Nigerians woke up to news of an assault on our nascent democracy today. As I continued to investigate the siege on our republic by the brute force of a transmogrified Nigeria Police Force I was reminded of the saying that a fly that refuses to heed warnings will follow the corpse to the grave. There is a deliberate attempt to bury decades of struggles of our heroes past, brave men and women of our time six feet beneath the ego of one man on a vindictive agenda in which no one is spared.
The audacity of the impunity of the Nigeria Police Force led by Inspector General of Police, Idris Kpotum, has metastasized to a national cancer slowing consuming the citizens of this country and its institutions. What started out by the Police Force as a fanatical pledge of allegiance to be the attack dog of the executive against perceived opponents of this regime has become an experiment on the tolerance of Nigerians to the destruction of ethics, capacity and the legitimacy of the police force. If we do not today do more than just protest the collapse of the Police Force, we will be back to pick the debris of this nation in a rubble of anarchy.
By laying siege to the convoy of the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, in a bid to impede his legitimate duty in the Senate today, a huge clog has been forced in the slow grinding wheel of the democracy we thrive on. As the powers that be would have it, the nation’s Deputy Senate President was also effectively put on house arrest by men of the Police Force as part of a grander scheme to serve parochial interest inimical to progress and fair play. I speak without equivocation when I say we are back to the military era of might over right, khaki over common sense.
What political thought process births such an affront on the person and office of the Senate? The Buhari government has journeyed from subtle attacks to full out affront on perceived opposition in a manner that is truly reminiscent of a dictatorship. The execrable and anachronistic policing method that has been perfected by this government is cause for alarm. It portents all things bad for Nigeria and Nigerians.
For far too long we have normalized evil by overlooking it or colouring it up in political, ethnic or religious hues. It should matter to all Nigerians that Senator Bukola Saraki and his Deputy were accosted by men of the police force, not so much from a love for both men but out of concern for the offices they represent. The Senate is a corner stone institution in the democratic setup of this country, any attack on it translates to an attack on the people’s parliament. The senate as part of the bicameral legislative structure of Nigeria must be respected, treasured and persevered. This, however, does not place its officers above the law as it is simply a matter of checking its officers as prescribed by law and nothing else.
The official excuse by the president and his handlers that Senator Bukola Saraki was only being taken to the Force Headquarters for interrogation is a barefaced lie. Any one who believes that ridiculous attempt at misinformation is a political Jew and represents another form of threat to this country. Since when has it become the priority of the Police Force to escort a willing individual to its office without prior notice?
A letter of invitation was sent and received by 8pm yesterday, as we’ve reliably been informed, with Senator Bukola expressing his willingness to honour the invitation as he has consistently done after discharging his elected duty on the Senate floor today, only for his residence to be laid in siege. What is the urgency of the issues so raised by the force that could not wait an hour or two of Senate duty? Has Senator Bukola Saraki who, unlike IGP Idris Kpotum, has repeatedly honored such invitations become a flight risk overnight?
A wise man once said we never know what we have until we’ve lost it. What little remains of our claim to free movement, speech, association and diminishing inviolate rights are under constant assault by a regime committed to obliterating all traces of democracy and civility in our national life. President Buhari has no good plans for the nation- a truth that suffers from a rash of rabid fascism, political fanaticism and ethno-religious bigotry. It should take no soothsayer to divine the evil intent of a man whose ego trips are prioritised over the survival of the organs of our democratic existence.
Within just this month we have been exasperated by the level of desperation of this government. We live in a time when regime security is more important than national security and cohesion. A time when Nigerians are being whipped by those they withstood sun and rain to vote for and terrorised by agents of security outfits that subsist on taxpayers money. What gods have we offended ?
Utilities are shutting down, infrastructures are crippled by incompetence, somehow in all of this the priority of this government is self-preservation at the expense of corner-stone institutions. The prevarications of this government to the constant harassment of ordinary men and women by the police, military and DSS have somehow been replicated at a level that suggests that it is useless to hope that the issue will ever be addressed. We must severe ties with a regime sworn to the utter disregard of the law.
Indeed, if we continue to countenance the excesses of the executive led by General Muhammadu Buhari, his Supreme Militarised Cabinet and agents of erstwhile civilian agencies, to wit, all security outfits in the nation, we risk becoming complicit in the unraveling of a country yet to find its feet. We are at a fragile point in our nation’s history- we either make or break this nation by our choices in the next weeks and months.
We must begin a popular revolution, a revolution that has no tribal or religious coloration. The executive excesses of this government has reached its brim and overflows with serious implications for us all. We either make the statement that the people are collectively greater than a privileged few or be overwhelmed by an avalanche of disregard and subjugation.
A government that holds its citizens and personnel of other arms of government in contempt lacks legitimacy. The Senator Saraki siege is symptomatic of a greater crisis that may very well consume this nation if it does not provoke the people to do the right thing today. I admonish fellow Nigerians to be wise and alert in the following days. We must do the right thing when that time is upon us.
Pelumi Olajengbesi Esq. is the National Secretary of the Coalition of Public Interests Lawyers.