Emergency Rule In Plateau State – A Postmortem

by Femi Olawole

The recent declaration of an emergency rule in plateau State has already become a fait accompl.i. For those few, influential individuals who instigated the ethnic/religious mayhem, it’s all over but the shouting. And for the other ethnic champions, religious fanatics and the professional anarchists who readily sponsor similar violent clashes in other parts of the nation, they are better advised to look for different pastimes.

In spite of the attendant noises (for and against) in the wake of the emergency declaration, it’s important that we remind ourselves of some salient matters arising:

The representatives of the Nigerian people, both in the Senate and the House had voted to endorse the president’s action. Voting in the two legislative chambers cut across party, ethnic and religious lines. The distinguished members had to put their petty political squabbles aside to instill sanity in the nation’s body polity. In fact, the House leader, Abdul Ningi’s motion for debate on the issue is noteworthy here. He recalled that the House had, in the past, passed eleven resolutions that condemned ethnic clashes and that Plateau State was one instance over which the president was attacked for inaction. According to him therefore, it would amount to a policy somersault if the same House failed to back the president in his decisive action this time around.

Without gainsaying the fact, both the president and the governor are Christians. Yet, the president refused to be blinded by the religious sentiment. And neither did the governor pretend to suffer from a persecution syndrome upon the emergency declaration. The governor has since accepted the president’s decision. Moreover and significantly, he has pledged his unflinching loyalty to the president. The action of both the president and the governor are not only commendable but should also be a lesson to all of our other leaders and those who aspire to lead in such a multi-faceted nation.

The same thing however could not be said of the numerous commentators in the newspapers and the internet web sites. Worse still, while the many newspapers’ articles had the grace of being edited for decency and decorum, those on the internet were simply a replica of the Plateau riot. The only difference was that instead of guns and machetes, many of the internet commentators freely made use of childish emotional outbursts and intellectual brigandage.

In one category were some Christian (or Crusaders?) who were always more interested in protecting the great status of their faith than the lives and properties of the victims of each religious clash. Whereas, based on his philosophy while on the earth plane, Jesus Christ must by now be embarrassed by the attitude of these hypocritical followers. And even if the president, the VP, the entire members of the legislative houses and other government functionaries were all antichrist, did any of the hate mongering commentators have superior resources than the great avatar himself to protect the Christian faith?

The next category of commentators consisted of those whose position on the issue was self-serving. These are Christians who also champion the interests of their ethnic sections. The only way they think they can realize their sectional goals is by making a career out of abusing Obasanjo and the political leaders of other sections that are considered to be inimical (or obstacles?) to the interests of their sections. To them, persuasion, compromise and alliance are instruments of the coward. Political power must be achieved through blackmail and war mongering. The Plateau State incident was therefore just another opportunity for them to indulge in their habitual spate of nay saying, paranoia and abject negativity.

And there was the peculiar mess in the reactions of those in the last category. Here were some Muslims and hegemonists who had never seen anything good in Obasanjo’s administration. Yet, they have now suddenly found it convenient to be temporarily inconsistent in their criticism merely because the president’s action in Plateau State was considered favorable to Islam and their ethnic interests. One such commentator even admitted that this was the first time he would ever see anything good in Obasanjo’s government. Curiously, a few others in this category had tactfully expressed support for the president’s action by simply resolving to keep mute. Their senses of expression will however be restored as soon as the president acts against their religious or sectional interests in future.

It’s quite pertinent here to ask all these individual elites how many personal, ethnic and religious interests they expect the president to favor in a nation of over 100 million people spread over 300 different ethnic sections before he is objectively evaluated? The answer, I guess, is blowing in the wind.

Interestingly, these are highly educated and matured (?) individuals we are talking about here. It’s rather unfortunate and grossly shameful that the public opinions of such persons on very sensitive national issues could so blatantly be influenced by personal, religious and ethnic sentiments. It therefore made one wonder what the fate of our nation would be should some of these overtly biased commentators ever get onto the saddle of leadership in the near future?

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