PDP Turmoil In Rivers State Portends Grave Danger For Constitutional Democracy And Individual Liberty – Bola Tinubu
With the latest drama in the Rivers State House of Assembly, the PDP is at it again. The ruling party has inflicted yet another mortal injury on Nigeria’s democracy. As the House reconvened after a recent adjournment due to a police failure to provide adequate security to this legislative body, thugs hired by sinister forces allied to the powers in Abuja were unleashed on the unsuspecting majority in the State Assembly. While the House was to consider a necessary budgetary matter, a cell of five legislators, making a mockery of their title as lawmakers, had plotted anarchy in their own chamber. They engineered this coup against the very body in which they serve. The thugs this group of five and their sponsors encouraged attacked the other 27 members and the deputy governor who was making a presentation on a budgetary matter pending before the House.
All this occurred under the watchful eye but idle hand of the police officers deployed to guard the chamber. We can say the police in Rivers became an accomplice to an illegal attack on the very government and constitution they pledged to uphold. This was a shameful moment but even worse it is a likely foretaste of the partisan role the police will take incoming elections.
The PDP appears to have added public brawling to its list of accomplishments. The self-proclaimed largest party in Africa has turned into a fight club that employs the police as ushers for its matches.
The PDP and the presidency were quick to disavow any involvement. However, we all know the truth but most are afraid to speak. I shall speak. There is no way the police and the small number of five lawmakers would act so brazenly unless they receive instructions for their high places. Nigerians must ask, “Is this the way the President Jonathan intends to transform Nigeria? By turning it from an imperfect democracy into a perfect mess?” A total lack of respect for constitutional democracy is what we are witnessing. Governor Rotimi Amaechi swore an oath to protect and serve the people of Rivers State. He is thus empowered by the constitution to carry out this function. Not even the Police force has the constitutional right to impede him from carrying out his functions as governor.
Yet, we have a federal government under whose eager eyes an assault on our constitution is taking place in the open. My advice is that we should not leave Governor Amaechi to suffer his fate alone. All true democrats must defend constitutional democracy and true federalism. In what stable and functioning democracy can you find a President or his agents bully a governor this way or violate the federal constitution so openly with complete impunity? When the interest of the nation is subjugated so that the narrow, parochial interest of a clique in power is served events like we see unfold in Rivers will soon become common place. As a new breed of imperial rulers run amok and with impunity violate Nigeria’s constitution, the days ahead seem gloomy and uncertain. Discerning minds must locate the present crisis in the suspected injustice in the Bayelsa and Rivers State oil boundary legal battle.
For standing up in defence of the interest of his people, Governor Amaechi became a marked person. The irreconcilable political differences between main actors in Rivers State soon magnified the crisis with heavy lifting from the presidency.Like a running thriller with nightmarish garnishing, Nigerian are watching an elected Governor come under incessant illegal assault sanctioned by the powers that be. But we need not just watch. People with good conscience must speak up now.
In some ways, this Rivers episode is unsurprising. Over and over again, the PDP has attempted to scuttle fair elections and genuine democratic processes. Undermining democracy has become a central plank in the party’s manifesto. What happened in the Rivers House is one more reminder. PDP leaders hold democracy in contempt and will trample it if given the slightest opportunity. If they invert the relatively small numbers involved in the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) and the Rivers State House, what they might do to general elections involving such a large population as ours is a hard piece of wood to chew.
If we continue in this way, we are heading for an encounter with fate that will leave no one unscathed. These people need to realize they can’t lord over 150 million people as if they had replaced our colonial masters. You cannot attempt to control the mind of every person only to threaten, intimidate and assault people who do not fall perfectly in line. Such a world is not a world of democracy. Such a place is the land of elected dictatorship and a dictator is unacceptable even if he initially gained office through the ballot.
Perhaps we now know why the PDP is such a poor steward of democracy. It is hard to be a good democrat without knowing how to count properly and this crew cannot count. During the NGF debacle, they claimed that 16 was larger than 19. Now in Rivers, they claim 5 outnumbers 27. If they can’t count, how can we count on them to improve the nation? If they can’t add, it is a mistake to rely on them to add anything good to our lives. For reasons best known to them, they have tried to pin the Rivers governor to the wall. In doing so, they have turned Rivers into an embattled state. Those of us living in other states should not be indifferent. What is happening in Rivers today can come to your state tomorrow if the PDP holds sway. Events in that state are but a symbol and a forecast. As long as the current PDP leadership holds forth, we will have many rivers to cross before this land sees genuine democracy.
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