Categories: ColumnsDuro Onabule

Debauchery ravaging Nigerian politics

Invasion of National Assembly on the orders of the director-general of the SSS was just a by-product of the debauchery currently ravaging Nigerian politics.

Duro Onabule

Nigeria politics is getting dirtier by the day, and instead of getting worried or even disgusted, everybody seems to be glorifying a deplorable situation. Politicians, the media, lawyers and, of course, crooks. Indeed, it is only in Nigeria that the number of politicians who crossed from one party to the other and the number of times they engage in such fraudulent acts are encouraged to be sole determinants in grabbing political power. No other country in the world has that reputation.

The latest was going to be the fraud being dignified as carpet-crossing only to be rubbished by the latest of the latest – occupation of the National Assembly by armed men later identified as operatives
of Nigeria’s secret police, better known as State Security Services (SSS). The shock was the allegation that the unsolicited security firm-up was a preliminary for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to take the presidency of the Senate, currently occupied by Bukola Saraki. More disturbing is the double standard of critics of the armed take-over of the National Assembly, the very double standard of past years, which brought Nigeria to its present stage. A situation in which raging national controversies are never forthrightly settled in national interest but ever patched up, depending on which part of the country is on the receiving end.

READ ALSO: The scattering of the brooms

If PDP’s allegation should be true about APC’s plot to sack Saraki, the wonder must be on that obsession since, critically examined, Saraki is not APC’s problem, instead, APC is APC’s problem. Imagine the seizure of National Assembly by armed security operatives without the prior knowledge let alone authority of APC’s Acting President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo, whose furious reaction should be understood. Ordinarily, the man is clear-headed, humble and open- hearted but he (Osinbajo) had to act firmly to establish that, at any given situation, only one man could be in charge for the decisive shot. And by the time Osinbajo released his order, everybody fell in line.

Whatever the rebuke for the ex-SSS boss, Lawal Daura, the impression should not be created that his actions were peculiar to him. Unknown to Nigerians, security chiefs mostly confront the government with fait accompli. All alone, they define and determine not only what constitutes security threat but also when to act, especially to pre-empt rather than to salvage. Occasionally, such as the invasion of the National Assembly, it boomerangs but, in most cases, security chiefs are deemed by their bosses as vindicated.

The big deal about the dismissal of Daura as director-general of SSS is that he is being cast as deviating from the unusual. This insinuations by critics is routine prejudice in Nigerian politics. Otherwise, before the former SSS director-general’s deployment of armed operatives to seize the National Assembly, was it unprecedented for armed state personnel to invade in similar circumstances? What is more, National Assembly was on recess and, till now, has not been recalled. Repeat, the Assembly is yet to be recalled. Those summoned to meet comprised strictly the Assembly’s leadership – Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker House of Representatives, Deputy Speaker, Senate Leader, Minority Leader, Senate Chief Whip, Deputy Chief Whip, Minority Whip and others.

Part of the confusion was the source of media reports of National Assembly members. Meeting of National Assembly leadership would have fixed date of recall of the chamber to debate budget of Independent National Electoral Commission for the 2019 elections. How then could Senate President Saraki have been impeached as media variously reported the PDP to have alleged? The entire APC membership of National Assembly might not even garner the necessary two-thirds needed to impeach the Senate President.

READ ALSO: We’ll remove Saraki as Senate President – Moh’d Lawal

Should the PDP, therefore, have been concerned about obvious misleading reports of a parliament (not yet recalled) plotting to impeach the Senate President? On the other hand, no sensible person privileged prior knowledge of (even a false) report of removal from office without reacting. But in PDP’s case, in the matter of invasion of the National Assembly, the party has engaged in the danger of self-help.

Then, the crunch. For any critic who cares to know, it is just unfortunate that the career of former director-general of SSS, Lawal Daura, ended following his deployment of armed operatives to occupy National Assembly. Otherwise, Daura merely followed the vogue. Except that Nigerians have short memory and are notorious for double standard as well as prejudice against one another depending on which part of the country is a victim. Daura’s immediate predecessor(s) got away with their own crime.

In November 2014, armed police and State Security operatives shut down the House of Representatives against members who had to risk injuries if not their lives in climbing over iron gates or brick walls to gain entrance. Again, members alleged that they were shut out as part of the plan to impeach the then Speaker Aminu Tambuwal.

Who gave the order for the invasion? Surely, not President Muhammadu Buhari. Who was the director-general of SSS? Surely not Daura. Rather, the SSS boss at that time was Ita Ekpenyong from the South-South. Who was the Inspector-General of Police? Surely, not Ibrahim Idris. The IG then was Suleiman Abba, from the North.

Why was the DG of SSS not sacked in November 2014 for sending his men to shut down the House of Representatives? The point being made is NOT that the dismissed SSS boss was correct to have sent his men to occupy National Assembly. Instead, the argument is that if others had been dismissed in the past for tear-gassing members of House of Representatives who forced their way into the place by overcoming all barriers, that would have been a warning for former SSS boss Daura never to send his armed operatives to seal off National Assembly.

The point must be made that Daura merely followed the established pattern as proper. Just as it is wrong now to lock National Assembly with armed security operatives, so it should have been wrong in 2014 when Daura’s predecessor, Ekpenyong, shut the House of Representatives.

As it has turned out, Daura (because of his part of the country?) not only ended as a sacrificial lamb for diligently following established practice but is also being roundly condemned.

Again, in 2000, under former President Olusegun Obasanjo, armed policemen and SSS operatives occupied the official residence of President of the Senate, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, at about 2am without being informed. He had to phone Obasanjo, who confirmed the invasion. Was Daura the DG of SSS or IGP at that time? The officers involved were from the South-West. Were they sacked? Another proof such invasion had been a standard practice of the SSS.

Were the invasion of the House of Representatives and eventual shutdown as well as SSS/police invasion of Senate President Chuba Okadigbo’s official residence in Abuja in furtherance of democracy in Nigeria? Poor Daura. Before invading the National Assembly with his armed operatives, he (Daura) should have ensured he was from the South-South or South-West.

Nonetheless, Acting President Osinbajo has, with the sack of Daura, refused be part of the debauchery ravaging Nigerian politics. Never again will armed operatives be involved in the struggle for political power in Nigeria. That is the overall positive side of Daura’s exit.

READ ALSO: Ex-DSS DG, Lawal Daura released from custody, passport seized

Invasion of National Assembly on the orders of the director-general of the SSS was just a by-product of the real debauchery currently ravaging Nigerian politics. Worse still, hypocrisy is the name of the game. Here, for example, is the APC, hit by substantial members crossing to the PDP. Obviously rattled, the APC is calling on Senate President Saraki to resign and seek the post on personal recognition. APC also wants other carpet-crossers to quit their seats and seek re-election on the platform of their new parties, especially the PDP.

Yet, the same APC is currently embracing carpet-crossers from PDP. In the short term, the APC may gloat, especially towards the 2019 elections, but APC should note: Those who left the PDP for APC in 2014 have mostly returned to PDP for the 2019 elections. Logically, those leaving PDP now for APC will also return to PDP in 2019, after being elected on APC platform, beginning with the snatching of Senate Presidency in 2019. This should be noted.


English soccer year takes off

The English soccer excitement followed virtually all over the world commences the new season tomorrow, and as usual with high hopes and expectations by the teams and supporters across the world, respectively. As the season progresses, shocks and disappointments for both teams and supporters are inevitable.

Even though competition for supremacy is always unpredictable, about six teams always attract attention. These are Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur. Last season proved unusually the poorest for Chelsea, which missed the first four positions and, therefore, failed to qualify for the European Champions League competition, the first time in about 10 years. The cause was partly due to season-long disagreement between former manager Antonio Conte

and the team authorities over player(s) recruitment. Eventually, the manager was sacked a few weeks ago. Disagreement between the manager and some players also cost the manager the dressing room. The team also lost a couple of key players, not the least goalkeeper Curtois, who is believed to be on the list of Real Madrid. In fact, he is already gone and the party recruited a new 23-year- old goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Also not yet certain of his stay at Chelsea for the new season is Chelsea’s most valuable player Eden Hazard. Such are the uncertainties to determine the team’s fortune in the new season.

The premier league’s winner last season remains the most formidable for the new season. Yet, that is the greatest challenge facing the team – desire to retain the premiership trophy, a very rare feat in English football. Only few teams – Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal – ever won the league competition for two years in succession. Can Manchester City join that enviable group?

Manchester United holds the record not only as the most reliable in the competition but also has won the competition more years than any other team. But that was only throughout the unprecedented 25-year tenure of former manager Alex Fergusson. Since he retired almost four years ago, the team has been struggling to attain its previous record. In fact, in the first year of current manager Jose Mourhino, Manchester United failed to qualify for the European League. Mourhino made it up not only by winning the less fancied Europa League but also by qualifying for the current European Champions League. Staying strong is Mourhino’s task in the new season.

Liverpool is very unlucky among the lot. Despite the team’s strong record in winning the European Champion’s League not less than four times, Liverpool is yet to win the Premier League domestic duel for the first time. The same Liverpool, in fact, was the runners-up in the last Champions League, losing in the final by 0-3 to Real Madrid. Against that feat, Liverpool could only come second to Manchester City. Liverpool will, therefore, aim at winning the Premier League for the first time in the new season.

For Arsenal, under a new manager, it is going to be a tough season, especially as former manager Arsene Wenger was eased out after more than 22 successive years. New manager Emery’s task is, therefore, least enviable if at all. He must succeed where Wenger was variously faulted. He must either qualify for European Champions League or win the Premier League Championship or both. Otherwise, he will incur the wrath of fans.

Tottenham Hotspur’s main challenge even this new season is the rivalry of tough London teams like Chelsea, Arsenal, West Ham. Fortunately, Tottenham currently benefits from Chelsea’s domestic problems and Arsenal’s poor performances over the years. The new season, therefore, provides the real showdown among Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, as usual.

Tokunbo David :Sun News Online team writer and news editor

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