In an interview with The Punch, Akin Osuntokun, the Director General of the Labour Party Presidential Campaign Council, condemns the recent attack in Katsina State on the party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi.
Osuntokun started by going over Peter Obi’s ordeal in Katsina, saying: “Well, it was a rowdy scene. My sense of it was that it was an organised reaction by some political roller dealers who didn’t like the success of the rally we had in Kano the previous day, which was unexpected. Katsina has the reputation of being one of the most violent states in Nigeria.
“Indeed, their governor requested that citizens be armed to defend themselves. So there was a predominant security crisis long before the rally we went to. So from that perspective, we cannot say that it is not expected. And I’m sure they attacked the convoy of President Muhammadu Buhari at one time and injured two security personnel or so.”
He was then asked about what how he thought this would he influence the election.
“Ordinarily, an election period in Nigeria is tense and fraught with sporadic violence. But you know Nigeria has been a major location of security breakdowns all over the world,” he said.
“I mean, Nigeria is home to two or three terrorist groups. Boko Haram, ISWAP (Islamic State’s West Africa Province), and, of course, the bandits and others have virtually carved out a territory in Niger State and some other places where they exercise sovereignty over the Nigerian government.
“If you want to recount incidences of security breakdowns in Nigeria, they are just too prevalent. So given that context, what happened in Katsina cannot be said to be totally unexpected or peculiar.
“Even without the context of the general breakdown of law and order in the country, Katsina and Kano seem to have this reputation of attacking convoys of political opponents they do not like.”
The DG added: “Remember that almost every election season, this kind of thing comes up. But I also have a sense that the previous rally in Kano State, which took everybody by surprise and implies some kind of popular acceptance of our presidential ticket, took everybody by surprise.
“And that made them uncomfortable, so they panicked. So, they fought back the way they know how: by terrorising people to cow opponents from trying to campaign or make headway.
“When you take all these perspectives together, it is not such an unexpected development and the one that should incite panic.
“As I said, Katsina State is one of the epicentres of the security crises Nigeria faces. I am sure that as we speak, there are still some people with kidnappers in the state.
“It even got to the point that the governor was having a conference or dialogue with the chief bandit in the state. So the situation in Katsina has degenerated into a special class of its own.
Osuntokun rounded off by asserting that if the forthcoming election is free and fair, Peter Obi will carry the day, even in the South West, Lagos.
In his words: “My position is that if we have a free and fair election in Lagos in the forthcoming election, the Labour Party will win.
“The reasons are not very difficult to ascertain. My peers and the younger generation are united in their support for Obi. All of my peers and their children are Obidients.
“So if you have that kind of support in free and fair elections, the Labour Party will win,” he concluded.
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