By Noble Uche Agbaeze
One of the major problems confronting Nigeria as a democratic state is the ignorance of our laws. If any one takes time to go through our legal codifications, one will discover that many of them are well couched. However, as societies evolve, Nigeria inclusive, laws are reviewed to capture all conducts concomitantly,. This is the only area, in my opinion, we need to be swifter. As Nigerian citizens, we need to acquaint ourselves with the available valid and subsisting laws. This will help change the nasty, brutish, unreasonable, irrational and pitiable ways we reason.
My area of concern currently is the exercise of rights by citizens, as prescribed under Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). Section 40 of the constitution provides thus: “Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interest: ……”
Also, Section 1(1) of the 1999 constitution provides: “This constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the Federal republic of Nigeria.”
From the combined understanding of the foregoing provisions, it is graphically clear inter alia: (1) That no citizen of Nigeria is excluded from the provisions of the constitution as any exclusion shall be in contravention of Section 1 (1); (2) That under the provision of Section 40, names of political parties to join or not to join are not listed; (3) That also under the provision of Section 40, names of persons to join or not to join the political parties are not listed; And (4) That every citizen of Nigeria is free to join any political party to protect his political interest and contribute to the governance of Nigeria.
Pursuant to the above, I have been wondering the premise upon which the erroneousness of Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu’s decision to join the APC lies. It is inexplicably baffling and I am wondering why the whole blabbing towards Kalu’s action, which is legally and morally right. He only exercised his constitutional rights. Many other known persons had changed, are changing and may still change their membership of their respective political parties, including those who were governors, national and state assembly members from PPA to PDP.
From the ingredients of these blabbing, I can reasonably infer that some persons who claim to be political champions are having sleepless nights over Kalu’s historic decision to join the APC. Honestly, this clearly suggests that there are some kind of jealousy, envy and bitterness in some quarters, knowing what may come out of this unification of forces, but being very sincere this is not what the situation calls for If there is any person who has the inherent and necessary qualities to take the Igbo nation and Nigeria to a greater height, in my opinion, it shall be to the best of our common interest to support such a person in everything lawful and upright he does. But where we are too jealous to support, let us keep silent and just watch instead of making negative contributions that will expressly or impliedly destroy our future. Since we do not have the same characteristics as Kalu, it means we cannot at the moment give Nigerians what he can give. It is settled in the maxim ‘Nemo dat quod non habeat,’ one cannot give what he does not have. The objective test of reasonableness demands that we support the one who has it to give it.
To the leadership and members of APC, a bonafide luck has come to you, Kalu’s membership has given many the perception that this party has a lot to do positively with the future of Nigeria, which should not be undermined and this singular membership of Kalu will surely cause a mass movement of voters into the party in Abia State and South-East entirely as well as making the presence of the party very prominent in perpetuity in the South-East. The taste of the pudding is in the eating. The performance of the APC henceforth under a free and fair situation shall tell us between Kalu and the others who is in control of the grassroots in the zone.
To the Igbo nation, we should see this move prima facie as a very big boost to our politics in a country we own like others. To have Kalu, one of our biggest politicians at the national level as at today, join the party in control of the government at the centre means we have naturally procured an added opportunity of asserting our political position in Nigeria, this should make us celebrate this incident.
Contrary to a certain insinuation, the truth is that APC is not Hausa or Yoruba party, as propagated by some PDP members in the South-East. Let us live by the principles of relativism. APC is for every Nigerian who wishes, just like the membership of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) is not limited to only Igbos.
The universal rule is this: Whatever platform that can make any one realise his ambition then commonsensically he follows it. Democracy is characterised by liberalism and a nation like Nigeria, which is naturally founded upon multi-ethnicity and multi-pluralisms of other values, should not have her political parties built under ethnocentrism rather relativism and national ideology should be paramount while being a good ambassador to our respective tribes.
To my fellow compatriots in Abia, how long shall you be manipulated and subjugated under the siege and captivity of the eclipsing and dwindling PDP? Thank God we are now in a world guided by renaissance, empiricism, rational and objective thinking where people are less dogmatic, not believing everything hook, line and sinker. Many of us are inexplicably tired of PDP in Abia because of the untold underdevelopment, extreme hardship and extreme depravity, which the PDP brought to Abia people for many years now. The Abia experience is that the PDP is a political party that subjects the majority of its members to servitude and hunger, whereas a very few persons enjoy the benefits conferred on it through the operation of cartelism. Since the period of governorship of the PDP, Abia State has been in a precarious destruction of values and infrastructures through recklessness and negligence and natural justice demands that we try another political party to pilot the affairs of our state as majority of us are already moving into APC in pari-pasu with our leader.
Finally, to those who think the way to earn their living is from emoluments made by puncturing Kalu’s image from all he does, perhaps, you do not know the extent your heinous and hidden transactions shall be exposed to the public on an appointed day. It is a natural law. To create a nexus between Kalu’s membership of APC and his trial by the EFCC is most laughable and repugnant to good conscience and cannot pass the test of reasonableness It is most bewildering that out of desperation to destroy other persons, some people fail to take notice of when their conducts constitute infractions on our laws. Let me bring to our notice that the averment of Kalu’s membership of the APC is because he is being tried by EFCC is prima facie maligning, malicious and criminal in nature also brings total disrepute and overawes our justice system because we are impliedly saying our courts are under the control of a political party, the APC, against sections 6(1) and 17(2) (e) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
By acts or omissions, passively or actively, impliedly or expressly, there are certain offences, whose elements are present in the claim and propagation that Kalu joined APC to escape EFCC trial: (1) Sedition, which is an offence against public order, which is liable to two or three years in imprisonment. This is because such conducts in this case overawes the government and our entire justice system; (2) Defamation, which is an intentional or unintentional damage to the reputation of a physical or a corporate person caused by injurious declaration or publication, the tortfeasor is liable on damages or other orders of the court; (3) Contempt of the court, as provided under Section 133 (4) and (9) of the criminal code, which is liable to punishment for three months. This is because the judicial proceeding between Kalu and EFCC is still pending and I humbly advise that all persons saying or publishing this should depart from making such unwarranted unlawful comments or publications and guide their words and conduct properly.
We shall have peace, operate a civilised politics and decent democracy if we can follow our laws, and let’s learn to allow our laws guide us in our politics.
• Agbaeze wrote in from Abuja; Email: [email protected]