FEATURE ARTICLE

Monday, June 10, 2019
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UK
ARBITRARY EXERCISE OF POWER, A FEATURE OF AUTOCRACY

he report of the suspension of the operating license of Daar Communications PLC, operator of AIT and Ray Power, is another example of the troubling, whimsical and autocratic way and manner, the Buhari administration has been exercising power in Nigeria.

Escalation of arbitrary detention of people without trial, extrajudicial execution of protesters, withdrawal of legally obtained gun and radio licences, favouring of one ethnic group and religion, sending soldiers dominated by one ethnic group to occupy another region of the country to quell peaceful protest and harassment of opponents, are not feature of civil democracy under the rule of law. They are what is seen in autocracy and when government serve sectarian and selfish interests.

No civil society should tolerate the kind of spiteful and recklessness abuse of power, impunity, inhumanity, insensitivity, nepotism and greed being displayed by President Buhari and many governors in Nigeria in the exercise of the power they claim, the constitution gives the offices they occupy.

What is playing out in Nigeria is not democracy, but a power game played on the lowest of principles and values by mean-spirited people, who are bent on using power to serve themselves, their ethnic group and religion.

This is another reason why Power must be controlled and those who exercise power over others held accountable. Repeatedly, it has been proved that Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely as Lord Acton said.

If the wise world have learnt anything, it is that no man should have the right or reason to exercise unaccountable power over others. This is because invariably, absolute power will be abused. It is absolute power that is responsible for the evil of leaders like Hitler, Abacha, Buhari in his first coming in 1984, pol pot etc. Therefore, Societies must never elect or appoint people into positions, where they can exercise unaccountable power as is evolving in Nigeria under Buhari.

It would seem that the most enabler of abuse of power in Nigeria is the unjust constitution, which appear incapable of limiting the ability of leaders to abuse their power. The Nigerian constitution is unable to control executive recklessness and contemptible abuse of power.

No man needs absolute power to govern well. Men need absolute power to do and get away with evil. It cannot be said too often that with the way the Buhari government treats members of the opposition party and its critics, who it claims are in violation of the law, that the Nigerian government has become a violent violator of human rights.

It is a fearful and dangerous thing for the people to feel that they need protection from their government. When a president threatens the people who he claims did not vote for him. It is the ugly face of absolute power and the people need protection from the government.

It is like a sheep needing protection from a shepherd. The spectacle of police men laying siege on the house of a serving senator for 8 days and the lifeless body of the senator being dragged into police station, paints a very sad and worrying picture of the state of Liberty and rule of law in Nigeria.

The appointment of people from one ethnic group and religion into the most important positions in a country with over 250 ethnic groups is a displayed of contemptible insensitivity and disregards of others. It says one thing, which is that the ethnic group and religion of the perpetrator are superior to those of others. How did Nigeria go back to 1984?

The tragedy of Nigeria is that the constitution appears unable to limit the power of the government to oppress, which is what a good constitution should do.

The Nigerian constitution seems to have been written to favour the north and Islam and allow the government to do anything it wants without considering whether or not, its actions violet the rights of the citizens.

No constitution in a democracy can do that and pass as a democratic constitution. In fact, the Nigerian government seems to be able to justify the abuse of its powers to violate of the rights of the people with the constitution.

This is something a good constitution should not allow in a free society. In fact, a good constitution should be prescriptive in the circumstances, ways and manner the government is allowed to use force, since the government should have the monopoly of the use of force.

My questions remain, Where is the protection of the people from the excesses of government in the Nigerian constitution? Where is equality of ethnic groups and religions in the Nigerian constitution? Who can protect Nigerians from leaders like Buhari with sectarian agenda, who have neither respect for the courts nor regard for human rights, whose loyalty is to his ethnic group and religion?

The proper functions of a government are protecting the rights of citizens; the police, to protect citizens from criminals, the army forces to protect the citizens from foreign invaders, the civil service to serve the nation and the law court courts to settle disputes among the people according to good laws.

Can anyone truly say that this is the state of affairs in Nigeria today? Every Nigerian must ask him or herself, if the current Nigerian government is fulfilling these functions.

Today; the Nigerian government ,instead of being a protector of the rights of the citizens has become its most dangerous violator.

Instead of guarding the freedom of the people, the government is actively imprisoning people without trial and using its power to intimidate in a way no government should in a democracy.

Instead of protecting the people from the use of force against them, which is its major function, the government is actively using physical force and coercion against the people and protects army and police, when they use force in the way they should not in a civil society.

Instead of pursuing equality, the government is using its power to give Fulanis underserved advantage in Nigeria and enabling their aggressive and violent land grab campaign. The army and police stand by , while the citizens they exist to protect are internally displaced, murdered and raped by Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram terrorists.

Instead of sending the army to fight foreign invaders in north east and Middle belt regions, the government sends them to intimidate, confront and kill citizens, who are peacefully protesting injustices by the government, while ill trained policemen are sent to north east Nigeria to do the work of soldiers. Yet, few Nigerians as why.

The Nigerian government is creating a deadly subterranean reign of fear and uncertainty by the way it is abusing its power against those it believes are in violations of the law.

This is not evidence of a government operating under the the rule of law. It is a feature of a cruel and oppressive government. It is government by whims and caprices. This is tyranny and Nigerians must now stand up against this reign of terror.

We cannot allow Nigeria to degenerate to the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by its permission.

This is colonisation and since it is being done by a government dominated by one ethnic group it is very dangerous and ominous.

This is a feature of some of the darkest periods of human history, when men ruled by brute force. Nigeria must begin to think beyond elections and start worrying about the kind of society they want to build for now and the future. Nigeria cannot survive in its present form and with the current constitution.

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