FEATURE ARTICLE

Thursday, June 27, 2024
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UK
NIGERIA’S MUTANT DEMOCRACY

s I watch the evolution of Nigerian democracy, I cannot but conclude that it what I see, can at best, be described as a mutant democracy.

It does not look like democracy as practiced in developed world. It is more of banditry, raw and aggressive scrambling for power without scruples and disregards for the rule of law. It is abuse of due process. In Nigeria democratic institutions exercise raw power informed by the basest of human instincts and prejudice.

Nigeria’s democracy is brutality, which makes savages of men, mare their capacity for good and unleash greed and overwhelming desire to dominate others.

I have listened to many in Nigeria politics and with very few exceptions, they operate on a mind-set that, what obtains in civilised societies, cannot flourish in Nigeria, as if the civilised societies were never once in the same state Nigeria is today. It is this acceptance of oddity and fatality that breaks my heart.

Take for instance the war against terror and how it is being fought in Nigeria and the general attitude of Nigerian army to the law and rules.

There is a maxim that once an army realises that it needs insurgency to justify increase in its budget and use of unacceptable force, it would not see ending the insurgency to be in its best interest. It will adopt a containment strategy and once it does this, the insurgency will never end and the people at risk will continue to pay the blood price.

This was the case with the Tamil Tigers and Sri Lankan government and for many years, the civil war raged. Then Sri Lankan elected a government that had as one of its aims, the ending of the Tamil insurgency and within a very short time the Tail tigers were defeated and peace returned to Sri Lanka.

However, the story is different in Pakistan, where the Pakistani army has failed to root out the Taliban insurgency and allowed extreme Islam that is intolerant and has overwhelming desire to conquer and dominate to take root.

In Nigeria, under the administration of Mohammadu Buhari, the army is adopting the Pakistani model of containment towards Boko Haram and Fulani militia insurgency. The features of this strategy are:

1. Falsification of facts. The Nigeria government is constantly pushing the narrative that the ethnic cleansing by Fulani herdsmen terrorists is simple clashes between herdsmen and farmers, while concealing the fact that Fulanis from different countries in Africa are currently occupying the villages once occupied by the many internally displaced people.

2. Failure to arrest and prosecute suspects and their sponsors. The Nigeria police has failed to actively arrest and prosecute suspected Fulani terrorists and no member of Miyetti Allah has been arrested in spite of the fact that the best kept open secrete in Nigeria is that the Miyetti Allah are behind Fulani herdsmen terrorism and that they are using the terrorists to put pressure on communities to accept Fulani colonies and give up their land as grazing ground for cattle.

3. Reluctance of the army to act decisively. When one compares the way the army responded to the peaceful protest by IPOB and the army’s failure to act decisively against Fulani terrorists, the point I am making becomes obvious.

4. Rustication of soldier and police men who show zeal to deal with the terrorists. It was reported in Nigerian press and social media that the Special taskForce Commander in Plateau state Major General Atolagbe has been removed and his removal was instigated by the Miyetti Allah.

General Atolagbe has served in the Nigerian army for 30 years and many of these years with the United Nations. His crime was that he refused to transfer 25 Fulani terrorist including financiers the army arrested to Abuja, where they will be treated the same way many other terrorists who were transferred to Abuja were treated.

Once the terrorists are handed over to the police in Abuja, nothing is heard of them. After appearing at the national Assembly to give evidence on terrorism in Nigeria, the government headed by a Fulani relived major Atolagbe of his post, I was told. Major general Atolagbe is not the first soldier to lose his job because he was interested in ending terrorism and bringing those behind it to justice. I hope that Tinubu will find the courage to remedy these injustices.

5. Exaggeration of the strength of the terrorists by the government

6. Refusal of the government to be transparent with what it knows about those behind the insurgency and the actions it is taking against them. The Nigeria government has refused to link the Miyetti Allah with Fulani terrorists and failed to expose those behind Boko haram.

All the above are indications that the government is complicit in terrorism and that some people in government have something to gain by continuation of the insurgency.

The attitude of the Nigeria government to Fulani terrorism is opening a fissure along tribal fault lines in the Nigerian polity as the people attribute the failure of the government to act honestly and decisively of the fact that the government is headed and dominated by Moslems.

They see the attitude of the government as the weaponisation of Islam and ethnicity for political ends, a dangerous thing for any government to attempt in a multi-ethnic country.

I hope Nigerian politicians learn before it is too late.