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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Opinion: How Violence Killed Democracy In Taraba

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by Mathias Agbu

The destruction of hard-earned properties and sacred lives that characterised the announcements of the partial results of the just concluded gubernatorial elections in Taraba State is tragic!

I grew up in Taraba, that’s where I call home. I have lived there for most of my life and the Taraba I knew … the one I grew up in is completely different from the post gubernatorial election Taraba we saw on the TV and newspaper 2 weeks ago. A state mired in violence…uncharacteristic violence divided along religious lines! When will it stop?

I mean cannot continue to judge and make governance choices in this current century based on religious and other natural cleavages. Violence has never brought development to any society. Instead, it has always dragged societies several steps backward.

The Rwandan genocide of 1992 that left thousands of people dead is still very fresh in the minds of Africans. Rwandans lived peacefully for centuries before the genocide was instigated by a few select evil leaders.

The crisis presently going on in the Central African Republic is another recent example that suggests to us that violence will not take us anywhere. It is an evil that is very easy to start but difficult to end.

Consequently, as we all know, whatever the dimension the current political tussle takes, the bottom line remains that the result of violence is always destruction and even when fences are mended later, some by-products of the violence can never be recovered no matter the level of monetary compensations given to the victims.

Recent activities by our politicians in Nigeria should serve as evidence to us that political parties are just platforms for people to contest elections and not organizations whose ideologies we must follow as if they will earn us eternal rewards. This implies that no politician or political party’s failure or success is worth the blood of a brother, sister or friend, irrespective of his or her ethnic affiliations or creeds.

In as much as people have a choice to make with respect to who to vote for, we must learn to respect every individual’s choice. Democracy is a process of multiple individual choices and therefore as much as religion, ethnic and sectional interests can to certain levels determine our voting patterns, they should not be allowed to cause disaffections among us, we should be able to accept our collective individual choices for the good of all.

I wish to appeal that the next supplementary elections that have been scheduled to hold this Saturday be violent-free in not just Taraba but other states with inconclusive results namely Imo and Abia states. The final results should be accepted by the losers in good fate!

The losers like out-going President Jonathan should congratulate the winners; and the winners should like the president-elect show humility and reassure the losers. As people from Taraba State, we all go to the same markets, enter the same commercial vehicles, sit in the same offices irrespective of our religious or ethnic differences.

The problems bedeviling the state are enormous and as a matter of fact, we all need each other to surmount them. With our collective efforts, we can vote a leader who is capable of taking the state to greater heights. People from different ethnic groups from our state have been coexisting for a very long time. Why will we then start taking arms against each other because of elections that will surely come and go?
Taraba is a state bestowed with unimaginable number of untapped natural resources that can be harnessed only when there is peace in the land. The Jukuns, Kutebs, Mumuyes, Chambas, Jenjos and other ethnic groups that are too numerous to mention here should all work together for the good of the state. Whether Christians or Muslims, we must realize that none of us was consulted before being created to belong to our respective ethnic groups.

If we believe in the perfection of God, we must then believe in the fact that He deemed it perfect for different ethnic groups to be created and to live side by side. Irrespective of ethnic or religious affiliations, all we need in Taraba State is a leader with the right credentials to take the state to greater heights. If we fail to get it right now, we will all sit together, and complain as usual over our democratic oversight or mistake long after the election is over.

Let us set aside ethnic and religious sentiments and think in the line of development. Let us exercise our civic duties by voting for the candidates of our choices while we should bear in our minds that a leader that will secure the future of the people of Taraba State without segregation based on their ethnic groups or beliefs is the person we need. Let peace reign in the Nature’s Gift to the nation.
God Bless Taraba State and Nigeria.

Mathias Luka Agbu is a native of Taraba State and currently resides in Lagos. He spends his free time providing opportunities and resources for orphans and vulnerable children in order to pursue their education via his Luka Agbu Memorial Foundation (www.lukaagbufdn.org) which he founded in 2008. He can be EMAILED.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

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