IS THIS DECLARATION OR SYMBOLISM?

It is no longer in the realm of gossips or rumour the letter conveying the approval of Mr President to posthumously honour the acclaimed winner of the June 12 election with the highest honour of the land exclusively reserved for the occupants of the office of the President of the Federal republic of Nigeria.

We commend Mr. President’s attempt for the unprecedented action to re write some of the wrongs in our political journey towards building an enduring democracy in Nigeria.

Like always government actions tends to generated controversies and great debate and this is not an exception.
We are therefore going to examine the implications of the President’s decision of declaring June 12th as the new democracy day for Nigeria and the honour done to Alhaji M.K.O Abiola the acclaimed winner of the June 12th Presidential elections?

The countervailing forces are pushing all hypothesis on the merit and the demerit of the President actions.

To begin with the National Assembly in a rowdy session introduced to the debate the legality of the President’s action.

At the House of Representatives, Honourable Edward Pwajok (APC, Plateau) drew lawmakers’ attention to the Public Holidays Act, which declares May 29th as Democracy Day. He queried that for Buhari’s proclamation to take effect, the Act would have to be amended.

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Pwajok explained that a contestant has to be declared winner by the National Returning Officer before he can be referred to as president-elect.

He noted that there was a court order prohibiting the then National Electoral Commission (NEC) from releasing the result, stressing that this would, first, have to be set aside or overruled by a higher court. Contributing to the debate

Hon. Nicholas Osai (PDP, Delta) challenged the declaration, condemning it as yet another usurpation of legislative powers by the executive arm of government.

He argued that a mere declaration by a president is incapable of changing an Act of parliament. Due process must be followed through an amendment of the Public Holidays Act.

Hon.Toby Okechukwu (PDP, Enugu) agreed with Osai, also posited that, the country must be ruled by law and not by persons or groups. He said though Buhari had good intentions, the declaration has to be guided by law. This, according to him, would forestall future challenges to the honour done Abiola.

In dousing the seeming uproar on the floor of House, the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara restored order and forwarded the motion to the Committees on Justice, and Rules and Business, mandating them to look into the matter and make recommendations before the House arrives at a decision.

In the red chamber however the embattled Senator Dino Melaye, had also insisted the Act provides that only Nigerian citizens could be eligible, arguing that since Abiola is dead, he is not a Nigerian in the context of the Act.

He buttressed his opinion by quoting the act which states that;
“(I) Subject to paragraph (2) of this article, a person shall not be eligible for appointment to any rank of an Order unless he is a citizen of Nigeria.
(2) A person other than a citizen of Nigeria shall be eligible for appointment as the honorary holder of any rank of an Order; and appointments made in pursuance of this paragraph shall be disregarded for the purposes of paragraph (3) of the foregoing article.”

Meanwhile, in continuation of its deliberations, on the saga, the Senate urged Buhari to pay the family of the late M.K.O. Abiola all the entitlements due a former president and commander-in-chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It also asked Mr. President to mandate INEC to announce the suspended results of the election.

The resolutions followed adopted Order 42 and 52 raised by Senator Biodun Olujimi (PDP, Ekiti).
“Mr. President, my distinguished colleagues. I want to thank Mr. President (Buhari) for the feat he scored yesterday by posthumously honouring the late M.K.O. Abiola for winning the annulled 1993 presidential election. To make good his intentions, I would implore him to ensure the release and declaration of the annulled presidential results by INEC,” said Olujimi.

She added: “Also, Abiola’s family should be paid reparations and all other entitlements due him as a former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, while Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, who was Abiola’s running mate, should be recognised, henceforth, as former vice president of Nigeria and paid his accompanying entitlements.”

A massive request that has the tendencies of triggering some ripple effects on the whole exercise.

The Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, however, submitted that a posthumous award is a constitutional matter and called for a legitimising amendment.

Senate President Bukola Saraki firmed up the resolutions, saying: “We all agree, as a country, that the recognition of June 12 has been long overdue one way or the other, (given) the contribution of Chief M.K.O. Abiola and events of the June 12 election. We commend that action and we hope it will go a long way in reconciliation and broadening the unity of the country.”

From then on the debate was taken over by the legal luminaries, arguing for and against based on law.

Abubakar Sani, Abuja, based lawyer commented that legally, it might be wrong under the National Honours Act for the president to give such an award to a dead Nigerian, when the Act provides that the honour should be for serving or past heads of states.

He stressed that the decision is more political than legal. “Abiola was never sworn in. Yes, he was presumed to have won the election, but he didn’t serve. So, going by that, one may say that he doesn’t deserve it.

“But it is. uncharitable for anyone to say he should not be given the honour because Abiola and his wife paid a huge price for our democracy. It is very understandable that the motivation is more political than legal,” said Sani.

He, however, added no one can successfully challenge it in court, even if the decision was taken illegally.

The former secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Afam Osuigwe, re-echoed the point on mounting a valid legal challenge. He said the court would want to know what the litigant has lost personally. “It would want to know the locus standi of the person challenging it. The court usually uses this issue to knock people off.”

The former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Alfa Belgore, had reportedly described the award as illegal. Citing section 2 (1) and (2) of the Honours Warrant of the National Honours Act 1963, which borders on eligibility for appointment to Orders,

The politicians were not also left out in their contribution to the debate.
Junaid Mohammed, a Second Republic lawmaker, lambasted President Muhammadu Buhari for declaring June 12 as the new Democracy Day and posthumously awarding Chief M.K.O. Abiola, Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR).

Mohammed maintained that Buhari’s recognition of Abiola at a time elections were close was “deceitful”. The former lawmaker speaking to Daily Post, stressed that Buhari’s “sinister antics” was aimed at amassing votes from the South West in 2019.

The fierce critic of the current administration said Buhari should be, “ashamed of himself” for waiting till 2018 before correcting a past “injustice.”

He called the whole process “deceitful politics, Buhari is doing that in anticipation of the forth coming election in 2019 but those who know him like I do will tell you that he has never respected or admired Abiola. So doing this now shows that he is so desperate and is prepared to do anything deceitful and dishonourable to motivate votes.

For him “Buhari has no other arithmetic because the bulk of the votes Abiola got did not come from the South West, they came from the North and the East, so he thinks this action is the master’s stroke that will win him the election but he is mistaken. “Nigerians are smart enough to see through this deceitful antics,

Buhari was one of those against Abiola. To confirm this deceit, he took a traitor of Abiola, Babangana Kingibe to honour him too.
“I don’t understand why anybody who was familiar with that election will honour Abiola and Kingibe, who is a traitor never known to be loyal to anybody than himself.
“As we speak, Kingibe is an employee of the Presidency and he is part of the cabal, so this is sinister because 2019 is around the corner.
“Buhari has been in power since 2015, he didn’t remember to rectify an injustice but only now that elections are coming that he remembered to do so, he should be ashamed of himself.”

Recall that Buhari, in a statement issued yesterday, had declared Abiola as the winner of the annulled June 12 election and replacing May 29 with June 12 as new Democracy Day.
Buhari had argued that June 12, 1993, the date of the election considered to be the fairest in Nigeria’s history, “was far more symbolic of democracy in the Nigerian context than May 29 or even October 1.”

Politicians that spoke on the matter included the former Vice President Atiku and Balarabe Musa but were more amiable to decision of the President for varying reasons.

For Atiku who is in contention for the office of the President has to be circumspect not anger the South West as he may need their votes come 2019.

Atiku wrote in his twitter account “I rejoice with the Abiola family over the recognition bestowed on its late patriarch, Chief MKO Abiola; my friend & political ally & acclaimed winner of June 12 1993 elections, better known as June 12.
“The symbolic honor done his memory & the struggle he died for is commendable.”

The former Governor of the old Kaduna State Balarabe Musa added by saying that “President Buhari’s action with regards to declaration of June 12 as democracy day and award of the highest honour to late Chief MKO Abiola are relevant, just, courageous and patriotic.
“The actions give hope that President Buhari can do the right thing and correct wrongs before it’s too late for him and for the nation.’’

In summing up the whole arguments the Anthony General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami said “the declaration of June 12 as a public holiday was a mere statement of desire by President Muhammadu Buhari,

He made the clarification after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, while answering questions from reporters whether Buhari’s declaration contravened the Public Holiday Act.

Malami said: “As it relates to public holidays, there is truly a Public Holiday Act. The Act can be amended and the process of amendment has been put in place. When the Act has been fully amended, the declaration of the President will come into effect. It is a declaration of intention, a declaration of desire and that will eventually be given effect with the amendment of the existing law.”

This is consistent with argument advanced ealier by legal luminaries and this was perhaps the reason why June 12th was not celebrated as public holiday.

The Abiola family were relished in their praise for Mr. President this was aptly captured in the advertisement by the Abiola’s children praising Buhari’s actio. Hafsat Abiola-Costello, the founder, Initiative for Democracy, said she lacked words to express her “depth of gratitude” and thanked God she is “alive to witness this day.”Rinsola Abiola, a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) board of trustees chided former President Olusegun Obasanjo by saying. “What did he do to acknowledge it all, despite being a direct beneficiary of that struggle?” she asked, adding: “The fact that some people refuse to acknowledge the truth does not mean others won’t do the right thing.”

On her part, Wura Abiola, Managing Director of Management Transformation Limited, said: “You can kill the dreamer but not the dream. Dearest Daddy, Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola GCFR! Wonderful to finally be able to write this, 20 years on! Thank you President Buhari.”

The salient pertinent questions being avoided in the ensuing debate by the Public Affairs Commentators and the Politicians themselves because of the exigencies of the times are;

1. Was the President action meant to appease the vociferous group in the south west and its media that had continued to push the June 12th agenda

2. Was it to cement the new found support the President “enjoys” in the South West?

3. Was it for national reconciliation?

4. Was it an election strategy?

5. Was the June 12th truly the most freest election in the history of the Nigeria State not an agenda package by the dominant South West media to keep the agenda alive?

6. Was the decision by Mr. President to declare June 12th democracy day consistent with the aspirations, desire and wish of the majority of Nigerians?

7. Was the President right in giving the acclaimed winner the highest national honour exclusively reserved for Presidents of the Federal Republic of Nigeria?

8. Was the President taking his pound of flesh against the Military hegemony for betraying him at all times when he needed their support most?
These are some of the issues this discourse is going to put in the public domain in the light of the polar views being expressed by Nigerians on this important national issue.

Three paradigms howver emerged in the ensuing debate;

1. The group that stressed that the decision is more political than legal, argued that the President did so because he wanted to secure his votes in the south west. This position was however debunked by the pro political apologist because they held the opinion that Abiola got most of his votes from the North and South east and the Presidents tactics will therefore fail.

2. Those arguing from the legal point view have however identified the lacuna in process early. They noted the Executive did not consult widely and it therefore failed by rushing to press with its decisions in declaring a new democracy date for the country which is matter under legislative order and rule of law.
The truism of this position resulted in the AGF to come out and beat a retreat by saying that;
“It is a declaration of intention, a declaration of desire and that will eventually be given effect with the amendment of the existing law.”

3. The third paradigm revolves around the argument that there are actors who were active participants in the June 12th debacle but were not recognised by the state. Chief among them were public officers more especially the INEC chairman of that time and others like Mrs Kudirat Abiola who paid the supreme sacrifice but were not considered. To this group the state action has not gone the whole hog.

It for these reasons we feel the issues regarding the June 12th conundrum is not finally settled.
We pray that the right things would now be done so that the whole matter will form part of our genuine political history.

IS THIS DICTATORSHIP OR DEMOCRACY?

IS THIS DEMOCRACY OR DICTATORSHIP?

Since the military dictators decided to relinquish power that herald the return of democracy in 1999. We were euphoric that we may now have the opportunity build our nascent democracy, but recent developments in the political space does not support these desires.

The high hope of building an enduring democratic ethos is being shattered by the brazen attitude of intolerance, hate campaign, gangsterims manipulation and selective punitive actions by those in control of political power.

Their love to cling to power by whatever it takes, has put to question whether we have really learnt any lesson from the nineteen (19) years that liberal democracy returned to the country.

All efforts to build and nurture an enduring democratic culture is constantly being threatened by the un democratic behaviours of the actors in the political game.

Their attitude, mannerism, behaviour and actions to say the least are nothing but democratic.

Democracy is a system of government that thrives on the multiplicity of opinions, associations where the will of the citizens are supreme.

Political leaders are chosen by the people in regular, free, and fair elections. The electorates have a choice between different candidates and parties who want the power to govern.

The constitution also guarantees the peoples right to associate, form opinions freely criticize and replace their elected leaders and representatives if they do not perform well.

The people are sovereign they are the highest authority and government is based on the will of the people.

Elected representatives at the national and local levels must listen to the people and be responsive to their need.
However, when citizens are denied these rights that government may be tilting towards dictatorship.

Dictatorship flourish even under liberal democracy. When the ruler take absolute control over a government by playing on the people’s fears, there by cajoling them to submission through the cohesive apparatus of the state.
Usually a dictator gains power by offering simple solutions to complex problem.

They try work on the sensitivity of the people at times when everything seem hopeless. They capitalise on these weaknesses and rise to power and use power for the sake of it.

what happened during 2015 general elections is classical example of how dictators cash on the peoples despondency to grab power and use it to further cement their rule, develop their agenda for the domination of the political space through planned propaganda that appeals to sensivity of the citizens.

The gullible citizens came out in their troops to choose and welcome the opposition party regardless of whether they have the programme to move the country forward or not.

Three years down the lane political pundits are x-raying the performance of the government.

If in 2015 the people had no milestones to measure the performance of the government. The situation in 2019 would not be the same.

People have seen the government at work and can now predict and measure its ability to deliver on its promises .
Governments actions are no longer in the abstract, they are real and measurable.

No blame game can ever stop the people from commenting on the government performance.
The real issue people are now asking for is the “change” they have been promised.

Once the people can not feel, touch and identify with the change and how it touches their lives they will criticise the government no matter how effective the crusade against corruption and the other vices in the society for which the regime is anchoring its success.

The President himself came on national television defending the performance of his government like all others have done, by resorting to the blame game.
Apportioning the blame for the failure of his government to his predecessors and the national assembly.

He even said some of the parliamentarians have been in the green and red chambers for more than ten years without doing anything.

The President may be right, the assembly in the name of protecting there party leader have abdicated on some the roles granted to them constitution.

I know for the past nineteen years the assembly have kept the nation and our nascent democracy together.

Is the accusation by the President reminding the assembly of their failure invoke impeachment process for the travesty to the constitution being committed by the executives at all levels of government? A word is enough for the wise.

The parliaments must awaken up to their responsibilities and do the needful for the Nigerian people.

We are tired of disregard to the rule of law by the government. It is increasingly becoming so alarming and distressing that court rulings are no longer respected.

Selective punitive punishment and arraignments of opposition members before the courts of law for corrupt practices, in order to whittle the strength of the opposition is becoming the norm.

The only immunity against persecution and arrest is to decamp to the ruling party or be part of the cabal.

The running battle between the Executive and Parliamentarians for control of the assembly shows how suspect the relationship between the two arms of government has been.
The relationship between the judiciary and the executive is also anything but cordial.

The democratic culture in the states to say least are non existent.
The state assemblies no longer function as a check on the activities of state governors.

They can simply be regarded as glorified civil servants, whose main duty is to rubber stamp the deals of the state executive.

The members have been reduced to call boys to legitimise yearly appropriations put forward by the executives without scrutiny.

It is also worrying the way some of the governors have completely taken control of the states affairs as if it is their personal companies.

More worrying is how some of them out rightly use abusive languages on elected representatives and barring them from going to their constituencies.

This is not only regrettable but is demeaning to our democratic ethos.
To add more salt to injury, senior citizens can no longer comment freely on public affairs for fear of being branded sectionalists, religious bigots or apologist to the previous government.

The disregard by government officials to appear and answer legitimate queries when required to do so by the national assembly, under the over sight functions given to them by the constitution is continuously being abused by state officials.

It is now clear that their action has the tacit support of the executive.
If this is allowed to continue then something must be wrong with the way we practice democracy.

The citizens loyalties had also been fractured and divided along individuals camps, the parties no longer command respect. Followers no longer see issues from the point of view of the country.

We have lost our nationalistic fevors, sense of reasoning and what we stand for as a people. We fight with fire and furry in defence of our political idols even if their actions are dragging the country to the mud.

Is this types of democracy we all yearn for? Is this type of democracy we would bequeath to our children?
Are we gradually tilting towards dictatorship?

Any one who is a student of politics can see where the country is heading to. This is how autocratic and dictatorial governments emerge.

We must not allow this to happen. We must not be cajoled to accept the culture of silence, because we afraid the cohesive institutions of the state will swoop and walk us to gulag.

No nation however mighty it is has grown without the sacrifice of the few for better tomorrow.

The key role of citizens in a democracy is participation. This takes many forms. Citizens have an obligation to become informed about public issues, to monitor the conduct of their leaders and representatives, and to express their own opinions.

Participate freely voting in elections, debating issues, attending community meetings, becoming involved in private, voluntary organizations, and even protesting.

In a democracy, the rule of law protects the rights of citizens, maintains order, and limits the power of government.

All citizens are equal under the law. No one may be discriminated against on the basis of their race, religion, ethnic group, or gender or political persuasion,

No one may be arrested, imprisoned, or exiled arbitrarily.

No one may be denied their freedom without a fair and public hearing by an impartial court.

No one may be taxed or prosecuted except by a law established in advance. No one is above the law, not even a king or an elected president.

The law is fairly, impartially, and consistently enforced, by courts that are independent of the other branches of government.

In a democracy, anyone accused of a crime has the right to a fair, speedy, and public trial.

Just because someone is accused of a crime does not mean that he loses his rights. Anyone arrested is presumed innocent until proven guilty. A person’s guilt must be proved in a court of law, through a fair, speedy, and public trial.

In a democracy, a person accused of a crime has the right to know the charges against him, to remain silent, to have legal representation, to participate in his defence, and to question witnesses for the prosecution. No person who is acquitted of a crime may be tried again on that charge.

No one under any circumstance may ever be subjected to torture, or to cruel and inhuman treatment. No one may be imprisoned or have their property seized without legal justification.

We must therefore stand up and defend our democracy. We must not allow some few to hijack our democracy to rule us with iron fist, fear, intimidation and acquiescence .

However, in doing so, political participation in a democracy must be peaceful, respectful of the law, and tolerant of the different views of other groups.

Nigeria is greater then any one person.

WHAT A LOST OPPORTUNITY!

Now that the learned members of the society have talked and cancelled one another on the legality of whether or not the National Assembly has the powers to legislate on the INEC calendar for the 2019 general elections is cooling down.
Of

Having internalised all the arguments for and against the amendment saga. It would safe to look at the social, cultural, economic and political desirability of the actions of the senate in the interest of promoting vibrant and enduring democratic culture for the country.

The constitution in giving INEC the powers to conduct, organise and supervise elections in to the offices of the President, Vice President, Governors, National and Houses of Assemblies members freely, also required it to do so in the best possible manner that would promote good Governance.

The matter under discussion, originated from the House of representatives, on some observed issues of national concerns, that requires some changes in order to move our nascent democratic processes forward.

The lower House adopted a motion to the tinker the election dates, then passed it to the Senate as required by law. Any matter that originate from lower house the two houses by law are required to set up a joint committee to harmonise their positions.

The senate adopted the report of the joint committee and passed the bill, which the President declined his accent.

INEC in carrying these responsibilities for the Nigerian people said, it will do so guided by the following principles;
1. INEC shall carry out all its functions independently, free from external control and influence;
2. INEC shall display openness and transparency in all its activities and in its relationship with all stakeholders;
3. INEC shall maintain truthfulness and honesty in all its dealings at all times;
4. INEC shall ensure that no action or activity is taken in support of any candidate or political party;
5. INEC shall ensure the creation of a level playing field for all political actors;
6. INEC shall be committed to providing quality electoral services efficiently and effectively, guided by best international practice and standards;
7. INEC shall ensure fairness and justice in dealing with all stakeholders;
8, INEC shall be committed to the promotion of merit and professionalism as the basis for all its actions;
9. INEC shall create a conducive environment that promote teamwork among its staff at all levels.

I do not doubt the ability of INEC or the integrity of the Chairman of the commission, no any of its commissioners to be fair to all, but what worries here is that members of the commission were appointees recommended by the executive and people tend to perceive them as such. By these it also give the impression that on some issues they will tend to be on the side power, especially on matters where their impartiality is put to test.

INEC on all issues is expected to act within the privileges guaranteed to it by the constitution and up hold the principles it set for itself to deal with all matters autonomously, transparently, credibly, impartially, with dedication, equity, integrity and the excellence it promised the Nigerian people.

To begin with INEC before joining issues with the national assembly ought have consulted with the senate on the import of their decision to tinker with the calendar of the elections. This would have save us the media frenzy and over heating of the polity.

From this point on I was amazed how the whole matter was reduced to the interpretation of the constitution on whether or not the National Assembly has the power to make laws to amend certain activities of INEC, that the Assembly found will promote good governance and enduring democracy for the country.

The import for which the assembly deemed there was the need to tinker with dates of the 2019 elections was lost amidst the controversy generated on the appropriateness of the senate to legislate on matters affecting INEC.

The legal luminaries as usual have had their days arguing citing laws for and against, the courts have made their judgements, even though the matter I believe is not all over yet.

The national assembly exist because it is a living concern it can feel, touch, smell and respond to any stimulus in the environment.

If the intentions of the crafters of the Nigerian constitution was to ensure the separation of powers and to prevent the concentration of unchecked power and to provide for checks and balances to avoid autocracy, inefficiencies and promote good governance then it does not need further probing to understand why the National Assembly attempted to legislate and tinker with the calendar for the conduct of the 2019 elections.

Its a fact that over the years in all the previous elections we have conducted the Presidential election comes first and no one has questioned why in the past.
For two house now to consider reversing the arrangements they must have perceived that something is fundamentally wrong and it is their duty as law makers to come up with laws that can correct the lapses to ensure good governance.

With benefit of hindsight the assemblies must have observed once the Presidential election comes earlier it affects the quality of the out come of preceding elections as it becomes fait accomplice, the band wagon effect weighs so much on the outcome of results that follows the Presidential election.

This now bring us to the qualities of the representations we have in the assemblies. You and me will agree in light of several developments that had taken place some of the Senators and Members we have in our national assemblies are not fit to be their but for the bandwagon effect.

A cursory look at the states assemblies also goes on to show how this has badly affected the quality of representation at the State Houses of Assemblies because the Gubernatorial elections comes earlier then that of members of the state houses of assemblies. If this is aloud to continue then something must be wrong with us as a people.

It will be seen as a tapestry to democracy.
That is why today we see all sorts of despotic and autocratic leadership emerging in the states. The state assemblies no longer check the excesses of the

Governors because of the enormous powers they possesses.
The same principles also occurs in election to the local government councils.

The quality of the elected officials in the local government councils to borrow from the Hausa proverb are nothing but “Yan amshin Shata”. Elections into local government councils are nothing but allocations.

In fact to say that we are practising democracy at the local council level is laughable and crazy.

I believe these are some of the issues the national assembly wanted correct by legislating on the INEC election calendar.

I am therefore amazed with the way we think in this country.
The APC as a party which is flying the kite of integrity, reform, rule of law and social justice, failed to grasp the meaning of the lofty ideals in the move by the national assembly of which they are both in control to refine our nascent democracy for the good of the country. As a reformer such opportunities does come only once.

INEC also with cover given to by the constitution have consistently decided to look the other way by allowing things to continue the way they were, might be for fear of being branded as impartial or whatever.

The change agents all took the simplistic path of blaming their predecessors for not correcting the problem, it should therefore continue “business as usual”

This is the puzzle for me, many voted President Buhari because they feel he is above board and would make any positive changes that will improve the way are governed. Unfortunately whether the President was wrongly advised he decided to kill what would have solve one of the major albatross of our electoral process.

The national assembly also chicken out by failing to invoke the constitutional provision that gave it power to over ride the President?

What is wrong with power, does it really intoxicates as they say or are really putting our personal interest first before that of the country?

When shall we as people begin to look at our issues within prism of how to make this country work better? When are we going to stop personalising issues to serve our selfish individual or group interest?

When shall we put the country first before any other considerations?

What a lost opportunity.

What a shame!

WHEN THE HERDSMEN NO LONGER CARRY STICKS AND RADIO BUT AK47

WHEN THE HERDSMEN NO LONGER CARRY STICK AND RADIO BUT AK47

The tragedy about this Nation is we do not learn from history and any society that does not learn from its history may not get its acts right.

It will only be repeating the same mistakes over and over again.
On this medium some few weeks ago when the Fulani – Settler conflict was raging on, I advised that for us to understand the complexities of the conflict we need to go back in to history.

The roles played by our fore fathers, colonial administration, and successive governments to tackled or at least contained the conflict for decades will give us an in sight how to deal with the delicate situations.

In my earlier piece I used historical analogy, to bring out how successive authorities dealt with the problems.

I also used my experiences while growing up in a village very close to the plains of the River Gongola. An important resource that nature bestowed on us to share between the settlers and pastoralists. And how the natural resource was managed by our grand parents for the good of all the communities.

In that piece I argued that the layers of administrative structure put in place enabled the community to monitor and police its environment.

I also shared some of the advise given by the colonial administration how they tackled the conflict which I repeat here because of its relevance to this day.

The former Nigerian Governor General, Sir Fredrick Lord Lugard, captured in his memo who is the Fulani Man? He gave his portrait of a Fulani Man.
As a people he said,

“They are ascetic, kind and generous, BUT Never fight a war (hot or cold) with the Fulani because they have:-
1. No rules of engagement (they just hit again and again)
2. No POW’s (they don’t take prisoners)
3. No mercy (once they pick you out as the enemy)
4. No fighting fatigue (they are forever fit and prepared, due to their lifestyle)
5. No need for adequate provisions and permanent abode (they live on very little and sleep in the wilderness)
6. No end to hostilities (they fight to finish)
7. No ignorance of terrain and location ( their lifestyle makes everyone of them a human GPS )
8. No deterrence due to casualties (they are strategically distributed all over West and Central Africa, and highly mobile)
9. No need for tranquillity (they have no permanent settlements which need peace to thrive).”
10. No fear of consequences.

These positions echoed what our grand parents told us when we were growing, never engage in a fight with a Fulani Man, they never forgive disputes even on social matters between families. It is often transmitted through generations to ensure that they take revenge no matter how long it takes.

But here we are in the 21st century with all the technological advantage on our side messing up unable draw from the abundant resources we have in government vaults and research institutions around the country on matter.

Rather we resorted to blaming each other and capitalising on what divide us as a people to fan the amber of the discourse.

This fight will never be won until we put our acts right.

The blame game, the exploitation of our divide us a people will only widen the scope of the conflict without necessarily tackling the real problems.

It has become the norm each time something defies immediate solution, religion, subterranean and political considerations are blamed for the source of the disturbance.

Now that the Fulani Herdsmen no longer carry the stick on their shoulders and radio around their neck but AK 47. we need to rethink.

Borrowing from the advise by the former Governor General that, the Fulani men are human GPS because they know the terrain, they have no need for tranquillity because they are not settled, they do not accept prisoners of war, they have no mercy once they pick you out as the enemy, they have no fighting fatigue, they are forever fit and prepared, due to their lifestyle.

With these the society will never know no peace again, until we begin to truthfully talk to ourselves and engage widely and bring all stakeholders together and holistically deal with the situation.

Lives and properties will continue to be lost and destroyed.

Stop gap measures and in sincere solutions through parliamentary declarations will remain wishful thinking as some of the stake holders involved in conflict are highly itinerants and do not understand laws being created by the settlers to illicit compliance. The only law they respect is where to find pastures and water their animals.

The only way out of this is dialogue and respecting the rights of all the stakeholders.

May God give us the wisdom to learn from our past.

IN RETROSPECT

In retrospect now that the dust over the abduction of Dapchi school girls and the fury generated by the clashes between the fulani herdsmen and the settler communities is settling down, will it also bring the end of “esprit de corps” ?

The hegemonic cordiality that hither to existed among the military junta before their incursion in to politics and governance.

Is the bubble heading for a burst?
Is Nigeria going to be better for it?

Will it break the dominant control of the Nigerian polity by the military Generals who have over years controlled, dominated, and cornered our common wealth and stunted our development as a nation?

The battle line is now drawn between the Generals, with each of them commanding stupendous wealth and awesome power. Some of them feel they are even lager than the State.

Since the beginning of this year we have notice the cracks developing in the wall.

General Obasanjo, started by advising the ruling retired military General Buhari, not to contest the 2019 election for according to him he has failed the nation.

This was followed by a similar call from General Babangida calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to step down in 2019 to allow for a generational leadership shift.

Then came the advice from General Gowon, who said that successive governments also fought corruption, but it did stop them from developing the national infrastructure. The recent out burst by General TY Danjuma to the Fulani Herdsmen – Farmer conflict threating to consume the entire country was attacked with vigour by the government apologist and their friends.

The call by the General for the citizens to rise and defend themselves is worrying, especially when it is coming from some one well respected in the society and is also not given frivolity.

More so for a general who was once the Minister of defence to indicate that he has lost confidence in the army and security agencies is not only worrying, regrettable but alarming. No right thinking person would not find his statements disturbing.

In the political space also the Senate President was reported to have said if the Cabals in the State House do not stop pressuring him, he would make life very difficult for the administration.

The uncompromising attitude of the Buhari support base, and their ability to fight with ferocity any opinion expressed on the way we are governed that does not go down well with them, is astonishing, as if we are not in democracy.

Bill Gates one of our major development partner also advised the government that its economic policies is not working because the federal government’s investments in young people, especially in areas of health and education were not good enough.

He warned that “While it may be easier to be polite it’s more important to face facts so that you can make progress,”.

The worrying aspect about all these are, this is a country where nothing seems to be working.

The lingering in security as a result of Boko Haram insurgency.

The fulani herdsmen-farmer clashes.

The rising, spate of kidnappings that has refused to abate.

The widening gap between the rich and poor that keeps expanding.

The near total collapse of the country’s infrastructure is so scaring, when you contemplate how the situation can be salvaged.

The total break down in our health infrastructure, has reached a point that citizens have lost confidence in our medical institutions. Today no country in the civilised western world accepts any medical reports generated from government hospitals in Nigeria.
The educational sector also suffer similar pitiful situation with collapsing infrastructures and archaic teaching tools and materials.

It is no wonder therefore you can not find any Nigerian University among the 100 ranked top universities of the world.

The rationing of power supply in Abuja and in most part of the country gives little hope in growing the small and medium scale industries that are vital in and moving the economy forward.

The strangulating prices charged by the electricity companies in most cases for power not supplied adds to the Nigerians despondency.

Are we witnessing the “failed state paradigm” that we have refused to accept?
Thank God the Dapchi girls are back with their parents, with the N5000 stipend given to them by the government.

Now that the political talks are over those claiming credit for the return of the girls have gone back to their offices mission accomplished.

This pitiful situation is left for Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam the governor of Yobe State to contend with.
Remember similar attacks happened at Buni Yadi and Government Science Secondary Potiskum where so many lives of innocent students were lost.

One of the head aches the Governor of Yobe State had to deal with, is how to convince the parents of the nearly 1000 students of the school that remained closed to return them to school.

I also sympathise with the Governor of Borno State for the pains he and the parents of Chibok school girls are going through as some significant number of the Chibok girls remain captives with the Boko Haram insurgents.

My prayers for their safe return to their parents is unending, at least until they are back home and reunited with their families safely.

Do we as parents need to form vigilante groups to safe guard the schools we send our children and ward to study in the light of failure of the government to avert such kidnappings?

Is the call by General TY Danjuma germane even though his prepositions were not accepted in good faith by many because of the manner and time he made the statements.

My take on all these are, have we lost our sense modesty, compassion and patience. The level of our in tolerance to counter views is gradually dragging to woods.

No opinion no matter how honest they are, were not manipulated to express our divide.

When shall we start holding our leaders accountable for their actions and in actions?

When shall we as people stop looking at issues from the prism of religious bigotry, sectionalism and primordial tendencies such tribalism.

We have wasted so much time and resources on these settled issues.

The location where one come from in the Nigerian contraption, tribe and religion we belong to are facts we cannot changed. We need to use our diversity to move the country forward not bring it down.

An ordinary advice by our elder state men and our major development partners should not be politicised. One of the hallmark of democracy is its ability to contain divergent views and opinions.

The difference between dictatorship and representative democracy is the freedom to hold opinion, associate and speak out.

Any society that does not accept concrete criticism on the way it is doing things that society will not progress.

Can we step back and ask our selves, is it any wonder that every conversation we have in the country is reduced to religion, tribe and from what part of the country you come from.

Our judgements and expressions on issues are always determined by these idiosyncrasies.

Who is teaching us these hates?

While we wallow in our stupidity and hold on to these divisive tendencies politicians will always cash on our disunity and continue exploiting us for their benefits.

To turn the fortunes of this country we must be prepared to accept Nigeria first before any other considerations

We must also strive make our leaders accountable, they are our servants we elected them to the positions they found themselves because we thought they have something to offer for the good of all.
Mega and Phantom list of corrupt Nigerians dished out to the mass media, unsettled by courts of law will do us no good.

Threats to deal with any dissenting voice by cajoling them to keep quite or withhold the renewal of operating licenses to companies that their owners commented on government policies can not be a solution to developmental problems.

Any government that cannot solve our problems of in security, shelter. food, education, health and transportation is not worthy of our franchise.

We must act with dignity and tolerance in order to move this country forward.

GANGSTERISM OR DEMOCRACY?

I recall how the military systematically destroyed the Students Union and the Academic Staff Union of the Nigerian Universities in late seventies after the famous “ALI MUST GO” saga, little did I know that this grand design would later be amplified and used by the democratically governments that followed.

The success of the industrial action organised by the Academic Staff Union of the Nigerian University threatened the attempts by the Military dictatorship to impose and perpetuate itself in governance.

The boycotts did not go down well with the Military Junta.
The military adopted various strategies to deal with the associations that emerged during the struggle for political independence.

In his book “Student Power in Nigeria (1956-1980).” Comrade Ebenezer Babatope gave an authentic public account of “Ali must go” saga, which is not the intention of this article to dwelt on.

The Nigerian Labour Union also suffered similar treatment under junta. It was proscribed at least on two occasions all in the guise to whittle down the powers of the unions and render them prostate.

The ability of the trade unions to call for mass industrial action has been checkmated by various court rulings, decrees and legislations that has reduced their capacities to nothing but toothless bulldogs.

The politicians haven realised the enormous power of the labour unions to garner popular support and engineer civil dis obedience , ensured that the unions are check mated and controlled.

The Civilian Governors have in there various states ensured entry in to the top echelon of the major unions are manned by their cronies.

This was easily facilitated by the fact that most of the union leaders that vied for elective offices in the labour unions are drawn from the pool of officers from the state civil service.

This opportunity became so convenient for the state governors to manipulate the process by ensuring only their candidates win elections in to the union executive offices.

They do so by hand picking, sponsoring, funding and planting their cronies and made sure they win the guided elections with the help of other cohesive agencies of the state who are ready to intimidate, cajole and ensure compliance with their sponsors wish.

That is why today State governments are owing workers months of salary, pensions and allowance arrears un challenged.

The Union leaders have abdicated their responsibilities to the workers because they no longer decide their fates as leaders.

Their loyalty has shifted to the state, as the state now decides their tenure for as long as they remain in check.

While the governors are continuously subverting and whittling down the capacities of the labour associations, they are on the hand strengthening their association under the Governors Forum knowing fully well the enormous advantages of operating under a united umbrella.

They do so through tripartite arrangements of Nigerian Governors Forum, the Sub – Regional Governors Forum and the Political Parties Governors Forum, so that you can not escape their fangs.

If one takes a closer look at our nascent democracy and the challenges we are facing one could easily blame it squarely on the gangsterism attitude of the governors facilitated by omnipresent structures of the Governors forum.

Today no body can win any election in to any office in Nigeria without contemplating the enormous powers wielded by the forum.

They decide who becomes the Presidential Candidates for their party, who emerges to be the candidates for the Senate and House representatives, who takes over from them as the governors of the States.

They anoint members of the state houses of assembly and appoint chairmen and councillors of the local governments un impeded.

The party machineries at the national, state and local levels are not shielded from the octopus cluster of Mafioso forum.

The Nigerian President may be seen to be “Executive” and have absolute power, but real power of the state lies with the governors.

Their immunity from prosecution until they leave office breeds all sorts of impediments to the rule of law and good governance.

This gangsterism did stop at the states but it is also being wholly imported in to hallow red chambers of the national assembly. Very soon the total membership of the red chamber would be taken over ex governors and that would complete the full “gangsterisation of the Nigerian political system”

Sadly, enough the process of amending the Nigeria constitution is also in favour of the State Governors as the states houses of assembly must endorse any changes to the constitution and with the way the states assemblies are being controlled nothing progressive would come out of them.

This being the case the national assembly can not do anything under the current arrangements provided by the constitution to remedy the conundrum.

The crafters of the Nigerian Constitution did not envisage this quagmire. They were rather interested in ensuring that there were checks and balances in the system.

They also did not envisage that any particular group will exploit the lacuna in the constitution for their benefits.

The clause giving the governors protection from unnecessary litigations, were meant to ensure free flow in governance but it has become one the albatross of the 1979 constitution as amended.

In view of the foregoing how far can we go from here? Your guess is as good as mine.

What are our options, how can we get out of this quagmire and save our nascent democracy from the gangsters?

IT IS CRIMINAL TO BE HONEST IN A CORRUPT SOCIETY?

I recall the day when leisurely worked in to the lecture theatre during my Master programme in the University, on the board there was a writing I did not pay much attention.

I took my seat and noticed my mates were gossiping to one another, when I looked up to the board again, I saw this
“ IT IS CRIMINAL TO BE HONEST IN A CORRUPT SOCIETY, DISCUSS?”

It was then I figured out why my colleques were murmuring.
My initial reaction was why would the Professor ask such a question.
But since it was a senior class anything could be anticipated.
Soon the lecturer appeared and decided that we should brain storm on what was written on the board.

The class came up with several prepositions, which the lecturer reluctantly accepted.
But since the Professor, had his own answers to the question, he shared it with the class. It was very simplistic but to some extent more plausible than what we suggested.

I went home that day still reminiscing why should the lecturer ask this question, more so when I was not convinced with answers he gave.

The Professor argued that in a country where one would be appointed by Radio and Television announcement and suddenly dismissed by the same medium is not good for the country.
It erodes confidence in governance and breeds criminality.

The Professor elucidated further by saying that each time when these appointments were made, the appointees in most cases were not contacted, and no reason was also given for their removals.

He further agued that by the time the appointees, finished working on their blue print, ready to start work, suddenly, when they reach home in the evening after close of the office, there was an announcement on the Television that he or she has been removed from the office.

The next day another rascal would be appointed in the same manner. He descends on his predecessors savings and embezzle the whole funds.

Consequently, the money did not benefit the society, and it did not benefit the original person who wanted to use the funds for the good of the society.
The Professor, then asked why should one be honest in such a society?

Many of us left the class unconvinced with the Professor’s answer.

Twenty seven years (27) since I walked out of that lecture theatre my mind kept popping up the same question, each time I reflected on how I could make my society better.

But my passion, patriotism, pride and nationalistic fervour be clouded my thinking and I never contemplated any answer beyond what the Professor offered.

Some of my mates who were perhaps more wiser or got the gist and headed to the advice took care of themselves while it lasted.

But those that choose to be honest and played the game by rules and regulations are now walloping in misery and abject poverty perhaps now lamenting how could the Country they served diligently would now desert them in their hour of needs.

It is 37 years since l left that class, now with the benefit of hindsight, I can truly answer my lecturer correctly.

Having spent 35 years of meritorious in the service of my dear country. I now realised the Professor was philosophical in both the question and answers he gave.

Some of the salient issues the Professor did not tell us were, how could one be honest in a country?

1. Where the government does not pay its employees a living wage;

2. Where wages and pensions are unequal among its employees;

3. Where the government does not respect it senior citizens;

4. Where the pension of its former employees are not paid as at when due and when they are paid, the stipends does not support live in retirement;

5. Where hard work, honesty and diligence does not attract reward but misery;

6. Where corrupt public officials are hero worshiped and respected
7. Where National merit awards are given to the bad and the ugly because they can purchase it;

8. Where good name is only given to the opulent, who continue to live on government resources even when they are no longer in service;

9. Where the rule of law is not respected and applied selectively;

10. Where bad governance is prevalent in all strata of governments;

11. Where nepotism is the whole mark for recruitment in to public offices;

12. Where recruitments in to the political class are based on cronyism;

13. Where the security of lives and properties are not guaranteed.

14. Where all basic infrastructures that makes lives meaningful are failing or have failed.

15. Where chocking hyper inflation in the cost of living keep rising by the day,

16. Where lack of good roads, decay in the educational and health care has reached a pitiful level.

17. Where hyper increase in the cost of electricity, school fees, petrol and food stuff continue to increase un abated;

18. Where in security, wanton destruction of lives and properties are increasing by the day, with greater sophistication and tenor.

The irony of all these, this is a country blessed with enormous resources by nature but has allowed some few privileged members of the society to corner its resources through corrupt practices, there by living the larger society in penury, abject poverty and hopelessness.

The question to ask now therefore is not, “ it is criminal to be honest in a corrupt society” as the Professor asked 27 years ago, but rather it should be, “it is criminal not to be criminal in an un just society”?

What are your take on this, may be we would possibly find answers to the anomie of the circle of injustice arresting our development as a nation.