By Josef Omorotionmwan
TODAY’S memory verse is taken from the case of that old man who was asked if he did not go to farm, and he responded, “Honestly, I did not see any rabbit”.
In the past fortnight or so, two apparently bad cases have been lodged at the People’s Court.
In the first case, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) is attempting to pitch itself against the rest of us. An attempt is being made to define who is qualified to ride cars with tinted glasses and, indeed, that case leaves us with a good example of a bad law.
The other case is coming from our Kaduna Judicial Province, where the CPC presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, is accused of inciting violence.
The case came originally in the Hausa language, “Ku kasa, ku tsare, ku raka; duk wanda ya taba muku kuri’a, ku gama da shi”, which Ichokwu has interpreted to mean that his supporters should cast their votes, defend them and lynch anyone who tries to tamper with the votes. The General is being accused of incitement but we ask, incitement against whom?
Richard Nixon was one American President who was known for his insistence that people should not yield unsolicited information. He maintained that quite often, people fall into deep trouble when they begin to answer questions that they have not been asked.
Muhammadu Buhari got to Kaduna to meet a tumultuous welcome. In fact, they carried him shoulder high across the Kaduna metropolis. To him, there was no greater sign of his popular acceptance by the “talakawas” and these are the real voters.
In the euphoria of the moment, Buhari told them that they must turn out to vote and also ensure that the votes are protected; and that anyone who was trying to steal their votes should be lynched.
Going by the number of political parties that are featuring presidential candidates at the April polls, this call could have been directed at 22 political parties; going by the number of political parties in the land, the call could as well have been directed at some 60 odd parties; and going by the number of registered voters in the country, Buhari’s call could have been directed at a population of close to 70 million people.
In essence, the call was not directed at any particular person or group and anyone not intent on cheating at the polls would have no cause to be afraid. But in the tradition of the old man and the rabbit and non-compliance with Richard Nixon’s popular stand, the PDP Directorate of Publicity, Presidential Campaign Council, in full page advertorials in most national newspapers, soon began to cry hoarse that Buhari was inciting violence.
Who really wants Nigeria dead, Buhari who seeks an end to bad elections or the PDP, which by its actions, overt and covert, wants election rigging to continue? If stoning election riggers to death would give us a sane society, why not?
We have maintained, perhaps with monotonous regularity, that the greatest woe that could befall a nation is imperfect election. To kill a nation, you don’t need a gun. All you need is to give the people a bad election. Out of a bad election, every bad thing flows.
Bad elections produce bad leadership and corruption is the solid ground on which bad leadership thrives. Under bad leadership, development is dead on arrival – dead roads, dead health and educational facilities, dead power and energy provisions; armed robbery, assassination, kidnapping, hunger, want, etc, soon get enthroned as kings. Of course, unemployment is already the Crown Prince.
Every right thinking Nigerian should therefore support Buhari’s call for good elections, elections where people’s votes must count.
Buhari is hereby discharged but not acquitted because at the level of wanting to be the President of this country, every approach must be refined and expressed within the context of due process and civility.
Again, under bad leadership, policies are dead on arrival. That was how the FEC emerged from its weekly meeting recently to announce that a ban had been placed on the use of tinted glasses on our cars as a way of curbing the incidence of kidnapping.
In the more civilized world where people lead by example, the announcement would have been that the President and his men had pulled off their own tinted glasses and they were asking others to follow suit.
But in our case, what came was Nigerian: the President, Vice President, President of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives and State Governors were exempt from the rule. The FEC soon had in its hands, a policy of “Do as we say, not as we do”.
And do not forget that most of the vehicles involved are imported. At the point of importation, we had paid to Federal Government for permit to use the factory tinted glasses and no one was telling us where to go for our refunds. As soon as they were caught in this web, they began to distinguish between heavy and light tinting.
And where do you draw the line without opening a window of greater corruption for the police? Armed robbers and kidnappers are known to sometimes put their victims in the booth of their cars. One bad turn deserves another. How soon shall we be expected to dismantle the booths of our cars?
We find the FEC guilty of undue usurpation. It is not too late, though, to have a policy somersault so that a proper proposal on the issue could be submitted to the National Assembly where there are real experts in legislative engineering.