The Oasis Reporters
July 7, 2019
We are supposed to be operating a democratic system with all the segments for an ideal democracy in place but alas, what plays out in the guise of a democracy is brazen dictatorship as in Kaduna State. As people passionate for real democracy, we registered to vote and when it was time we went out in record numbers to vote but in some cases and Kaduna State for example the outcome of such an election would already have been decided by a cartel of anti democratic individuals behind the barricades of Government Houses with in most cases the tacit connivance of the electoral umpire.
What passes for democracy in Nigeria falls far short of what a democracy should be like for reasons including the very fact that the guidelines for the electoral processes issued by the umpire are serially manipulated and abused by individuals and groups who see themselves as being above the law and there are no consequences.
In Kaduna State for example, the 2019 Governorship, National Assembly, and State Assembly elections were simply a farce as well as a huge joke to the extent that results were simply cooked up and declared. There can be no robbery more heinous than when the actual votes cast which should decide the winners from the losers are rendered completely useless.
One pertinent question remains, ”Why is our democracy not working?”
Part of the answer is that this is the product of a plagiarized American Constitution. Those characters who foisted the 1999 Constitution on this country in my humble opinion were not yet done with leadership and may have thought that though they were leaving the scene through the front door, they could return through the back door. The 1999 Constitution in its draft form needed to have been put to a referendum but was not. It was therefore forced down the throats of Nigerians by a jaded military cabal. To have assumed that the Constitution was going to be easy to put to practice was to deceive oneself.
Above all, many of the underpinnings which makes the American Constitution work were on purpose, left out.
The immunity clause for example created a highway for criminally minded executives to behave whichever way they wanted. My little understanding tells me that only the PEOPLE can adequately defend and protect democracy quoting Senator Suleiman Othman Hunkuyi ”Without the people, there can be no democracy”. It therefore means that the people are the most formidable or if you will, the fulcrum of any democracy.
In Kaduna State for example the people of the State have since 2015 been taken for granted by the governor to the extent he appears to be acting exclusively as if the State Assembly and the Cabinet do not exist. We have what some call official rascality passing for governance in our State. Otherwise how will the governor appoint 3 non indigenes out of the 14 Commissioners for the State?
The reader must not go away with the erroneous impression that in Kaduna we do not like/love non indigenes, far from it. If not in El Rufai’s Kaduna State where else can this kind of arbitrariness be tolerated?
For example, can indigenes of Kaduna State be appointed Commissioners or to any other lesser positions no matter how good such may be in say, Ogun, Ondo, Bayelsa or Imo States? There will be a spontaneous revolt against such brazenness. In Kaduna State though, we are under a political occupation or so it seems. The governor arrogates all the knowledge in the land to himself, his family members as well as his cronies which is why he insults and tramples on almost everyone else at will. Our common poverty, ethnicity and religious differences together are responsible for the atrophy which has reduced us to the condition described by late Bola Ige as ” Siddon look ”, As a people, we need to recover our strength, confidence and collective will to stand up to the defence of this democracy if it must benefit everyone and not a political cartel.
Similarly, at the National level and for the same reasons supra governments have been acting and behaving as if the people do not matter. There are certain decisions and policies of government which were not subjected to public scrutiny but forced down the throats of the people as divisive as they are.
Going down history lane at independence in 1960, the departing British wanted to force down the throats of the political leaders of that period a defence pact much in the style of what the French did in the former colonies. But for the vigilance and foresight of young Nigerian University students who spearheaded a protest eventually defeating the move, the British would have been handed a licence to interfere in Nigeria’s internal affairs the way the French have been intervening in their former colonies. After independence, this collective will appeared to have been extinguished, which is why a military government dragged Nigeria into the Organization of Islamic Conference even if on an observer basis when the 1999 Constitution explicitly says that the country is secular. It is incidences such as these which makes a mockery of our so-called secularity thereby exposing our leadership not only to odium but public ridicule.
Not so long ago the government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo terribly mishandled the Bakassi Peninsula issue with neighbouring Cameroon which led to the loss of that historical, economically rich as well as strategic piece of Nigerian territory at the World Court in the Hague. The case was so cheap for the simple reason that all the occupants of the territory are Nigerians. Their views were not even sought yet the case was decided over their heads. The population in the area would certainly have decided in favour of remaining a part of Nigeria had they been given a voice but our government surrendered them to Cameroonian gendarmerie brutality .Nigerians could not have had a more beautiful opportunity to rise up in spontaneous protest but we went to sleep.
It is beginning to appear that we are waking up from the slumber with the very strong advocacy over the contentious RUGA issue. Nigerians woke up to the news that the Federal government had approved the setting up of Fulani settlements known in Hausa as Ruga in almost all the States of this nation. Nigerians began to question when and how this terrifying milestone was reached even as the same Fulani herdsmen are being blamed for the insecurity in the land.
Could the decision have been agreed by the top brass in the current government to please the President himself, a Fulani or what? The decision was so lacking in merit that the Ijaws in not wanting to be excluded from the great party rightly put out their request for fish ponds to be established in all the local government areas of this country to enable them pursue their fishing occupation. Similarly, other ethnic groups began the clamour for permission to set up piggeries and dog production areas in all the States of this country. Given the enormity of the opposition to the Rugas, we are now told that the President had to retreat from this dangerous precedence.. At the very least we are beginning to recover our hidden strengths. This post concludes by reminding Nigerians that if we stand together and not allow religion, ethnicity and other interest divide us, we can achieve so much. That is one of the basic essences of democracy.
Written by Col.Gora Dauda (rtd)
He writes from Kaduna, North West Nigeria.