Who is against democratic structures in the North-East?

April 24, 2014
3 mins read

ON Monday, April 21, 2014,                      LEADERSHIP newspaper’s lead story said that plans were afoot to suspend democratic structures in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states. The plan is supposed to be an item of discussion at a Security Council meeting scheduled for Wednesday (yesterday); but I am writing on Tuesday night. The story quoted a faceless “top ranking officer in the military”, who accused “top politicians and elite in the Northeast” of “sabotaging the ongoing operations against the insurgents”. That faceless top-ranking officer nevertheless wanted governors and Houses of Assembly in the affected states suspended “while the operation lasted”. LEADERSHIP quoted its source further, that “the political elites, including the governors in those states, are working against our programme; their unguarded utterances are daring the insurgents”. The military officer was said to have “made reference to Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno and Murtala Nyako of Adamawa and a serving senator as being part of the alleged sabotage”. The ridiculous and obviously deluded and anti-democratic ranting went on and on.

But it became clearer to me, that the LEADERSHIP story was part of an elaborate, anti-democratic kite flying, when THISDAY newspaper of Tuesday, April 22, 2014,carried a similar request to set aside democratic structures in the states under a state of emergency. The request this time came from a legal practitioner called Oghenejabor Ikimi, who leads a nondescript body called Forum for Justice and Human Rights Defence. This human rights defender and lawyer, wants the Federal Government “to stop foot dragging” on “taking the appropriate step that would decisively address the menace of Boko Haram insurgency”. And what was his “decisive step”? Well, it is the most anti-democratic suggestion that an alleged defender of justice and human rights can ever think of: “the respective state governors should be temporarily relived of the functions and military administrators should be appointed to oversee affairs in the states as a measure against the insurgency”!

Deluded military officer and lawyer

These individuals are clearly deluded: the faceless top military officer and the legal practitioner. In the first place, the people of the states concerned have democratically elected the governors in power in the states in question, so to suggest their removal because of the security situation is an absurdity. Besides, in what ways have the elected representatives of the people of the three states hamstrung the operations of the security forces in the fight against the insurgency? Are these individuals aware of the amount of financial and other forms of support that these states have continued to put at the disposal of our forces fighting the insurgency?

What would military administrators achieve that they are unable to, with the extensive powers they already wield with the state of emergency? The truth is that there is much more mischief embedded in this ridiculous demand and all democratic forces in our country should stand up without ambiguity against any surreptitious plan to impose military administrators in the states of the Northeast.

In the first place, these are states controlled by the opposition; and since 1999, especially in Borno and Yobe, the PDP has been defeated in every election. So any plan to impose military administrators, on the eve of the 2015 elections, leaves room for suspicion that the Federal administration is trying to “capture” these states by subterfuge. It is clearly unacceptable. Secondly, if a faceless military officer is interested in ruling a state, the simple thing to do is to resign his commission in the Nigerian armed forces, join a political party and contest elections. That is the lawful manner of winning power in a democratizing country, as Nigeria is today. As for the legal practitioner who leads a Forum for Justice and Human Rights Defence, what is consonant with his declared vocation, is to stand for the defence of the tenure of democratically elected governors, not advocate the truncation of their rule. And at a time when children have been abducted in Borno, as much as the extensive destruction of the infrastructure of these states and the killing of thousands of innocent Nigerians, our human rights campaigner ought to be with the people of these states.

It is not by advocating for the suspension of democratic structures and the imposition of the rule of jackboots that the insurgency will be exorcised. The Federal Government should adequately make provision for our gallant armed forces; improve their morale; co-ordinate more proactively with the leadership in these states and improve intelligence gathering as much as working out a comprehensive plans of reconstruction and rehabilitation in the states. These are the steps we should be emphasising, not harebrained, dictatorial and anti-democratic delusions of removal of democratically elected structures of power in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Don't Miss