PERSPECTIVE – THE POND: Nigeria’s stripes of democratic dictatorship 

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By Julius Oweh

The world over, democracy is universally acknowledged as the best form of government known to man because it allows for periodic holding of election, choice of the people respected, a free press and the leaders are held accountable to the mass of the people, the owners of electoral sovereignty.

It is the representative nature of government that makes it more appealing for any adult citizen of sound mind that can dream one day of mounting the mantle of leadership for the good of the majority of people. Democracy is not perfect like all human institutions, but despite its warts and flaws, the people are, indeed, and in truth the masters of their destinies and common patrimony.

Democracy is meaningful where a thriving press holds those in power accountable. A judiciary that is not compromised and like the legendary lady of justice dispenses justice without fear or favour. And a legislature that not only makes laws but acts as powerful checks on the excesses of the executive arm of government.

The dispensing of democratic dividends is not done on creed, colour, ethnic or personal wishes but merely on merit, equity and is spread across the board. But what is happening now in Nigeria is like a reading from the deepest and darkest part of hell, a stark reminder from the legendary signpost at the gate of Hades: Abandon hope all yea that enter here.

Nigeria, even the most rabid and unapologetic adherent of APC would tell you, “ours is a democratic dictatorship skewed in favour of the Fulani elements”. There are too many examples to justify this stance but I shall only zero on Nnamdi Kanu, Sunday Igboho and two bills currently in works in the National Assembly.

These events currently trending are supported by the presidency to justify its crusade against the balkanization of the nation and disdaining the views of some northern women that a referendum is better than the current dictatorial tactics  of the government.

Speaking recently to justify the re-arrest of Kanu of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra and the gestapo attack on the Ibadan home of Yoruba activist, Sunday Igboho, a presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu gleefully argued that it was the best way to maintain the nation’s unity. Said Shehu: “The subversive leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a group known for its murderous actions and virulent messaging, was detained as a result of cross-border co-operation……….  By this singular action (arrest of Kanu) of our security forces, sanity and calm and peace has been returned to our communities who previously lived in constant fear of these misguided elements. In furtherance of continued diligent work, the state security service on Thursday, July 1st raided the residence of a militant ethnic secessionist, who has also been conducting acts of terror and disturbing the peace under the guise of protecting fellow “kinsmen“. His seditious utterances and antics, which he is known to have publically expressed have overtime morphed into very hateful and vile laden speeches.”

However the presidential spokesman was silent about the `victory` of the security forces over the activities of Boko Haram, the marauding Fulani herdsmen and the kidnappers making the country ungovernable. No day passes without one form of kidnapping or the other. School children in the north can no longer go to school because of the plagues of banditry and kidnapping. Yet the security forces are going after Sunday Igboho for expressing his views. The nation’s security is very much compromised and the image of Nigeria is that of a failed state.

As for Nnamdi Kanu, I do not support his assertion that Nigeria is a zoo and for a man who holds British passport, his patriotism for Nigeria is suspect and so he should face the full weight of justice. But the issues raised by Kanu should be addressed by the government. Nigeria is more like a loveless marriage where one partner seems to be enjoying the union. Are the Igbos well treated in the Nigerian federation? Are they given their dues? Is the next president going to be of Igbo extraction? These are issues that should not be swept under the carpet.

If the Igbos are of the mindset that they are not given their fair due in the union, is it a crime to ask for their own country without firing a shot? If the United Kingdom could allow Scotland to hold referendum, why is Abuja afraid of a referendum to decide the national question? Please do not get me wrong. I support one Nigeria based on equity, justice and fair play but if these ingredients are in short supply, I stand with those calling for a referendum.

As for Sunday Igboho, despite what the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) and his fellow travelers may say that Igboho does not enjoy the electoral mandate of the people, the truth of the matter is that his sentiments for Oduduwa republic makes a strong appeal to the Yoruba masses. It is the elites because of what they are currently enjoying in the contraption called Nigeria who still believe in the country. There is too much distrust and disunity seething the nation. In the midst of all these, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi is saying loud and clear that the Abuja authority should negotiate with kidnappers and bandits that are  making the North a living hell for the people. This is not fair and is not democracy by any stretch of imagination. The Buhari government must be proactive and demonstrate to all Nigerians that it is not meant to serve the interest of a particular section of the country and address frontally those issues that threw up Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho.

It is a long standing belief of this writer that our legislators are just colourless and mere rubber stamps of the executive arm of government. I will not waste my ink on the state legislators for they are just jellies. As you read this piece, the National Assembly is working on two bills to abridge the frontiers of our democracy. One is about gagging the press and the other is to criminalize public demonstrations with a jail term of five years. My only advice for them is that they should drop the satanic bills for they are mere tenants and very soon their tenancy shall expire. Nigeria will surely outlive these outlandish stripes of democratic dictators.

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