridge ahead of us which must be crossed only when we get there. So, for now, we must watch to see how everything unfolds.