Buhari and the Rule of Law: Reawakening Dictatorial Tendencies

By Ayokunle Adeleye

I was not surprised when yesterday, 26th of August, 2018, I heard on television President M. Buhari unabashedly contravening the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in my unlearned opinion. You see, in its opening remarks, that legal document that safeguards our democracy had wisely asserted its supremacy over the whims, caprices and overeagerness of any person, the President not excluded, so that we read: "This Constitution is supreme…". Such foresight!

Yet one is not surprised at this turn of events: The Buhari administration is under pressure now more than before, even more so as 2019 nighs. And for their overdecorated anti-corruption horse to neigh to electoral victory, tough decisions must be taken such as the subjugation of perceived hurdles (read, obstacles) as the Rule of Law, or so it would seem.

One would have thought that three years was enough time for the arm of the law, universally acknowledged to be slow indeed, to have caught up with looters and other criminal elements, but this government, it would seem, is brandishing an especially slow one genetically modified for tardiness. And rather than look into the slowness and its causes, both inherent and remote, the people constitutionally saddled with governance are expectedly proposing the overhaul of the whole structure: Rule of Law must now be secondary to "National Security" and "Communal Good", they assert.

Yet, as lofty as these ideas may sound, one need look no further than Sambo Dasuki on the one hand, and the recently released IPOB women protesters on the other hand to see how today's government seeks to take us back to the ignoble days of 1984! What happened to Nnamdi Kanu, by the way? I was not yet born in 1984 or '85, but it doesn't require genius to know that a leopard does not change his spots, since history is taught for a reason, the same reason ours is about repeating itself.

So that for an administration that coasted to power on ICE, insecurity, corruption and the economy, the median seems to be the only one they haven't cajoled enough, thanks to the unflinching judiciary. Blackmailed, harassed, even besieged, our judiciary stands firm with our assailed national assembly to secure our democracy from prejudiced national security concerns that prioritise gubernatorial elections over genocidal massacres, and the common good that ever so often aligns itself with the Presidency than with the hungry citizenry.

Mr President, sir, the (1999) Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria remains supreme until suspended, and the Rule of Law cannot therefore be secondary in a democracy. The people of Nigeria may yet be the poorest in the world and rank among the most insecure, but in the dreaded 2019, we shall overcome, led to victory by the Rule of Law for our secured existence and un-politicised good! Please, sir, you may tinker with national security and common economy, but leave the Rule of Law alone, primarily!

Dr. Ayokunle Adeleye customarily writes from Sagamu, Ogun State.

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