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Friday, July 12, 2024

Why Nigerians Don’t Need Ex-Military Ruler – By Nwobodo Chidiebere



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As Nigeria is still struggling to come out of the injuries inflicted on her by long years of military rule, coupled with Obasanjo’s eight years of anti-democratic disposure during his second coming as president because of his background as former military Head of State, every true democrat in Nigeria has resolved that never again will an ex-military dictator who truncated our democracy decades ago and subjected our people to untold hardship lead this country in a 21st century world where fast ideas driven by ICT-inclined youth; propel global economy and international politics. If not for the unfortunate truncation of Nigeria’s young democracy in 1983 by military junta led by Gen.Buhari, our democracy would gone a long way by now, which could have culminated into a stronger democratic institutions for the country, increase in political consciousness among electorates, vibrant economy for the people, and better recognition in the comity of nations, but reverse is the case as Gen.Buhari-led coup of 1983 ushered in another long, unproductive and tyrannical years of military dictatorship which Nigeria is yet to recover from its negative impact on the lives of Nigerians.


For example, It is on record that the present “feeding bottle federalism” being practice in the country today which encourages laziness of the mind among our political elites, was promulgated by military regimes which has stifled the growth and development of Nigeria’s human and material resources as a result of over-dependence of States and Local Governments on the “free money” raining from Abuja, no wonder the current oil price crisis is having great toll on the nation’s economy because of lackadaisical attitude of States Governors to develop economies of their different states, which is indirectly cause by clogs in the 1999 Constitution which transferred the powers to explore and mine mineral resources to Federal Government. Apart from the clog in 1999 Constitution, States have not done enough to revive economies of their different states through Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). If Nigeria is practicing true federalism, the current tension as a result of the coming presidential election would not have arisen at all, because every state will be independent of Federal Government controlled resources. Gen. Buhari’s coup of 1983 set our dear nation 50 years backward, it’s likely that majority of those clamoring for the return of the anti-democratic czar are either bereft of Nigeria’s political history or suffering from broken memory otherwise known as amnesia. Never again!

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Never again will an ex-dictator who promulgated military Degree to gag the press and freedom of speech rule us again in a 21st century era where freedom of press has become so indispensible to people’s lives and government activities. Gen.Buhari suppressed and clampdown on Nigeria media as military Head of State, he has not shown any sign of remorse for all the anti-media decisions he took to stifled the media during his tyrannical reign as Head of State. Someone who has started taking people to International Criminal Court of Justice as a presidential candidate in an election that he is not sure of winning, imagine what will happen if such a person that does not respect other people’s views emerges as Nigerian president, he will turn Nigeria into North Korea of Africa, where every citizen has to take permission from state controlled press before expressing any opinion publicly or risk life imprisonment. This is one of the areas President Jonathan has an edge over Gen.Buhari, it is on record that President Jonathan signed Freedom of Information bill into law which previous governments before him refused to assent to, and this has helped to deepen our nascent democracy, as we all know that no democracy will thrive in an atmosphere of gagged media, which is exactly what Gen.Buhari promoted as military dictator by jailing many of Nigerian journalists for holding contrary opinions against his illegal government.


President Jonathan will go down in history as Nigerian most tolerant president, as no president before him gave media houses such unbridled freedom to operate to the extent that some media houses sympathetic to opposition party, APC have seen it as a “clarion call” to be throwing insults at President Jonathan unchecked without putting into consideration the simple undeniable fact that he is a setting president with all the powers to make or mar at his disposal. While I am in support of constructive criticisms as a way of checkmating the government, when the criticisms become common tradition with few media houses, it calls for caution. What all these anti-Jonathan media houses fail to understand is that the type of unrestrained freedom they enjoy which enables them to churn out fabricated lies and frivolous stories as newspapers publications with ill-conceived motive of inciting Nigerians against President Jonathan to pave way for emergence of their preferred candidate by discrediting the present government, would not be granted under Gen.Buhari’s government knowing his antecedents as anti-media personality. In other to continue to enjoy unbridled freedom of speech and press, true democrats in this country are saying, never again will someone whose antecedents are like that of Gen.Buhari will be in Nigeria’s seat of power of Aso Rock as our president. Nigeria needs true change and transformation not this retrogressive kind of change being advocated by a former dictator who what to benefit from the same democracy he murdered over thirty years ago. Never again!

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Another horrific experience that make Nigerians deride the second coming of Gen.Buhari, is his lack of respect for fundamental human rights which he greatly abused as military Head of State. After watching Gen.Buhari’s interview on Aljazeera where he vehemently defended his ill-conceived and venom-filled decision to use a retroactive law to execute three Nigerians in 1984 as a result of drug related offences, I weep for my dear country, Nigeria. As I will not encourage any Nigerian youth to go into drug related adventure, I see no justifiable reason for Gen.Buhari to still hold to that ill-fated decision which attracted international condemnation as the best thing he would done as of the time the incident took place. More than thirty years out of power, Gen.Buhari has not deemed it fit to apologize or show a sign of remorse for his thoughtless actions which reduced Nigeria to a fiefdom of military Generals where human rights are trampled upon like foot mat. Gen.Buhari told the world in Chatham House, London that he is now a transformed democrat, but what type of change is this “agent of change” who has not regretted any of actions as military Head of State bring to the people? Can a man be transformed without transforming his mind? No one is arguing the fact that we need change but is this type of change we need now in a 21st century world? Some Nigerians have allowed themselves to be brainwashed by propaganda machinery of APC that this ex-dictator who has not shown any sign of change in his ideology and philosophy of life is the change we now. How true that is will be determined by posterity. Aristotle said, history repeats itself but men fail to learn from it.



Nwobodo Chidiebere, Public Affairs Commentator, writes from Abuja.


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