As President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria clocked 57 years today, the nation witnessed one of the worst abuses of the nation’s democracy in history. Members of parliament were teargassed and denied access into the House of Representatives chamber in order to prevent the speaker, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, from presiding over the sitting.
For goodness’ sake, value of the naira is not appreciating against the dollar and the price Uncle Ben’s rice is not crashing against the price of Garri if the presidency allows thee speaker to preside over the sitting. Again, the speaker will not return to PDP because of this — at least at the moment. But why are the ideals of our democracy toyed with in order to satiate one’s vindictive ego?
The speaker’s defection from the ruling PDP to oposition APC had sparked uproar that led to the unconstitutional withdrawal of his security aides by the Inspector General of Police, Sulaiman Abba. In a sane democracy, the IGP will be sanctioned for this, but in Nigeria, the IGP’s appointment was confirmed by the president the day he ordered the withdrawal of the speaker’s security. As I once said, Nigeria is not just banana republic but Tsamiyar Biri (dialium guianense) republic! You can call us Goriba (doum palm) republic.
But today’s show of shame tells one that President Jonathan is determined to take revenge and make the speaker pay for it. His action today was not meant to make Ajaokuta Steel Company work or make Nigeria Airways fly again. It was just ego war. What we witnessed today was a reminder to cynics that we are practicing something else but not democracy.
On the surface, the president appears non-committal. Jonathan always wears a benign demeanor that belies his trenchant malignance to political foes. The president cut that image of a harmless tot, slobbering over his bib but beneath that demeanor lies a decisive persona.
The president is too eager to mete out the treatement of ex-governors Timpreye Sylva, Murtala Nyako and former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Speaker Tambuwal. Sylva was unconstitutionally denied second term ticket, forced out of his party and subsequently humiliated by the EFCC. The president’s hand in Murtala Nyako’s removal was as visible as his hand in the affairs of Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN). Any need to expatiate? No. I was one of those who faulted Nyako’s acerbic letter but I believed there was undercurrent behind his removal from office. The president’s unconstitutional removal of the former CBN governor, subsequent seizure of his passport despite a court order barring authorities from confiscating his passport and deployment police to block the Kano Emir’s Palace were examples of settling scores by the president.
Security details of Kano State governor were withdrawn in June following the governor’s appointment of the president’s percieved enemy as the emir of Kano. The security of the governor is yet to be fully restored five months after.
In September, 2013, Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State was prevented by a detachment of heavily armed policemen on the orders of the then Rivers State police commissioner Mr Mbu J. Mbu from gaining access into the Rivers State Government House. CP Mbu is now promoted to AIG.
Also under the Jonathan presidency, Borno airport was closed due to ‘security reasons’, forcing the governor and other people in the state to travel by road despite the attendant danger. When even Borno pilgrims were compelled to travel to Kano to board plane to Mecca, the airport was suddenly opened for ex-governor Ali Modu Sherrif to land shortly after he defected to PDP. Only last week, troops were sighted escorting Ali Modu Sherrif to Maiduguri for a rally. What manner of leadership is this? I’m really tired.
Under President Jonathan, airports were once shut down in order to prevent oposition politicians from attending rallies. Some governors who opted to travel by road were waylaid by the police and asked to go back at the same time the convoys of Minister of Police Affairs and the Minister of State for Defence sped past unhindered. Lamenting over the ruling party’s fascism, the national chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, said in June “Several APC Governors were prevented from attending the rally. The helicopter that was to ferry Gov. Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State from Benin to Akure was denied permission to take off by the aviation authorities apparently acting on ”orders from above”
Nigerians still didn’t forget the day opposition governors were once asked to disperse and stop their meeting at Kano Governor’s Lodge at Asokoro, Abuja by a Divisional Police Officer.
One of the biggest problems with Jonathan presidency is eroding the traces of unity Obasanjo administration bequeathed to him. The president once told the gaping nation that a particular section of the country did not vote for him. States controlled by the ruling party were given N2 billion each by the president in the guise of ‘ecology fund’ while states controlled by the opposition parties get naught.
The recently concluded ‘no-no-go-area’ National Conference, the appearance of ‘union’ instead of ‘unity’ in some of the president’s speeches, the introduction of religious division in party politics, are a good examples of disunity. It seems Boko Haram terrorists are, by default, helping the president redraw the Nigerian map the conference was unable to.
The refusal by the president to reinstate Justice Ayo Salami when NJC gave him a clean bill of health in May 2011, and refusal to reinstate Olagunsoye Oyinlola as secretary of the PDP against court orders in November 2013 are examples of the ruling party rape of democracy.
In this misdemeanor, Obasanjo set the precedence and blazed the trail in corruption, impunity, brigandage, military brutality and brazen desecration of the nation’s constitution. What is new in Nigeria today is absence of unity and escalation of terrorism, leading to the taking over towns, villages, police and military barracks by Boko Haram terrorists. One thing Obasanjo followed and adhered to religiously was the unity of Nigeria, which the present administration is determined to erase its vestige from our heart.
Of this, no thanks to vindictive president.