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Deceit of the highest office

President Muhammadu Buhari addresses the guests during the Democracy Day Lecture held at the International Conference Centre in Abuja

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!”

By Denrele Animasaun

When one with honeyed words but evil mind persuades the mob, great woes befall the state.-Euripides

Trouble with Dino

It was no surprise to some when Buhari announced  that MKO Abiola would be posthumously awarded the highest honour in the country and likewise,  Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe and the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi SAN, is to be awarded posthumously a GCON. He stated the significance of the honour, June 12, 1993 was the day when Nigerians in millions expressed their democratic will in what was undisputedly the freest, fairest and most peaceful election since our independence. And therefore, the fact that the outcome of that election was not upheld by the then military government does not detract from the democratic credentials of that process.

The president went in that: Accordingly, after due consultations, the Federal Government has decided that henceforth, June 12 will be celebrated as Democracy Day. Therefore, the government has decided to award posthumously the highest honour of the land, GCFR, to the late Chief MKO Abiola, the winner of the June 12, 1993 cancelled elections. The momentous decision was a masterstroke, some may say a political move but a significant one nonetheless, and it was fighting the wrong and hopefully healing the nation when democracy was robbed that day.

These men have served the nation well, they have contributed positively to nation building and inspired millions of citizens and they brought the nation closer. So you would have thought it would be applauded by many of those that love peace, stability and democracy.   Well, you would have thought.

Until Dino took the Senate floor to address his colleagues; he argued that as MKO Abiola is no longer with us, so therefore the GCFR honour cannot be conferred, because he therefore, postulated that the honour can only go to the living, not only that he is no longer a Nigerian because he is dead. I am a democrat; I believe very sincerely that Chief M.K.O Abiola deserves even more than the President has pronounced because he was a true patriot and philanthropist and should be so decorated. Here is the trouble with Dino, every time he opens his mouth; he rams his size eleven feet in. He has no filter and he does not know how to edit his diatribe. He milked his moment on the floor as he continued to cherry pick his way through the constitution.

But Mr President, we are governed in the country by the constitution and extant laws. No matter how beautiful a situation is, the law of the land remains the law of the land. Section (2) says ‘a person shall be eligible for appointment to any rank or unless he is a citizen of Nigeria. A dead man is not a citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria’. We should not be emotional about this (really, pot calling kettle black): The law remains the law. 3(2) subject to the next notice, ‘A person shall be appointed to a particular rank or an order when the President receives him in person’. Mr President, they said ‘in person’. For us to do what we are supposed to do, we would have to amend the provisions of this Act because anything we need to do, we have to do in accordance with the provisions of the law.

Earth to Dino, can anyone please spell it out to our learned friend, that when you are born a Nigerian and you die a Nigerian, you are a Nigerian. No semantic changes that fact: you are a Nigerian.   No quibbles, QED.   Frankly, Dino should not draw attention to himself after his brush with the law and diabolical amateur dramatics. Dino has got form and frankly, his notoriety will not be remembered in the  pages of the nation’s history.

Political thugs for hire.

Nigeria’s Senate President has been linked to suspects involved in a notorious bank heist where 33 people died, according to the Nigerian Police. It transpired that the robbers attacked six banks in Offa, Kwara State and they audaciously fired at a police station, killing nine police officers and passers-by including some pregnant women earlier this year and blew up the bank vault, making away with millions.

A number of the nefarious gang was apprehended  by the police and during further investigation, they sang like canaries and they alleged that they were bank-rolled by no other than the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki. This allegation sent shockwaves across the nation. The man himself was initially invited to present himself to the police and since recanted that he should answer the allegations in writing.

Saraki,of course denied any knowledge of these murderous armed robbers but he sent a tweet saying that Nigeria police no longer required him to attend the station but had asked him to respond to the allegations in writing instead:. Let it be known that there is no way I could have been associated with armed robbery against my people. I hereby state categorically that I have no link with any band of criminals. As a person who has utmost respect for the rule of law… when the invitation from the police is formally extended to me, I will be ready to honour it without any delay.

Rushing to his support, a former aide to GEJ, Reno Omokri questioned why Saraki, who controls Senate’s annual budget of around $300 million, would rob a bank: But why will politicians who can rob the treasury prefer to rob a bank? Which is easier and more profitable?” The irony is lost on some people and it actually does not help the situation by this comment.

According to the police and from the press meeting with the suspects present, the main  suspects claimed that they have been retained as political thugs, involved in all skulduggery to intimidate oppositions, create political mayhem and occasionally “sponsored with firearms, money and operational vehicles” though they maintained were not directed to rob the bank but they had the means to do so.

It was alleged that the vehicle used for the robbery was gifted and connected to the state governor and to Saraki and was recovered in the government house. Whatever the case, heads are going to roll. It is well-known that some politicians in Nigeria routinely mobilise area boys or whatever name they go by to agitate electorate and political opposition.   It has become part and parcel of Nigerian politics. It is a poor indictment of what is fundamentally wrong with Nigerian politicians; the people who suffer most are the ordinary Nigerians. You cannot arm hoodlums and expect them to only agitate on demand. Once the horse has bolted, far too late to close the stable door. This phenomenon is not new, in fact or similar case occurred in the late 50s and the police had to box clever and not succumb to political pressure, bribery or be intimidated by the  stature of the people involved but to do their work diligently and fairly  so that justice is achieved and let it serve as a deterrent to others.

From my archive

Dirty rotten scoundrels 2013

We  have for a while  given our lawmakers unbridled  (and frankly undeserved respect) that their high office deserve but the wrong type of people are chosen to represent these high offices and they seem to demand the respect they do not deserve and thus, cheapen their positions. It is high time, we make our elected officials accountable to the high office they occupy, there should be and I believe, a code of conduct that they should adhere to, and if they fall below that then, they should face the consequences even if it means custodial sentences.

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