If anyone was still in doubt that Nigeria’s hard-earned democracy is in grave danger and urgently needs emergency rescue, recent developments in the country would have squandered such hovering confidence.
Only recently, the Nigerian Senate invited the Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Idris, to appear before it to answer questions regarding incessant killings by fulani herdsmen in some parts of the country, among other reasons, but the police boss, giving his reasons, refused to honour the invitation by the Senate. Heavens, as they say did not fall, for such blatant disregard to a legitimate and constitutional invite. After all, he’s done it to Mr President without a reprimand.
However, today, the Inspector General of Police in seeming reversal of authority, has summoned the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki to appear before him to answer questions over a bank robbery incidence in Offa, a local government of Kwara State, to which the police boss claimed suspects in their custody allegedly fingered the Senate President! As usual, the presidency is playing ostrich; acting like it is not aware of this gravely disturbing development that is equally capable of endangering the fragile peace and friendship between the industrious people of Offa and the peace loving and religious people of Ilorin. Very unfortunate!
As if that was not frightening and threatening enough, a former Nigeria President, Olusegun Obasanjo alleged a threat to his life. The former president has alleged that President Buhari is planning to incanstrate him on trumped up charges. According to the former president in a statement by his media aide, “since Chief Olusegun Obasanjo declared in his State-of-the-Nation Special Statement on January 23, 2018, the desperation to frustrate, intimidate and blackmail him into abandoning his divine mandate to protect the rights of the people to better life and living continued unabated and has even taken a bizarre dimension”.
Perhaps, like a play reaching denouement too fast, Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police must have taken Nigerians for granted to accept conjured tales that clearly do not add up and fall for it. Really, what manner of money could a two-term governor and serving Senate President need to make him hire armed robbers and doing so with a personalised vehicle plate number that screams “Saraki.” What a comedy! For those in the know, this development can only remind one of the military years where law and order were contrived to serve selfish goals as opposed to general good of the society.
No doubt, the Nigeria Police is full of highly respected professional men and women who have distinguished themselves in national and international engagements dispute not too incentivised environment they operate back home. They are gallant officers. I respect them. The speed and competence with which they apprehend the Offa robbery suspects demand accolades from every one. But how did they get to this ridiculous level? Why did IGP failed to maximised this opportunity to further launder the seemingly battered and nose-diving image?
Before the Saraki and Idris drama, there was the Senator Dino Melaye episode with the police. The police department, which is never always in short supply of drama skills when it comes to anyone believed to be keeping the government of the day on its toes, chose which order to obey, and doing so by providing amusement for onlookers on the highway where the smuggled senator reportedly jumped out of a moving police van.
All this happened in the face of a subsisting court order to the effect that the voiceferous senator and government critic, should be tried where necessary, in Abuja. But the subsisting court order, perhaps, to the police boss, was probably a story for the gods, as in one good hour, he allegedly ordered his men to forcefully compel the senator, an ally of the embattled senate president, to travel to his home state, Kogi, to stand trial.
The laughable, curious dramatic displays and political intrigues had previously had Senator Abubakar Sanni looking government eye-ball to eye-ball. And, with an election year a few months away, particularly with the uneasiness across the country due to growing poverty and hardship in the land, chances are that many more government critics would be added to the grid of “offenders and enemies.”
But, what if the IGP had honoured the Senate invitation? Would we have gotten here? Possibly, No. Indeed, it could only pass beyond the ridiculous for the Inspector General of Police and the presidency, which has failed to act responsibly to halt the slide, to think that Nigerians would believe this warped tale or, just anything thrown at them about a senate president and former governor hiring armed robbers to rob a bank!
However the prism developments in the nation is looked at, it is without doubt, a wake up call to save our democracy. The ruling All Progressives Congress party, (APC), it would be recalled, emerged following what many perceived as the failure and inability of the then ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) to fix the economy and restore confidence in the system after 16 years of governance. Today, it remains to be seen how better the APC government has fared. It would seem that all the trust given it, though Nigerians were aware that a good number of its members were part of the disappointing PDP league, have been frittered away.
Interestingly, too, it was believed that an APC leadership would draw from history to avoid the systemic landmines that spelt doom for the PDP, to acquit itself by puting the people far and above other primordial interests. Barely three years on, and in the face of clear threats to democratic institutions, the APC seems to have already run out of ideas. For inexplicable reasons, its leadership has continued to relish in tripodal controversy defined by lies, propaganda and division and curiously openly embraced everything, but respect for the rule of law and constitutionalism, independence of the legislature, equitable distribution of appointments and devotion to democratic sustanance.
Apparently in sharp contrast with APC campaign promises to not only strengthen the economy, fight insecurity, unite the nation, but also protect democratic institutions, signs are that things are hurrying down the slope with the speed of light. There has been a spiral erosion of confidence fuelled by clear government interferance in matters where independence of democratic institutions should have held sway.
This, no doubt, is what the Saraki and Inspector General of Police face-off further demontrates. But this is not exactly about Saraki. It is about Nigeria; it should be about survival and respect of democratic institutions which is far beyond party politics or personal interests. This is why all well-meaning individuals should forge a common front to safe our democracy. Saraki and Idris must both sheath their swords, respect and protect their respective institutions and save our democracy. When two elephants fight, the grasses suffer.
*Oba can be reached via e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org