Nigeria’s political terrain provides a parody and paradox of complexities. It is so ironic that while there is clamor for return of civilian type democracy in the country, the novae riche political class with all the tramping of influence since the 1990s have been the retired military men notably within the ranks of the retired generals with extensive forays and networking enhanced by their unaccountable wealth amassed while in public service.
What is becoming fashionable today within the Third World countries is for commentators to be favorably disposed to the credentials of these retired generals as being more suitable for political leadership than their civilian counterparts. More ironic is the fact that a large uninformed majority think Nigeria still needs candidates with military background to effectively rule the country. The replay of the 2000 era “Amakiri” episode are all reminders that military men do not have the necessary civilian temperament obtainable for democratic setting and Nigerians – having been battered from several years of military violence – have come to accept “obey the last order” as a means to get things done within a civil setting.
Slowly this cliché of wealthy retired generals preponderant in the Northern States have gradually replaced the old seasoned political class in influence, wealth and political clout. It was this motley group of retired generals’ endorsement of their own kind in may 1999 that gave credibility to uncle Shege’s aspiration.
The theory was quickly propagated that because of the turmoil in the country a product of the June 12th saga, the best candidate to hold the fragile unity of the country was epitomized only in the candidature of an ex-military man. Much as it sounded plausible, the argument is bereft of substance because the military are the problem rather than the solution in the National Question issues.
Some school of thought had canvassed the opinion that these novae riche retired generals are investing all their money to protect their ill-gotten properties and wealth. None has shown any sincere commitment to address the real issues with our federation. Politics the world over is dictated by personal interest so we can see where these general interest lies. Kudos should be given to some of them who have tried to maintain the professional integrity of this noble profession.
There has been the clamor for rtd General Buhari and Babaginda to contest for president in the next election and I watch as our shameless political class scramble to endorse both candidates over their civilian counterparts. If we admit that the choice of uncle Shege was a politically incorrect judgment, why then is the frenzy to “drag” IBB into the race like he was the biblical Moses who went up the mountain to seek a solution to our political and economic problems? Has General Buhari’s hatred for free speech changed overnight or did IBB honestly apologize for his human rights record? Do they believe in the rule of law and it’s due process as well as separation of power, which is the beauty and safeguard of democracy? Even as a retired general, IBB has shown open disrespect for the judicial system and it is left to conjecture what would happen when we entrust them with political power.
Nobody has taken time to probe the wealth of this class of retired military men. They all lay claim to be farmers. How and why they all become farmers and all of a sudden too, wealthy, leaves much room for inquiry .The consequences of all these on the general well being of the country is that most people entering the military profession do so purely to become stupendously rich like their mentors and the fastest route to achieve the apex is through military coups.
Fellow Nigerians, we must protect democracy and liberty and its entire tenet through vigilance. The retired military men have an inalienable right to seek political office, but he who seeks equity must do equity and with clean hands too.