President Buhari, Crack the Whip Now! By Godwin Onyeacholem
For a government that waved the banner of change to get the people’s vote, a government in which the people are virtually drowning in the official sputum of “it’s no longer going to be business as usual,” you would expect Buhari, a certified victim of serial electoral fraud under the verminous PDP governments, not to waste one second in demonstrating that change is indeed here.
Of Buhari’s presidency so far, one thing is clear: the pace is inversely proportional to the quantum of public anger bred by decades of horrible post-colonial leadership. And at no time is this sense of indignation and cynicism more intense than in the last sixteen years. But surprisingly, whether in the social, political and economic sphere, none of the actions so far taken by this government appears far-reaching enough to clear the trauma of accumulated rage and disillusionment tormenting the people of this beleaguered country.
Buhari has indicated that he wants to be seen as operating from a clean slate. But the truth is there are some past he cannot afford to let go. For the kind of devious democracy that Nigeria and most developing countries practise, a well-intentioned leader like him would need to unleash some measure of favourable dictatorship over time for a semblance of genuine democracy to be attained. Such dictatorships, while not threatening the corporate entity, should instantly send a clear message that the era of impunity, the unacceptable era of “anything goes,” is indeed over. Unfortunately, this is yet to happen in one month of the Buhari administration.
For instance, consider the pressing issue of ensuring the integrity of our elections. Isn’t it shocking that for all the reverberating shame brought on Nigeria by the scandalous electoral manipulation of the 2014 Ekiti governorship election perpetrated by high-ranking military officers, top PDP politicians and government officials, Buhari seems not to be outraged? For goodness sake, what is our president waiting for?
For a government that waved the banner of change to get the people’s vote, a government in which the people are virtually drowning in the official sputum of “it’s no longer going to be business as usual,” you would expect Buhari, a certified victim of serial electoral fraud under the verminous PDP governments, not to waste one second in demonstrating that change is indeed here. In other words, by now, Buhari ought to have rounded up all those whose names featured in the ‘Ekitigate’ scandal and brought them to justice.
A government that truly hopes to be believed as it reels out the endless chants of “change” or “no longer business as usual,” should have dismissed the top hierarchy of the military and the police, which operated alongside sponsored party thugs as the armed wing of the PDP. By now, the trial of the Chief of Army Staff, his pitiable man Friday, Brigadier-General Aliyu Momoh and foot soldiers, as well as all the politicians and government officials implicated in rigging the election for PDP ought to have commenced, with Captain Sagir Koli ferried in from wherever he is exiling as key witness. A final nail should be on the way to being hammered on the coffin of election rigging in this country, and Buhari should quickly start from Ekiti. This society deserves no less.
Not forgetting the ignoble role played by men and women of the State Security Service, a government truly primed for change should this moment be getting thumbs-up and a pat in the back for using its symbolic broom to sweep away all the undesirable elements who, together with a section of the military, did everything to squelch the APC and carried on as if PDP was the best thing to happen to Nigeria.
This is not about vendetta, or heating up the polity unnecessarily. As they say, to make an omelette, eggs must be broken. The signal for a re-energised culture of accountability should have been out there from the first day of Buhari’s government through firm actions. This government should really awaken people to the fact that for every wrong action there would be consequences, in contrast to what obtained under the PDP. And Examples abound. The police officers fingered in the extra-judicial murder of Mohammed Yusuf, the Boko Haram founder, should be fished out now, under this government, and made to face the law.
The same treatment should be meted out to Sam Chukwu, the controversial police officer and fugitive of the law, linked to high-profile kidnapping and murder. Chukwu went underground and got protection from his superiors when the Enugu State Ministry of Justice linked him to the 2009 kidnap and subsequent murder of Lota Ezeudu, a second year student of accountancy at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Surprisingly late last year, Chukwu was promoted to the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police by the Police Service Commission headed by former Inspector-General of Police, Mike Okiro. Such a character should not be in the police, not to talk of circulating in a normal society.
And just about a week ago under the watch of this government, one Bernard Ogedegbe of Ethiope West Local Government of Delta State, was said to have been murdered by soldiers of the 19th Battalion, Koko Military Base, who are said to be engaged in extortions, torture and working in hand with criminal gangs in the area. Ogedegbe was said to have been killed for informing the police about the criminal gang operating in the area.
In all these cases, a guilty verdict has not been returned on anyone yet. Buhari and his APC government should promptly show to Nigerians that though they inherited quite a healthy sum of PDP members, this administration is by far different from PDP’s. All the people or groups identified with these brutal killings must be arrested and brought to book immediately. It is the least Buhari can do to show that the APC dog – unlike the PDP’s – can hunt, and bite. That is the true meaning of change.
Godwin Onyeacholem, a journalist, can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org