…In the place of oligarchy
Surely, we have had a country that has been poorly managed for so long, if not right from its inception. Sometimes, we do not want to blame a people who have watched things done in a particular way (good or bad), not then expecting the possibilities of having a different method of running things or, of reaching a different outcome. Some often think of the worst happening – heads rolling or even fears of the skies falling. But truth be told that our world is ever evolving; true spiritual changes take place, and even in the worst of evils there lurk some desire for good! Goodluck Ebele Johnathan is a good example of the fact that Nigeria is evolving into something of a good place to be when he blatantly ignored what anyone could have thought of him being a sitting C-in-C and unthinkably conceding defeat in election that was marred by irregularities (as always) but seemingly had the overwhelming support of a majority of Nigerians to be ’ousted’.
There were threats to lives and unity of the country, but he didn’t damn the consequences as the old order (at the time) would have expected him to have done! He choose reason and today, Nigerians have it on record and in their psyche that, you can be removed by means of the ballots if you do not perform well as a sitting president (no more questions about that). Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Alhaji Kashim Shettimah have, against all odds been swornin as president and vice-presidents of the FRN respectively since May 29th, 2023. Their case at the electoral court as petitioned by both the presidential candidates of PDP, LP and their respective political parties is well ongoing and sadly revealing the obvious – that elections were fraudulently and inconsistently conducted, in addition to the contestation that the duo were not qualified to have contested at the time.
Why then do most Nigerians laugh it off as impossible task for the courts to boldly declare the obvious outcomes given clear evidence before it? Why does it appear an anathema to “want to tamper” with this life-long ambition of BAT when we all agree that we are in a democracy that runs on a constitution that allows for ‘arms’ and ‘tiers’ of governments for effective checks and balances? Who is saying it is not possible? Notwithstanding the fact that our constitution gives so much powers to the executive arm, especially presidents (to hire and fire even court judges), there are other ‘innuendoes’, the permutations on which ‘defeated’ citizens come to conclusion that it is impossible to remove a sitting president let alone the BAT via electoral/supreme courts in this dispensation.
This is the case of the place of oligarchy embellished in false practice of democracy. Oligarchy, i.e., the government of a select (powerful) few over the rest of the population as practiced in some other climes is mainly leadership by the class of the rich/wealthy. No wonder in Nigeria, the first target of virtually every politician today is to become ‘that billionaire’. Oligarchy in Nigeria has its other forms; those of ethnicity and religion and the ‘Awa lokan’ groups! In 2014, a group of politicians who felt they were either so long been left out of governance or would no longer benefit from a PDP led government (the way it was headed) decided to form themselves into an ‘Awa lokan’ group called the APC and took over power.
For avoidance of doubt, ‘Awa lokan’ simply means “It’s Our Turn”! And we all saw how those select few were able to hold our country to ransom for 8yrs until it’s now ‘near’ disintegration by someone who decided to jettison the original slogan for ‘Emi lokan’ (my turn) while another suggested to him the MM ticket in order to be vice! For the records, ethno-religious oligarchy has existed in Nigeria since after the civil war 53yrs ago. The Hausa Muslim north believing that the first coup plotted by a largely Igbo Christian south means never to allow the Igbos anywhere close to corridors of power again. Fueled by consistent agitations from some members of this deprived ethnic group who have failed to realise that though of political consequence, the issue on ground is majorly an orientation one, needing robust convincing dialogue rather than the violent/abusive confrontational approach being employed by the likes of IPOB; even the very ordinary northerner believes it to be true that the Igbo man is a trouble maker.
Funny enough, this orientation is fast gaining grounds with many other ignorant Nigerians, including-especially, the Yoruba and some Igbo themselves. The emergence of His Excellency Peter Gregory Obi as a presidential candidate in the 2023 election, no doubt elicited the public evocation of this clear ethno-religious oligarchic politics as we currently have it. For anyone to have been able to get every other Nigerian or at least someone in authority to cooperate with him to:
i.Shutdown INEC internal servers (IRev upload for only presidential polls),
ii. Keep security inactive in Lagos, Rivers, Plateau etc while all the xenophobia and intimidation lasted throughout voting,
iii. Go ahead announcing results and issuing CoR late into the nights, amid dissatisfaction/tension etc; that someone must have been in the circle of believers of the creed that; it’s dangerous for an Igbo man to be president – even the Igbo man who has pledged that, though his mandate is to start rebuilding Nigeria from the north (away from oil revenue dependency, but on security and agriculture), no one should consider him (PO) on the basis of ethnicity or religion. Back to our matter.
People who are wondering how it will be possible to get a man who could wield so much power and control while he was not yet president out of office now that he has been sworn in, are not altogether imagining nonsense! It’s simple! They know that all the ethno-religious oligarchs need to do, is look out for judges who believe in the ‘swornoath’ never to allow an Igbo man become Nigerian president to do their bidding. But then, it’s our hope that none of the five-man panel of judges and those in the Supreme Court hold this believe! It’s our hope that the judiciary, without fear or favour will only focus on being sincere and objective in taking decision. Like Mr. Peter Obi, many OBIdients are reiterating their trust in the judiciary as “a very important component of our democratic system”.
The judiciary is already aware that its decisions today, or at every point in time, always upholds or sets judicial precedence for future adjudications. It’s our hope and prayers that neither the influence of ethno-religious oligarchy, money nor threats sways the true decision of the courts. That politicians who hold the ethno-religious sentiments will not also stir up the embers of violence by inciting the same population they have left ignorant and poor for times like this, over the years! Integrity is at stake! While some citizens are already trying to sing the praise of the seating government due to some of its early display of seriousness, let no one expect to be told that someone who steals from you, will definitely do you no good! Electoral court resumes on July 3 2023. Let’s hope and pray; with fingers crossed! A Greater Nigeria is possible.
• Henry-Paul Njoku writes from Sokoto Diocese.