By Oke Epia.
If there was ever a time when genuine lovers of democracy in Nigeria must rise and close ranks to save democracy and the country from imminent collapse, it is now. It cannot be tomorrow as any further delay only hastens the cascading descent into definitive peril. The event of April 18th, 2018 where strange persons desecrated the sublime symbol of democracy in a Gestapo invasion of the hallowed chamber of the peopleâ€™s parliament and executed a heinous heist is a clarion call to save Nigeria.
All persons of goodwill who believe the sanctity of the Nigerian nation should trump partisan, pecuniary and primordial interests must now get together to build and sustain a truly formidable coalition against anti-democratic forces who believe the will and voices of the people must be subordinated to their narrow individual and group interests at whatever costs. This is time to organize and mobilize all unequal animals to forge a bond of unity and mount an unassailable crusade of redemption to dismantle the contrived status of second class citizens conferred on them by the hyenas, jackals, and lion king of the kingdom. (Apologies to first lady, Aisha Buhari, and Sen. Shehu Sani, whose metaphoric allegory of Nigeriaâ€™s Animal Farm, remains a most perspicuous redoubt of George Orwellâ€™s classic rendition.)
In building this movement or coalition, it must be made abundantly clear that those who fail to unreservedly condemn the failed coup on democracy which was resisted and foiled by the courageous members of the National Assembly, should have no place in this masses-led redemption movement. Those who hide under the guise of partisanship, personality cults, legal gymnastics, or crooked civil activism to reserve a full fledge condemnation of the attempt to truncate the soul of democracy on Wednesday, should have no role of consequence in this movement. By tacitly justifying the incidence under whatever guise or explanation, such individuals no matter their prominence or place in society or even contributions to the democratic struggles in the past, should be considered as enemies of democracy who seek the benefits thereof only to advance their selfish personal or group interests.
The rescue and redemption of Nigeria cannot be left in the hands of such Senior Advocates, elder statesmen, security experts, or whoever they are or whatever clout they hitherto commanded in the public arena. The kind of reactions that have trailed the depressing event of April 18th has unfortunately, offered the unintended benefit of revealing the true intentions of otherwise respected public figures who have been masquerading as pseudo democrats in the country.
But why should this urgent call to save democracy pertinent? A thorough and unbiased introspection of the matter provides the answer. Several valid and inchoate explanations have been offered, ranging from failure of security in the National Assembly, possible collusion of the security system with the brigands who perpetrated the act, and unsubstantiated pointing of fingers to the presidency and all that. But the point that riles and which cannot be forgivably explained away under any circumstance is that some forces brutally hacked at the very foundation of democracy in Nigeria and almost got away with it.
That the invaders operated successfully in forcefully moving the mace away from the National Assembly amidst a myriad of the ubiquitous, visible and invisible security apparatuses in the precinct and around the usually secure neighbourhood of the Three Arms Zone which hosts the Presidential Villa, the Supreme Court and the Legislature, is symptomatic of a deeper script that speaks to the urgency of the need to rise and defend democracy in Nigeria. Although the police must be commended for recovering the mace within 24hours, it is mandatory that they (alongside other security agencies) apprehend the suspects involved in this fundamental breach, no matter how highly placed. That is a necessarily part of understanding the entire nightmare and distilling measures to forestall a recurrence.
But the point that cannot be over-emphasized is that attempts to explain the disastrous happenstance as permissible must be debunked strongly. Intelligence failure, conspiracy of security agents, disagreement with the way and manner of the suspension of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, love for President Muhammadu Buhari, or disdain for Bukola Saraki and his leadership style in the Senate, can never be acceptable or sufficient reasons for what happened on Wednesday to have occurred.
Because at the end of the day, it would not be about Saraki, Buhari, the APC or PDP; it would not be about IGP Idris or Lawal Daura of the DSS; or would it be about who gets what and how in 2019. It would neither be about Bola Tinubu nor Mamman Daura. It would not be about Ike Ekweremadu and the undeclared foreign assets he is alleged to own or hoe he colluded with Saraki to outwit the APC in June 2015. It would not even be about Olusegun Obasanjo and his suspicious and agenda-laden Coalition for New Nigeria, or the reticent General in Minna that is locked in a conversation of the deaf with his conscience over the infamous annulment of the June 12, 19993 presidential elections considered to be Nigeriaâ€™s best missed chance to have exited its many contradictions of statehood.
It would be about the grim reality of a disemboweled democracy and enthronement of unbridled dictatorship; it would be about a possible collapse of the entity called Nigeria and the balkanization of a once promising nation that we all could gift to the rest of the world. The realities are dreary and dreadful. Will true and genuine democrats now rise and avert a looming catastrophe?