Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Violence across northern states after Presidential Election

Violence sparked in Kaduna, Gombe, Bauchi, Kano, Adamawa, and Zaria after the landslide election victory of President Goodluck Jonathan over the local favourite, Muhammadu Buhari, the retired army general and former military head of state.

In Kaduna, Gombe, Bauchi, Kano, Adamawa, and Zaria, the homes of leading traditional rulers and politicians were razed to the ground as the youth attacked people they considered to be oppressors. The residence of Vice President Namadi Sambo, located at Baba Ahmed Road, Tudun Wada, Zaria, was reportedly burnt down and his Kaduna home saved from a similar fate by the quick intervention of his security officers.

In Gombe, one of the places where the riots started, a group almost succeeded in burning down the house of the state governor, Danjuma Goje. Their attempts were foiled but those who went to the campaign office of Governor Isah Yuguda succeeded in burning down the place and destroying several vehicles belonging to PDP agents. The rioters also blocked the main Ahmadu Bello Way leading to the Sa'adu Zungur Model School which served as a collation centre for the presidential election.

In Kano, which seemed to have witnessed the worst of this anger against people previously held in high esteem, the palace of the emir of Kano, in Dorayi, was burnt down. The home of the former speaker of the House of Representatives, Umar Ghali Na'abba - once a beacon of radicalism for northern youth - was set on fire.

Bashir Tofa, seen as a PDP sympathiser, suffered a worse fate, losing both of his homes, and Isiaku Rabiu, considered a sympathizer of President Goodluck Jonathan, had to be evacuated quickly from his home when the mob came calling. The house of the Galadima of Kano, who allegedly distributed money and fabric on behalf of Mr Jonathan, was also burnt down. In Bauchi, irate youth had set the house of the deputy national secretary of the PDP, Musa Babayo, on fire and burnt down the house of the state party chairman, Ibrahim Yaro Yaro.

The causes of anger
The immediate reason for the rampage in the north had been the announcement that Mr Jonathan practically won the polls. Although the conduct of the election had generally been praised, the results coming out of a few states in the north where pro-Buhari sentiment is strongest, was a major factor in the riots. For instance, in Kaduna State where the CPC was set to rout Mr Sambo's PDP, the result that the party got 1.2 million votes to CPC's 1.3 million shocked Mr Buhari's supporters who considered the margin too narrow and hardly representative of the reality. The fact that Mr Jonathan was able to get the requisite 25 percent in states that are traditionally CPC strongholds and also win between 90 percent and 99 percent of votes in some south-south and southeast states, also made many of them suspicious. While these elections were the last straw that broke the camel's back, it was clear that these riots were also about northern youth who had, for a long time, felt disenfranchised and vested their hopes of change on the candidacy of Mr Buhari, a man considered to be different from the largely corrupt leaders that have ruled over them for decades. None of this justified the violence unleashed in the days following the election. Mr Buhari had, however, not run such an inspiring campaign, according to analysts. His choice of campaigning mainly in his northern stronghold, and making little effort to win the southern votes, was seen by many as a major hindrance. Other analysts say that although his actions may have been interpreted as a snub to the south, it was in fact more an indication of the lack of money available to the Buhari campaign compared to Mr Jonathan's war chest.

Who will stem the rage
In the past, traditional rulers in the north always exerted remarkable influence on the people. However, with their increasing encroachment into partisan politics, they have all but lost the respect of the people. Most of those who participated in the horrible riots were young people whose future had been circumscribed by poverty, illiteracy and wanton neglect.

The Niger Delta Ex Militants have also said they will defend Jonathans mandate to the end. Read full post here - http://factaboutafrica.blogspot.com/2011/04/well-defend-jonathan-niger-delta-ex.html

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