By Lateef Adegbite
Ahead of the February 18, 2023, general elections, fixed by the Mahmood Yakubu, ,a Professor, led Independent National Electoral Commissions, INEC, the battle line appears to have been drawn between President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Army General and Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President, during Olusegun Obasanjo Presidency and who still have Presidential ambition.
Atiku, who had contested for the office of the Nigerian President in 2019, but was defeated by the Katsina state born Nigerian President in 2019, believes that the Nigerian President is not ruling Nigeria as a country under Democracy that he had urged Nigerians on Friday, June 11, 2021, ‘to stay united in fighting for the country’s bourgeoning democracy’.
An unhappy Atiku, had advised the people ‘’to resist the divide and rule tactics of the enemies of democracy’’. He may have allude to the retired Army General and his loyalists , who believed to have great respect for the Constitution going actions and relationship with the National Assembly.
Take for instance, the recantation of the House of Representatives under the close watch of Femi Gbajabiamila, ad’hoc Committee, investigating the recovered loots by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commision, EFCC, under the Chairmanship of Abdulrasheed Bawa, to Godwin Emefiele, the governor of Central Bank of Nigerian, CBN, who was said to have failed to show up.
There are indications that two other ad’hoc Committees, of the House, had cause to al extend a similar invitation to Babaga Munguno, a retired Major General and National Security Adviser, NSA, Usman Alkali Baba, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, and Bashir Jamoh, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, to appear before it but the trio failed to do so.
This may have informed why the House has ordered the leadership of agencies invited to appear before its adhoc Committees ‘’not to undermine’’ the same institution that had established it.
Political analysts believe that if the country was running a true democracy like the North American country of the United States, us, which Yahaya Bello, governor of the north central state of Kogi, and who have Presidential ambition for the upcoming 2023, election, had said ‘we have copied wrongly’ which may have informed why a House or Senate Ad-hoc Committee, could invite a political appointee of the President to appear before it, and the political officer would turn it down.
Atiku, the Nigerian former Vice President, who had repeatedly unbarred his feelings about Buhari’s style of running Nigeria as a military dictatorship instead of seeing himself as a Democrat. He had said that he was one of those who fought for the return of the country to democratic rule during those challenging moments in the country’s political history because of his unshaken believe in democracy and will do everything to protect it from collapse.
He had told those that cares to listen that ‘’June 12’’, is what should unite Nigerians together ‘’in the defence of the country’s nascent democracy’’ , midwifed by Abdulsalami Abubakar, a retired Army General and former military Head of State.
Aggrieved Nigerians had plotted to match out to the streets on Saturday, June, 12, 2021, as part of their agenda to celebrate, what appears to have become a yearly event but Buhari would not allow it happen.
This is because of the large number of policemen and other security agencies operatives that have been deployed to strategic positions in the major cities in the country, particular, Lagos, the nation’s Comercial nerve centre and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT to protect national Assets.
The Nigerian President was said to have given a matching order to Baba, the IGP, and other security Chiefs, to avoid a repeat of what happened during the End SARS, protest in March, 2020. Even the Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, Ikeja, Lagos, under the close watch of Usman Yahaya, a Deputy Comptroller of Customs, who many believe was working closely with Zubairu Muazu, the Lagos state Commissioner of Police was said to have ordered some of the Command’s anti-smuggling Patrol Teams, to be on standby to crush any demonstration in Collaboration with the Force and other security agencies personnel in Lagos.
The sponsors of the planned June 12, 2021, protest, mostly civil society Organisations, the organized Labours and the National Association of Nigerian students, may have read the handwriting on the wall, that it will lead to a clash of interest with the security agencies personnel who have been given powers by the Nigerian President to shoot at sight any person found with AK, 47, that they were forced to resort plan B, which was to call off the June 12 protest.
President Buhari and his security Chiefs may not have been amused by the alleged suspension of the June 12 protest, as they were wee fully prepared to crush them to protect the nation and infrastructure from the planned security breach. This is evident going by the reports filtering out in Abuja and Lagos. The vocal few who had wanted to make a bold Statement that they could go ahead with the protest not minding the implications would not forget their experience in a hurry.
Anti-riot Policemen were said to have shot at the diehard protesters in the Gudu area of Abuja and Ojota axis of Lagos. At Abuja, the protesters, may have been infiltrated by Buhari loyalists who were said to have Camped at the Millennium Park opposite the Unity Park, wearing branded T-Shirts with the inscription ’I stand with Buhari’.
This may not have stopped the unrepentant June 12, Protesters, from embarking on a road walk to mark the Democracy day and a call on Buhari ’to resign from office’. Many had seen the hands of the Presidency on the protesters ’ road walk’.
The Nigerian Presdent may have sent a message to Nigerians in his June 12, Democracy Day, Broadcast, not to worry about the current socio-economic, political and security challenges, facing the country, which the opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, had cashed on to ensure that his administration fails, that he would hand over ‘’ a prosperous and secured Nigeria’’ to the incoming Administration in 2023.
He may have taken advantage of the June 12, democracy day celebration, described ‘as celebration of freedom and victory for the people’, which came on the heels of his recent visit to Lagos, to Commission the NIMASA, $195 million Deep Blue Project, and the Lagos –Ibadan, Rail Line , to speak out, on Saturday, June 12, 2021.
Hear him: Nigeria was still on its way to become a mature democracy’’, meaning that the country was not yet running a true Democracy. He may have been encouraged to make the bold Statement because of what the country had passed over the last two years under his Leadership. This has to do with the number of challenges which could have destroyed other nations, insisting that solving the insecurity situation of the country is ’ a collective responsibility of all’.
According to him, some of these challenges which had come in the form of’’ violent outrages, including those devoted to improving our democratic process’ have been met with stiff resistance. Appealing to Nigerians for their understanding, he disclosed that every such incident , however minor, gives him ‘’a great worry and concern’.
It was not surprising why he has ordered the security agencies ‘’to swiftly but safely rescue victims of attack in the different parts of the country and bring the perpetrators to Justice’’. He may have alluded to the Islamic Fundamentalist Group, Boko Haram and the Islamic State of West African Province, ISWAP, operating in the north east states of Borno and Yobe , particular, including the Bandits in the north west states of Zaamfara, Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto and Kebbi as well as those operating in the north central state of Niger, home state of former Military President , Ibrahim Babangida, a retired Army General.
He had assured Nigerians that his Administration was working round the clock ’to address the roots of the problems of insecurity’’, ‘’ as poverty and youth unemployment’.
Given an insider information of his Administration’s efforts to address the problem of poverty in the country in the last two years, particular, he disclosed 10.5 million people had been lifted out of the poverty level. Recall that in 2019, the Nigerian President had promised to take 100 million Nigerians out of the poverty level but that was how far he could go.
It is on the World Bank records that ’Nigeria has one of the highest number of extremely poor people’, which is a bad advertisement for the Buhari Administration.