By Promise Adiele,
Declaration is an iconic word. It can be substituted with proclamation or announcement depending on the context. In various academic disciplines, declaration conveniently stakes a claim as a locution of reputable acclaim. I recall the famous self-rule declaration by Pa Anthony Enahoro in 1953. I also remember the Ojukwu declaration in 1967 which birthed the Republic of Biafra. On each occasion, the declaration was greeted with joy and celebration. But it wasn’t the case when Nigeria’s evil genius Ibrahim Babangida declared June 12 1993 presidential election null and void. Declaration on that occasion was greeted with gloom and a sense of foreboding that bordered on the tragic. When in Ola Rotimi’s The gods are not to Blame the old, purblind seer, Baba Fakunle, after casting his opele stringed objects of divination rose and declared that the baby Odewale will kill his father and marry his mother, it was greeted with disdain. When a medical doctor emerges from an operating theatre, family members, friends and well-wishers besiege him for a declaration. If it is positive, people rejoice. If it is negative, people mourn. Was it angst or excitement that greeted Pa Muhammadu Buhari’s recent declaration which some people find intriguing but to a lesser degree fascinating?
Recently, Mr. President declared that Nigerians should vote for any political party or candidate of their choice in the fast-approaching February presidential elections. Furthermore, the president declared that he would not allow anyone to use thugs to molest Nigerians or compromise the electoral protocol. That declaration by the president is piercing and penetrating. Like an arrow shot in the dark, it chose its victims randomly. The victims of that presidential arrow are political criminals schooled and established in the dark art of power-grabbing, those who mindlessly perpetuate different sheds of criminality for which they hold a medal and a world title. Their infinite, rapacious appetite for depravity and iniquity is a class art. Their lives and businesses are criminality personified. They thrive on the hills of anomy and flourish in the degraded chambers of malfeasance. Everything about these characters is shrouded in mysterious, infinite conjecture. Nigerians know these people. They are not happy with that presidential declaration. If for anything, the declaration has castrated the virility of political desperados which was displayed during the party primaries. Perhaps, had Pa Buhari put his feet down during the party primaries insisting on probity and rectitude, certain presidential candidates would not have emerged thus saving our political space the current avoidable national and international embarrassment.
Ordinarily, Buhari is expected to openly support his party and encourage Nigerians to vote for its candidate but it appears the septuagenarian is hearing voices which inform his impartial disposition towards the elections. The Buhari declaration is symbolic in many ways. While enraging those preparing for electoral scams and various underhand tactics to win the polls, the declaration has allayed the fears of many who think that the ruling party will deploy state instrumentality and power apparatus to pervert the elections. These fears are not misplaced because the ruling party has a reputation for the enthronement of chaos and disorder which provide the ideal scenario for their rank and file to luxuriate. In this case, hindsight is not in doubt. One would expect Mr. President to match words with action. Those training ferocious dogs in the Orwellian tradition as Napoleon trained his dogs and unleashed them to hound the opposition should be called out. Those training human mastiffs, crocs, pythons, scorpions, and all kinds of deadly creatures for the February elections should be identified. For these people, it is either they win or Nigeria implodes. Buhari must check them.
While the Buhari declaration calls for jubilation at least at its face value, some people have also called for caution given the president’s capriciousness and inconsistencies in recent times. The question is – was the president honest in his declaration that Nigerians are free to vote for any candidate of their choice? Was he talking tongue-in-cheek? Is the president on the same page with his wife who is glaringly campaigning for a certain candidate and urging Nigerians to vote for him? Can Pa Buhari be trusted in his declaration? Are there genuine fears in the camp of those planning to snatch power by all means and run with it or will they click their glasses in merry-making and dismiss the presidential declaration as a flash in the pan, then console one another with no shaking, that familiar mantra of remorseless minds. It is worth repeating that there are some politicians in Nigeria whose only stock-in-trade is to enunciate electoral violence, destabilize the process and employ feral thugs maintained by taxpayers’ money to unleash mayhem on the polity. The questions keep inundating my sensibilities – has the Buhari declaration disappointed the Biblical devices of the crafty so that their hands cannot perform their wicked enterprise? Or is the declaration a smokescreen to disarm the unsuspecting and lead Nigerians into a blind alley where they will be ensnared and beguiled?
Investigating and researching the Buhari declaration will be quite interesting. What informed the declaration? Is he privy to some devious plot by political marauders and witchcraft to undermine the wishes of millions of Nigerians? Is Buhari appalled by the kind of characters that will likely mount the rostrum as policymakers in the unfortunate and God-forsaking event that his party wins the presidential elections? Is Buhari violated by the number of political predators and enemy nationals ready to have Nigeria for dinner if the ruling party wins the election? Or does Buhari see the election as an opportunity to redeem his vanished reputation as a man of integrity by bequeathing to Nigerians an electoral legacy that will usher in a new beginning for the country? Indeed, there must be a reason why Buhari is not offering his chest in support of his party’s presidential aspirant. Is Buhari’s conscience assailed by all the drug-related, double-dealing narratives flying around some aspirants seeing that it was for the same drug issues that he killed three young Nigerians as a military head of state? Drug lords do not have a conscience and will stop at nothing to achieve their aim.
Those training ferocious dogs in the Orwellian tradition as Napoleon trained his dogs and unleashed them to hound the opposition should be called out. Those training human mastiffs, crocs, pythons, scorpions, and all kinds of deadly creatures for the February elections should be identified. For these people, it is either they win or Nigeria implodes. Buhari must check them.
Buhari’s declaration that Nigerians are free to vote for any political party and any candidate of their choice may be encouraging but it must go beyond mere rhetoric. By his declaration, Buhari disowns all intent to cheat and partake in the rape of the people’s collective will. To do otherwise will be to concede an abysmal lack of control of his government and that will be an unthinkable paradox. There are indications that some governors, in their bid to satisfy an inordinate yearning and reciprocate a political gesture have planned to manipulate INEC staff and machinery. These governors have become anathema to the people of their states in more ways than one and they must be checked. Security heads, police, and all the military mechanisms must be reined in and put in check too. If Buhari’s body language is tailored towards bequeathing a free and fair election only on paper while the serial plunderers of our polity have the last laugh, then Buhari would have lost on all fronts and posterity will judge him cruelly. The enemies of Nigeria will not backtrack easily. They will never give up without a fight. The novel consciousness for a new Nigeria is resonating within and outside the country and enemy nationals are not happy about it. It is hoped that Buhari will match words with action and his next declaration will be to institute a new Nigeria.
Promise Adiele PhD
Mountain Top University