Viewpoint - March 14, 2022

SUNDAY MUSINGS: Again, Case for Strong Institutions

By Innocent Okon

Since 1999, only few would say the democratic journey has not been tortuous, uncertain and agonising! Like children of Israel, millions of Nigerians in the last seven years have wished they never left Egypt.

The Presidential democracy foisted on them by the military junta is long on suffering and short on dividends. It seems to be a luxurious bus permanently engaged in reverse gear! Only few Nigerians could now afford to believe that there’s a future that beams a light of hope!

Many still believe and wish they could turn back the hand of time and return to the ‘good old ‘ colonial years. When their resources were exploited, but rewarded with quality education. When their rights were abused, but their children were given equal opportunity to compete for merit not wait for ethnic superiority. When the few educated ones among them were taught and compelled to respect public funds the way they respected their Priests and Imams!

The reality that democracy has presented to many Nigerians in series and episodes since 1999 is a horror film that the captive audience don’t want to watch anymore, but can’t exit the theatre, because it has been locked from outside!

It seems the solution is not in the name of political parties, but in personalities that can drive the mission and vision of what their parties have articulated in their manifestoes.

Like Shakespeare would say, having come this far since 1999, the fault seems not to be in our stars ( Parties), but in ourselves ( leadership). And unlike monolithic leadership often showcased by the executive arm , the President and the Governors, time has come for a paradigm shift!

Each arm of government must strive on its own motivation to be independent and assertive. The Legislature and the Judiciary at the state and Federal levels must not wait on the Executive to determine the circumference of their constitutionally guaranteed freedom if our democracy must be discharged from this intensive care unit!

Last week , the nation witnessed flashes of light of independence from the Judiciary, Legislature and even a strategic National institution (INEC).
First was the rejection of the belated request of the President for further tinkering with the already assented Amended Electoral Act 2022 by the Senate. This took many by surprise, but attracted a standing deafening ovation for the Red Chambers since its inauguration in 2019 !

This time around , it wasn’t what Mr. President, the leader of the ruling party wanted, but what would serve the nation better beyond partisan lines.

Next was the Judicial tsunami from a High court in Abuja that sacked Governor David Umahi and some state legislators in Ebonyi state. Though it is one judicial pronouncement that will be challenged up to the highest court in the land, the Supreme court, the judgement still holds hope of sanity for the polity.

The impunity and crass opportunism of elected public officers was and is still getting out of control!

The icing on the cake came early in the week when some Governors of the ruling party, the APC, left the comfort of their lodges in their respective states and converged on Abuja to execute a palace coup by sacking key officers of the caretaker committee of their party few days to the agreed national convention date.

Governor Nasir El- Rufai of Kaduna State became the “coup spokesman”, while Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger state was the puppet and usurper in the melodrama!

Note that the two dramatis personae in this Abujawood are Governors with serious security concerns in their home states where bandits, terrorists and kidnappers are having a field day on a daily basis.

Yet leadership of their party now becomes a more urgent assignment than security of lives and properties of the people that they swore to protect and defend.

On a very uncommon surprising intervention, the Electoral umpire, INEC, came to our rescue via a letter informing the APC imposters that they were not recognized and lacked the capacity to convene a NEC meeting . Case closed.

It’s a home ball. By now, I believe some of them who had relocated to Abuja to execute the palace coup , particularly the one from Ondo state who derisively called some of his brother Governors “Yahoo Yahoo Governors”, should be heading home now!

This is the beauty of democracy in living colours. This is the assertion of independence of institutions within the holistic democratic matrix bereft of fear or favour; affection or illwill.

Let’s hope and pray it’s not just a flash, but a permanent illumination at the end of the democratic tunnel.

Okon, a lawyer and legal practitioner, lives in Uyo

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