By Richard Odusanya
One of the great minds in Africa and a foremost champion of the pan-African cause, Prof PLO Lumumba vividly captured the mood of the Nigerian state when he said, “Nigeria is passing through the valley of the shadow of death and ECOWAS and AU are eloquently silent, twinkling their thumbs as Nero did when Rome was burning.”
That Nigeria is haemorrhaging and having acute difficulty in breathing is an understatement in the current narrative. Like someone once said, the pulse of a country at any given time is never ever different from the nature of its leader or leadership. Thus, taking into consideration the widespread violence ravaging the land, the conclusion can simply be reached that the hostility had continued unabated either because the leader or leadership is violent-inclined or overtly supportive of the actors in the unholy acts.
This brings to mind the personality of the current Nigerian president, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd.) vis-a-vis his antecedent as a full-blown military dictator widely reputed for his ruthless disdain for civility.
History is replete with his inhuman policies and programmes as then Head of state between 1983 and 1985 one of which was the mindless promulgation of Decree No. 4 that turned out to be the cruel instrument used in executing three Nigerian citizens in the persons of Bartholomew Owoh, Bernard Ogedengbe and Lawal Ojuolape. What about the indiscriminate arrest and violations of citizens rights that was at its peak during that regime that was accentuated by indiscriminate cancellation of very strategic projects and contracts that eventually attracted international sanctions and payments of the humongous amount of fines among other misadventures that ultimately birthed another military regime?
It is a known fact that dictators usually resort to brute force to gain political power and ventilate tyrannical tendencies. They are known to perpetuate themselves in power through means of intimidation, terror and suppression of basic civil liberty as well as the deployment of mass propaganda techniques in order to gain public support.
Coming back to the present, the sequence of events in the last one week, culminating in the genocidal post of the supposed father of the nation, which was subsequently deleted by Twitter and the knee-jack reaction by the current political gladiators and government officials, is outrightly in bad faith. Besides, it is a clear demonstration of a lack of understanding of basic rules guiding the use of social media and a blatant attempt to shrink Nigeria’s civic space. How do you explain a situation where one man’s misgivings or outcome of his Inappropriate conduct being made to infringe on the rights of millions of other citizens’ freedom of expression. This is unconstitutional and unacceptable.
The reaction of the Federal Government is clearly undemocratic and an act of intolerance to criticism. What would they have done if Twitter had banned Major General Buhari as was the case of Donald Trump of the United States of America?
Thankfully, the outrage and reactions in condemnation of the government’s ban of Twitter have been massive with the diplomatic/intelligence community, the Nigerian Bar Association, eminent personalities and concern citizens speaking with one voice on the matter.
However, as a nation destined for greatness, we have a responsibility to our country Nigeria. We must keep our eyes on the ball because eternal vigilance is the price for freedom. The price for Democracy is huge hence we should all be ready at every point to defend and indeed sustain the outcome of the supreme sacrifice paid by our heroes to birth the democracy in our nation today.
Irrespective of the dictatorial tendencies of the moment, we shall overcome and Nigeria will surely be great again.
@Richard_Odusanya is 9News Nigeria special guest writer on Politics, Africanism, African Emancipation and Humanitarianism
Richard Odusanya is a Social Reform Crusader and the convener of AFRICA COVENANT RESCUE INITIATIVE (ACRI).