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Nigeria and presidential democracy: any better alternative? (2), By Hassan Gimba

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Nigeria and Presidential Democracy: Any Better Alternative? (2), by Hassan Gimba

In Nigeria and Presidential Democracy: Any Better Alternative? (1), we touched on how cries of marginalisation permeate the air. Partisan interests are placed above national interests while divisions along ethnic and religious lines have become the norm just as the struggle for power and its retention have taken a “do or die” dimension, affecting almost everything, including the neutrality of the judiciary, the supposedly last hope of the common man.
We also observed that the communication gap between the average Nigerian and his representative in government has widened so much it seems they live in two separate worlds with nothing in common except, perhaps, religion and tribe or party and town.
And then we asked if we can continue this way, going on to query if the fault is that of the system and to seek a better one, if so. But in doing that, should we look inwards? Will a system in tandem with our inner being be the answer to our multifaceted and ever-growing problems as a nation? Perhaps we have been imposing on ourselves systems that are alien to us, to our culture, to our souls? Of course, some believe the problem with us is not so much the system as it is the people. Well, could be. But can people be true to what is not their nature? Well, yes, if they put on an act. One can act like a saint but can the actor live the life of a saint? People are always at their best when they are true to themselves. Being yourself does not always give room for hypocrisy. And time has proved to us that it has a way of exposing hypocrisy.
Britain, which gave us the parliamentary system in 1960, still practises it. While the parliamentary system is over 750 years old there, ours lasted six years before it was scuttled by the march of the jackboot.
Surely while ours was an imposition, a sort of a deliberate wholesale adoption of a set system, Britain’s parliament was not created from a “conference”. It naturally evolved as out of daily necessities. Therefore, one is not far from the truth if one insists that the parliamentary system, which started in 1265 with the Simon de Montfort Parliament, is in the blood of the Briton; it is part of him. While the representative system began with the de Montfort (Earl of Leicester) Parliament, fifty years earlier, the check on impunity by leaders was rolled out. In June 1215, the Magna Carta was issued to become the first document to put into writing the principle that the king and his government were not above the law.
We can see how the homegrown parliamentary system has served Britons well.  It is because they looked inwards, derived from their nature which was in tandem with their inner being, rather than copy, adapt, borrow and impose on themselves a system that is alien to their culture, to their being. And so it works for them because they are at home with it. It is their roots.
America is another example. The democracy it is practising and proudly imposing it on other nations around the world is homegrown. After freeing itself from Britain, its colonial overlords, the leaders of the revolt set out to build its enviable democratic culture. In an article written for the Smithsonian Magazine of September 20, 2011, Joseph Stromberg said, “The dawn of American democracy didn’t come in 1776, with the declaration of Independence. It didn’t come in 1788 when the constitution was ratified by the states, or in 1789 when George Washington took office.” He continued, “According to Harry Rubeinstein, chair and curator of the Division of Political History at the American History Museum, the symbolic birth of our system of government didn’t come until its noble ideals were actually put to the test…” And that test was Washington’s resignation and handing over to John Adams in 1783.
We need not look far to see that nations tend to develop when their system of governance correlates with their innate way of thinking. Arabs in general, historically and by tradition, live in communities with close ties, respect family lineage and thrive under a strong paternalistic leader. The Arabs of Libya and Iraq that wanted to leave their roots and take up the American system are now rueing their folly. Despite America’s maximum pressure, arm twisting, blackmail and sometimes condescending cajoling, China, Russia and now Iran are holding tight to their roots. And they are stronger for it.
Therefore, one way for a political arrangement to work for a people is for it to originate from them. But humankind is a broadminded, flexible and adaptable species. Because of these and many other plausible positives, man can adapt and get adapted to any political plan for his development but with a proviso. That proviso is that he is sincere and patriotic.
And this is why we have seen thriving countries that borrowed alien systems of governance; their honesty in implementing the system and the love for their country have made it work to their benefit. You can count the Asian Tigers, many European, South American and African countries among them.
As all people evolve, the peoples of Nigeria were all developing at their paces and consolidating the substances that enhanced their lives. Colonialism came and disrupted our slow and steady but sure growth into modernity. It uprooted us, leaving us dangling in the air. We have left our roots but we are yet to grab the ever-elusiveĺ colonialists’ branches.
A ready example can be taken from the textile industry. We had ways of processing cotton and converting it to thread. There was a fabricated machine made from wood for that. From there, we formed yards that were used to sew dresses. Then, even the Whiteman bought them and transported them to his land. We also had methods of colouring clothes. Had our “primitive” textile industry been left alone, it might have evolved into something bigger than what the Whiteman has now.
But because we lack confidence in ourselves, we jettisoned ours that was improving by the day as our knowledge base got expanded, and embraced the Whiteman’s contraption. A contraption we cannot make or repair displaced what we were manufacturing. A contraption we cannot own supplanted ours. Such missteps took place in our iron smelting industry and in all other sectors of the economy. And so, like the bat which is neither a bird nor an animal, we became neither here nor there.
But our neither here nor there-ness does not just stop with our industries. Our dream became to behave like the Whiteman whose morals we see as worthier than ours. Our cultures, traditions and norms we saw as archaic and were ashamed to showcase. Even in our dressing, what is “corporate” to us is Whiteman’s idea.
This hankering for the foreign we knew not, understood not and which was never in sync with our nature also reared its head in our political preferences. Agreed we were conquered and made to live under the conqueror’s will but we have gotten our independence and with that our thoughts, presumably. They did divide us because they never wanted us united, to begin with, but we should know that for our sakes, and forge a united front.
Before the advent of the colonialists, the various peoples that constitute today’s Nigeria were practising various forms of governance. We had our ways of administration; we had our leadership structures and our economic systems. Perhaps, had our march not been truncated by colonialism, we would have continued to improve a system that is natural to us and possibly even export it. Recent actions of some politicians in the United States of America show that their political interests are bigger than national interest; surely, we could have taught them a thing or two. There is little doubt that a homegrown political system would have served us better in our current confusing, seemingly hopeless and daunting circumstances as a nation.

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Opinion

Mai Mala Buni: Independence of Political Diplomat And Consensus Builder

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Mai Mala Buni: independence of Political Diplomat And Consensus Builder

By Sadiya Shelleng Hussaini

Change presents humanity with a confounding paradox. Whereas change is constant and inevitable it forebodes a vague sense of unease. Fear of the unknown taunts the nerves of even the valorous of men. Men of destiny however prepare for change, meeting it at the doorstep with secure pace .June 25,2020 was Nigeria’s governing party –APC’s date with fate, a day of a dramatic change of baton and democratic transition of powers from the ruling Oshiomole led national working committee to Mai Mala Buni caretaker/convention planning committee.The date may have caught some clay footed but quite a handful had no illusion as their mandate was terminated through “doctrine of necessity ” to curtail the crisis that bedeviled the party.

The hype and political intrigues that have characterised the tenure of Adam Oshiomole led National Working Committee of the All Progressive Congress (APC) would not come as a surprise to political pundits. Being the governing party and one which prides itself as the largest growing political party in Africa, the successful transition of the party to a new leadership portends a lot for the polity and the 2023 permutations.

Following the leadership tussle, that consumed the immediate past leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC, leading to the constitution of a caretaker/convention planning committee under the leadership of Yobe state Governor Mai Mala Buni, as part of move ahead the party requires everyone amongst its members and supporters to reflects on what should be the best for the future of the party.

Taking cognizance of the renewed support for our great party from the ordinary citizens of Nigeria as evidenced in the recently conducted elections , massive membership registrations across the country and ward congresses with leaders of the party largely emerging through consensus. It has shown clearly that even Nigerians believe that our party, APC remains the only party that can restore the country to the path of sustainable peace, progress, national unity and economic prosperity.

Therefore, the party now more than any other time, requires a courageous, fearless, thoroughbred politician, committed party man and patriotic personality who understand the political history of the country as well as dynamics of the APC, its antecedents since its creation.

Yobe State governor ,Mai Mala Buni has put the party on sound foundation as demonstrated by his political pedigree and diplomatic approach in managing the party affairs. The history of Buni’s political struggle has proved his extraordinary tenacity in Nigerian politics.

Based on the foregoing, Mai Mala Buni standout based on his 14 months score card as the Caretaker Commitee Chairman of the party. Opinions across the country among party leaders and stakeholders indicate a thunderous applause on the APC CECPC for resetting the party back to glory days.

Depicting the sound attributes of a great leader, the two -time APC scribe a highly detribalized, humble, focused, amiable and thoroughbred personality with good sense of direction. These are the qualities he is applying now to take the APC out of the doldrums.

He is man that is naturally loved and admired by the people; a democrat and pivot of mass mobilization; a man who achieves greatness through assiduousness, self -will and sheer determination; a good listener; a man that remains unruffled even at the height of unwarranted intimidation and provocation; a man with critical thinking-skills. He is a strong advocate of unity, peace and progress of our great country, Nigeria. He believes in mega- changes in the social, economic and political sectors and theses must be driven by the current generation of Nigerians.

Within his 14 month on the saddle of the party, Hon Buni has clearly demonstrated to Nigerians that APC will certainly form the next government and entrench party supremacy, internal democracy, party cohesion and internal harmony among elected officials and the party.

There is no doubt that his legacies shall remain eternal source of inspiration for many generations to come. APC on his assumption as the Caretaker Chairman had 64 senators then now has over 70. He has also made three PDP governors throw away the umbrella and his broom. This is not the end on his yeomen duties he is working hard to bring in more serving and former governors, legislators and top party chieftains from the opposition.

President Muhammadu Buhari recently said the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been revived, energized and repositioned for its national convention and future elections, while commending the National Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) led by Governor of Yobe State, Malam Mai Mala Buni.

Speaking at the APC CECPC meeting at the State House, the President said the fortunes of the party had been brightened by the re-organisation and reconciliation of members across the party, saying “with the work done by the committee the party has bounced back to life.’’

“I have listened with great interest the remarkable job you have done so far,’’ he said. “We are all witnesses to the crisis that engulfed the party leading to litigations and presented a picture of selfishness and division.’’

One cannot but wonder from which source he drives his rare aggressive energetic zeal and tenacity, in solving party matters within a snap of a finger. To borrow the words of the classical Greek writer Homer, he is both a speaker of words and doer of deeds. Despite the monumental achievement of Hon Mai Mala some forces are bent on dragging his name twist to a supreme court judgment to rubbish the achievement,let me warn them that the Yobe State Governor Hon Mai Mala Buni who doubles as Chairman National Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) will have the last laugh and would hand over party affairs after a successful national convention .

Shelleng wrote in from Yola .

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Opinion

Who is Afraid of Gov. Buni?

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Who is Afraid of Gov. Buni?

Fatai Olagunju

For very obvious reasons, the successes recorded by the Caretaker Committee of the All Progressives Congress in repositioning the party and massive defection of prominent figures into the party mean different things to different people.

There are those who celebrated the party bouncing back to life, others didn’t like the giant strides of the committee, while others who feel threatened by the reconciliation and coming of new members also felt bad.

For the opposition party, it was its most trying moment  after loosing three serving governors to APC and still counting.  The Caretaker committee under Governor Mai Mala Buni, has remained PDP’s most terrible nightmare.

The interpretation of the Supreme Court Judgement on the Ondo state governorship election by the Hon. Minister of state for Labour and Employment Festus Keyamo, generated some arguments. However, Keyamo’s postulation now in public court, has attracted a lot of arguments in support and against.

The provisions of Section 183 of the Constitution as amended which forms Keyamo’s arguments, has been defined by other learned gentlemen clearing ambiguities.

Deputy Senate President, Keyamo’s kinsman and legal colleague, Senator Omo Agege, took time to define the said section 183 of the Constitution, making it clear, unambiguous, unequivocal and in explicit terms.

According to Omo-Agege, “From the explicit provision of Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), it is absolutely impossible and untenable to argue that the provisions of Section 183 bars a Governor from being a Chairman or member of a Caretaker Committee set up by his or her political party. More so, the position of the Chairman of a Caretaker Committee cannot by any sense of imagination, logic or simple common sense be classified as a being a salaried Executive office.

“There is no law under our legal jurisprudence that bars or prohibits a Governor who is a member of a political party and won elections under the political party from carrying out specific assignments on-behalf of his party. How this will amount to holding an Executive office is beyond every stretch of human comprehension.

“In the light of the foregoing exposition, it is humbly and firmly stated that Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) only bars a Governor from holding Executive positions like being a Minister, or any other executive positions for which he shall be paid for. It does not by any scintilla of imagination, render the appointment of Governor Bumi as APC Caretaker Committee Chairman incompetent and will not in anyway, affect the legality or competence of the APC scheduled Congresses” he argued.

Chief Adeniyi Akintola, Counsel to APC in a press conference opined “let me make this clear: this isn’t the first time we would be having minority judgements. A minority judgement has no value. You can’t cite it as the authority. It has no effect”

He cited “In 2008, Abubakar Atiku versus Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, there was minority judgements given by Justice George Oguntade, Justice Walter Onoghen and one other justice while Justice Niki Tobi delivered the majority judgement. So, there has always been precedence.

“There is no value attributed to minority judgement. So, what happened yesterday isn’t strange. So we are worried that some lawyers are attaching value to it”.

It is pertinent to note that, the APC constitution is very conscious of such critical circumstances and it made a clear declaration in  article 17 (iv) which states
“No officer in any organ of the party shall hold executive position office in government concurrently”. Therefore the party couldn’t have been careless in handling this matter.

However, in a very politicised country like Nigeria, other factors came in to define section 183 of the constitution.

MEMBERSHIP REGISTRATION AND REVALIDATION EXERCISE

The membership registration and revalidation exercise of the party which has accommodated new and more members seem to have threatened others who are not comfortable with the new converts and returnees. They feel their positions would be taken over by the new converts. They opposed the registration, attempted sabotaging the process and now fighting the party leadership. The membership registration and revalidation exercise opened the party to many members who were hitherto refused membership. Prominent members who claimed ownership of the party lost the acclaimed ownership of the party.

PERSONALITY SUPREMACY 

Local politics between stakeholders of who controls the party in the state came into play. The conflict of  personalities between Senators, Members of the House of Representatives, Ministers and other stakeholders had also manifested in who controls the party in the state. Unfortunately those who lost out are blaming Governor Buni for their trivial and now fighting back. They also define Section 183 to mean “Buni must go”.

 For instance, the personality clash between Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo Agege and the Minister of state Labour Barr Festus Keyamo in Delta, Sen. Ngige and Sen. Andy Uba in Anambra, Zamfara state Governor Bello Mutawalli and former Governor Abdul Azeez Yari.

ALLIAMCE WITH PDP

Recent discoveries by the party revealed that some desperate party members seeking to contest positions are liaising with the opposition to discredit the leadership, the party structure and all other processes.

It is also worrisome if all the barrage of legal luminaries now interpretering the Supreme court judgement, could not realize any lacuna in the constitution of the Caretaker committee this all the while except now, 13 months after, then, something must be fundamentally wrong with their patriotism and commitment to serve the government rand the party, honestly and creditably.

PDP CRYING MORE THAN THE BEREAVED

PDP is crying more than the bereaved. The party seem to have developed more interest than APC members. They have temporarily forgotten their problems to fight on behalf of other members of APC. The reason for this poke nosing into the affairs of others, is not far fetched. The Buni led Caretaker committee in the last 13 months had deflated the PDP, subtracting three governors along with hundreds of thousands of their supporters from PDP. The Buni committee has no doubt made PDP very jittery and vulnerable.

 

 Who is afraid of Governor Buni?

folagunju24@gmail.com

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Opinion

Tunji Disu: The Making of a New Super Cop

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Tunji Disu: The making of a new Super Cop

By: James Bwala

Yesterday I posted a story from the Press Release issued by the Force PRO, CP Frank Mba. As I go through the story this morning, I said to myself indeed a chapter has closed never again would Abba Kyari come back to this position even if at the end of the matters that matter at this moment of his life and career defines him innocent of the allegations as indicated by the US agency – The FBI.

Kyari was a super cop who receives acculiat and praises from men who loves and hates him on the line of duty even as truth about their friendship is being exposed by the predicament he found himself whether guilty or not guilty. The Kyari saga has further plunge the unity of this country in questions with regional inclinations and expressions from the current situation butterfilling both the traditional and social media.

Nigerians massively are hypocrites. But there are still few ones who a still holding the truth as would a pastor and his Bible even if their position was a negative one. For the first time I came to agree 100 % with a senior colleague, Malam Yakubu Ahmed BK over his write up on DCP Abba Kyari. I mean without reservations – religious, regional, ethnic or when he falls on the political side. I had had reservations on most of his piece base on either of these but not this one.

Kyari has guffed. That is the right words but we are not bringing him into judgement knowing that to err is human and to forgive is devine as we said always in Nigeria. However, we do not know how the Americans defines this in their terms. Hushpuppi is caged and he is already vomiting. If he had been caged here in Nigeria, we have herbs that can stop him from vomiting but the white man has his laboratory to test, experiment and bring out result. So is the case with Kyari our one time super cop.

Whether as Nigerians we like what is happening or not the FBI has spoken. Our IGP has responded and Kyari is waiting for fate. If the gods have mercy on him, he may yet have some years to wear the uniform and redeemed himself in another capacity serving the nation, else a chapter on his career as a Police Officer is close and we salute him.

As I was going through my Facebook page, I come across a piece of writing where the writer was so exposing the sentiment of the southwest region over the suspension of Kyari and appointment of Tunji Disu. The write up reads in part:

“Patriotic Oduduwa blooded TUNJI DISU, takes over as head of IRT from Super cop Abba Kyari who was suspended for proper investigation.”

Patriotic was Abba Kyari when he was holding sway as every hand was clapping while he leads his team. These are the kind of songs Nigerians like to sing for occupants of dreaded and fearful position to do and to undo. If I were Disu, I will begin to count my enemies from this point because these same songs were sang by people like these ones to Abba Kyari and the same people are mostly behind the songs he is now hearing on his way to sit before the investigation panel.

It continuous: “Disu was respected/real national asset Jagaban’s ADC when he was Lagos state governor as such the blood that flaws from his professional veins is that of nationalism & patriotism.”

That is it! I now see the political game in play. Indeed as the writer says we shall
collectively, effectually and fervently offers prayers for Tunji Disu to succeed. But the questions is that, would Disu be Pariotic and Nationalistic in his dealings with Nigerians as head of Police Intelligence Team knowing the hand that has pushed his rising? would he be apolitical coming from the political strings? Indeed he needs much prayers but his first move will determine our prayers either to pray more lifting or cry to the Almighty to deliver Nigerians from the Pharaoh who place their moles in places as monitoring spirits over Nigeria.

  • James Bwala is a Nigerian Journalist and writes from Maiduguri

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