Chances for the survival and advancement of democracy and rule of law in Nigeria are steadily fading, threatened and endangered by the country’s anti democratic forces or the authors of tyranny and totalitarianism. As a matter of fact, Nigeria’s democratic process has known no peace, stability and advancement especially since mid 2015 when Retired Major Gen Muhammadu Buhari became the sixth civilian president of Nigeria.
Nigeria, unarguably, is unstoppably being matched back to its inglorious epoch of tyranny, dictatorship, authoritarianism and totalitarianism. Democratic conventions or principles have almost given way for rule by dictation and might in the country. Tyranny has taken over the polity through militarism and militarisation; abuse of power or office as well as rapacious bastardisation of rule of law and other democratic norms. Totalitarianism and authoritarianism have also risen and ousted constitutionalism including rule of law, citizens’ fundamental human rights and democratic pluralism. Profligacy has become deep-seated and common salutation of the present central Government.
Recall that we had on 10th August 2015, alerted all Nigerians and members of the international community concerning a public statement made by a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and 2015 gubernatorial aspirant of the Party in Bauchi State, Northeast Nigeria, Dr. Ibrahim Yukubu Lame in which he called for “establishment of emergency powers for President Muhammadu Buhari” above the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended. Dr. Ibrahim Yakubu Lame, who is also a former Minister for Police Affairs and a staunch Buharist, further recommended for “extra constitutional processes of fighting corruption to ensure speed and results”.
According to him, “the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and her processes are very slow for President Buhari to perform well”. The referenced public statement was widely published in a number of print media including the Nigerian Pilot Newspaper of 10th August 2015: http://nigerianpilot.com/apc-chieftain-calls-for-suspension-of-constitution-to-enable-buhari-perform/. We had in the statement warned that Dr Yakubu Lame was not alone in his statement and that it was nothing short of “a hand of Esau and voices of Jacob”; meaning that his statement must have been scripted or authorized by the Presidency and northern political cabal.
It is recalled further that a year after Dr Yakubu Lame’s constitutionally coupist statement, in August 2016, Nigeria’s Presidency engineered two private member bills in the National Assembly, requesting for their respective Acts to “give the President emergency powers and other extra constitutional processes for management of economy including fighting corruption” and for purpose of “establishing national grazing reserves and routes for Fulani cattle herders throughout Nigeria”.
When it appeared to the Presidency that the two bills would fail, it hurriedly resorted to use of executive fiats or orders including announcement by the Nigerian Army of establishment of grazing routes and ranches in all military formations in Nigeria and most recently the allocation and provision of almost N180b from debt prone national budget of 2018 for the establishment of “National Grazing Routes and Ranches for Fulani Herdsmen”. Without recourse to federal legislation, the National Commission for Fulani Herdsmen was also established.
The Presidency also practically resorted to unofficial use of dictatorial Decrees Nos.2 and 4 of 1984 and abandoned or castrated the fundamental provisions of the existing Constitution of Nigeria 1999. The Constitution and constitutionalism under Buhari’s present civilian Presidency has suffered the same fate suffered by the 1979 Constitution which had its important provisions such as fundamental human rights, separation of powers and judicial and legislative existence and independence; totally suspended or castrated; with its less important provisions applied or used according to the dictates of the then military administrations especially between 31st December 1983 and 27th August 1985 when Retired Major General Buhari held sway as Nigeria’s maximum military Head of State.
Important or core provisions of the existing 1999 Constitution presently castrated or rendered inoperable by the so called democratic Government of Muhammadu Buhari are fundamental objectives and directive principles of State policy, chapter four (fundamental human rights) and separation of powers all contained in Sections 13-23, 33-46 and 4 (federal legislative organ and its independence) and 6 (federal judicial organ and its independence). The Presidency has also maddeningly tinkered and usurped the federating principles of the Federation by forcefully and rapaciously taking over and usurping the powers of the States including breaching the immunities of the governors and extra judicial and unconstitutional freezing of the statutory accounts or delaying or withholding certain statutory final allocations of “some enemy States” through the use of EFCC, SSS, Army and Police.
As if the regime misconducts and atrocities highlighted above are not enough, the authors of pain and tyranny and messengers of Esau have come up with another constitutionally and democratically abominable script with a new messenger of Esau, this time in the person of Senator-Elect Lawal-Yahaya Gumau; a two-term member representing Toro Federal Constituency in Bauchi State at the House of Reps and Senator-Elect for Bauchi South Senatorial District. Senator-Elect Gumau is an APC member and die-hard Buharist who has been in the House of Reps for eight years. He comes from the same Bauchi State with Dr Yakubu Lame who had in August 2015 called for suspension of the Constitution and governing of Nigeria with draconian laws and self initiatives or return of Decrees Nos.2 and 4 of 1984.
Recall that the said Senator-Elect, as newest member of the authors of tyranny and totalitarianism in Nigeria, had on Friday, 10th August 2018, publicly disclosed that “his sole purpose of going to Senate is to represent and protect Buhari’s interest especially to amend the Constitution to make him life president or president of Nigeria until he dies”. The Senator-Elect, as widely reported in the print and online media, spoke during the closing campaign of the Bauchi South Senatorial bye-election held yesterday, Saturday, 11th August 2018 in which he was announced as winner. The publication which first appeared in the Punch Newspaper of 11th August 2018 is here: https://punchng.com/bauchi-bye-election-well-amend-constitution-to-make-buhari-life-president-says-apc-candidate/.
As we alerted and warned Nigerians and the international community in 2015 over imminence of the unfolding democratic threats and other signs of tyranny in Nigeria; on account of Dr. Lame’s constitutionally coupist statement, we make bold again to say that Senator-Elect, Lawal-Yahaya Gumau is not alone in his latest shocking and undeniable disclosure. He may most likely have spoken as scripted or directed by the Presidency and members of the northern political cabal and other authors of tyranny and totalitarianism in Northern or other parts of Nigeria.
Going by our years of field advocacy experience in Nigeria’s troubled democracy, especially with vivid reference to practical manifestation in August 2016 of Dr Yakubu Lame’s similar coupist and undemocratic call in August 2015, the latest shocking and undeniable disclosure will materialize not in the immediacy, but about a year or two after the 2019 Presidential Poll, especially if successfully facilitated and given to the federal incumbent. This is more so when the central Government of the day in Nigeria has never hidden its deep contempt for democratic pluralism and will stop at nothing in plunging the country into one party state (totalitarianism) with existence of others as fingers of a leprous hand; all geared towards facilitating life presidency for the incumbent President as boldly and magisterially disclosed by Senator-Elect Lawal-Yahaya Gumau.
Therefore, Nigerians and members of the international community may most likely not be surprised to see more organized killings by Boko Haram and Fulani Jihadists across the old Middle Belt and Eastern Nigeria as well as the remaining Christian communities in Southern Kaduna and Northeast Nigeria; all on the ground of ethnicity and faith and for sectional political and religious reasons. Such organized ethno-religious killings by the authors of pain and tyranny through the messengers of Esau may most likely be for purpose of instilling terrible and widespread fears and devastations on the affected population to gain grounds for unchallenged facilitation of life presidency now being muted.
There may be arming and sophistication by the same northern political radicals of more embryonic Jihadists like “Hakika Islamic Fundamentalists” for widespread ethno-religious cleansing targeted at sedentary and pastoral populations and homes of what remains of Northern Nigerian Christians and other non Muslim minorities especially in Adamawa, Taraba, Nasarawa, Kogi and Benue States and southern Kaduna. The Southwest region of Nigeria may most likely witness non major or pockets of attacks as a result of its political leaders and activists support for the present central Government of Nigeria.
The escalation of killings may most likely, too, attract government’s smokescreen security response including feigning ignorance or distancing roles and procurement of more foreign military hardware using borrowed funds. The country’s debts profile may most likely soar, if not double all in the guise of “fighting insecurity”; with securing Jihado-presidential limitless term of office amidst widespread state and non state actor violence as the central aim.
Also, there may most likely be further militarisation of the polity and subjugation and castration of Nigerian democratic process particularly the country’s democratic institutions. Nigeria may most likely witness more signs of police state including liberties in chain and rule of law in disarray and desolation. Totality of these are to be designed for the purpose of inflicting widespread fears and facilitation of tyrannical and totalitarian conquest of the general population and what remains of democratic institutions in Nigeria or any part thereof.
With Nigeria’s opposition and dissent voices and their strongholds especially the old Eastern and Middle Belt Nigeria successfully overran and visited with overwhelming fears, subjugation and devastations from combined State and non-State actor violence; and with what remains of democratic institutions in the country out of the way or desolated, castrated and decimated; then the authors of tyranny and totalitarianism will have an easy ride in making Buhari a life President of Nigeria.
However, these are not without dire or catastrophic consequences. The targeted populations and their geopolitical locations or ethno-religious groupings and their allies in Southwest and Muslim parts of Northern Nigeria may most likely resort to organised group violence or subversive activities especially if pushed to the wall or visited or have strong suspicion of possibility of being visited with large or industrial scale state violence or maximum entrapment on their constitutional liberties.
If pushed to resort to violence, Nigeria, with a population of over 180m may mostly likely boil or be plunged into widespread violence which combined forces and war arsenal of the Federal Government as well as humanitarian interventions of UN, UNSC, AU and ECOWAS put together will never tame or control.
We call on the authors of tyranny and totalitarianism in Northern Nigeria represented by the likes of Dr Yakubu and Senator-Elect Lawal-Yahaya Gumau to retrace their coupist steps including further attempts to put into action the referenced disastrous, abominable and genocidal utterances to avoid plunging Nigeria and its general population into Rwandan type genocide. The attention of the authorities of Nigerian security and justice establishments is also drawn and urged to protect the Nigerian Democracy, its principles and constitutionalism and ensure that the named authors of pain, tyranny and totalitarianism and others at large are fished out, investigated and punished accordingly.
Lovers of human rights, justice and democracy in Nigeria and beyond the shores of the country are also called upon not to take the said statement by the said Senator-Elect lightly just as they seemingly took and treated with kid gloves our warnings of August 2015. Nigeria’s authors of tyranny and totalitarianism must not be allowed to set the country and its hard-won democracy on fire.
•Umeagbalasi and Umeche are, respectively, board chairman and head, democracy & good governance, International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law