In a spin that challenges constitutionality, Nigeria’s democracy was put to a tempestuous test last Tuesday, writes Olawale Olaleye
Last Tuesday would certainly go down in the nation’s political trajectory as one of the few days that Nigeria survived one of the most impossible conspiracies against a democratic institution in modern history.
Some of the events of the last few weeks had exposed certain existential threats to the nation’s fledgling democracy with evidence that some of the active players have yet to learn anything either from the many years of military interregnum, which stalled the smooth run of legitimate governments or even the three-year civil war, from which many have yet to completely heal.
What has further exacerbated the fears currently gripping the turf is that the ongoing power play has very little to do with the elections of 2019, but sadly more about what could be the fate of some of the actors in 2023 hence the recklessness with which the jostle for relevance and positioning is being sculpted.
This is particularly, because a majority of the actors strongly hold the view that the outcome of the 2019 elections would determine almost entirely the shape the 2023 polls would assume, without as much building safety into any of these assumptions. It is, perhaps, for this reason that they have continued to travel an otherwise impossible route which promises to do more harm than good.
The Tuesday siege to the National Assembly complex has no place in any democratic institution, given the avoidable storm it created let alone the revelations that have since greeted the ill-fated coup against the nation and her people.
The attempt to forcefully change the leadership of the National Assembly through any means other than the laid down procedure was in itself an aberration that stands condemned. However niggling is the drafting of critical security agencies of government to deliver on personal agenda under the banner of collective interest, thus subverting the rule of law and undermining democratic institutions.
This is why the swift intervention of the acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who immediately ordered the sack of the former Director-General of the Department of State Services, Lawal Daura, was generally applauded, because he not only saved the nation’s democracy from being undermined, he also saved the government and the party from global ridicule.
Now that Daura’s statement with the police is beginning to yield results and already influenced the interim report recently authored by the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, through a team of operatives headed by a Commissioner of Police, CP Garba Baba Umar, which accused highly placed politicians as the brains behind the siege, this particular situation provides a rare opportunity for the government to rein in some of those accused of having seized control of the government through subterfuge.
In a memo dated August 8, 2018 with reference number: CR: 3000/IGP-SEC/ABJ/VOL 131/782, and addressed to the acting president, Idris identified Daura as the mastermind of the siege to the National Assembly and reckoned, with their findings, that he might have acted the script of “some highly placed politicians to achieve selfish political goals hence, his unilateral and unlawful decision to invade the National Assembly.”
Although the report stated that Daura, in his statement, confessed to having deployed the hooded DSS operatives to the National Assembly complex following intelligence that unauthorised persons were planning to smuggle undisclosed dangerous weapons and incriminating items into the legislature, Idris dismissed it, because according to the report, “He (Daura) did not inform the Acting President, neither did he share the information with the Nigerian Police Force or other sister security agencies.”
On the contrary, Idris contended that the DSS operatives acted like mercenaries, who were hired to carry out executions, noting that “The claim of purported intelligence report by the suspect could not be substantiated as the personnel deployed were not EOD experts or specialists in this regard.”
Idris, however, added that all communication gadgets, such as phone and other electronics devices of the suspect (Daura) would be thoroughly analysed to get to the root of the matter, promising to also search houses and premises of the already identified suspects.
Whilst the police should be commended for such quick delivery of a sensitive assignment within a short time, it is worthy of mention that the tone of the report also exposed the deep-seated animosity and the lack of harmony amongst the different security agencies, which not only explains why the security situation in the country has remained appalling but also the reason some of them are susceptible to abuse by mischievous politicians.
If anything, the government and party have this one opportunity to wholly address issues, tame impunity and take back its slipping control with full responsibility. The current investigation must be followed to a logical conclusion with everyone, who has played one ignoble role or the other sanctioned, going forward.
It is also important that the presidency, government and APC stop seeing the legislature as opposition, irrespective of the current standing in terms of balance of power. Need they also be reminded that they are supposed to be partners hence the imperative of the principle of separation of powers, which serves as the much-needed guide for the sanity of the nation and her brand of democracy!