Telling the citizenry to shut up over an issue as important as how they are governed or who governs them is clearly an abbreviation of their rights, and is as insensitive as it is cold-hearted. In the circumstance, it can be argued that it isn’t just their right to freedom of expression that is being tampered with but their right to dignity, Personal Liberty as well as their right to Freedom of Thought and Conscience. It even further takes away their entitlement to good governance. Naija News is therefore constrained to comment on ongoing electioneering not to favour a party or candidate but to demand civility and respect for Nigerians from politicians.
The presidential candidate of the ruling APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, used the language that government spokespersons are careful to use on critics when he called for the hushing of persons who want another party in power by 2023. While speaking during the launch of the women’s team of the APC presidential campaign on Monday, Tinubu said, “If they say they want a change of government, just tell them, we will like to be polite, but shut up your mouth”. Isn’t it hypocritical for this to come from the same politician who led the charge for a change of government in the build-up to the 2015 presidential election? Rather than telling his foot soldiers to shush Nigerians who desire another government to take over the reins in 2023, the candidate would have been right if he armed his supporters with reasons why the party in power should be retained. Assuming the APC standard-bearer’s “shut up” comment is because supporters of the opposition are dunces who can’t see the efficiencies of the current government, haven’t all indices indicated that the Buhari government is outclassed by Jonathan’s which Tinubu plotted and pursued their ouster at the polls? And if he thinks that not many Nigerians are desirous of a change of government, the ruling party’s presidential candidate had better been concerned about what spurred the upsurge in Nigerians’ participation in the continuous voter registration exercise. For the first time ever, an erstwhile apathetic segment of the populace defied the hassles and inconveniences so they can get their PVCs. Something must have been responsible for this excitement and Tinubu will be best served taking this factor into consideration before dismissing real Change agents with a wave of the hand. Indeed, there was a time when the joke on the street was Nigerians want nothing other than for the APC government to return the country to how they met it in 2015. It is also humoured that if Nigerians had known better, they would have interrogated the sort of Change the All Progressives Congress was promising when they used the slogan to campaign against the Jonathan administration. How then can the APC candidate be telling citizens who want a change of government to shut up? By the offensive utterance, the politician has betrayed an inner aversion to the democratic tenet. Nigerians now know better why Tinubu has not granted media interviews or engaged in conversation with the people whose ballots he needs to continue where President Buhari will be leaving off. Telling those seeking a change of government to shut up feeds into Tinubu staying away from the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) conference, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce talk-shop and more recently that of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) where his rivals effectively engaged with critical stakeholders in the Nigerian project. These are conferences to which he was duly invited, including that of his Accounting colleagues. Is he also telling them to shut up for trying to know his plans for the country if elected President next year? Another disturbing assertion by the ex-Lagos governor while inaugurating the APC Women Tinubu-Shettima Campaign Team, at the Old Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja, was his description of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as “a political party of termites”. This is a very untoward thing to say about Nigerians. Members of that party aren’t foreigners. As a matter of fact, most of the members of his APC used to be in the PDP, including the ruling party’s national chairman, Abdullahi Adamu and the Director-General of the Tinubu Campaign, Simon Lalong who served as Speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly under the PDP. Indeed, it’s a case of Tinubu’s remaining fingers pointing right back at his party while the accusatory finger points at the PDP. Be that as it may, there should be no room for such language in the Nigerian polity. Isn’t this what the pact recently signed by the various parties and their presidential candidates was to guard against? The fact that Tinubu was absent at that critical parley put together by the National Peace Committee does not give him the leeway to use a term that calls to mind what instigated the Rwandan genocide. Nigeria certainly does not need a Leon Mugesera – the former Rwandan politician who in a 1992 incendiary speech, described Tutsis as “cockroaches” who should be exterminated. Tinubu had before now used the soapbox for the Ekiti governorship to aim a dart at his political rivals when he cited those labouring to death. The APC candidate must be confronted with his own submission that “a nation is not just built on abusive language”. If in the race to get a chance to build Nigeria, then Tinubu must become accustomed to a more decorous vocabulary. It is for this reason that Naija News calls on him and other political gladiators to quickly come up with their manifestoes and make the same focal point of their communications rather than abuses, tantrums or the taking of cheap shots at opponents. No matter the case, nobody should tell Nigerians that they shouldn’t demand a change of government. If so, then why spend the hundreds of billions earmarked for the 2023 election? We regret that Tinubu actually sold his weird mindset to the APC Women Campaign Team who instead of winning over prospective voters to their party should just tell Nigerians who do not think the APC deserves to continue in power, to shut up. Lovers of democracy worldwide must be concerned and rebuke these indiscretions of Tinubu lest his supporters take a cue and do worse. These are still early days of the campaigns hence Naija News demand a quick course correction if this is how the APC flag bearer hopes to carry the day. In fact, Tinubu should tender an unreserved apology to Nigerians whose sensibilities he just insulted with the controversial comment. A mea culpa from Tinubu will go a long way in reassuring Nigerians who are afraid that his devil-may-care remarks isn’t a pointer to dictatorship or fascism if he manages to win the polls. There is nothing polite about telling another person to shut up, and we hope this isn’t the strategy Tinubu is banking on when it’s time for debates. The APC standard-bearer must show up at such engagements to convince the people on why he is the right candidate for the most important job in the country. Speaking through proxies then won’t just cut it. Naija News wishes him and other candidates running for one office or the other in the 2023 election well. Meanwhile, may the best candidate win in 2023!
This article was originally published on Naija News