Nigeria’s Slow Drift To Repressive Rule By Iyoha John Darlington
In tsarist repressions, the reach of government is limitless. This was first conceptualized in the 1920s aiming for a state in which everything would be perfect but, unfortunately, this did not see the light of the day and was labeled totalitarianism which has been present in a variety of movements throughout history. The proponents of this political system prefer a political system in which every power is in the hands of the state to fashion out an ideal society. Western civilization remained fundamentally opposed to it and therefore unanimously resolved that it be jettisoned.
Key players in this chess game were Joseph Stalin of the defunct Soviet Union, Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany, Benito Mussolini in fascist Italy, Mao Zeodong of China until 1976 and the ruling dynasty in North Korea since 1946. These were totalitarian leaders who ruled their respective countries at different periods in history. Their repressive rules, however, collapsed like a pack of cards because the control of both public and private life the writer can authoritatively say here was run by the government.
We saw a similar scenario in Nigeria during the dark days of the military particularly from 1984 to 1985 when the duo of Muhammadu Buhari and Idiagbon were overthrown in a bloodless coup. One of the reasons given by the coup plotters then was that ”few men have arrogated power to themselves” which did not go down well with their colleagues in the army and the civil populace. Thus, the coup became a welcome relief which led to wild jubilations across the nooks and crannies of Nigeria. Buhari’s junta was rejected and overthrown on account of its repressive rule at the time because far from solving the problems bedevilling Nigeria for which he overthrew a democratically elected civilian government, wielded enormous power and resorted to reign of terror. Many politicians who are miles better than the ones that bankrolled his presidential campaign were thrown in stir and many journalists suffered similar fates on trumped up charges.
That scenario is again unfolding considering remarks, utterances and statements being credited to him when he is yet to assume power. We all know May 28 is the terminal date of Jonathan’s rule, but Buhari has started breathing out threats as if the people he is coming to rule over are animals. Does he need reminding the world has gone past the era of tsarist repressions?
The structure being put in place by the All Progressives Congress is such that will usher in tyranny. General elections were fiercely contested by the ruling People’s Democratic Party and the mainstream opposition, the All Progressives Congress. Today we see the PDP conceding defeat in where they hold sway but where the APC suffers defeat they protest alleging rigging and threatening fire and brimstone thereby paving the way for the emergence of one ruling party. The results of the gubernatorial election that took place in PDP-controlled states are still being contested whereas the PDP has long conceded defeat and by sheer display of humility and sportsmanship has since resolved to move on in the interest of peace.
Buhari has not been sworn in, but he has started assuming the role of Nigeria’s Chief Justice when that is entirely another organ of government. Put differently, I wonder if he is going to fuse the three nuclei into one nucleus which would best be defined as tyranny. Gone are the days when fear is instilled in everyone, not in any constitutional democracy like such the country practises today. This may be breeding or preparing the ground for a revolt. We have seen such cases during the Arab spring that swept across north Africa when the continent foremost dictator Libya’s Ghadaffi was kicked out of power and killed by a rebel militia.
Everyone would certainly agree with me that there are plans to transmute the All Progressives Congress into a nationalist party typical of totalitarian state because people now live in fear in the states they rule especially Lagos, Imo and Rivers where the party chieftains have their secret agents who proceed to eliminate and silent dissenting voices. Reports reaching us from home say that a score of dissenting voices has been brutally cut down for speaking ill of the Bourdilon overlord who now bestride the Nigerian world like a colossus. He is present everywhere in shops, buses, markets, shuttle trains following the imposition of his child on Nigerians as the President-General of Nigerian Market Men and Women Association. Markets have often been closed and Lagos traders shut out of their shops with armed policemen drafted to markets to ensure the closure order by the Asiwaju is strictly complied with. This ought not to be after all.
Men who have trodden this despicable and infamous path in the days of yore all have their places in history and the incoming administration under Mr. Buhari should bear in mind that in modern democracies that government is none other than a social contract. To cede one’s right in return for state protection does not empower you to assume the air of a demi-god and have one’s inalienable rights withdrawn. Nigerians will no more fall for that hook, line, and sinker – no, not by any stretch of the imagination.
Iyoha John Darlington, aka Lington Donovan, a social activist, political analyst and public commentator on national and global issues writes from Turin, Italy.
Email: [email protected]