Intriguingly inauspicious are ominous signs that our dear country; Nigeria, is deliberately and systematically but dangerously caving into dictatorship.
Every operational system has its peculiar characteristics. When those attributes typically associated with such a system become completely non-existent or even diminutive, it becomes clear that the system has started heading towards disaster and anarchy.
The world over, the beauty of constitutional democracy lies in non-partisan observance of and adherence to the rule of law.
According to the tenets of the rule of law, the accused is assumed innocent until, otherwise, proven guilty. Furthermore, the onus of proof is the responsibility of the prosecution.
The above inalienable and incontestable provision is deliberately crafted in order to check the natural proclivity of powerful authorities towards arbitrariness in the use of power.
Another provision that is inseparable from democracy is the doctrine of Separation of Power. By this doctrine, each arm; the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary, though inter-dependent by cumulative operation, has a clearly defined constitutional role assigned to it.
Expectedly by practice, each mans its own area of constitutional functionality. No arm is expected to interfere in or encroach on the constitutional responsibilities of another arm.
In order to make sure that democracy works, each arm of government is expected to respect the position of the other arms.
If, for instance, the legislature enacts a law, it would be the responsibility of the Executive to implement it. The Judiciary’s role is to interpret laws made by the Legislature. The inter-dependence amongst these three arms of government really call for intra-governmental corporation. Where this synergy is evident, democracy would attain its peak, the governed would be happy and there would be harmony, peace and progress in the polity.
In current Nigeria’s political landscape, the narrative is fast giving way to disrespect for the rule of law.
Verdicts by Courts of competent jurisdiction are hardly obeyed. Fundamental human rights, such as freedom of speech and lawful assembly have almost been eroded.
Today’s Nigeria could be likened to Nigeria of 1984, when decree number 4 of that year gagged citizens’ fundamental human rights.
In the recent past, we have shockingly observed how highly-placed citizens of the country have been indiscriminately arrested, treated like common criminals and incarcerated for days without recourse to the rule of law.
To worsen the situation, the times have become exceeding rough and dangerous for members of the opposition in the country.
In his bid to make sure his second tenure is guaranteed, President Muhammadu Buhari has started unleashing draconian measures against perceived opponents.
He now uses officials of national security agencies to stifle, intimidate and humiliate the opposition.
The manner of arrest and detention of the Senator representing the good people of Kogi-West; Senator Dino Melaye, was a case in point.
The government, just to settle scores, has become alarmist. In this episode, we read how the President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; Dr Bukola Saraki, was, without any modicum of decorum, invited publicly by the Nigerian Police on national televisions to come and answer questions on allegations of being part of a robbery gang that operated in a bank at Offa, in Kwara State.
Only last Friday, the Senator representing the very law-abiding people of Abia-South; Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, was arrested where he had gone to have his hair cut, by officers of Department of State Service, DSS.
In spite of the fact that his place of residence in Abuja was painstakingly searched for many hours without any unlawful possession being in his custody or even within his vicinity, the DSS still made away with him and dumped him in a place yet to be known. His condition of health and safety is any body’s guess.
For those who know Senator Enyi Abaribe, he is not inordinately given to pursuit of materialism. It is, therefore, most probably, his only offence could be his outspokenness against the shenanigans of the present APC central government.
Things happening today in Nigeria are the exact antithesis of the norms of constitutional democracy. It is clearly evident that Mr President has become extremely desperate for a return to power in 2019, not minding his abysmal poor performance, so far.
From these desperate expressions, it is likely Mr President would not even depend on a legitimate outcome of the results of 2019 general election. He might go ahead to direct his kinsmen who are strategically positioned in Independent National Electoral Commission to announce a result that would be favourable to him and his Party, irrespective of what the electorate would cast.
It must be cautioned that despite our nineteen years of democratic governance since 1999, our democracy is still nascent. Undermining it through brazen acts of totalitarianism and crude partisan dictatorship, will amount to heating up the polity unduly and also an avoidable foundation for its destruction and termination.
A word must at this juncture be left for the opposition. Despots have a common trait in them. They hate democracy. Recent history has it that Mr President, while in the Army, overthrew the democratically elected government of former President Shehu Shagari.
A leopard, we are told, does not change its spot. Even though he now wears ‘agbada’, Mr President remains an unrepentant dictator. The rough and intimidating imposition of party officials as witnessed in yesterday’s National Convention of his Party, APC, tells exactly the direction Mr President is headed.
The Opposition in the country has an enormous challenge to rescue Nigerians from the clutches of a desperate despotic President. Arrest and detention on trumped up charges should not deter them from legitimately confronting this government that is very desperate to retain power, even at any cost.
While former President Goodluck Jonathan thought that his Presidency was not worth the blood of any Nigerian Citizen, this government is indifferently festering in the blood of tens of thousands of innocent defenceless Nigerians, especially Christians.
Nigerian democrats are no strangers to this type of intemperance, intolerance and impunity. The anti-democratic foundation led by Gen Muhammadu Buhari in 1983 gave birth to the emergence of one of the most devilish military dictators the world had ever known, late Gen Sani Abacha.
Not minding how brutal Abacha made himself to be, Nigerian democrats fought him to a logical conclusion.
At a very difficult time like this in our history, we should not underrate what God can do for his people. A time such as this, calls for unity of purpose, action and time.
The Opposition should identify their common enemy. A gun shot has been fired in their father’s compound. They do not need to run helter skelter.
They should be united in vision, mission and courage. They should not allow petty jealousy, foolish pride or self interest to divide them now.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Vice President Atiku Abubarkar, the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and all other wounded and humiliated democrats should team up with the Peoples Democratic Party to rescue Nigeria from this mess. The most auspicious time to put their acts together is no other time than now.
Sir Don Ubani; KSC, JP.
Okwubunka of Asa.