Giant with feet of clay – Frank Ofili58 views
It is a measure of the respect our institutions of state have lost that anybody, or group of persons, can just wake up and start issuing threats against the country. Individuals and groups place themselves above the state! This is happening because state authorities, for political expediency, handle matters of national security with kid gloves. When institutions of state are continuously made to kowtow to wishes of strong individuals and groups, sooner or later, the soft underbelly of the state would be exposed and even doves and pigeons will try their strength against it. We say we are the giant of Africa, but it seems we are a giant with feet of clay.
To be fair, President Buhari has been making efforts to reinvigorate the institutions of state – the military establishment has rediscovered its mojo, at least soldiers no longer desert the battle front with Boko Haram, the EFCC, ICPC, CCT, NCC and Co. have received fresh fillip – but things are still far from Uhuru. There are still individuals and groups considered above the law. The rot did not start now, it just seems to get worse since our return to democratic governance 1999.
In the run up to the 1999 general elections, some strong individuals told a bewildered nation that then retired General Olusegun Obasanjo, fresh from Abacha’s gulag, was the only one they could trust to protect their interest. They packaged and bankrolled him to Aso Rock. The rest is history.
Obasanjo did his first four years as President and sought a second four years in 2003 against wise counsel from even his bosom friend, the Madiba, Nelson Mandela. Odua People’s Congress (OPC) threatened to ground the country if he was not re-elected. Obasanjo had entered into a makeshift pact with his South-west kit and kin to back him in his re-election bid, having failed to do so in his first term. He got his wish, he was re-elected, although not due to the threats by OPC. But again, the rest is history.
Then in 2010 when President Umaru Musa Yar Adua died in office, some northern elements, against the spirit and letter of Section 146 of the 1999 Constitution, claimed their “turn” at Aso Rock was not done with Yar Adua dead midway. They attempted to block Goodluck Jonathan, then Vice President, from taking over as acting president. Yar Adua’s Man Friday and Attorney General of the Federation, Micheal Aondoakaa, did everything to thwart Jonathan’s ascendance to Aso Rock. In a rare of show of unity comparable only to the June 12, 1993 general elections, Nigerians resisted Aondoakaa and his gang. Sensing danger, the Senate intervened with the Doctrine of Necessity and install Jonathan as Acting President. But it did not end there.
In 2011 Jonathan allegedly threw a carrot to the north to the effect that he would serve only one term terminating in 2015, and then return power to them. But soon after he won, he allegedly reneged and started making plans for a second term. He recruited foot soldiers – Chief E.K. Clark, Dr. Doyin Okupe, Sambo Dasuki et al. He also set up a campaign vehicle – Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN) – and enlisted the support of Christian Association of Nigeria and their ultra-rich pastors, Muslim clerics, Gani Adams OPC and erstwhile militants etc. He even wangled himself into being made life patron of Miyetti Allah group. Clearly, his sights were set beyond 2015.
But the PDP northern political establishment read the signs, and pronto, a hitherto localized machete-wielding militia – Boko Haram – suddenly became a sophisticated and well-armed killing machine. It gave Jonathan nightmares, and for a fleeting moment almost succeeded in over-running Abuja, the seat of power, when it bombed a park at Nyanya area of the capital city killing almost a hundred people. As the ragtag insurgent group gained confidence following near capitulation of security agencies, killings and bombings became a daily affair with military and police installations targeted. Whole cities and towns were over-run by the insurgent group; and some 14 local governments in the north-east captured and brought under a caliphate created by the insurgents. The once localized small fry peasant militia had become uncontrollable.
Chibok girls – 273 of them – also became pawns in the delicate power game to force Jonathan out of the 2015 presidential poll. But the man insisted. He did everything including opening our national treasury to appease elements in the north. Buoyed by his Niger Delta militant elements, the man forgot those who made his ascendency possible. The militants started issuing threats to shut down the country if Jonathan was not re-elected. They even threatened to bomb Abuja, like their insurgent counterparts in the North-east did. Eventually, the election came, and Jonathan lost, and a shadowy group with the suggestive name of Niger Delta Avengers emerged and started blowing up oil and gas installations. The country was grounded economically.
Now it is the turn of the Miyetti Allah group to issue its own threat against the country if President Buhari, its Fulani kinsman, is not re-elected in 2019. This is the same Miyetti Allah group which one of its leaders publicly declared that they had to attack two Benue communities and 73 people massacred because 1000 of their cows were rustled. The same Miyetti Allah group that boldly told a seating state government that its members would never obey the state’s anti-grazing law!
What kind of democracy do we have in this country? In civilized democracies, the court is the place to go if you disagree with a government policy, or if you feel your constitutional rights have been infringed upon by a certain government policy. It is never for you to take the law into your own hands. The hallmark of the rule of law we so easily mouth in this part of the world but reluctant to follow, is that you obey the law first and challenge it later in court, if you have issues with it.
How did we come to this sorry pass that any one, any group, will just wake up and issue threats against the country and nothing will happen to them? Not long ago Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB separatists issued threats upon threats against the country. He practically shut down the South-east, until the Python danced.
The way we are going in this country, one day even I will issue my own threat to invade Aso Rock if my dinner is not served.