The Senate screening of President Muhammed Buhari’s ministerial nominees has come and gone, leaving in the mind of many Nigerians unforgettable issues. To many, they are unhappy about the new slogan in Nigeria’s the political lexicon: “Bow and go.” It sounded like the people’s thinking of the Mobile Police, “kill and go.”
To this writer, the height of my shock was when former Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Timipre Sylva, was urshered into the Senate chambers and he told the world how he masterminded the amnesty programme in Bayelsa. Said he: “I was behind the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme.”
On hearing him speak, I did not know when I screamed, “Liar!” How could that man stand before Nigerians, especially the distinguished senator’s of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and spin falsehood? That was an incorrect story just to upgrade his credentials. Many people spin incorrect information, disregarding the age of technology. National issues must be correctly stated to avail our children with correct information, not falsehood and disjointed narratives.
Many times, our leaders believe that those they are leading are simply morons who are incapable of recalling issues and discerning the obvious truth.
In 2009, this writer was the managing editor of the Police publication, “The Dawn,” which I founded. Sometime in 2009, precisely, February 14, the Inspector-General of Police, Sir Mike Mbama Okiro, dispatched a memoranda to the then President of Nigeria Mallam Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, on the need to extend amnesty to the then restive Niger Delta militants. It was the aftermath of several meetings with the executives and members of the World ljaw Youths Association in Abuja and Port Harcourt. It was an initiative he sold to them after assessing the situation in the area; he came to the conclusion that presenting an olive branch in the guise of an amnesty from the Presidency might, after all, be the needed magic to ensure elusive peace.
On getting the memoranda, the President set up a committee to study and make recommendations. After a week of deliberations, the President gave his nod to the committee’s recommendations, approving Okiro’s idea for the granting of presidential amnesty to the Niger Delta militants. Yar’Adua suggested that Okiro should go ahead and carry out detailed arrangements, but he was able to convince the President to appoint the Police Affairs Minister, General Godwin Abbey.
However, on the day the arms and ammunition were to be recovered and all the Niger Delta militants were scheduled to assemble and surrender to the federal government for amnesty, Okiro and his police orderly flew in a presidential jet to Rivers State and drove to Ogoni, where we took over the large caches of firearms and ammunition. Thrice we travelled to Warri in Delta State, Rivers and Bayelsa for the same purpose of disarming hundreds of the youthful militants.
We visited revered elders like Pa Edwin Clark and the governors of the states, including Sylva, who was very appreciative of our efforts and commended the federal government for granting the militants amnesty. It was, therefore, not only surprising but rather unfortunate for the former governor to upturn the story to suit his intentions so as to receive public accolades. Or was he posturing that he was part of the amnesty just to attract special presidential attention? The ex-governor loves controversy. Most times, he conjures it but, unfortunately, he gets drowned in it.
Sylva had nothing tangible to ascribed to his name throughout his tenure as a governor, except having officers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission as prying visitors, always laying siege to arrest him for one alleged criminal offense or the other. To his sterling credit, Okiro is an officer that left indelible footprints on the security landscape of Nigeria. Even retired, with a national merit award, there is no gainsaying that the ideas he breathes continue to help both the police and members of the public in the area of security.
The truth remains, that Okiro initiated the Presidential Amnesty Programme and, today, the Presidency has been using it as a tool to resolve conflicts where necessary, for the sake of peace. Setting the record straight is arranging the truth in proper perspective.
Two wrongs make no right (1)
Security has many edges and can be used either frontally, backwardly or sideways. It could be a two-edged sword at one point and it could transform into a three or four edged sword at another point! Those who manage security live around those they are securing and providing security. A policeman is armed with taxpayers’ money, but he turns away from his friends and relatives when authority, known as the government, orders him to arrest his brother for no justifiable reason and, strangely, he must obey like a robot.
He cannot question the veracity of the order issued to him, like a robot. He has no conscience of his own. Robots are made not to think or reason when orders are issued from above. The authorities know the limit as stipulated by the Constitution, so do the people and the security personnel. Everyone is guided by the Constitution of the land.
However, there is a dividing line known as national security, which invariably concerns everyone, from the citizens to the security personnel. It is generally for the collective safety of everyone in the land. Most times, we play our rascality without knowing our boundaries. Everything has boundaries. Life and every of its activities have boundaries, and there must be checks to human activities, else there would be chaos. Same with government activities and policies.
Last week, the publisher of online medium, Sahara Reporters, and a presidential candidate in the 2019 elections, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, called for a revolution protest in all the states for the forceful overthrow of the Buhari administration and even boasted that there would be nothing like the DSS after the revolution. He also demanded that many issues confronting the country be addressed immediately. The word “revolution” irked government and the DSS immediately went after him. Tongues are already wagging from all quarters, even as lawyers of all cadres are expressing their legal opinions on the situation, especially as it concerns “revolution” and whether the security agencies have the constitutional right to arrest a Nigerian who wants to embark on public protests, calling on others to follow suit.
The truth is, both the security agency and Sowore were wrong and should be blamed for their actions. This is when two wrongs cannot make a right, no matter how we try to cut it; two wrongs do not make a right.
(To be continued)