By Jude Eze
Watching Malam Nasir el-Rufai, the executive governor of Kaduna State in the evening of Thursday February 16, make a counter state-wide broadcast to President Muhammadu Buhari’s earlier verdict in a nationwide address on the naira redesign policy, made me reminisce the tragic story of May 30, 1967. That was the fated date when the Late Igbo Leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, used his power as the Governor of Eastern region, to make a counter pronouncement to the creation of 12 states by then Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, and declared Eastern Nigeria “Independent State of Biafra.”
The General Yakubu Gowon-led Federal Government charged him for treasonable offences against the Nigerian State and the rest became the history we know today as genocidal pogrom of the Igbos and the 30-month bloody civil war.
Nigeria is on the precipice. And it is definitely a wrong time for a sitting governor of el-Rufai’s standing to make such treasonable broadcast. Not even his erudition in logic could save him from the barefooted perfidy of duplicity he launched against the Nigeria State. He navigated his speech around the subsisting supreme court ex parte order restraining the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from enforcing the February 10 deadline for phasing out of old naira notes. In his smartness, he believed such rhetoric would save him and incite his people against the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed forces.
He, certainly, must have created, in his head, the “federal republic of Kaduna” and has assumed himself the Czar of the imaginary republic. And by the figment of that imagination, has sought relevance in stakeholdership of the incoming Asiwaju regime (if it ever comes).
Mr. el-Rufai failed to appreciate the fact that he is not the supreme court’s spokesman, neither is he a court bailiff. He should allow the court to handle its defaulters.
He also forgot that Nigeria is operating an executive presidential system of democratic government (with emphasis on “executive”) with all exclusive prerogatives that the office enjoys. So it is still being debated by constitutional lawyers, in some corners, whether the supreme court has jurisdiction to entertain the case or it should be quashed to a lower court of competent jurisdiction. This is because it is not clear if el-Rufai and his colleagues were challenging the “federation” or the “federal government” in the suit, as these are two different entities in the eyes of the Law.
But the next morning, what he got was widespread rejection of his ‘rebellious’ order by his people. Kaduna citizens outrightly rejected the use of old naira notes in line with President Buhari’s directives, much to el-Rufai’s dismay. Like Sen. Datti-Baba Ahmed of the Labour Party said: “why the President has not done anything against el-Rufai’s inflammatory statements remains a mystery.”
The likes of Lagos Governor, Babajide Sanwo Olu followed suit, and threatened revocation of lands and closure of companies that refuse to accept the outlawed old naira notes.
In Kano, Gov. Umar Ganduje (nicknamed “Gandollar” for his infamous trousering of dollar notes on camera sometime ago) was abusing Buhari’s persona in native language.
Hon. Moyosore Onigbanjo the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Lagos State came to national television to make an audacious corroboration of Governor Sanwo Olu’s counteraction of the president’s order. He said Lagosians should neglect President’s pronouncement and continue the use of old 500 and 1000 naira notes.
In another platform, the loquacious Honourable Minister of State for Labour — Festus Keyamo SAN, pointedly disowned President Buhari’s broadcast, and adopted el-Rufai’s incisive position. He barefacedly faulted President Buhari’s advisers for allowing the speech fly.
From the foregoing, it is clear, even to the blind, that APC is now, more than ever, (in the words of Prof. Mike Ozhekhome SAN) a “Fuji House of Commotion.” The Progressive Governors Forum is at daggers drawn with the president.
For refusing to acknowledge the sovereignty of Nigerian federation that includes Igbos in South-East, and the supremacy of President Muhammadu Buhari, Nnamdi Kanu is being incarcerated in prison, even against court verdict. These governors have violated both the sovereignty and supremacy of the federation and Federal Government respectively, and yet remained untouched. Perhaps they’re enjoying immunity of executive office, but the abuse thereof is untoward.
Meanwhile, one take-home lesson from the quagmire is the ballad it has on the transiency of power. Every minute that ticks by, fades Buhari into the oblivion of past presidents. And el-Rufai and his army of insurgent governors are desperately switching loyalty to their proposed “incoming president.” But they shouldn’t make mistake of thinking that the Daura-bound Buhari cannot pull a surprise against them while his presidency lasts.
Few days to the election, APC looks unprepared. And Buhari has dealt a sucker punch at the APC governors who arm twisted him during primary election to project Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. They’re unsure if the president is for them or for Nigerians. Could this be the fulfillment of Buhari’s 2015 famous inauguration quote: “I am for everybody, I am for nobody?”
APC’s PPC members believe the naira redesign policy was targeted against them, but they hide under their newly-found advocacy for ordinary citizens. They also believe that the amended electoral law which gave room for innovation that brought BVAS and electronic transmission of election results, was aimed at frustrating their candidate’s chances at the polls.
Under such self-inflicted dilemma, the progressive governors instigated riots among the citizenry of their respective states, especially in the southern part of Nigeria, with an apparently frustrated Comrade Adams Oshiomole being fingered to be behind the persisting Edo civil unrest. By their utterances, (even if remotely) these governors set the masses against the Federal Government. Suffice it to say that APC is fighting APC, while Nigeria boils.
But as they bicker, a meek young Nigerian of Yoruba extraction, 15-year old Master Yusuf Alabi, broke all barriers in Alaba international market venue of Labour Party’s presidential campaign rally to make an iconic pose in front of Mr. Peter Obi’s campaign vehicle in a muted demonstration of lost national hope found in Peter Obi. The paparazzi who took the photograph deserve national honours as the picture went viral across all social media platforms, resonating the audacity of hope for our nation. It provided flowery imagery to the conclusion of Peter Obi’s nationwide campaign tours in style.
This week’s musings will end with a tinge of sarcasm.
Did you hear that PDP’s presidential standard bearer cancelled his campaign rally in Rivers citing security reasons? This means the man who calls himself a “the unifier” and themed his campaign on the mantra of unifying Nigeria’s wounded diversity did not only fail to unite his party and the G-5 governors, but avoids certain states with ‘signs of insecurity.’ If he becomes president, the flash points of Ogoni lands would be ceded off his government’s coverage.
Did you also hear that Peter Obi, on the contrary defied experts’ security counsel and landed his chopper in the highly volatile Borno South to drop his campaign messages with the inhabitants of those deserted North-East zones? That’s a spark of hope to a wearied nation that men of courage are still found in within its borders.
Did you hear what the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), arising from its first plenary meeting for the year in Abuja said in its communique? They were very exhaustive in their exhortation: “We encourage all eligible citizens to come out en masse to vote for God-fearing, honest, vibrant, and transparent leaders for a better Nigeria.”
Am I the only one feeling like the Bishops just subtly described Mr. Peter Obi in those qualities enumerated above, or are my judgments beclouded by “OBI-dientism?”
Did you see how one month ago, both APC and PDP accused each other’s candidate of being corrupt and dealing on illicit drugs respectively, but now, they have all kept quiet when they saw that by their accusations and counter-accusations, they were paving way for Peter Obi as the only credible candidate among the big front-line four?
Did you also notice how so many citizens are now defending Buhari for insisting on February 10 deadline for the phasing out of the old 500 and 1000 naira notes despite the gnashing hardship visited upon them by the flawed policy? To them, so long as APC PPC hates it, it is laudable in the spirit of Timaya’s song, now copyrighted by Gov. Nyesom Wike: “as e dey pain them, e dey sweet us…”
Mr Jude Eze wrote from email@example.com