When Government Is Afraid Of People’s Power
These are indeed times when Nigerians are being taken to the brink of security and economic challenges that threaten our future. Seen in its totality, security must be taken beyond the traditional definition which is largely military consideration. Security must involve the security of the people to live in peace with access to basic necessities of life while fully participating in the affairs of their society freely and exercising their fundamental human rights.
Governance deficit in public hospitals serves as a reinforcing mechanism for the pervasive decadence in the sector. Our broken economy is funnelling wealth to the rich political elite at the expense of the poorest in society, the majority of whom are women and children. One does not need a soothsayer to know that the growing inequality might trigger social unrest.
When one of the segments of the youth did what was long overdue by calling for a peaceful revolution recently, the Buhari government panicked, by arresting Omoyele Sowore, who has his rights guaranteed, under the right to democratic governance.
A component of democracy is the right of citizens freely to express their opinions on all matters of governance. This includes the right to protest, dissent, or even disobey the laws, It even includes the right to abolish the government when it becomes destructive of citizens’ rights and ultimately, “to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organising its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.” Had the youths of this country taken this step earlier than now, we would not have been dumped into Buhari/Osinbajo’s hands by the evolution of our political trajectory.
Today, democracy is more than just involving a formal political process like periodic elections. Democracy is about the “common good” demanding that those entrusted with authority must use it for the “common good”. A significant element of democracy is reciprocity “between governours and the governed, between those who exercise political leadership in society and those who are led between those who exercise authority and those who are the subjects of this authority.
Nigerians have reacted to the list of 43 ministerial nominees by President Muhammadu Buhari. In one word, the list is unimpressive. Many people condemned the “bow and go” policy of the Senate, as crude in this age and time and that it was wrong not to attach the portfolios of intending ministers. The marginalisation of women in the list was also condemned roundly.
But the one that shocked the most is the inclusion of people who have ongoing corruption cases still pending with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
And the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, who in those days of Abacha military clampdown, was a mentor to many of us in the civil society movement, has been inactive in moves that should write his name in gold. He actually founded an NGO to promote the fight against corruption. The question is, has he been advising the President well on the fight against corruption and to guide him on how to treat those who speak truth to power?
Olusola Akinbode, Executive Director, Centre for Human Rights and Empowerment, Ikorodu, Lagos