THE POLICE, THE LAW, THE LEGISTATURE AND THE NIGERIAN PUBLIC
Events in Nigeria will continue to elicit shocks and surprises given the way and manner they unfold in our daily life. The other day, the President eased off the Ex Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mr. Ringim from his lofty position in a manner almost everyone was in agreement with. At least for once we spoke in one voice. We were still attempting to hazard a guess on what the new Acting IGP would think, say or do, knowing that his credentials is stained considering that his handling of the Jos crises was less than noble. This is also a reason why he was recommended for retirement by a panel which probed the crisis. So how has the man suddenly metamorphosed to be the good man that will give the nation sound sleep in this era of bomb blast every now and then?
We remains a puzzle to everyone who ever take a simple but strong though or views about us. The government is a puzzle, the people are all puzzling in every sense of the word and the system is yet another puzzle. No wonder any expatriate who ever survive in Nigeria is easily unable to go back home. But the fact remains that Nigerians come out as one of the most decent people in organized societies. Any wonder why we are the way we are?
I have taken a deep study about the leadership in this country and come to the realization that we, the people, have never got the deals we desire hence see the rot we live with daily. A typical Nigerian desire an organized environment; a decent office or home; availability of the now essential public utilities and sense of moderation. But these are the values that the leadership have continued over the years to deny the people causing them to seek greener pasture in foreign lands.
Nigeria is running the Presidential system of government were the legislative arm makes the law, the Judiciary interprets the law and the executive implements the law. That is where the story ends on paper. In reality, I am yet to see these functions at work in uniformity. As a matter of fact, what we have is winner takes all, and the winner is the Presidency. The executive has been so powerful that with the loads of cash in its kitty, hardly would any Nigerian in government call white by its name after a special visit to the presidential lodge. In America where we copied parts of what we seem to implement, the executive lobby the legislative. But in Nigeria, it is out right corruption and absolute power corrupt absolutely. I stand to be corrected, but I yet to see any other than Professor Tam David West who went to the till – the source of Nigerian wealth – Oil, and returned sane. But the fruit of heavy dose of corruption over the years are what we see now.
Now, to the issue at hand. What really ignite friendship? A friend is one you are emotionally attached to; mutually feeling and trusting towards each other. It is not ignited by the volume of money one receives from the other once in a regular while. Nor by the opportunities created for one through the other because one is in position of influence. I think the best description of a good friend is one who rises to the occasion when the other is in desperate need.
This is where the Inspector General of Police failed the president who is mooted to be friends. When his office was bombed and vehicles in the parking lot were burnt with ignominy, he it was who spoke with the two sides of his mouth. First he was point blank in blaming the action on the then new wave criminals Boko Haram. But in less than 24hours after, he came on air to deny himself! Again and again, the bomb kept blasting everywhere and no one ever got close to the clue on the perpetrators even as they make claims owning up to the acts with the frequency of their occurring. Yet the Police – the IGP a friend to the president, with heavy funding kept everyone off focus by directing our thinking to some mundane things.
We were deceived into believing that the Nigeria Police didn't have equipment and friends/in-law of the then president of Nigeria Chief Martins, provided solution in tasking commuters and transporters with their token of N200. That amount turned to huge fund in billions of Naira. But rather than buy the equipment which the fund was meant, the money was diverted into private pockets. Today, Chief Martins walk the streets free knowing that he has blocked the mouths of the power that be in the same police and/or elsewhere from disturbing his 'peace'.
Serial killing in Nigeria has become a common phenomenon. It is no longer news to hear of people dying in mysterious circumstances when those who are in the streets are shot at as if in war time. Stories abound that drivers or commuters are shot and killed or wounded for merely resisting N20 bribe. More critical issues remains and reminds us of the likes of Chief Dikibo, Harry Marshal, Bola Ige, Rewane the list goes on. But to date no culprits is found.
The unfortunate thing is that our battles of many fronts are mostly self inflicted. We fight the armed robber; kidnappers take their own pound of flesh on failed business partners, relationship matters, and even from parents to mention just a few. In politics, the police are unable to unveil political assassins, ballot box snatching and the like. Now we have the unending Boko Haram, which at its coming, most concerned persons wrote about the irregular bomb blast in Borno State. Even now, that has defiled solution as the governments – local, state and central have remained docile.
The Police and Judiciary have been so basterdised that while the State Governors (mostly in opposition) clamor for State Police, the Lawyers themselves have gone on strike a number of time to register their protest either against ruling of one of their own whose judgments they detest, or whose appointment is seen to be faulty.
The IBB era promoted flagrant disobedience of the law with the promulgation of president Decree 4 among others ensuring that his word was law. And, guinea pigs were usually needed to foist the laws on the people. Hence an Akpangbo (SAN) the late Attorney General of the Federation was found to be the willing tool despite disagreements with legal frameworks in the country. IBB imprisoned anyone at will, he cancelled elections at will also the last of which was the annulment of June 12, 1993 election won by late Chief M.K.O. Abiola. Not done, he made of the likes of Professor Humphrey Nwosu the then Federal Electoral Commission Officer (FEDECO) 'deaf and dumb'. Late General Sani Abacha continued the trend which Gen Abdusalam attempted to check but for his short duration.
The OBJ arrived and capitalizing on the docility of Nigerians, he broke all the rules using all instruments to promote largely his personal ambition. Of course the Police remained the easy tool in the slaughter slab.
The OBJ's era is still fresh in our memory. With him, an opposition candidate had no chance except if they had a strong hold like Lagos, Borno Zamfara states. They had the boxes loaded with fake ballot papers which were later authenticated and accepted despite stouts, arrests and prosecution in the election tribunals or law courts.
In the Judiciary, disobedience to the rule of law with impunity was the order of the day. A Michael Oandoakka was created, made a SAN (Which has been withdrawn) and left to do the yoo jobs. For him, everything under the sun can be interpreted upside down for as long as he held forth. But for the late President Musa Yar'adua doggedness, the likes of Gov Chibike Amechi, Adams Oshomole, Drs. Fayemi, Aregbesola etc would be licking their wound today and they did under OBJ.
The legislative arm has not done better. The mismanagement of the Hon. Patricia Ettah and Dimeji Bankloe's case, the Nigeria Independent Power Project (NIPP) probe, the insensitive and arbitrary increase in salary and remunerations of those in the National Assembly which is not commensurate with their performance are serious cases in point.
The last straw is coming to hit the very friend of the President Ex IGP Ringim who ignored the enormity of the Boko Haram threats and destructive jamboree of the Islamic sect, let go of the most prized leader costing him his carrier. On its heel is the sacking of five PDP Governors by the judiciary. Haba Nigeria!
Nigeria is in urgent need of repair. We have seen that we cannot go our separate way as a nation even if the North is littered with Oil, the only element which holds us together now. No Nigeria cannot afford it! But we can change. We can do better if only we can focus on internal development.
In all honesty, it cost this government about one third of our national budget to run this country effectively by those who know best how they can. We do not need the pot belly Ghana must go legislators to lead anyway. Leadership is about sacrifice, sacrifice and more sacrifice. Unfortunately, through the arm twisting divide and rule introduced by IBB, encouraged by late Sani Abacha and perfected by OBJ, we had next to nothing in the 1999 legislative houses in most parts of the country. The days of blind folding are on their way out, and I can say that Nigerians are wiser now than before.
I thought there is this saying that Justice delayed is Justice denied? If it remains valid, then the people of Bayelsa and Nigerians in the five PDP states have been denied justice and should be compensated and laws made during the period under consideration abrogated. Or how would the likes of Timi Alaibe welcome the Supreme Court judgment when he dismantled his political structures long ago and is now partyless? What rights have the Governors to leave without returning their salary and benefit garnered during the period under consideration? Going by the rulings of these last electoral cases, it is needful that the laws be reviewed ensuring that only candidates whose cases are cleared in the law courts are sworn in. The power and fund at the disposal of any seating governor or legislature is so enormous and used with impunity, it has proved to dwarf the reasoning of most Judges. Let us for once do the right thing in the right direction and move the nation forward.
Mike O. Akpati is a Public Affair Analyst based in Port Harcourt