Asa road deserted as pro Biafra protesters set bonfire

Asa road deserted as pro Biafra protesters set bonfire

 

If you want to understand why Africa hardly boasts any real democracy; with vibrant opposition parties that replace themselves in power through the ballot box—take a look at events since Buhari assumed power on the bogus promise of change. The change has turned out to be a vindictive, discriminatory, tribal, hateful, antagonistic, undemocratic, hypocritical, tyrannical, clueless and lawless administration with double standards and record human rights violations. Rather than consolidate on growing the gains of our democracy that made it possible for him to defeat an incumbent president, unite our diverse population and pursue a robust policy of economic growth, Buhari has focused on a vindictive policy of selective hounding of members of the opposition party, critics and those who one way or the other participated in the elections on the side of the PDP. He has also pursued an unprecedented policy of exclusion against sections of the country that didn’t vote for him. Not surprisingly, his vindictive policies have created the largest ethnic divisions in Nigeria’s post war history with the emergence and intensification of self determination groups.

 

And just when we thought we had seen the height of Buhari’s vindictive/sectional politics, the news came of ethnic cleansing and a massive purge of mostly Southern officers from the army as listed below:

Maj. Gen TC Ude (SE)
Maj. Gen LC Ilo (SE)
Maj. Gen IN Ijoma (SE)
Maj. Gen O Ejimai (SE)
Maj. Gen PAT Akem (SS)
Maj. Gen ED Atewe (SS)
Maj. Gen FO Alli (SS)
Maj. Gen SD Aliyu (MB)
Maj. Gen Letam Wiwa – younger brother of murdered Environmental Rights activist and author, Ken Saro-Wiwa (SS)
Maj. Gen Mobolaji Koleoso(SW)
Maj. General MY Ibrahim
Brig. Gen GO Agachi (SE )
Brig. Gen Okonkwo (SE)
Brig. Gen Ogidi (SE)
Brig. Gen Koko Essien (SS)
Brig. Gen PE Ekpeyong (SS)
Brig. Gen Bright Fiboinumama (SS)
Brig. Gen. M. Onoyiveta (SS)
Brig Gen IMD Lawson (SS)
Brig Gen Oyefesobi (SW)
Brig. Gen AI Onibasa (SW)
Brig Gen Bashir Mormoni(MB)
Brig. Gen AH Saad -Former ADC to late President Musa Yaradua (North)
Brig. Gen MG Ali (North)
Brig. Gen LN Bello (North )
Brig. Gen D Abdusalam (North)
Col. CK Ukoha (SE)
Col. OU Nwankwo (SE)
Col. FD Kayode (SW)
Col. Audu (MB)
Col. Nicholas Achinze -Dasuki’s ADC(SE)
Col. Tonye F Minimah–Younger brother of former Chief of Army Staff
LT. Gen. Kenneth Minimah(SS)
Col. Ojogbane Adegbe –ADC to former President Goodluck Jonathan (MB)
Col. DR Hassan (North)
Col. MA Suleiman (North)
Lt. Col GC Nyekwu (SE)

 

Since then, illogical excuses have been advanced by the army and its usual enablers to justify the perfidious de-professionalization and politicization of the careers of officers on the altar of partisan politics. We have been told that the officers were partisan or sympathetic to the PDP; we have also been told that the officers were involved in elections. Not to be outdone, the usual convenient bogey of alleged corruption was added to the sins hung around the necks of some of the retired officers. Yet, curiously no proof was ever advanced to support any of these allegations, nor did the officers face any trial. Whatever happened to due process?  If mere unproven allegations according to the biases of any administration becomes the standard for arbitrarily terminating the careers of officers who put their lives on the line for the nation, then a dangerous precedent whose consequence we cannot anticipate has been set.

 

For starters; military officers are not part of INEC and thus not in a position to organize or participate in elections. They only provide security during elections as is required due to the volatile nature of Nigeria’s electoral contests. All recent elections held under the present administration from Rivers to Bayelsa states also saw the military deployed to provide security. If indeed the retired military officers were involved in elections as alleged how come Buhari still won the presidential elections? Will an incumbent administration intent on rigging elections with all at its disposal lose? Its obvious Buhari’s propagandists don’t think before they throw out fallacies that stand logic on its head.  As private individuals, officers are also Nigerians and have the right to have political preferences. In the United States, the military is reputed to be overwhelmingly pro-Republican Party. These are normal preferences that are not inconsistent with the practice of democracy anywhere in the world. Thus to single out predominantly southern officers on the premise that they were pro-PDP and use that as an excuse to prematurely retire them is a  vindictive, bigoted and undemocratic politics taken too far with dangerous consequences for our already gravely eroded national unity and fledgling democracy.

 

When in 1999, the then president Olusegun Obasanjo retired all military officers who had held political positions, it was justifiable given that the civilian dispensation was just beginning after decades of military rule and the retired officers most of whom had been involved in the coups that brought their benefactors to power had held political positions such as governors, ministers under erstwhile military regimes. They; thus due to their political exposure constituted a clear and present obstacle to the professionalization of the army and survival of democracy. But unlike the necessity of the Obasanjo purge, the same cannot be said of the recent gale of ethnic cleansing in the army, which is designed only to satisfy the vindictive and tribal desire of the president to return the Nigerian army to the Northern dominated  ethnic and unprofessional army it use to be.

 

 

It is worthy of note that the Nigerian army has recorded its longest and most sustained period of professionalism and stability. Not a single coup or act inimical to democratic stability has been undertaken in the last 17 years. This is the longest in the nation’s history. Unlike the past, the military is now content to pursue their careers which strident efforts at professionalising the services now afford them. It is therefore strange that Buhari and his army goons  would chose to break the era of professionalism and stability that now pervades the army by re-introducing the kind of vindictive policies and ethnic discrimination that reduced the Nigerian army to a conflict ridden, unstable, ethnic and politicised army in the past. There is no greater danger to the very idea of democracy than the resort to punishing those who identify with a different political persuasion. In a democracy officers cannot and should not be witch-hunted and punished for their political persuasions. When Nelson Mandela came to power in the aftermath of Apartheid, he didn’t go persecuting and or retiring white officers in the military, police and state institutions that enabled the Apartheid regime. He ran a reconciliatory and inclusive nation building government.

 

In contrast to Mandela, Buhari has evidently chosen an antagonistic, tribal and vindictive policy of persecuting those aligned to the previous administration while his own administration paradoxically reeks of the same partisanship they accuse others of.  The decision by the Army council to retire officers considered pro-PDP is in of itself an act of brazen partisanship. The bias displayed by the army in handling killings by herdsmen across Nigeria vis-a-vis IPOB and Shiites is another example of the partisanship of the army to suit the inclinations or body language of a President who has sufficiently demonstrated his intention of doing nothing about murderous Fulani herdsmen because they are his kinsmen. The Police, DSS, INEC, CCT and EFCC notorious for its selective persecution of PDP members and critics of the government have not hidden their partisanship to the present administration.

 

Indeed, the most recognisable undercurrent in today’s Nigeria is the brazen and open ended partisanship of security services and other institutions of state to Buhari.  Given the monumental scope of partisanship now being manifested by the army and other undermined state institutions, what moral right does the present partisan leadership of the army have to accuse other officers of partisanship? Ultimately the tendency to punish political opponents, critics and those who demonstrated any loyalty to a previous regime once they lose power is the reason there is no real democracy in Nigeria and Africa. The natural consequence of such post-election persecution is that politicians, key military officers and others mindful of what will be their fate if the incumbent party loses would in desperation do anything including rigging and violence to keep the incumbent in power. This in a nutshell explains why most African countries are one party states where incumbent ruling parties retain power by hook or crook with attendant bad governance.

 

In the last 16 years; the PDP had no incentive to provide good governance because there was no opposition party strong enough to challenge it. Consequently, it ran roughshod on the nation until a coalition strong enough to challenge it emerged in the APC. While many hoped that the emergence of APC alongside a strong PDP in opposition would give us a true democratic experience where the ruling party mindful of the possibility of being removed in elections would be compelled to provide good governance, the systematic persecution of PDP members and critics of the administration in a bid to emasculate the opposition suggest otherwise. Nigeria now runs the risk of returning to the status quo with an unchallenged APC that again rides roughshod on the nation. Those who refuse to learn from history are bound to repeat the same mistakes. The Nigerian army should be focused on dealing with its horrendous human rights records not serving the partisan agenda of the ruling party in its agenda to create a one party state.

Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu

Email: lawrencenwobu@gmail.com