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Condemnable intolerance - The Nation

By The Citizen
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In the face of it, the rally by the Federal Capital Territory Authority (FCTA), to maintain the integrity of the Abuja master plan, by sealing off the Maitama Governor's Lodge of Adamawa State, would appear dutiful, or even patriotic.

The accusation, for the seal-off, was that the building was being used for political, instead of residential purposes, for which the Maitama district was designed. The lodge serves as temporary head office of a faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

But if you look closely, you cannot but reflect on that quip, that states patriotism is the last bastion of the scoundrel! The FCTA legal rally is no more than subterfuge to clamp down on a rival faction of the party; using governmental force to cripple its operations.

If you link the fact that the police, under the goading of the presidential faction of the federal ruling party, had earlier sealed off the first headquarters of the Baraje PDP faction, a pattern of provocation is established.

Yet, the Jonathan faction could also, not illegitimately, claim counter-provocation from this splinter group that calls itself 'New PDP', a name a court of competent jurisdiction had disowned. Political splintering is recognised under the law. But not manufacturing a name, to parody the splintered party. That appears the logic behind the court's decision that nPDP could not fly.

Perhaps with the atavistic mindset triggered by a military era hangover, it might be too much for a Presidency that has exclusive control of the security forces not to be tempted to clamp down. But such reckless behaviours do nothing to ground the ethos of democratic tolerance that Nigeria sorely needs.

The FCTA legal grandstanding, prelude to the seal-off, was therefore an illicit cloak masquerading as legality. The presidential faction of the PDP sadly resorted to self-help, in a democracy which ought to be grounded on the rule of law. That is not only bad behaviour from the highest quarters; it is also an act of gross corruption of the vital security institutions of state. Involving the police to settle factional scores in a party breaking up would invite nothing but further future abuses and the ensuing anarchy. That should be decried.

Still, the situation would have been radically different if, armed with its regulations, the FCTA had gone to court and asked it to compel the Adamawa Governor's Lodge to close down the PDP factional secretariat on its premises. That probably would have taken a longer time to effect.

But if the action succeeds, the FCTA would have saved itself the legitimate charge that as a department of government, it is involving itself in factional political feuds. Yes, the Abuja minister is a politician. And he would probably not have been minister without his party card.

Still, the FCTA is no factional PDP office; and strictly by law, it would appear to have no locus to twist its regulations to favour one faction above the other, no matter where its own sympathy lay. The most tragic thing about it all is that by conspiracy by the powers-that-be, it is yet impunity to undermine democratic institutions. Besides, how does such strong-arm tactics promote the so-called 'reconciliation' the party crows about?

This brazen power show also reflects, in dirty Technicolor, the abiding crisis of federalism in Nigeria's troubled polity. Governors' Lodges ought to be sacrosanct territory, not to be invaded at will by a bully Federal Government, because it monopolises the Nigeria Police. The building belongs to the Adamawa people and Adamawa ought to be a state, not inferior, but coordinate to the federal bully now turning itself the security village headmaster.

Perhaps Adamawa should not have 'abused' its territory, by converting part of it to the headquarters of its faction of the party. Yet, that territory ought to have been respected, as it is the convention with foreign embassies - or worst, call in the courts to adjudicate the matter.

The federal authorities under Jonathan should resist cutting its nose in a fit of undemocratic temper. Each time it does that, it spites the face of our democracy. Believe us, it is grotesque!