BY SOLA EBISENI
LIKE a magician in the 1970s and 80s, Nigeria and its politics have become “America Wonder.” Just like you thought you had reached the pinnacle of the bizarre, new ones are unleashed in quick succession leaving you confounded.
Democracy, based on the rule of law and precedent, makes governance predictable, unlike the present administration which is most predictably unpredictable.
The Federal Government, last week “hinted of the possibility of declaring a state of emergency in Anambra State to protect the electoral process and constitutional order, if the November 6 governorship election in the state became heavily threatened”. This declaration was made by the Federal Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who was addressing newsmen at the State House, Abuja, at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Concluding, Malami said, “what I’m saying in essence, no possibility is ruled out by the government in terms of ensuring the sanctity of our democratic order, in terms of ensuring that our elections in Anambra hold, and you cannot out rule possibilities, inclusive of the possibility of a declaration of a state of emergency, where it is established, in essence, that there is a failure on the part of the state government to ensure the sanctity of security of life, property, and democratic order.”
Of course, the unkindest cut in that statement was the shameless shifting of the blame of insecurity to the state government by the Federal Government which has the exclusive duty to provide security, the basic task in which it has failed woefully. Notwithstanding the cries for restructuring of the Nigerian federation to place internal security in the concurrent legislative list to allow for state police, the Federal Government, even in the face of glaring incapacity, has clung to the perverted constitution which ascribed to it the impossible and unmerited status of invincibility.
In diverse ways and reasons, well-meaning Nigerians including the ethnic nationality groups, have condemned the statement as not only unreasonable, but truly a self-indictment by the Buhari administration that it had lost total control of the country and rather than so admit, it is shamelessly looking for scapegoats. But there are several other reasons the Federal Government should be stopped in this illegal venture.
However, before delving into them, let’s consider the statement credited to Governor Willie Obiano to the effect that the Attorney General did not likely have the consent of the President in making the statement.
The press reported the statement of the governor in diverse ways, the summary of which is that Buhari disowned Malami.
From the circumstances of both meetings, our conclusion is that it is not yet Uhuru for Anambra. In the first place, Obiano was merely and clearly expressing his personal views. He was disciplined and charitable enough as a gentleman, that we all know him to be, not to have quoted the President directly.
He rather alluded that the President did not discuss the issue of emergency rule with him even as he who purposely visited and sought the audience of the President on the matter, did not say he raised it with him.
While the attorney general has unfortunately reduced his office to that of a spokesman for government on all issues important, mundane and absurd, it is most unlikely that he would address the world after a National Executive Council session on a matter as important as a declaration of emergency rule in one of the federating states of the Nigerian union.
I shudder to say that if the AG was just frolicking, there are several members of the council who would have instantly denied him. Is it not the same government where the AG recently and openly disagreed with the learned Professor Vice President and Festus Keyamo SAN on the legal effect on the APC of the Supreme Court judgement on the Election Petition of Jegede and Akeredolu.
If no one else, the self-styled Omo Mushin, Dr Chris Ngige who represents Anambra in the cabinet and knows the political implication of pronouncing emergency rule on his state, while in attendance, would have instantly reacted. Besides, the statement of the AG holding governors responsible for the security of their states is in tandem with the belief and expectations of President Buhari.
In his interview with the Arise Television on June 10 earlier this year, the President had told the nation how he told two governors from the South West who came to him on the security situation in their states that they should return and deal with it even when the modest Amotekun efforts of the said governors were condemned by the AG and the President as unconstitutional.
Contrary to the impression created by Governor Obiano, it is not in the character of the President to disown his boys. He demonstrated it loudly when the whole world came heavily on his Minister of Communications whom he authorised a lengthy statement to defend in spite of his incendiary statements which might have been responsible for the wanton murder of many.
Malami may have embarrassed government times without number, as they say, with his impulsive statements on issues that are beneath him and his exalted office. More often than not, he is quick to denounce actions as unconstitutional and in many cases threatened court actions that never were.
He said that in respect of the ban on open grazing which he embarrassingly compared with selling automobiles spare parts, he misadvised the government on the possibility of the Federal Government delving on land use through re-opening of grazing routes, reserves or farm estates by the Federal Government.
On the issue of VAT, Malami has reduced his office to that of one of the governors of the northern states in a duel that has virtually assumed a regional dimension. In all of these legal and policy misadventures, Buhari has stood unblinking with the attorney general.
In his famous interview with the Arise, in reaction to an earlier statement where the AG goofed on open grazing, the President had elected to sink with his man and asked from the interviewer whether he wanted him (Buhari) to contradict his attorney general. Such was the misdirection when soon as Buhari became President in 2015, he was made to unduly preoccupy himself and the government with activities of some noisome boys in the name of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB.
He was deceived by his ego being massaged that as a veteran of the Nigerian civil war, it was treasonable to his ears that anyone could have the effrontery of mentioning Biafra. He was not told that his bosses in the said war, Obasanjo and Danjuma as his Defence Minister managed Nwazuruike whose mantra by name was the actualisation of the sovereign State of Biafra.
When Buhari charged Kanu and his IPOB colleagues with treason in 2015, the campaign was completely non-violent on the alleged marginalisation of the Igbo. It was when vicious attempts were made to neutralise him in 2017 that Kanu went underground and out of the country.
Apart from his diatribe on Radio Biafra which is not as hateful as those of some members of Buhari’s government, no soul then was lost from the hands of IPOB compared with terrorist herdsmen who were then rated as the fourth most dreaded terrorist organisation in the world but courted till today by the government.
President Buhari and his cabinet must have disappointed even their most gullible and remaining supporters for contemplating a state of emergency because of elections.
Mere postponement of elections for two weeks in 2015 to deal with the menace of Boko Haram which was said to be ineffective occupation of more than 20 local governments in the North East, elicited attacks on the Jonathan government by candidate Buhari and his APC party. Buhari had warned saying “I wish to state strongly that our party will not tolerate any further interference with the electoral process,” the opposition leader said. “The rescheduled elections of March 28 and April 11, 2015, must be sacrosanct.”
If this government spared deadly terrorist herdsmen and declared relatively peaceful IPOB terrorist organisation; if the government looks the other way while herdsmen are killing, maiming and raping while it seeks the lives of Sunday Igboho and his boys who are known to be road mobilisers, if the situations in Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, Kebbi, Niger states where governors and traditional rulers have called on the people to rise in their own defence in clear surrender to terrorism and banditry have not crossed the mind of government for an emergency rule, then the statement of the Attorney General of the Federal Government (not of the federation, there are 37 in the federation) should not be taken lightly particularly by the people of the South East.
I have a hunch that it is a metaphor for some unconstitutional acts by a government embarrassed by the lowering of the national flag in the East which has been the pastime of several mujahedeen organisations in the North for several years. It is not yet Uhuru! Nigeria, we hail thee.