Is state of emergency the answer?

Is state of emergency the answer?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016 5:35 pm



By Bola Bolawole

Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti state has let the cat out of the bag, so to say. He hinted last week that President Muhammed Buhari and his All Progressives Congress government are mulling a state of emergency in Rivers and Ekiti states. Rivers, I can understand because of the violence that has whacked that state over election and electoral issues; but Ekiti state? That appears not only too far-fetched but also preposterous. Yes, Fayose is controversial, even cantankerous; he has taken the task of the unofficial opposition to Buhari\APC upon himself. In his usually uncompromising style and offensive candour, he must have, like Biafran agitators, irritated Buhari to no end. But there is no threat to peace in Ekiti that warrants talks or plans of a state of emergency.

Governance in Ekiti state may not be running smoothly and the hapless people may have their dinner plates filled more with Fayose theatrics than with the pounded yam and “efo riro” that will do their tummies a world of good; but, then, it is not only in Ekiti that we have such shenanigan trending in the country today; neither is it even the worst. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo orchestrated the impeachment of this same Fayose during the governor’s first stint in office and thereafter imposed a state of emergency on Ekiti, appointing Gen. Adetunji Idowu Olurin as Military Administrator. Once bitten, they say, twice shy. But the same Fayose has consistently been attracting controversies unto him for quite some time; such that, today, he is needlessly in the eyes of the storm again! A man who, on his second coming, vowed he had changed from his egregious self, has found himself, like the biblical sow that is washed, returning to its vomit again and again.

A clear case of the leopard never changing its spots, one may say. Even at that, emergency rule shouldn’t yet be on the cards in Ekiti; but Fayose, if he loves himself and does not want history to repeat itself, should moderate his outbursts. He is a Yoruba man and should learn the wisdom inherent in the Yoruba saying, “pele l’ako, o l’abo”. His advocacy on behalf of his party, the PDP, is okay. I salute it! But there are better ways to go about it. Shun uncouth and indecent language; show respect and decorum but make your points all the same – and with all the force at your disposal. I, too, am a hard-hitter; so I admire hard-hitters. But no state of emergency in Ekiti; at least not for now: The situation is nowhere near that bad yet. Let someone kindly impress this on Buhari\APC.

How I wish I can say the same thing also of Rivers; but unfortunately, I cannot. The situation in that state is bad, real bad. All caution has been thrown to the winds and impunity reigns supreme. Chinua Achebe is apposite here: Things have fallen apart; everything is no longer at least; and pure anarchy is let loose upon the state. The impunity is made worse because we are no longer dealing with the usual ruffians, rough-necks, and thugs sent on errands by big and powerful men who crouch in the background; the big masquerades themselves come into the open and join the fray now, in a remorseless show of shame. Governors, Ministers, Senators, Honourables, top government officials are the new thugs, killers, assassins, ballot box snatchers, and daylight election riggers in Rivers state. This is simply unacceptable.

Fayose cannot defend this banality. Loquacious and loud as he may try, he cannot shout everyone down on Rivers. Something has to be done – but I am not really sure if I think a state of emergency is it because even that is fraught with many dangers of its own. One is that Rivers is an important opposition state; therefore, a state of emergency there will certainly be seen as surreptitious effort to weaken the opposition. And in a democracy, vibrant opposition is sine qua non. Therefore, everyone must bend over backward to see to it that the opposition is not muffled under any guise. Second is that the PDP had repeatedly beaten APC at the polls in the state and had won the case taken to court at the Supreme Court, which is the highest court in the land.

A state of emergency in Rivers, which will remove, well, the elected governor and impose an administrator handpicked by the president who belongs to an opposing party, would tantamount to getting through the back door what the APC failed to achieve through the front door. Third reason is that, whether we like Gov. Nyesome Wike of Rivers or not – just like his counterpart in Ekiti, Ayodele Fayose – the wish, wisdom as well as folly of the electorate must be respected. Removing the people’s choice through any instrumentality other than the same ballot box that produced them – or through a court of competent jurisdiction – is anathema to democratic norms and nuances. Fourth reason is that the Nigerian president is touted as even more powerful than the president of the United States of America by virtue of the awesome powers he wields; thus, he can easily transmute into a vicious dictator.

A state of emergency in Rivers, which will remove, well, the elected governor and impose an administrator handpicked by the president who belongs to an opposing party, would tantamount to getting through the back door what the APC failed to achieve through the front door

This, everyone must meticulously observe and consciously resist in the interest of all. Fifth reason is, tried as some have done; I have not been able to distance the APC from the violence in Rivers. In other words, I have not, in all clear conscience, been able to put all the blames on PDP or trace all the violence to Wike alone. Some people may have had the upper hand; but the truth of the matter is that all had been involved in the show of shame. A state of emergency would thus gift the APC the “victory” it does not deserve in the Rivers imbroglio.

But isn’t our politics funny and our politicians no less? The same APC that yelled at the PDP for “militarising” politics; that cried on roof tops that there was no place for military men in election duties – the same APC poured soldiers into Rivers for election duties! The same APC that, during ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, protested the government-of-the-day’s use of state apparatuses and machineries, including the military, DSS, EFCC to harass and intimidate the opposition, is doing no less today to the opposition. As for PDP and its leaders, they have suddenly “forgotten” or conveniently, even if mischievously, chosen to neglect that there is none of the shenanigans of the APC today that PDP did not revel in many times over when that party and its leaders were in power.

But the earlier the APC recoils from its unfolding duplicity, the better for it. It must also quickly realise that it needs a peaceful environment and support that cuts across the political divides to govern well and meaningfully as well as positively impact the living standards of the citizenry which, today, is at its lowest level ever. Too much anger, angst, tension, despondency, frustration, and violence in the land serves the interest of the opposition than that of the ruling party.

The writer can be reached via: [email protected]

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