Jackboot Democracy – By Mike Ozekhome
Jackboots were type of very large, strong cavalry boots (1680s) and later won by German military and para-military units during the Nazi period. Synonyms of Jackboot are combat boot, chukka boot, desert boot, buskin, army boot, iron fist, big stick, tight grasp, strong hand, tight rein, hard line, heavy hand, iron rule, mailed fist and high hand.
Nigerian democracy has now been reduced to one of “jackboot democracy” where a citizen is forced, with a gun to his head, to adopt or remain in one particular political party. Sections 39, 40 and 41 of the 1999 Constitution, guarantee freedoms of movement, association and assembly. Not any more under the present Buhari government! Citizens are being forced, under long knives, bayonets, guns and physical siege by security agents to toe a particular line, or remain in a particular party. This type of scenario did not even play out during autocratic and draconian military dictatorships.
APC is the ruling party, which, until yesterday, have had a majority in both Houses of the bi-camera NASS made up of 109 Senators and 360 House of Representatives members. PDP that had ruled Nigeria for 16 years between May, 1999 and May, 2015, is now the opposition party. Once bedeviled by internal crises and factionalization, the party found its feet and voice with a Supreme Court judgement in 2017, that effectively outlawed the Modu Sheriff faction. Sheriff who has since decamped back to the APC, was believed to be a mole planted by the APC in PDP, being an in-law to President Buhari.
Signs that APC was imploding started by June 29, 2015, when Bukola Saraki was elected Senate President against the wishes of PBM and APC leadership who were then meeting at the International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja. APC was even lucky to have produced the Senate President, because the Senators at the plenary on that day could have elected Ike Ekweremadu of the PDP Senate President in the absence of a Saraki. Saraki was thereafter shunned, humiliated, buffeted, dehumanised and criminalized, with charges drawn against him before the Code of Conduct Tribunal. However, the Supreme Court of Nigeria finally gave Saraki a clean bill of innocence health only two weeks ago. He suddenly became the untainted beautiful bride courted by the ruling party. Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of the House of Representatives was a little luckier for not being charged with criminal offences. However, the schisms and cracks within the APC had developed into gullies and canyons. The contradictions and hypocrisy became intolerable.
Buba Galadinma, Buhari loyalist and right hand man successfully factionalised the APC, with a new creation called r-APC, an organization dismissed with a wave of the hand by the APC leadership, as inconsequential and of no moment. Indeed, Galadinma’s group was described in a cavalier manner as lacking political addresses. The old man who was said to have been involved in auto accident yesterday merely laughed. Nay, he mocked APC for its self denial.
The lie in this APC grandstanding and swashbuckling soon evaporated when the president, presidency and APC leadership moved frenetically and desperately to abort the total break up and factionalization of the APC. By the formation of r-APC, the group ingeniously satisfied the provisions of Section 68 (1) (g) of the 1999 Constitution which permits Legislators to defect where their original party suffers a division, or is involved in a merger with another political party or faction thereof. Notwithstanding the tough talk by the APC, Nigerians watched its hapless leadership, President, Vice President and the presidency nichodemusly holding nocturnal meetings with the aggrieved members of the r-APC (who complained of lack of internal democracy), begging, genuflectingly, that they remained in the APC.
THE NEW TWIST
Nigerians woke up on Tuesday, 24th July, to see the official residence of Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu (PDP), his Deputy, quarantined off, barricaded and surrounded by fierce, gun-wielding Police, DSS and other security agents. The siege was obviously to prevent them from sitting. For the records, Saraki had been summoned at 8pm on Monday night to report to the Police at 8am Tuesday morning (12 hours invitation for the number 3 citizen of Nigeria), over the Offa robbery which he had emphatically denied being connected with. With the carrots and mouth-watering offers dangled before him having woefully failed, the Police suddenly remembered this case which they had buried for over one month, dusted it up and went for Saraki’s jugular.
Ike Ekweremadu was not so lucky. His invitation to report on 24th July, to the EFCC (which has increasingly become the Hitler’s arm of the government), was dated the same 24th July. Yet, before the ink of his invitation could dry up, his house had been cordoned off with a siege reminiscent of a rampaging army of occupation.
It is said that the game plan was to prevent Saraki and his Deputy Ekweremadu from sitting and presiding over the Senate so that they could be impeached and replaced with the majority leader, Ahmed Lawan. But being master of the game, Saraki reportedly outwitted and outsmarted the armada of security waiting for him in vain at his house. He did not sleep at home. He was said to have sold the Police a dummy, by sleeping outside his home. Very early in the morning, he allegedly drove himself in a rickety vehicle and quietly entered the Senate chambers where he later presided.
Thus, while the Police stopped his fake convoy which did not contain his person, from leaving his house, shouting and screaming orders and expletives, Saraki was already sipping coffee or green tea in the green chambers. He was said to have cleverly switched off his personal phones, dropped them at home to avoid tracing of his location, whilst he slipped out, through the back door of his house.
Thus, when the Senate sat at plenary, APC (the majority), suddenly found itself the minority, with the decampment of 15 Senators in one fell swoop, the highest ever in Nigeria. It was said that 36 members of the House of Representatives also crossed carpet. Thus, Ahmed Lawan, who had strolled to the Senate Chambers as majority leader, hoping to be elected Senate President in place of Saraki who was to be impeached, left the Senate as minority leader! How times change! The ephemerality of aphrodisiac power!! The expiration date of the intoxicating contents of liquor power!!! Of course, with the power lever change, Senator Godswill Akpabio automatically became Senate majority leader.
The power configuration at the Senate as at today therefore, is PDP (64); APC (44) and APGA (1). Pardon any arithmetrical error.
Jackboot democracy does not and cannot work. What is required is the navigational skills of Mungo Park, Clapperton, Lander Brothers and Vasco Da Gama. The next weeks and months will be very interesting, with perhaps, more volcanoes, earthquakes and Tsunami of political convolutions. Guess what: Saraki deftly adjourned sitting to September 25, 2018. I dey siddon look. I dey laugh.
THE MANY “GATES” OF BUHARI GOVERNMENT
Two weeks ago, we started our discourse on the above topic. Last week, we were on “FAILEDPROMISESGATE”, where we started with the quote from a ‘concerned citizen’ on failed promises of APC, by Kingdom News, and we shall continue and conclude same today.
STILL ON FAILEDPROMISESGATE
“… we Guarantee that women are adequately represented in government appointments and provide greater opportunities in education, job creation, and economic empowerment. Page 16; Use the Party structures to promote the concept of reserving a minimum number of seats in the States and National Assembly, for women. Page 16; Create shelterbelts in states bordering the Sahara Desert to mitigate and reverse the effects of the expanding desert. Page 17; On the second document titled ‘Roadmap to a New Nigeria.; Create 20,000 jobs per state immediately for those with a minimum qualification of secondary school leaving certificate and who participate in technology and vocational training. Page 4; Place the burden of proving innocence in corruption cases on persons with inexplicable wealth. Page 7; Pursue legislation expanding forfeiture and seizure of assets laws and procedure with respect to inexplicable wealth, regardless of whether there is a conviction for criminal conduct or not. Page 7; Provide free tertiary education to students pursuing Science and Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Page 9; Provide free tertiary education to education majors and stipends prior to their employment as teachers. Page 9; Create incentives and dedicate special attention to the education of girls. Page 9; Ensure every child attending primary school is properly nourished and ready to learn by providing a Free Meal a Day. Page 9; Achieve the construction of one million low-cost houses within four years for the poor. Page 11; Stop all travel abroad at government expense for the purpose of medical treatment. Page 13; Provide incentives for Nigerian doctors and health practitioners working abroad to return home, to strengthen the healthcare industry in Nigeria and provide quality care to those who need it. Page 14; Make sure people at a local level benefit from mining and mineral wealth by vesting all mineral rights in land to states. Page 17.” Have these promises been fulfilled? You judge.
What about the “NAIRAGATE”, where PMB and his campaign train had promised to make the exchange rate N45 to one dollar? Today, the government is celebrating taking the naira from N185 –N195 to the dollar that it met it, to the present N360 – N365 per dollar. The naira has been so abused that it dances like a yoyo, nay, like the Esan Egbabonalimi acrobat. It is freely traded for scarce dollars at all airports in Nigeria. Meanwhile, like Emir Sanusi once noted, some Nigerians are simply round tripping it, making hundreds of millions of naira on a daily basis, while sitting in their gardens, sipping wine and chewing tobacco. In nearby Ghana here, it is 4.8 cedis to the dollar! Where, how, when, why, did we get it wrong? Baba God, are you hearing, my cries, Nigerians’ cries? The people are suffering, gnashing their teeth. Prices have gone beyond the reach of the average Nigerian. Corruption now struts about imperiously, on its hands, head, limbs even buttocks, like a proud peacock, mocking us all.
The “DAPCHIGATE”, where young innocent secondary school girls were allegedly exchanged for money and purported Boko Haram terrorists were heralded into Dapchi with pomp and pageantry, are too notorious to be discussed here. What about IDPgate? Hmnn!
Nigeria is drifting, ominously sliding towards the precipice. Can APC and R-APC still save Nigeria from her present doldrums? Is someone still pretending that there is no division within the APC (section 68 (1) (g) of the Constitution), such as to allow legislators defect freely and constitutionally? The following weeks and months will be very interesting, especially with yesterday’s earthquake at the NASS.
THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK
“We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.” (Barack Obama).
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.” (Marianne Williamson).