“Since President Buhari has refused to listen to the masses concerning the call for a change in our constitution, which has led to the continued agitations from different parts of the county, thus creating disunity among Nigerians who are calling for secession, then it becomes obvious that President Buhari is the number one enemy to the unity of Nigeria -Afenifere Leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, saying the only solution to crisis in Nigeria is a new constitution”.
The main talking point since the 2015 inception of the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that is headed by the retired military General and erstwhile dictator – Muhammadu Buhari has been the general skepticism regarding his commitment towards respecting the Constitution.
The Constitution i must confess is imperfect because it was delivered to ‘we the people of Nigeria’ by the military just as rightly observed by Chief Ayo Adebanjothe Yoruba leader of Nigeria. But in reality the constitution is the single most important legal document that binds us together.
The Constitution of Nigeria which was bequeathed to us by the brutal dictatorship of General Sani Abacha who was later replaced by the Minna- Niger State born General Alhaji Abdulsalami Abubakar, came into effect in 1999 with the transfer of the mantle of political power to the civilians by the Military Junta.
Within that Constitution or what legal minds baptized as Grund Norm, are certain fundamentally binding provisions which if violated by the powers- that- be, automatically questions the legitimacy of the government.
Importantly, the immediate consequence of the deliberate flouting of these provisions of the supreme law is the direct invitation to anarchy just as another realm of these consequential outcomes emanating from the incessant disobedience by the President of the Constitutional norms, is the motivation and instigation of different internal forces that will inevitably get fed up by the infractions and would seek self-determination or what supporters of the status quo tend to describe as secessionism.
These relevant provisions of the constitution which of necessity begins from the constitutional oath of office of political office holders starting with the president will be listed immediately below.
They are: Section: 1. (1) This Constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on the authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Section: 4. (1) The legislative powers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be vested in a National Assembly for the Federation, which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives.
(2) The National Assembly shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation or any part thereof with respect to any matter included in the Exclusive Legislative List set out in Part I of the Second Schedule to this Constitution.
Section. 6 (1) the judicial powers of the Federation shall be vested in the courts to which this section relates, being courts established for the Federation. (2) The judicial powers of a State shall be vested in the courts to which this section relates, being courts established, subject as provided by this Constitution, for a State. (3) The courts to which this section relates, established by this Constitution for the Federation and for the States, specified in subsection (5) (a) to (1) of this section, shall be the only superior courts of record in Nigeria; and save as otherwise prescribed by the National Assembly or by the House of Assembly of a State, each court shall have all the powers of a superior court of record.
Importantly, the next citation is the sole unifier of the divergent constituents making up Nigeria and this is Section 14 (3) which says: ‘The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.’
Before proceeding, let me quote a statement of fact made by John Kenneth Galbraith which was adopted by the author of the book ‘How should a government be? The new levers of state power,” written this year by Jaideep Prabhu.
He wrote thus: ‘I react pragmatically. Where the market works, I’m for that. Where the government is necessary, I’m for that, I’m deeply suspicious of somebody who says, “I’m in favour of privatization,” or, I’m deeply in favour of public ownership. “I’m in favour of whatever works in the particular case’.
I think in this brief reflection, I’m with John Kenneth Galbraith’s ideological mind set.
This is why. The thinker says that ‘character is property- it is the noblest of possessions” (still in search of fine minds, by Cyril Chukwudi Ibe).
And so my attention is drawn to the immediate talking points within all levers of government in Nigeria at the moment- secessionism.
I had earlier postulated in this piece that the foundation is laid for agitations for secession in any sovereign entity by the constituents or citizens, the moment those who exercise authority deliberately disrespects the Grund Norm binding the nation together even as these manifest disobedience of the supreme law by the sovereign head inevitably denies the occupant of any sort of legitimacy.
There are a few instances to show that the problems of the growing clamour for separation of Nigeria come from those who wield political powers in Nigeria.
First, when the president who swears to a Constitutional Oath of office not to allow his pedestrian and personal interests to undermine the discharge of his constitutional obligations to the citizenry, and then goes ahead to do the exact thing he took an Oath not to do. What is the immediate reaction from the action of the President not to abide by the constitution?
The reaction is that the citizens who invariably feel alienated from the scheme of things in their Country will begin to look for ways to liberate themselves from the oppressive tendencies of the powers that be. Only the imbecile will slavishly remain under bondage voluntarily.
As can be seen from the Constitutional provisions I earlier listed out, the moment the executive arm of government emasculate the other two arms of government namely the Judiciary and the legislature, what happens is that those citizens who are alienated, excluded, denied of their citizenship rights and oppressed by the political power wielders, will look for the way out because every man is created and imbued with the fundamental freedoms and free will by God who created all human beings equal in dignity and rights.
And so if someone or some people are justifiably angry at the unjust treatment they get from the government, and they seek for a way out, there is every justification for such.
What is however intriguing about the current scenarios playing out in Nigeria is that there are key officials of the Federal government who are stocking up the embers of divisions and are so belligerent to an extent that the rest of the citizens will begin to look at them as persons whose agendum is the disintegration of the Nigeria. The spokesman of President Muhammadu Buhari called Garba Shehu is one such individual who thinks that he is in office to service his primordial ethno religious interests.
The truth is that, a President of Nigeria who corners all the juicy positions to only his kinsmen and those who share same religious belief system, as against the very clear provision of the supreme law which mandates him to adhere to Federal Character Principle, is definitely a secessionist.
A President who gives all the strategic internal security positions to person of the same ethnicity in a Country of over 300 diverse ethnicities is surely a secessionist- in –Chief.
A President who diverts the financial resources of the Federation in pursuit of such parochial interest as searching for Crude oil in the dry deserts of Northern Nigeria even when the South from which these Crude oil resources are taken away to yield generous resources are marginalized and fed with just crumbs that fall from the master’s table, is a secessionist.
A president whose kinsmen who are mostly herders get Sophisticated weapons and deploy such weapons of death against farming communities in a bid to take over the farms and lands of those indigenous farmers, and he does nothing to stop and punish the mass killers only because they are of his ethnic bloc, is indeed a secessionist.
Southern Kaduna is a case study and we will expatiate on this theme before we conclude this piece.
A President who says no to civil dialogues and says no to restructuring is a secessionist.
A President who adopts unorthodox and lawless procedure to unseat the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria only because he is a Christian and then installs a replacement who is barely qualified, only because he is Fulani Moslem, surely is a promoter of secessionism.
A President who has so weakened the National Assembly to an extent that they become ‘O-yes boys’, is not better than agitators for secessionism.
I’m nearly fifty.
For most parts of my life, I have been a very active citizen. I know as a fact that it is only under the Presidency of Muhammadu Buhari that all the heads of the three tiers of government are from the North and are Moslems. Executive, legislature and judiciary.
I know that it is only a conquered Senate under the leadership of a stooge of the President and the head of the executive will willingly undermine their legislative over sight and approve all Presidential requests.
It is only under a government of someone with the gene of secessionism that the head of the parliament is made a Chief Servant of the President to such ridiculous extent that he says thus: “I want to assure you that any request that comes from Mr President is a request that will make Nigeria a better place in terms of appointments or legislation and the senate will act expeditiously to ensure that we play our part in the confirmation or passing of legislation appropriately. As far as we are concerned, those bills will have to come again and start to go through the process from the very beginning. We are ready, in fact, we are in a haste if those bills are ready for us to start working on them,” he said. True to his words, this Senate has led Nigeria back into insolvency by approving loans’ requests of the President recklessly and never ready and willing to ensure that the purpose for which these dubious loans are obtained are actualized. These National Assembly leaders and the President are the worst apostles of secessionism and not Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) or Sunday Igboho of the Yoruba self determination agitators. This government practices apartheid by refusing to arrest and prosecute armed herdsmen but works so hard to rope in the victims of these incessant bloodshed by armed Fulani herdsmen as the guilty party for killing cows that are deliberately sent to destroy their means of livelihood. Here is a summary of the application of apartheid law under Buhari’s Nigeria so you believe that the real secessionists are in AsoRock Abuja.
Luka Biniyat of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union wrote as follows: “We had reported how the Nigerian Army, under Operation Safe Haven, whose Commander is Major General Dominic Onyemulu, tricked some Atyap community leaders in Zangon Kataf LGA, in Southern part of Kaduna State into a meeting, at one of their operational base on Unguwan Rimi-Bajju road, near Kafanchan in Jemaa LGA also in Southern Kaduna and arrested all of them on the 31st March, 2021. We reported how after torturous 4 days in the illegal incarceration of the military, they were passed to the Kafanchan Police Area Command under SP Idris Mohammed Gumel.”
“(SP Mohammed Idris Gumel himself is another story that SOKAPU awaits to say another day)
We mentioned that the detained Atyap community leaders, included village heads and elders, among them, elder Waje Laah, an infirmed 85 year old great, grand father who can hardly stand on his own for over a minute. After being kept under subhuman conditions for another 6 days, they were transferred to Kaduna State Police Command Headquarters under CP Umar Muri.”
This writer is saying it loud and clear that President Muhammadu Buhari is wrong to have described the so called secessionists as mercantile agents who were only out for pecuniary gains,
Hear the President who hardly speaks directly to the citizens but speaks through some megaphones thus: “President Buhari will not open the vaults to share free money to anyone”.
This garrulous Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, stated government’s position in Abuja while giving a scorecard of the Buhari administration at an event organised by the All Progressives Congress, APC, Professional Forum at the national secretariat of the party.
He also reportedly dismissed calls for the convocation of a national conference, saying with an elected parliament in place, having such a conference was a non-issue. Shehu added that the Boko Haram terrorists are currently fighting for survival as the Federal Government had cut their supply chain. ‘You can’t intimidate Buhari’ “On the unity of this country and the calls for secession and the insinuation that the Presidency is not talking, the Presidency has been talking. And our position is that this country is one, is united, and by the grace of God will continue to be united.
“Look, one thing with this President and the National Secretary of the party has said a bit of that, you cannot intimidate Buhari; you cannot bully him. A lot of these people who are calling for secession are the problem of this country and I am happy that reasonable opinion, reasonable voices are now rising. Is it not only yesterday we were reading Afenifere, the most credible faction of Afenifere saying they were not for secession?
The truth is that President Muhammadu Buhari is the one pushing different people to agitate to be liberated because of his nepotism and his parochial tendencies to promote only his FULANIZATION agenda. His government is also thoroughly incompetent and inefficient and so has pushed millions of families into absolute poverty and hunger.
Will you starve a baby and then stop the oppressed baby from crying?
Common! Even Satan knows better!
*EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and was a federal commissioner at the National Human Rights commission of Nigeria. www.huriwanigeria.com.