Ring True

By Yemi Adebowale; yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com; 07013940521 (text)

Many Nigerians still have a lot to learn about the tenets of democracy. It is a shame that countless people are unaware or chose to pretend not to know that protest is a key part of democracy and a constitutional right. This set of people needs to understand that everybody has a right to protest about any issue, no matter how stupid others consider it. The best those opposed to the protest can do is to launch a counter-protest and not to attack, blackmail and hound activists. Unfortunately, this is what has been happening to the demonstrators calling for the resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari because of his ill health and prolonged absence from the country. Pro-federal government bands have openly termed the Charly Boy-ledOur Mumu Don Do group as “enemies of Buhari and insensitive” to the plight of the President. Some of these hoodwinked people attacked Charly Boy and his team at Wuse market in Abuja on Tuesday. These hoodlums should be told that they have no right to suffocate the democratic right of others.

It is a shame that some policemen also brutalised members of Charly Boy’s group for daring to stand up against the president’s long absence from the country. Scenes of policemen pummeling Charly Boy and his friends with tear gas on August 7 were really depressing. While harassing the anti–Buhari protesters, pro-Buhari demonstrators were seen being protected by the police. This violates Section 42 of our Constitution, which prohibits discrimination on grounds of political opinion.

It is pertinent to remind IGP Ibrahim Idris and his men that Section 94 (4) of the Electoral Amendment Act, 2015 stipulates that “notwithstanding any provision in the Police Act, the Public Order and any regulation made thereunder or any other law to the contrary, the role of the Nigeria Police Force in political rallies, processions and meetings shall be limited to the provision of adequate security as provided in subsection 1 of this section.” Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana was apropos when he remarked that the conduct of the Police should be a source of embarrassment to President Buhari, “who famously advised the late President Yar’Adua to resign when the latter was ill for a long time.” Falana added: “Every Nigerian has the right to hold rallies for or against the government. That right should not be enjoyed at the discretion of those in power. The federal government must put an immediate end to the disruption of public meetings and rallies by the Police and other security agencies.”

For me, the biggest life lesson which we must all learn and imbibe from the Buhari health debacle is that “what goes around comes around”. Buhari’s supporters have all suddenly forgotten that he chastised and mocked the late President Umaru Yar’Adua for clinging on to power while he was ill. We need to remind members of Buhari’s grumpy bands that when the late President Yar’Adua was ail, Buhari advocated for his impeachment in a message issued on Tuesday, March 9, 2010. Buhari also urged the Federal Executive Council to declare the late Yar’Adua incapacitated and have him impeached due to his inability to carry out his official duties.

Buhari, who spoke when members of the National Unity Forum paid him a visit in his house in Kaduna, said Yar’Adua’s removal was the only viable option out of the political logjam caused by his long absence. He also criticised the then National Assembly for using “extra-constitutional measures” to empower Goodluck Jonathan as Acting President “when the constitution already had a solution to the problem.”

Buhari added in his remark in 2010: “Political expediency won’t remedy this kind of problem because if the Executive Council of the Federation had acted in accordance with the constitution, by invoking the necessary sections to declare the President incapacitated, we would not have found ourselves in this present situation. As you can see, adopting extra-constitutional measures have not addressed the problem. If it had, we would not have been subjected to the raging debates and controversy going on. So, we must go back to the constitution. The Executive Council of the Federation must do the right thing because once we start moving away from the constitution, then we are inviting anarchy. The Federal Executive Council must save the nation from the current agony by declaring the president (Yar’Adua) incapacitated to pave the way for his impeachment.”

My very good friend, Lai Mohammed, who was the Publicity Secretary of the Action Congress, also jabbed Yar’Adua and demanded that Nigerians should be given daily update on Yar’Adua to stem the rumours about his health. He added in the statement in 2009: “The ACN calls on the Federal Executive Council, the only body constitutionally empowered to start the process of determining whether or not the President can continue in office on the basis of his health, to rise above mundane considerations and put the nation’s interest first.”

Today, Buhari’s legion of sycophants is violently opposed to anybody appraising or demonstrating against their principal’s ill health and long absence from home. Such critics are tagged unpatriotic and their utterances “absurd”. This is the pinnacle of hypocrisy. Those opposed to critical questions about the health of the nation’s President are hypocrites and are doing a great disservice to the nation.

Rabiu Kwankwaso and the Wages of Pride
Pride destroys. This is one reality most people fail to face until it suddenly happens. This, perhaps, sums up the story of Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, former governor of Kano State and his dwindling influence in the state. While his reign lasted, after “making” Abdullahi Ganduje governor, Kwankwaso’s presence in Kano often brought government activities to a stop. He would summon Ganduje as soon as he was in town. His influence on Ganduje became imperious. For almost 10 months, Kwankwaso practically turned Ganduje (his erstwhile deputy) into a puppet.

The man in Ganduje died, as he was taking instructions from Kwankwaso on virtually all issues. The former governor decided who got what, when and how much in the state. This former governor did not know when to show respect to the incumbent governor. Kwankwaso wanted him to remain his “house boy”. Just 10 months into this oppression, Ganguje woke up from his slumber and resisted the coercion.  Three weeks ago, the Kano governor finally buried the Kwankwasiyya movement by fully taking over the party structure in the state with the installation of his man, Abdullahi Abbas as Kano State Chairman of APC.

Senator Kabiru Gaya and Senator Barau Jibrin of Kano South and Kano North respectively, have also teamed up with Ganduje in this war against godfathers. It is heart-warming to note that Governor Ganduje is now a free man. He has fully dislodged members of the Kwankwasiyya Amana political movement in his cabinet and the Kano APC leadership in the interest of the people. However, Kwankwaso is putting pressure on the national leadership of the APC to recognise Umar Doguwa who was removed as the Kano APC Chairman. Odigie Oyegun has remained silent on this.

Some governors across the country are still under the yoke of their godfathers. Some of these incumbent governors are happy taking instructions from their predecessors. They are simply errand boys. I hope the development in Kano State will motivate these eaglet governors to fight for their emancipation from the shackles of godfathers. The story in town now is that Kwankwaso is planning to defect to the PDP and has vowed to replace the governor in 2019. This is the same PDP he destroyed in 2014. Suddenly, he wants to return to the camp of the conservatives after being humiliated in Kano APC. This country can’t make any progress with politicians like Kwankwaso. He should continue dreaming about uprooting Ganduje. With the way things are going in Kano State, I suspect that Kwankwaso would not wake up from his dream until after the 2019 elections. All powers belong to God and our politicians must learn to use power to the glory of God. My takeaway today is that we must always remember that we are in this world for the moment. This should always guide our actions and inactions.

Boko Haram’s Siege in Madagali, Konduga
It is sad that Boko Haram terrorists have spent the last three weeks attacking Konduga (near Maiduguri) and Madagali (Adamawa State) with impunity. On Tuesday, suicide bombers killed 27 people at a market in Konduga. About 82 others, who were badly injured, were transferred from the General Hospital, Konduga to State Specialist Hospital, Maiduguri. Less than two weeks ago, four persons were killed by heavily armed terrorists at Wanori-Amarwa community in Konduga. In Madagali, the terrorists are still wreaking havoc. This month alone, they have carried out four deadly attacks in this hapless town.

Just on Monday, they launched attacks on some communities in Madagali, leaving scores dead. Nyibango and Muduhu enclaves were the worst victims. Last week, the terrorists attacked Ghumbili and Midlu villages, leaving scores dead. Midlu and Vapura villages were earlier attacked, with seven people killed. The Madagali Council Chairman, Yusuf Muhammed was in tears while recounting the ordeals of the affected villages. “They killed many people, slaughtered livestock and razed the villages during the attacks,” lamented Muhammed.

The lawmaker representing Madagali/Michika Federal Constituency Adamu Kamale confirmed my earlier report that the terrorists are roaming freely in Madagali. For how long must we continue burying innocent people? We must continue to put pressure on the military to do the needful before more communities in Adamawa fall under the control of the terrorists. The situation in Borno State is also not getting better. It is pertinent to rejig the military leadership in charge of this war. I am convinced that Allah will give victory to our gallant soldiers.

Lagos City’s Poor Rating by the Economist
I have spent quality time reading the 2017 Liveable Cities report of the London Economist magazine. My dear Lagos city was ranked 139 out of 140 cities evaluated by the Economist’s Intelligence Unit and remained second, behind Damascus on the annual report by the Economist. This was the same horrific position it occupied last year. The survey, released on Wednesday, scores cities on five broad categories: stability, healthcare, education, infrastructure, culture and environment. Even conflict-torn cities like Tripoli were ranked higher than Lagos city. Facilities in public health and education institutions in the city of Lagos and its suburbs are still deplorable.

This is the truth that must be told to encourage Governor Ambode to raise his game. Just visit a public school or health institution around you and you will understand what I am saying. What about the frightening heaps of refuse in Lagos city and its suburbs? What about its epileptic public water supply? The level of crime in this city is also horrendous. Inner roads are in tatters. Those querying the Economist’s report on Lagos city should continue in their delusion.  Members of Ambode’s band will tell us that he is doing his best to tackle this rot. Well, he has to do more for Lagos city to join enviable cities like Melbourne with quality infrastructure.

The Australian city was ranked number one out of 140 cities evaluated, slightly ahead of the Austrian capital Vienna, with the Canadian trio of Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary completing the top five. These are the great cities Lagos city must strive to emulate. My dear Ambode, decaying infrastructure and rising crime are indeed eroding living conditions in Lagos city and its suburbs.