Many have since argued that the system of government obtainable in Nigeria is in fact not a democracy, but a civilian dictatorship. In all honesty, without necessarily adopting a defeatist mentality, we acknowledge that the government’s attitude of using state security agencies to serve a personal purpose attests to this. The individualization of government, as opposed to institutionalization of democracy is a dangerous trend which, if not arrested, would spell doom for this country.
We remember the dark days of the military era, when anyone who dared to speak the truth or say anything contrary to what the government desired would either go on exile or find himself behind bars; it is sad and disheartening that a supposedly democratic government would take us back to an era which we believed had passed. The constant harassment of leaders of the opposition could be taken to mean only one thing; that this government is intolerant beyond measure and would stop at nothing to silence the opposition.
The carnage and bloodshed which this crippled country witnessed during elections in 2011 was as a result of one thing and one thing only; elections were rigged in favour of the party which has ruled us since the inception of this democracy. While violence is no way to solve problems, the pervasive poverty and frustration which abounds in the country is one reason why each time there seems to be an issue, the masses – who have lost hope in the rule of law – decide to take the law into their own hands. What Mallam Nasir ElRufai warned against was a repetition of this brazen rape on democracy and Nigerians’ rights. He did not incite people or even attempt to, he simply urged the ruling party to desist from rigging in order to avert the bloodshed which could result from manipulating election results.
What makes one especially curious is the fact that those who have made outright threats have been left to roam free and persist in their war chants. The likes of Asari Dokubo and Chief Edwin Clark have stated many times that ‘Nigeria will burn’ and that ‘there will be war’ if the President is not reelected in 2015. All of a sudden, someone makes a genuine statement out of concern and love for his country and he is to be arrested? Should this be taken as proof of the many allegations of ethnic bias on the President’s part? One is forced to ask: is Mallam Nasir ElRufai being hounded and harassed by the SSS now because he happens to be from an ethnic group outside the President’s and furthermore dared to be a member of the opposition?
Recently, members of this Forum were also hurt in the mayhem unleashed on members of the APC during a rally in Port-Harcourt, on the orders of a commissioner who was acting out a script written by the Executive. We ask that this government look beyond 2015 and realize that the task of nation-building entails a lot more than politics; it’s not about who wins the elections, it’s about those who are governed. It’s about Nigerians who have every right to feel safe in their country. What this government needs to realize is that without the people, there can be no nation.
We hope that this government does the right thing by desisting from this dishonourable path of witch-hunting members of the opposition, and instead equip security agencies to tackle the menace of terrorism and deploy resources towards combating such problems as youth unemployment and inadequate healthcare services.
Nigerian youths are watching – this country is ours also and it is our duty to protect it, and advocate for and seek to implement the change that we seek.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
‘Rinsola Abiola Barr. Isma’il Ahmed
PRO Chairman, APYF APYF