2019: The Ominous Dark Clouds Ahead

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Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen

SATURDAY THE FRONTLINES

By  Joseph Ushigiale

Some people detest former President Olusegun Obasanjo with a passion mostly for his poke-nosing and obtrusive style. However, citing national interest as reason behind his choosing letter writing as a medium to reach sitting presidents, Obasanjo cares less about public opinion regarding his modus operandi so long as his letters deliver his well pointed acerbic messages. I am in agreement with Baba on this. You may not like him but Baba has his nuisance value which is incalculable.

To be fair to him, he has exhibited unparalleled patriotism based on federal character. Recall that it was Obasanjo who saved this country from a lot of embarrassment when a cabal operating under the late president Umaru Yar’Adua’s presidency almost plunged the country into intractable crisis during the late president’s incapacitation.

We’ll recall also that it was the same Obasanjo who rallied the stakeholders to drum up support to pave way for enactment of the now famous ‘doctrine of necessity’ piece of legislation which cleared the grounds for the enthronement of former president Goodluck Jonathan to succeed Yar’Adua.

Today, Obasanjo is at it again. This time around, his target is to rally support against President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term if he wins in February.

Reflecting on events that have unfolded this past week across the country and beyond, there are clear signs foreboding an impending implosion in the country in no distant time. The ominous dark clouds which Obasanjo has been warning about are clearly manifesting. Let us take a look at the dangers ahead:

Buhari’s Fitness

Nigerians are not unaware that Buhari has health issues and had thought that his largely reclusive routine had more to do with allowing him time to recuperate. But nothing prepared them for the shock of seeing their president on national television, fumbling, gazing blanking into space appearing completely lost and unable to comprehend the simplest of elementary questions. It was simply appalling and sympathetic and a great disservice to Buhari for his handlers to subject him to such high level ridicule and humiliation before the world.

Slowly, the message started hitting home as to why his handlers had been shielding him from the public and equally the question of who has been calling the shots while the president is in such a confused state?  Recall that both Senate President Bukola Saraki and Buhari’s wife, Aisha alerted the nation that Buhari’s presidency was being manipulated by a cabal. This now drew the now famous response from Buhari who waved aside Aisha’s comment dismissing her as belonging to ‘the kitchen and to the other room’.

The question now is: with the president in such a confused state where he hardly comprehends his immediate environment, who will be in control in the event that he wins a second term? It is already a known fact that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has never been in charge even when the reins of power are bequeathed him because the cabal usurps and never let him act in that capacity. For example, almost all decisions made during his time as acting President have been returned to the status quo by the cabal.

Perhaps that is why, the cabal is packaging and manipulating the system to create a messianic aura for an unfit Buhari to contrive victory in the polls for its members to take over. The Americans who first introduced the concept of a presidential debate for their presidential candidates must be having a good laugh at us now looking at how we have turned a straight forward matter to a huge joke. Why is it that we are very poor copycats? We copied the presidential system of government from the Americans but are practicing anything but a presidential system. The shambolic NTA programme christened The Candidates conceived to hide the president’s flaws turned out to expose and humiliate him in the long run. It would go down as the worst public relations package yet. The danger is not as much as what the cabal is scheming but the seeming docility and the I-don’t-care-attitude exhibited by those who suffer the brunt of this conspiracy. It is this very docile mien that has or is emboldening the cabal to engage in this latest project of foisting a misfit as our next president.

Onnoghen Must Go

At the moment, the Buhari administration is locked in a legal battle to unseat the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen over allegations of corruption. While I am not against such inquiry, knowing the capacity of this government not to gloss over such privileged information bordering on corruption, why was he nominated and sworn in as CJN with such weighty allegations hanging on his neck? The only explanation here could be that the authorities knew about Onnoghen’s misdemeanor but preferred to overlook it hoping to use the same information to blackmail him to carry out some dirty jobs for them.

Now that the ploy has failed, the authorities are drawing out long knives to skin the CJN. The flip side of this development is that the Buhari administration has once again demonstrated its disregard not only for the sanctity of separation of powers but also contempt for the rule of law that the President swore to uphold.

The bottom line in all this is that the administration is courting anarchy with its decision to side step clearly laid down procedures enunciating how a CJN should be removed. This is why many concerned citizens including the NBA and other legal luminaries are sympathetic to Onnoghen and are in court to defend him against what they perceive as the federal government’s injustice and move to remove and replace the CJN with a pliable Judge who would cow tow to its bidding. If Onnoghen is finally removed and replaced by a lackey, in the event that results of the presidential election are challenged in court, will opposition accept an unfavorable ruling from such a judge, would they not think the judge is biased?

As if the weight of the struggle to unseat the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) is not tough enough, the Buhari administration is again taking on former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and current People’s Democractic Party. (PDP) flag bearer, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Minister of information, Lai Mohammed said Atiku defrauded a defunct PHB of over N156m. All allegations have been denied by Atiku who described the latest allegation as a sham.

First, the story then was that Abubakar was indicted by the U. S authorities over corruption related issues and therefore barred from the country. I am sure many Nigerians believed the APC led federal government until Abubakar proved them wrong by traveling to the U.S and stayed a night in Trump’s Tower. Suddenly, the story changed to allegations that Abubakar crumbled Bank PHB with a N156m loan. This allegation is ridiculous and utterly laughable. Before that bank went under, what was its equity holding? Even a layman would know that that paltry sum can not lead to any bank’s collapse. It is therefore instructive for the federal government and especially the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed to heed a recent warning from the Americans to stop harassing opposition members. It is all too glaring as confirmed by the party’s chairman, Adams Oshiomhole that the present administration is only investigating opposition members for corruption because according to Oshiomhole ‘once you join APC, your sins are forgiven. The Buhari government should note that such selective administration of justice can have far reaching backlash in the long run.

The Way Forward

Rather than squirming in their seats like Honourable Ministers for Transportation and Budget planning, Rotimi Amaechi and Udo Udoma including presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu did on the day Buhari was on the hot seat, all members of the federal executive council (FEC) and men of goodwill in the Buhari administration who have the interest in the unity of this country have to act now, any delay would be too late to salvage this country from the encircling Hawks that are set to devour what they couldn’t finish in the first term.

All members of FEC should resign to allow the National Assembly invoke certain powers vested in them by the constitution to impeach Buhari and save our country from imminent crisis of unimaginable kind.