Tony Agbali:
A Dangerous Democracy

Recent news from Nigeria indicates that all is not well with the present state of the Nigerian democratic project. Intrigues and cleavages of all kinds now beset the Nigerian democratic experience. Not that within the scope of politics this is anything surprising. Rather, what is surprising is that, in spite of democracy, indicators are revealing the deep-rooted tentacles of despotic tendencies within the Nigerian polity. The atmosphere is saturated with the assumption that President Olusegun Obasanjo, intends to re-scripts the 1999 Constitution to elongate his term, by self-perpetuating himself in power.

Such despotic tendencies were rife during the recent military era in Nigeria, with both erstwhile, President Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida and the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha attempting to foist themselves upon the nation through noxious and now failed attempts to hijack the political process by using shadowy figures and deceitful tactics. Their intended goals was to ensure their forceful self-perpetuation in power as self-enthroned bandits designed toward utilizing subtle political processes acceptable to the international community, especially western democracies.

The ominous sign of the horrendous period in the national life often comes through the violations and curtailing of human rights, as well as different generation of chaos. In the case of General Sani Abacha perceived opponents were incarcerated, including the present president, Olusegun Obasanjo, himself a former Military leader, who handed power to a democratically elected civil administration in 1979, following accusations of a coup plot to overthrow Abacha.

Many of Abacha’s political detainees did not live to see the present Nigerian democratic dispensation, as they were mowed to death in jail, especially through medical poisoning. One among such detainees was the late General Shehu Yar’Adua, a former deputy to President Obasanjo, in his days as military head of states. In the case of General Ibrahim Babaginda, he went all out to decimate the opposition, not only through imprisonment, closure of media houses, but using crude means of human extermination of perceived opponents. In the wake of the June 12th, 1993, following threats to his person, at a time Nigeria was embroiled and threats of civil war was ominous, he abdicated from power

At the moment different persons and groups such as the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), the Odu’a Progressive Congress (OPC), and others with grassroot influence has been numbed and their leaders sent into jail. Any judicial process against the detained continues at snail speed as a ploy toward buying time, with the cogent aim of mutilating any factual and credible opposition especially toward the veiled agitation of the current administration to mutilate the constitution, toward elongating their electoral term in office. Currently, shady members of the political class, especially state governors and members of the legislature, are playing noxious ball in alliance with the Presidency, hoping to fence themselves from the ire administration. Many among of these astutely corrupt politicians perceive such measures as their succor in prolonging their tentacles upon state resources.

Therefore, a corrupt class of political actors continues to validate corrupt ploys and practices aimed at a calculated and manipulative altering of the Nigerian 1999 Constitutional provisions that currently limits the Presidential and gubernatorial duration to two electoral terms. Perceived self-interest offers an opportunity to be grabbed through pay offs that would protects their sole but illegitimate hegemonic and political interests. Since in Nigeria most elections are pre-determined prior to casting the ballot and are rigged at the pools such supports often translate into Federal support in utilizing the apparatus of government to continue to hold onto power. Therefore, these self-serving political opportunists understands that having the might of the Federal government and patronage behind them amounts to an assured investments, in terms of their political future and continuous acquisition of ill-gotten economic fortunes.

Today, the Nigerian polity is charged and there are visible signs of despotic tendencies in full exhibits. These manifest signs are symptomatic of a dangerous trend. President Obasanjo is now desperately agitated toward perpetuating himself in power by forcing a third term of another four years. The proposed argument that he is propounding is predicated upon his self-perception as the only capable Nigerian “Messiah,” divinely enthroned to enforce a corruption-free ethos in Nigeria, based upon a skewed and selective agenda against corruption. Such modes are all too familiar within the scheme of despotic deceptions incarnated by the immediate previous military regimes of Generals Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, and Sani Abacha. Evidently, President Obasanjo’s antics remain equally similar to those of the noxious rhetoric employed by the monstrous class of military political actors, like those of Generals Babangida and Abacha.

Like the cowards before him, President Obasanjo has noted that he can die for Nigeria, and many of his inchoate acolytes are also ready to die to Babatocracy and for their Baba, whom they ostensibly continue attempting to coronate, albeit in vain, as Nigeria’s Twenty-First century “National Patriarch.” Therefore, within the laughable mirage of carving a modern day “life President” in Nigeria, they have adopted an occultic liturgy for denouncing anyone who dare to voice their cogent voice of reason as responsible citizens, using the matrix of religion, thus giving the dream the reality that their “Baba” is also a demi-god, if not yet a full member of the pantheon that hold the sway every citizen’s life and rights. The all-knowing and all-powerful Baba in their intentions must also be all-reigning “Baba of Nigeria” as it was in the beginning, so it shall be eternally.

Real delusion, Nigerians are too short-circuited, funny only one thinks that it was not long ago that the rally against a monstrous dictatorship, playing the same game unfolded and masked the nation in the pool of innocent blood. Today, the Adedibu and the Senator Mantu, who yesterdays were masquerades of doom, have now learnt how to sing new songs while dancing to old tunes. Unfortunately, those who were drumming the chants of Abachatocracy as the only Messiah- the only Nigerian capable of ruling Nigeria in 1998- are now the talking drummers of a new self-succession bid. Ironically, these rhumba drummers were also offering their dirges chants when the Abacha was about to sacrifice our “Baba of Nigeria” to the gods of imagined coup plots, feasting and slumbering, they played and danced to the music that then enchanted the decimation of Nigeria and their now friend, the Baba. The ides of March, Uncle Sege beware fiends who marshal themselves arrayed as friends.

Thus, President Obasanjo has actively activated his anti-graft scheme into a rampaging war machine against all possible opponents, so much that such efforts have so far selectively targeted and making scapegoats of political opponents, while militarizing the land, first beginning with his own party. Thus the sages of Nigeria are the Bode Georges and the killer hounds of the “Ali Must Go” fame, also tinted with corruptions at various levels. However, it must be asserted that such scapegoats are not all together that innocent, except that the nature of their denunciation is markedly corrupt, with the same Nigerian Presidency granting sanctuary to others, especially erstwhile military political actors and their hoodlum collaborators like the King Adedibus, the Rhumba Kings of Nigerian machinated politics. Maybe, the beginning of Nigerian political wisdoms is to sacrifice one’s wisdom and rational instincts on the altars of the Chris Ubas and Alhaji Adedibus. He who wears the shoe knows where the sole best pinches!

President Obasanjo has continually shielded former President and military despot, Ibrahim Babangida from answering corrupt charges evidently alleged against him while in office. Rather, President Obasanjo continues to defend and anchor him, therefore allowing the former President Babangida to continue roaming unmolested and even overtly attempting to rehab himself into power, if possible in 2007. Yet it is open secret in Nigeria that Babangida political dream is oiled by the accumulated stolen national largesse at his disposal, now utilized toward bolstering his public image and enhancing his presidential ambitions.

Such antics and rhetoric smell of corruption, with a presiding national officer trying to disrespect the text of the constitution and attempting to arm-twist the legislature into changing the the law of the land. Further, in the light of such self-serving desire, the administration is currently using the Economic and Financial Corruption Commission (EFCC), an agency of the Presidency, to clamp down upon possible opposition. Today, many focal members of civil and ethnic movements have been arrested and denied their legal rights within such attempts to deter any opposition.

In the light of the above, given our recent national history, we detest such despotic overture that is premised upon the strategic militarization of the Nigerian political process, through the infiltration and hijacking of the Nigerian democratic process and party structures by renowned corrupt military actors in the immediate past era.

The entire civilized world, especially, western governments, international organizations, and Nigerians themselves must enjoin President Obasanjo to leave office at the expiration of his current second term as currently prescribed by the Nigerian 1999 Constitution. Nigerians are tired of tyrants in whatever shape and sizes. Nigerians love freedom and peace, and among the ranks of its population can find a president that can continue the anti-corrupt legacy and even ensure better quality of lives and the socio-economic reordering of the Nigerian nation, than has the present administration.