The U.S yesterday said it would impose visa restrictions on anyone found to have incited violence during the polls.
“Anyone found to have incited violence or interfered with electoral processes will be unwelcome in the United States and subject to visa sanctions,” Ms. Thomas-Greenfield said. Rivers State, the oil hub of Nigeria, lost a lot of lives in the dramatic fight for power. The ruling party of the PDP, in power since 1999, seemed to have suddenly lost it’s grip on its position when the opposition party led by former military dictator, Buhari, swept them away with concurrent victories on national and State level. This caused a horrendous backlash, ostensibly to prevent a recurrence of the daunting change in fortunes that may prove pervasive in the country and distort the balance of power in terms of the control and allocation of lucrative pool of oil.
The APC party claim 19 of its members were killed and beheaded, a figure that excludes the alleged killings of ordinary voters in the State. The former Minister, Mr Orubebe and the wife of defeated President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience Jonathan, are among those listed as constituting the group of those who incited violence during those elections. Orubube was widely reprimanded for his disruption of the final process of determining the presidential election results when he insisted that the head of Independent National Electoral Commission, Attahiru Jega, should stand down before the process of collation could resume. He was accusing the former Minister of bias in full glare of the international media.
Such disruption of an electoral process was wrong, though any substantive criticism of the former Minister’s conduct, or action taken against him, will necessarily need to invalidate his claim that the head of the Electoral Commission had been biased in a way that could have compromised the integrity of the electoral results. In the absence of such probe, a visa sanction or bar to America, would seem unfairly harsh.
One interesting name, Patience Jonathan, is accused of playing a role in the alleged rigging of the Rivers State governorship elections- an allegation that follows one in which she reportedly encouraged people to ‘stone’ anyone who calls for change at the ruling people’s democratic Party Women’s campaign in Calabar, Cross Rivers State, in Southern Nigeria. She said ”
“I’m telling you, anyone that comes and tell you change, stone that person,” she said. “What you did not do 19 kilikili, is now that age has caught up with you, you want to come and change? You can’t change rather you will turn back to a baby. You will turn back to a baby. From old age nothing, so nothing like change. Rather (it) is continuity.”
The reckless or deadly utterance of those words could haunt her. Her instructions for people to be stoned could have been metaphoric and therefore has ambiguous connotations, though one would expect the wife of the president to be far more cautious and prudent with their words. More serious is the charge against her, of instigating some of the deadly violence in the most recent Rivers State elections.