by Oluwatosin Fatoyinbo
The idea of the uncommanded commander was postulated by John Austin in his Positivist theory of Legal Jurisprudence; that idea is obsolete and does not apply to majority of modern society. As much as we want to argue that some societies have retained this notion, it is not in its entirety.
The commander may hold majority power but all powers are not placed in his hands. The hitherto dictatorship regimes in Egypt and Libya are clear examples of the shift from that era. The uncommanded commander has over time gone with medieval political societies. The Law has evolved means of checks and balance. Even the Yoruba Kings who were called ‘Kabiesi’ (none like you) had their limits as the ‘Oyomesi’ or the Kingmakers could at any point in time ask the King to ‘shi Igba’ (commit suicide) whenever he goes ultra vires and uncontrollable.
With democracy, the system of checks and balances has been further helped with the economic theory of division of labour and the political theory of separation of power. Democracy is not a totally strange concept to us here in Nigeria. We started with democratic governance and ideals upon independence in 1960 but relinquished power to the military for almost 80% of our existence. It thus seems that undemocratic leadership fits our lifestyles. Many thus hailed President Olusegun Obasanjo for his no nonsense style of leadership even when he often overlooked the provisions of the law. He was a military man who is used to his words being the command. You don’t disobey your commander in military circles and go scot free; this was Baba Iyabo’s pattern throughout his eight years at Aso Rock.
Unfortunately for us in Nigeria, we have become so used to dictatorial regimes that we often see leaders who attempt to be democratic as being weaklings. If he doesn’t order the arrest of his political enemies, he is a weakling. If he doesn’t silence the opposition, he is a weakling. If he does not declare ‘war’ regardless of the battlefield, he is a weakling. While it is true that the President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, he is not necessarily a man of the Armed Forces and he does take ‘instructions’ from the real Armed Forces commanders. The use of force is not his prerogative, the use of force is only where necessary and to protect the interest of the people and not to enlarge his personal tent.
That President Goodluck Jonathan is termed a ‘weakling’ is no secret. He has often been accused of being too slow and indecisive as a Commander-in-Chief. He hasn’t harassed political opponents with the federal watchdog EFCC as did Baba Iyabo. He mishandled the Boko Haram invasion of his territory and convinced no one that he was the right man for the job. While many were being slaughtered in Borno and Yobe, Mr. President was appealing rather than commanding. It was obvious that he was not on top of the situation. He either was too weak to listen to his Army Chiefs or the Army Chiefs were as confused as the ‘bloody civilian’ President. The tag ‘weakling’ became President Jonathan’s middle name.
However, with recent developments, it is difficult to say that Mr. President is still the weakling we take him to be. Maybe he is not in the calibre of Baba Iyabo but believe me, Oga Jona is not a weakling and he sure knows how to wield the big gun when pushed.
The way and manner in which the President handled the Rivers State crisis was the first indication I had that just maybe the Presidency have begun to wield the presidential powers. The security detail of the Governor were withdrawn, that of the Speaker was also withdrawn. The so called victim of the ‘macing’ show was charged to court instead of the man who starred as the 007 on the show. The Presidency denied knowing anything about the whole crisis but we all knew that this was but a white lie. The target was the stubborn and seemingly unbreakable Mr. Rotimi Amaechi. The President succeeded in using his powers to create two NGFs, one headed by a de facto Chairman, the other headed by a de jure chairman. Eventually the NGF was polarized and weakened, thus the President’s opponents were denied the use of that avenue to weaken his 2015 political fortune. With the NGF mechanism destroyed, the opposition outside the opposition Party had to come up with another mechanism to destroy Jonathan and thus the new PDP was born.
The seal off of the Alhaji Abubakar Baraje led new PDP secretariat over the weekend was done to prevent the new PDP from formally launching during the new week. The court had earlier ordered that the status quo be maintained and while this is subject to differing interpretation, the Presidency quickly moved to put an end to the new PDP before they take effective root. The status quo order of the court can best be interpreted as that there is only one constitutionally recognized PDP until at least the court substantively hear the suit brought before it. So the question of whether the Police was right in sealing of the secretariat of the new PDP could be answered in the affirmative.
However, the act of sealing off of the secretariat further indicates that perhaps the President is ready to fight dirty and achieve his 2015 dream by all means. I wonder if we have not awoken the dictator in the President or perhaps, he has never being docile as we assumed.
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