By Okanga Agila
Democracy in Nigeria is a precious gift to every Nigerian. That it has survived uninterrupted for over 17 years, since its return in 1999 is a big plus to the active players of the game and every other Nigerian. It is more a plus and applause to the Nigerian military under the current leadership for their absolute subordination to civil authority and faith in democracy.
It is an apt expression of the determination of all stakeholders to uphold and defend democracy. Unarguably, democracy cannot flourish in an atmosphere of anarchy, violence and like vices. That it has survived this long is a mystery to die-hard rubble rousers and spoilers, who have become sleepless.
The manifested angst now stems from the unexpected sustenance of democracy. So, they have risen to speak in negative tongues against the democratic leadership. And dreading shadows of their own demonic spirits, they hide under some funny excuses to attempt punching of this fledgling democracy.
These are the same characters, who have etched their shadows as Nigerians uninterested in nurturing this democracy to attain full maturity. They masquerade variously to derail it. They have tried to wrestle it to the ground to no avail. Now new tricks are invented, which at best assault the sensibilities of the people. The perpetual power elite, the political gangs, the venomous cabals and the betrayals of democracy ethos have stepped up relevance from the absurd angle.
Nigerians however know them as those who willfully thwart the electoral process, by deploying assorted devices against the civic expression of the masses; they abuse the vote; they frustrate accountability and transparency in public governance; they are the same Nigerians who sponsor assorted violence and crimes against the Nigerian state. They have foreign collaborators who pay them handsomely to ensure Nigeria knows no peace.
The agitations, the restiveness’ in some parts of the country, the weird crimes, the terrorists’ atrocities and the militancy everywhere are all traceable to their satanic shadows. But in public, they pretend some saintliness and sound sanctimonious about national interest and defence of democracy.
When the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) under President Muhammedu Buhari deflates these evil forces from crippling and crumbling Nigeria further, fresh groups reactivate to wage more wars. So, the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), the pro-democracy activists of yester-years have sauntered on stage.
Democracy is excited by divergent views, quite alright. But when such views are lubricated by malice, propelled by a mindset immersed in the desperation to be heard, more than the reason or crux the messages embody, it becomes a near intractable problem.
The remnants of NADECO members met recently in Lagos and issued a widely publicized statement. Having been on sabbatical leave for a long time, news from the group ignited instant interest from the public. But perusing through it over and over again, the contents infinitely mocked the grandeur ideals of the founding fathers.
Disappointingly, NADECO members are pleading the understanding of Nigerians to rejig the narrative of Nigerian military’s intervention in internal insurrections’ and the very destructive acts of terrorism which manacled Nigeria. NADECO was piqued and prophesied that the selfless and thankless job of taming these terrorists acts, and violent crimes, the Nigerian military has devoted time, energy and lives is signpost to the return of dictatorship.
This is absolute gibberish! They can howl and scuff, but cannot convince any sane mind, simply by twisting facts, especially from Nigerians the military intervention has brought respite and peace.
And singing the familiar song of revert to true federalism, which the likes of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar keeps singing and someone, suspected to have sponsored the resurrection of NADECO, it thought an impression has been ingrained on the psyche of Nigerians. Atiku feels his only and most worthwhile political asset is to preach restructuring to Southern Nigeria, as he restlessly eyes the Presidency of Nigeria in 2019 and beyond.
It is bemusing what NADECO intends to imply by the assertion “Nigeria is back to dictatorship.” That, soldiers Operation Python Dance II in the Southeast has invaded communities, tortured civilians and scared the people and so, it is unconstitutional abuses logic. The explanation is as shallow as it sounds. Operation Python Dance II cannot be unconstitutional by such infantile reasoning. Soldiers on lawful deployment cannot be acting unlawfully by any stretch of imagination.
But NADECO’s “conscionable” voice drained into the Ocean or the Lagoon, when the Nnamdi Kanu’s led Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) trampled on the rights and freedom of every Nigerian, most especially, Southeasterners’. When Kanu established a Biafran state, within Nigerian sovereignty, it was not NADECO’s business. When it formed security organizations’, which it armed and deployed to terrorizing law abiding citizens and security agents, NADECO’s wisdom never decoded it as threat to democracy and its liberties to the citizenry.
To polish an obvious lie, NADECO faulted the FGN’s declaration of IPOB a terrorists organization, arguing lamely and insisting government has gone against the order of a Federal High Court. Did the court order restraining the FGN from declaring IPOB a terrorists organization came before the deviant and abrasive group was formally declared a terrorists sect by a Federal High Court in Abuja?
If IPOB was ever dissatisfied with the verdict, does it not amount to abuse of court procedure for IPOB to approach a court of concurrent jurisdiction seeking to vacate a subsisting court verdict, instead of a higher court? This is the blind argument NADECO has condescended into endorsing in public domain. Are the grey hairs in NADECO members so ignorant to the extent of knowing that laws of Nigeria permits the President to invoke his execute powers to certain limits, when internal security is threatened, without recourse to the National Assembly (NASS)?
Thoroughly washing itself in shamefulness, NADECO morphed into soothsayers by predicting the deployment of soldiers to the other two regions in Southern Nigeria. Some Nigerians you expect should exude honour are most times, prodded by the wrong instincts. Actions of government are official. It is not a backyard discussion or a tete-a-tete with an “Iyabo” in the kitchen.
So, utterances’ on government should not just hang in the air, but be based on incontrovertible facts, as against presumptions or anticipatory actions. It is quite strange that NADECO is arguing against deployment of soldiers in the Southeast in sympathy with Governors of the eastern states and at the same time, dubiously preferring to forget that the same Governors under the umbrella of Southeast Governors Forum (SGF), directly under the furnace of IPOB members, proscribed IPOB. The reasons for reaching such extreme conclusions cannot be diminished by NADECO’s stale blackmail of the FGN and the Nigerian military.
Restructuring or true federalism sermons are not strange to Nigeria. Like President Buhari echoed sometime back, every region of Nigeria is capable of sustaining itself. That’s the extent God has blessed Nigeria. The resources are everywhere. But campaigners of true federalism usually prefer not to reflect on reasons Nigeria is astoundingly backward after 57 years of independence.
Former President and elder statesman of international repute, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ) is insistent that restructuring is not the answer to Nigeria’s present travails. He was emphatic that the canvassers of restructuring should first, “restructure” their minds. Mindless plundering of national resources by the political elite has left the country, a giant on bended kneels.
Those irked that President Buhari has abated the pleasurable rape of Nigeria, sound loudest about restructuring, so that they can keep squeezing the juice out of states where they have imposed themselves as mini-lords and demigods. But every nation strives to forge ahead, with new ideals and actions. If all NADECO members and the likes of Atiku can propose after their resurrection is a return to the 1963 Constitution only exposes their wretchedness in ideology. It implies that they are barren of ideas, lost track of the dynamics of the world and seek, albeit questionably to again sink Nigeria into the dark ages.
NADECO and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar are free to nurse dreams. The problem however is the intention to sacrifice the Nigerian military on the podium of political greed and interests. Nigerian military has demonstrated in the last two years that they are not just guardians’ of Nigerian democracy , but more interested in laying the template to ensure democratic institutions thrive and blossom to unimaginable levels.
President Buhari’s choice of the present clan of the hierarchy of the Nigerian military was not carelessly selected. It explains why the military, particularly the Nigerian Army, has not only preached this sermon, but acted it in virtually all parts of Nigeria and excelling in every assignment with dignity. If world leaders take turns to salute their courage and resilience in demystifying and defeating Boko Harm terrorists in Nigeria, no amount of envy can obviate this acclaim.
NADECO’s eyes are still dusty from the years of residence in the graveyard and cannot see beyond the veneer. Its belated bile campaigns against Nigerian military cannot fly and holding tenaciously to archaic ideas and using the military as a springboard is just in the middle of nowhere. If NADECO and its apostates are too haughty to appreciate the efforts of the Nigerian military in curbing acts of terrorism in Nigeria, it shall do its image some good by remaining silent.
Okanga, a traditional warrior writes from Agila, Benue State.