There is palpable hatred in the air among political parties, politicians and their supporters in the current run-up to the general elections. This is evident in the utterances and actions of the three groups as if the election or the result is a ‘do or die’ affair.
The angst the current scenario has on the populace is very unhealthy, but you cannot blame the people if they feel anxious, apprehensive, or insecure.
Even the international community through their embassies and high commissions are sending advisories to their citizens on how to move, where to go or not go during this period.
This is not good for us as a people who say we are one in spite of differences in tribe, tongue and beliefs.
This is not the first time we have had this type of pre election tension but the palpability this time is with a difference and each side is accusing the other of one thing or another.
From the first republic, we have had mistrust between the parties and candidates that have shot up tension in the polity and the end results have been chaos, riots, anarchy, military interventionism and even a civil war.
In the midst of all this, one man had stood head and shoulders above his political peers in preaching politics without bitterness, malice or rancour and his type of politics is what we need in Nigeria now.
Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim, the Kanuri man from Borno State, yes – the same Borno where Boko Haram originated – was the leader of one of the political parties that participated in the 1979 presidential election – the Great Nigerian People’s Party (GNPP). It was a new party then and did not exist in the first republic.
AS the GNPP presidential candidate, Waziri Ibrahim preached politics without bitterness which was a marked departure from the politics of that time and still is.
I remember covering his press conferences and his interviews with airport correspondents in the late 70s and his passion while preaching a new brand of politics in Nigeria, devoid of tribalism, nepotism, acrimony and violence was undeniable.
After his death, one of his children, Hawwa Waziri Ibrahim, explained in a February 15, 2015 interview with Daily Trust what their father meant by ‘politics without bitterness’.
“What he meant by that is when a politician either formed or joined politics, he is doing it with an aim of how to deliver his message through campaign and to either win or lose in good faith. ‘Politics without bitterness’ was my father’s idea that you are not just there to win in a political competition. He said people insist on winning after putting in their resources and, at the end of the day, when they lose, they get disappointed. He said politics is just like a race in the Olympics where if you don’t get the gold, you get the bronze or silver, and be satisfied even if you don’t win. The fact that you’re in the competition should be satisfying. He said as the loser, you look up at the person that won, not as the enemy, but as the lucky person who is saddled with the responsibility of leading the nation, or the area where the polls were conducted. If you meet the person who won, shake his hand, laugh about it as life is a game. Nigerians are hardworking people, as many are making efforts to improve on their lifestyles”.
That was the style of Waziri Ibrahim, the apostle of ‘Politics without Bitterness’.
We need his type now so that Nigerians can live together in peace as brothers and sisters before, during and after the elections.