Taraba: Movement Of People From Political Flashpoints Continues
TRANSPORTERS, especially those plying the southern parts of the country from Taraba state, have no doubt continued to smile to their various banks on daily basis following the massive exodus of non indigenes back to their states of origins.
This, as investigated by The Guardian, was necessitated by the growing apprehension of possible outbreak of upheavals during or immediately after the February polls.
Even with the assurance that emanated from the Abuja peace accord that was entered into by all persons seeking for the number one political seat of the country, to halt any outbreak of crisis during and after the coming elections, persons living in the state have continued to be skeptical of the agreement.
The inability of the government to address the plight of persons presently living in various Internally Displaced Persons Camps in the state, as observed by The Guardian, is another factor that is fast causing fears ahead of the forthcoming elections in the state.
As at the time of filing in this report, over 500,000 displaced Tiv persons from the state were believed to have been in various IDPs camps in the neighbouring states of Benue, Nassarawa and Plateau.
It is believed that the less-than-desirable attitude of the government towards these persons may have negative effects on the forthcoming polls in the state. The need for both the federal and state government to declare a state of emergency for the immediate return of the Tiv to Taraba State, the leadership of the Tiv Cultural and Social Association, believed can no longer be ignore.
In his word, the President General of the association, James Nungwa, wondered how the dream of ensuring hitch free polls would be achieved, when the Tiv, which is one of the largest ethnic groups in the state have been chased out by Fulani herdsmen.
To arrest the situation, government, as suggested by him, must endeavor to roll out relevant machineries that would compel the herdsmen, who according to him have taken over the Tiv farmlands and homes as a matter of urgency to vacate such properties.
More to that, government he said should, as a matter of urgency, put in place relevant security measures and begin the process of returning back the Tiv people to the state.
Nungwa, who was visibly dejected, also observed that majority of the persons taking refuge in IDPs camps, have not accessed their Permanent Voters Card (PVC).
The situation if not properly and urgently addressed before the commencement of the election, eligible Tiv voters, as made known by him, would no doubt be disenfranchised from participating in the exercise.
Not comfortable with the massive exodus of non indigenes, one of the district heads in Jalingo, the state capital, felt sad that the government is doing nothing to discourage the people from leaving.
Numerating the population of persons that had travelled out of his domain recently for fear of being attack on or before elections, he noted that the unity “ of this country is being threatened.”
Under anonymity, he said, “ as far as I am concerned, this government is insensitive to the plights of the people” adding that, “the people have lost confidence in the government.”
Citing the ongoing attacks in Borno, Yobe and other parts of the north by Boko Haram, the people, according to him believe the government is no longer capable of protecting their lives and properties as enshrined in our constitution.
“ Though most of these people always informed me before leaving, but I must confess to you that I did not in anyway try to discourage them, because of the type of people we have at the helm of affairs,” he said.
“ Personally, I don’t believe in the so called peace accord that was signed by them recently in Abuja, because the way the supporters of these two parties (APC) are going, I don’t see that accord holding water.”
The district head, who went further to cite the recent attack visited on the state secretariat of the ruling PDP in the state, which led to wanton destruction of properties and the continued mutilation of billboards and posters of contestants concluded the peace accord is a “charade.”
He said “ with what is presently happening in this state and some parts of the country now that elections have not commenced, how are we sure that the situation would not be worse that day or after the results of the elections are announced.”
Following the anxiety, the much expected turnout of electorate to participate in the exercise may as well turn out to be a mirage as some of them told the reporter of their decisions to stay back at home.
According to one of the eligible voters, who made her PVC available to The Guardian, “ the idea of voting” she said “ had been ruled out of my programmes.”
This, she said, is hinged on the fact that “none of the contestants especially for the position of president is worth dying for. So, as I am talking with you now, my dad has warned us to stay away from any of the polling units that day.”
Also comment on the situation, the peace accord and the visit of John Kerry, according to a chieftain of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Alhaji Danjuma Isa Munga, “would work “ only if PDP is ready to ensure free and fair elections.”
He believed the peace accord was a gimmick implored by the ruling party to discourage the people from defending their votes so as to allow rigging.
Security operatives, as advised by him “ should not allow themselves to be used by the ruling party to hijack either ballot boxes or ballot papers. I think if the security operatives refuse to be used to intimidate or harass voters, we shall all at the end of the day rejoice with whoever emerges victorious.”
“ on the other hand, if the reverse turns out to be the case just like what happened during the 2011 general elections, then you should be expecting massive protest from the people.”
So I am calling on both the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies to be neutral and desist from taking side.”