One of the most profound paragraphs in literature which, in my opinion, resonates in history as well as currently, while possessing the capacity to build a poignant political thesis on, is the above passage by the acclaimed father of African Literature, Professor Chinua Achebe, in perhaps what is Africa’s most important piece of pre-colonial literature, Things Fall Apart. In this passage, Obierika, Okonkwo’s best friend and one who was concerned with moral ambiguities, explains in explicit terms the politics of divide and rule in the fictional village of Umuofia and to a larger extent, Africa.
Olisa Metuh, Gov. TA Orji at INEC HQ
The white man pursues a strategy of governance which introduces a brand of sophisticated religion with its pleasant bounties- at that time- into an Igbo society held together by the thread that is a flawed religion and a vulnerable tradition. This was the final straw that broke the back of the recalcitrant camel. In a short while, Umuofia was overcome by the white man as the villagers took sides with the colonialists and then fought amongst themselves.
An on-going school of thought in African literature strongly suggests that Achebe’s intent was to pontificate that the introduction of the politics of divide and rule in African politics is the sole responsibility of the colonialists. It would be wrong, however, to suggest that this style of governance has disappeared off the face of Africa, specifically Nigeria, since the end of colonial rule in 1960. Politicians have often used this evil and dangerous style in politics to meet their selfish gains, employing the politics of ethnicity and religion to great and deadly effect. As long as the Nigerian politician wins that exalted political position, lives and properties lost mean nothing to him. Unfortunately, this insidious style of politics is being played out by the PDP in Abia State, Nigeria.
As a recap, the state elections in Abia State, being closely contested by the ruling PDP and APGA, the main opposition party, ended in an inconclusive manner, hence INEC rescheduled a rerun election in certain areas for the 25th of April. Any outside observer of the April 11th gubernatorial elections in Abia State would be surprised at the stalemated elections for theirs was an easy choice to make; to choose between a candidate, Dr OkezieIkpeazu, the anointed one of the current governor, TA Orji and a major part of the abysmal failure of governance that the PDP in Abia State represents or the APGA candidate, Dr. Alex Otti, an accomplished banker, economist and philanthropist and former MD/CEO of Diamond Bank, who, according to many Abians, represents a breathe of fresh air and the exact technocrat needed to move the state forward from 16 years of misrule and bad governance. Hence after 11 out of the 17 LGAs were counted, APGA had established a commanding lead in the polls over OkezieIkpeazu, despite the thuggery, electoral violence and systemic rigging employed by the State PDP. However, the tables unfairly turned when much later, doctored votes ‘allocated’ from Obingwa, Isialangwa North and Osisioma, were brought in and shifted the tide to the PDP. After evidence of electoral malpractices were presented these LGAs later were cancelled by the Returning Officer, Prof Benjamin Ozumba, and later rescinded when the State Governor, TA Orji, the PDP National Secretary, OlisaMetuh and others descended on the INEC Office, Umuahia in an unlawful and desperate act of intimidation.
Rerun elections were later rescheduled and the PDP has continued its act of desperateness in hanging on to power through the divide and rule tactics, pithing the Ngwa people against the rest of the citizens and residents of Abia State. Their Ngwa son is about to be made Governor, the PDP claim, and INEC and the good people of Abia State unlawfully wants to prevent this from happening. This is far from the truth, however. The need and desire of the Abia people to kick the TA Orji led PDP administration and as a result, his anointed candidate, Dr.OkezieIkpeazu, is borne out of the need to ensuring Abia State obtains good governance. And the Ngwa people, together who failed woefully as Head of Abia State Environmental Protection Agency, Aba, with other Abians stand with Dr. Alex Otti to achieve this. Surely State PDP should understand that 16 years of its misrule, unpaid salaries, brutal stifling of the opposition, the squalor of the commercial capital Aba, bad and non-existent roads and environmental desolateness would surely catch up with it? Surely the State PDP should understand that the good people of Abia are tired of having to hear about ‘on-going projects and investments’ only on social media, state-owned radio and multitude of billboards? Today Abia State residents woke up to the horror sights of coffins placed in certain parts of the State, threatening death to does who vote against the PDP Candidate- does the PDP know that Abians are tired of this?
The rerun elections hold on 25th April, 2015 and as alleged, INEC has been vague about the details. While the public wait for detailed announcement on the wards and LGAs where these elections would hold, it must be said that the collective will of a people, resolute in their simple demand for democracy and good governance, is well able to stand against the insidious politics of divide and rule employed by the Abia State PDP, pithing one people against the other. Unlike the people in Achebe’s novel, the people of Abia State are well attuned to the tricks, intimidation and violent ways of the PDP and are well prepared to resist it and vote on 25th of April, 2015. However, it is important that INEC conducts a free and fair election on, immediately provides important details of the elections to the Abia State electorates- which it has not yet done up till now. It is important as well, for the security services in the state, accused of being tools in the hands of the ruling PDP, to ensure that the lives and votes of the electorates are protected at all times, during the voting process. The people of Abia State have collectively decided to defeat the insidious politics of divide and rule of the PDP. It is important that relevant agencies ensure that a free and fair election is carried out to achieve this purpose.
Benjamin Ugochukwu, writes in from Umuahia, Abia State.