The Rape of Our Democracy, By Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú
So much has been written about President Goodluck Jonathan’s rape of our democracy since his assault on the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) on Saturday. From that well contrived and coordinated attack on INEC, many of us have gained knowledge and are humbled because the world does not appear as simple as it once did and Nigeria assumes more complexity and notoriety that is guaranteed to reverse the gains if any, of our hard won democracy. Before Jonathan, one might have disregarded this kind of treasonous behavior under civilian rule, beyond the pale. Now we know Jonathan is a coupist, who has no respect for the constitution of this Federal Republic. His assault on INEC was designed to truncate the electoral process and by extension, a violation of the constitution he swore to uphold. What happened on Saturday was a rape of our constitution and a desecration of our democratic process, plain and simple.
It is clear by now that we have an emotionally dead, spiritually sterile and tragically wounded President grasping for straws. In spite of his pretentious meekly exterior, this President has proved himself darkly exuberant, hateful, narcissistic and totally obsessed with power for its own sake. It is only when we understand the character of this man and his driving force(s); that can we begin to understand the postmodern coup executed by a civilian President in such an old format. We can also attempt to understand it when we examine what happened when President Yar’Adua laid prostrate in Saudi Arabia. He who was mistreated at that time has reintroduced the playbook of Abuse of Power and working the script therein. He is riding high and roughshod over us with impunity and bringing on us his own mistreatments.
What are his motivations? Is he Nigeria’s undertaker? I don’t know! For what it is worth, a man should never provoke his fate and every man should know where to draw the line of limit in his pursuit of power. Sadly, this man and his kin will stop at nothing to engineer a nationwide crisis. Even to the doubters, it is now apparent that this Presidency is a churning swirl of corrupt currents, moral dislocation and impunity. He has primed himself for humiliation and he is intent on dragging the nation down with him. It is us that should find a way to limit its splashes. In a rare flash of twisted brilliance, he has turned a keenly contested election into a bargaining relationship in which the primacy of his ego is supreme to our survival as a people. As defeat stared him, he wants to calculate his way out depriving us the joy of voting him out. Mr. Jonathan and his band of traders are approaching this much like the markets; with he and many self-interested cronies competing on our national life, calculating what level of pain we can bear. To them, we are nothing but transactions. That is the reason why the transactions are chaotic with wild swings in prices (pain). To our disadvantage, their transactional mode is characterized by brinkmanship and trading mentality. They have no care about self-sacrifice and giving mentality, it is always about how much they can extract from us.
The threat to their trading mentality is why the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, is so much hated. Buhari is hated because they know he will introduce a Priori Value into their market. Buhari has always maintained that trading is fine! But! He has drawn a line at not trading in humans, or testing dangerous products on the poor and animals, or on blood minerals, or on products not sourced or grown sustainably, or on tax evasion, or on insider trading and outright embezzlement and Ponzi schemes. For Buhari, trading has to be done responsibly. For Buhari, trading must be carried out with values and ethics and we know how tough that can be to those who can’t play fair and square. In this kind of fierce struggle to redefine existential national issues, we are knowledgeable enough to make the distinction between who is right and who is wrong and who is on our side. Who do we trust in the line up? We trust Buhari. We trust him to do us right. We lined up behind Buhari to be the stronger man in the equation because it he who is strong that can define what is right and what is wrong in the world. This is where this hopeless bargain we got came from.
In the absence of shared values, power struggle is inevitable! It is in understanding this trading mentality that we can fathom why they have chosen to ignore the highest common factor in the power equation – the long suffering people of Nigeria. In their lust for power they have discounted us as they have always have always done, without any idea how fed up we are! But times have changed and things have changed! We have access to information now, more than we had in the Babangida years and that counts for something. Besides that, in a gathering of scoundrels, there will be at least one, whose moral imperative is vacillates between good and bad. From that singular, we usually have enough peep. The pressure and threats against INEC and the evil collaboration with Service Chiefs reflects the mind set of a President and his kith who are afraid that the nation will soon find the seismic nature of their stealing. Whatever plans are being hatched, we will never accept the subversion of peoples will. We are not deceived; the rule of law cannot be said to exist in a regime in which those in power manipulate the state apparatuses to truncate a civil process. We have learned from our abusers and we have become wiser and more resilient. There is another lesson learned from the postponement of the February elections – There is no difference between military and civilian coup, it is all about suspension of laws and abuse of power. Well, this postmodern coup under a civilian administration hurts like hell but we are determined to hold on to whatever is left of our democracy.
Without a shred of doubt; we affirm and assert that May 29, 2015 is sancrosant and non-negotiable. We will not and cannot fall in love with our torturer. We are determined to stop once and for all, this intergenerational transmission of abuse and violations of our dignity. Nigerians are determined to counter their history of silence in the face of abuse, rape and plunder. We have acquired new knowledge – the evil of the state and the will to resist wanton abuse of power. We have come to this knowledge by their intentional infliction of extreme pain on us and we understand the balance of power and restraint. There was a time in the past when we could not imagine how anyone could annul the people’s will. It has happened before and we won after a long and hard struggle. Now that a variant of it is afoot, we say NEVER AGAIN!
Bamidele maintains a weekly column on Politics and Socioeconomic issues every Tuesday. She is a member of Premium Times Editorial Board.