Hijacking Democracy: Charlatans At Play

by Akintokunbo A Adejumo

If anybody is in doubt about the futility and failure of Nigeria’s democracy, that doubt should have been dispelled by the farcical and ignoble displays that have been happening, and is still happening since our erstwhile President, Umar Yar ‘Adua went missing in November 2009 and up till now, the majority of Nigerians are still no wiser about the true state of his health or his ability to rule the country.

This is amidst a deadly concoction of political high stakes and intrigues, arrogant and deliberate ignorance, misinterpretation and outright manipulation of the Constitution of Nigeria, criminal negligence, criminal deception and forgery, breach of trust, treachery, nepotism, tribalism, looting of the treasury because there was really nobody to supervise, and a host of other crimes. I will even add “smuggling” and “hostage taking” as the President was said to have been smuggled in under darkness into the country, and is practical a hostage in the hands of his wife and so-called “kitchen cabinet”.

In the meantime, the polity was not only heated up, but the uncertainty and political, economic and social near-breakdown that went with this was alarming, almost leading to a state of confusion and anarchy. This is not to mention the confusion for the economy and the “laughing stock” which Nigeria became in the international community. I saw a cartoon or two from some other African countries lampooning our confused state of the nation.

And all these were brought upon us by a lethal combination of greed, ignorance, corruption, self-interest above national interest, ambition and subterfuge in governance.

In March 2009, I wrote an article “Do Our Politicians Know The Constitution?” in which I observed that “since 1999, we see all our political leaders in the three arms of government thrashing wildly about in ignorance, or maybe deliberate abuse, of our constitution. Ex-President Obasanjo was very notorious for disregarding the Constitution in all aspects, forgetting that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is greater than anybody in Nigeria. The Senate and the House of Representative routinely disregard the Constitution; in fact they abuse it, fail to follow laid-down rules of the House and the Senate, and most times, resort to violence to sort problems out. The same applied, and still applies to the States’ chief executive officers, States Houses of Assembly, comprising mostly thuggish, crooked and unsavoury characters and the local government Chairmen and their mostly ill-educated, half-baked councillors. (Please, I have done my homework very well on the human constitution of our legislative houses, so I am sure of what I am talking about, and not just passing insults)”.

I have always suspected and held the belief that our politicians, all classes of them, appear to be charlatans, novices, greenhorns and pretenders. This is no longer surprising nor should be taken for granted. In our current nascent democracy, I suppose we should expect some kind of experimentation for a while until we finally get it right; however, unfortunately, since this form of governance has a very important impact on the lives of 140 million people, there really is no room for mistakes. People always think politics is a game, but I always beg to differ. It is no longer a game when politicians make political decisions which affect the lives of millions of people for which they are responsible; which determines their standard of living; their daily livelihood, their health and wellbeing, their security and in fact the very essence of their being alive.

So apart from the farcical displays of ignorance, deliberate manipulations, etc that went on, and is still going in the governance of Nigeria since the President’s disappearance and subsequent alleged appearance (?) after over ninety days, we are still back to that question of charlatans, ignoramus and incompetent idiots running the country – federal, state and local.

The Governors, under something cabal-ish called The Governors Forum have come up with a statement last week that while Dr. Goodluck Jonathan is Acting President, Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua remains the substantive President. This is in itself is what everybody knows; hence the statement is very redundant and unnecessary. But who are they to say that? Are they the one controlling the country or the executive and legislative arms of the government?

It was their next set of statements that is now causing some worries to the knowing public, while at the same time confirming my long-held belief and conviction that these people are not only ignorant and tyrannical, but is largely undemocratic in their behaviour, governance and actions, and will not hesitate to hijack the democratic process to suit them. In fact they are no different from the Yar ‘Adua’s notorious so called kitchen cabinet.

The Governors stated that even with the grave concerns about his capacity to continue in office, especially since November 23, 2009, President Yar’Adua would neither resign from office, nor be removed by impeachment or consequential declaration by the Federal Executive Council, which would precipitate the appointment of a medical board of inquiry whose adverse report will eventually terminate Yar’Adua’s presidency. The Governors, therefore, said that Yar’Adua would not be replaced until a new President is elected next year.

In making the above declaration, they have actually gone in the face of the Constitution, ignoring it either deliberately or due to ignorance and also insinuating quite clearly that it is the Governors running the country, and NOT the Presidency or the legislative arms of government. They do not have any legal or constitutional basis to make their pronouncements. The governance structure in the 1999 Constitution is so unequivocal that state governors have no say in this matter upon which they hold forth and made a pronouncement. The president was elected on different platform from the governors. It is not their concern or business to ensure a president stays in power or not. It is not their place to ignore the provisions of the constitution and make themselves “kingmakers”.

The removal of the President on account of incapacitation due to ill health is normally and constitutionally a matter that lies between the Federal Executive Council and the National Assembly. As far as the Constitution is concerned, and as more knowledgeable people in the society knows, none of these bodies reports to, or is under the control of the state governors.

Thus, by their declarations, the state governors were intrusive with or arrogating unto themselves, functions and powers which rightly belong to another tier and another arm of government – the Executive and the Legislature. By their declarations, their intention is definitely to subvert the principle of separation of powers, a pillar of constitutional democracy.

Should we allow these arrogant, ignorant incompetents and impostors to run the country, then we shall be in further trouble more than we are now. They are part of, and perpetuate our problems and troubles in this country by their unbelievable greed, insensitivity and massive, naked corruption, and sitting back and allowing them hijack the functions of the Constitution, the Presidency, the National Assembly, means they will be effectively taking over control of the country, under the guise of the superfluous Governors’ Forum, not satisfied with the stolen wealth they are making from their respective states.

Serious nations learn from their mistakes and cultivate their democracy, always looking for ways to improve. In Nigeria, w

e have continuously refused to learn. The issue is the country’s leadership creation process. What kind of people should occupy leadership positions? We surely need properly elected persons who understand the Constitution and carry out the provisions of the Constitution and also make effort to make the Constitution a dynamic tool and documentation.

With these Governors’ declarations, and even their surreptitious and dubiously unwelcome role in ending the impasse which eventually brought Ag. President Goodluck Jonathan to power, we may well be dealing not merely with ignorance but mischief. Perhaps we can tolerate and correct ignorance, but mischief borders on treason, unpatriotic, self-interest and corruption of the political process for self-gain.

This is what we have with the Governors. Their appearance and utterances on matters of national interest has always been predicated on their own self-interest and survival rather than for the good and benefit of the people who elected them (we may say they rigged themselves into power, anyway) and who they are supposed to serve. They have always been selfish, inconsiderate, greedy, and corrupt. These are arrogant leaders who mostly and always remain oblivious, insensitive and unresponsive to their peoples’ sufferings, poverty and needs.

But let us take another look at it, and you will see why their interest is self –serving: the President, Yar ‘Adua was a former Governor; his Vice President, and now, Acting President, Goodluck Jonathan, was a former Governor; the main backers of the Yar ‘Adua Presidency, James Ibori and Bukola Saraki (and the latter also has his eyes on the Presidency) were former governors. The ruling PDP, dubbed People Deceiving People) which does not wish to disturb the current power-rotation arrangement between the north and south of the country, has the majority in the Governors’ Forum. And most importantly, some of them already have their sights on becoming the President of Nigeria in next year’s election.

From all indications, the next President of Nigeria will probably come again from the ranks of these greedy, corrupt and incompetent thieves. (Sorry, they are competent thieves, I mean incompetent in governance).

So what do you expect from this gang? Self interest; of course, in the long term. When shall we be saved from this cabal of ignorant leaders? Are we deserving of them? Yes and No. this depends on the side of the fence you are.

Let the truth be said always.

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