By Abdulwahab Oba
My good and God fearing people of Kwara State, very sadly let me rewind the disgraceful event of last week Tuesday when men, who were suppose to be protectors of our law and order, invaded our parliament, the symbol of our democracy.
The invasion by masked operatives, armed to the teeth was, no doubt, a bad signal to the global community about the kind of democracy we practise in Nigeria. With the emergency of President Muhammad Buhari in 2015, most Nigerians thought, and rightly so, that those dark days of official recklessness and misuse of official power were gone for the better. As a victim of such misuse of authority and some one who once felt the pains of reckless use of power, Nigerians thought our president has learnt how not to deploy legitimate power.
Thankfully, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo saved the nation the subsequent embarrassment from the development by sacking the Director General, DSS. Very aptly so, but the sack came a little too late and too little. The move was only a damage control strategy because much disgust had been racked against the nation as the international community watched the ugly scene on live broadcast. Perhaps, it would have applauded if the accomplices of the dastardly act were unveiled along the sack DG. The world watches if that would ever happen.
Although the ruling party has tried to bring the partisan view into the development, blaming it through a strange theory to a conspiracy between the senate leadership and the sacked DSS boss, it was gratifying to see the way Nigerians reacted to the invasion, in a show of solidarity not necessarily with the senators but with the legislative institution which is higher than any individual and must be protected both for the current occupants and future lawmakers.
The Legislature, which we call the National Assembly here, is an institution; the third arm of government which must enjoy the same protection and independence as the executive arm (presidency) and the judiciary. How would American senators, who only recently hosted a team of senators from Nigeria, react to what happened on Tuesday? Good, democracy triumphed at this instance, but Nigerians must be more vigilant now, more than ever, to protect our national institutions and must demand an end to impunity, especially from our security forces who hide under the excuse of ‘national security’ to perpetrate evil against the nation in the promotion of purely personal interest.
Security agencies in Nigeria have the unpleasant history of being used as instruments mainly in the hands of the executive arm. Wth the way Nigerians reacted to the Tuesday invasion, it is pretty clear that most Nigerians agreed an end must come to that ugly history. Nigerians can’t forget how the police was used in the second republic and the subsequent truncation of that democratic dispensation. In the current dispensation, we have seen the same worrisome trend, indicating that both our political leaders, and the security agencies have not learnt sufficiently on the need to allow for the emergence of the security institutions as a non-partisan, non-political group whose sole objective must be the protection of our national sovereignty.
Disappointedly, this administration that came on board with a promise of changing the ugly past is glaringly competing with its predecessors in terms of the abuse of power using the security agencies. If there is a change, what we have seen is a change from obeying the law to disobedience: the case of former National Security Adviser, Ibrahim Dasuki is there as a sore point; the invasion of homes of judges is there as a sore point, the invasion of the Benue State House of Assembly, soon after the governor defected from the ruling party to the opposition is there as a sore point; the various tiring, sometimes hilarious interface between the police and Senator Dino Melaye is there as a sore point; the fact that the accounts of Benue state government was blocked by the EFCC is there as a sore point; the dubious interrogation of the Senate President over the unfortunate Offa robbery is still there as a sore point; the stealing of the Senate mace in the full glare of a combined team of DSS operatives and policemen is there as a sore point…on and on and on.
There are ample evidence to show that our security agencies have become an instrument in the hands of the current administration in dealing with perceived enemies. At the national assembly alone, the invasion on Tuesday was the second time we would witness clearly partisan roles in intervention by security agencies in affairs of the legislative arm.
But this Tuesday, Nigerians told the world we are tired of the system. And seeing our collective resolve, the executive arms buckled and did the right thing. While we have on many occasions lamented the role of the social media, in this instance, the social media was a great tool in spreading the aversion of Nigerians to the invasion of the national assembly complex by the DSS. Is there an end to the truism that everyone has his day of relevance? While we will support laws that review the operations of the social media to ensure an end to fake news, we must ensure that such is done without gagging its users.
On a last note, it has been speculated that APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomole and APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu were involved in the coup against the people and our democracy. But trust yours truly, I have decided to dismiss this insinuation, knowing the progressive pedigree of these two gentlemen. It will be a sad day, the moment we see these types of individuals, who have risen to prominence in their political careers based solely on their stance against the illegal, wicked, unconstitutional use of state institutions, coming to agree with such a use just now while they are in power. It will be a sad day. It will be a sad day, I repeat. It must not be, because one day, the current regime will also pass away like the others before it and then the truth that are currently hidden will come to the open. It will be a shame if their names are mentioned then as having been among the conspirators against the genuine interest of an independent political system in Nigeria.
Never again shall Nigeria witness this kind of absurdities and contradictions in our body politics.
*Oba can be reached via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org