by Samuel Ogundipe
Elevating the fallacy of the false alternative to Boko Haram insurgency, Bola Tinubu, and a few others in the Action Congress of Nigeria, believe that Nigerians who welcomed President Jonathan’s state of emergency in three northern states — and who think 3 years of Boko Haram’s heinous activity is enough — are mediocre. Their position is less a thought than a flight from thinking, which involves making sensible distinctions.
On April 15th, the morning after Mr. President’s sobered announcement on national television, Bola Tinubu, the latest steward of modern Nigerian reactionary progressivism, warned that President Jonathan’s attempt to initiate the beginning of the end of Boko Haram’s senseless killings of Nigerians would amount to “excruciating hardship” for residents of the 3 affected states. He also theorised that the President’s action is a harbinger to total federal government takeover of those states and a “deliberate ploy to subvert constitutional democracy”. Really? If the President really intended to do as Tinubu averred what would have stopped him from doing so? The inanimate Constitution? After all, former President Obasanjo did exactly that in Plateau and Ekiti with little or no consequence to him.
Between wishing success to the Joint Task Force and sending in new troops to combat Boko Haram, there’s as much a middle ground for honest politicians as there is between President Jonathan, an ostensibly patriotic man sincerely worried about the lingering state of insecurity, and Tinubu, a promiscuous political juggernaut.
Tinubu, whose political godfatherism is unrivalled in Nigerian contemporary politics, has been politicking with the Boko Haram issue for a while. When asked, sometimes ago at a symposium, his solution to eradicating the sect, Tinubu said: “The emergence of Boko Haram is indicative of the failure of People’s Democratic Party”. PDP’s culpability in Boko Haram’s emergence is, at best, a speculation. What is not speculative, however, is the fact that Tinubu’s response sounded more like an attempt at political mudslinging than it does about preferring an honest solution to a gigantic problem that threatens the nation’s very existence.
He also seems to be surreptitiously avoiding the issue of Boko Haram lately except when politically expedient for him to comment on it. And in those rare cases he would canvass for “continuous dialogue because that is the Nigerian values.” You get that right: Our values are that we must continue to dialogue with terrorists because we started a dialogue with terrorists. Notwithstanding the unbearable intransigence of the sect.
It is a given that a substantial part of the population would readily condemn, and sometimes justifiably so, anything coming out of Aso Rock. And even more so if opposition politicos like Tinubu is at the vanguard of such outcry. Nigerians, however, are wary this time -which is a good thing.
What kind of people would we have been if we had rebuked Mr. President’s bold step and embraced Bola Tinubu’s trite of vituperation and division? The President’s action was not only necessary, it was satisfactorily constitutional, too.
As if anyone is nonplussed, Lai Muhammed, a Sancho Panza to Bola Tinubu’s Don Quixote, who’s never seen a national security matter he won’t politicise, didn’t wait for Mr. President to say “Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria” before blasting out his ukase to ACN political Pravdas:
“One hopes the President’s action is not linked to the politics of 2015. With the three states militarized, there can neither be electioneering campaign nor voting there. We had warned earlier that as 2015 approaches, the Jonathan Administration will increasingly take measures that will make it impossible to hold election in many states The over militarization of some states in the north, the plan to destabilise the South-west using slush funds from the so-called oil pipeline protection contract and the infantile threats from some Niger Delta militants seem to be part of this plan.” This statement strikes even the most apolitical as petty.
Boko Haram has killed 2, 510 according to my last count. The sect has destroyed properties in excess of billions in dollars and shook the country to its very foundation. Yet all the largest party in opposition could do is throw a tantrum over an action as popular as the state of emergency declaration? Reminds me of a statement from the Presidency last month which castigated Tinubu as a “political liability”. That statement couldn’t have turned out prescient early enough — like he holds a degree in oracle studies. We might as well just file that under his list of academic qualifications.
However, Congress for Progressive Change, the second largest contributor to the birth of All Progressives Congress, released a statement praising the President’s decision and urging the citizenry to rally behind him for its successful execution:
“However, it is gratifying that the President did not behave like a former President who removed the political structures when he declared a state of emergency in some states”, asserted Rotimi Fashakin, the Party’s spokesman who ostensibly understands that there’s more to opposition status than cheap fuss-budgeting. “We need to rally round the President in this trying period. We pray that with this action, peace will eventually return to the states”, he said.
Furthermore, to really fathom the magnitude of opprobrium Tinubu and the ACN have ensnared themselves – and how popular the President’s declaration was – I’ve excerpted the reaction of Mr. Femi Falana, hardly a fan of President Jonathan or the PDP, for your digestion:
“President Jonathan deserves commendation for acting within the ambit of the constitution. Unlike President Olusegun Obasanjo who illegally removed elected governors under the guise of a state of emergency President has not dissolved democratic structures in the affected states. That is in order because an elected governor can only be removed by impeachment, resignation or on ground of infirmity of body or mind and NOT through a state of emergency. For the avoidance of doubt the proviso to section 11 (4) of the constitution which empowers the National Assembly to take over the legislative powers of a state in case of emergency states that ‘nothing in this section shall be construed as conferring on the National Assembly power to remove the Governor or the Deputy Governor of the State from office.’ Having complied with the constitution with respect to the state of emergency in 3 states President Jonathan should henceforth demonstrate to Nigerians that the days of presidential impunity are gone for ever in the country.”
It’s no gainsaying that Democratic Party campaign ad about Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie stealing America’s democracy in the run of to 2010 Midterm elections contributed to its political shellacking that year, the ACN’s response to Mr. President’s state of emergency proclamation could be the straw that breaks APC’s political future.
– Follow this writer on Twitter: @samuelogundipe