How Nigerians can stop President Muhammadu Buhari from carrying out anti-people policies   

3 months ago | 973

Mike Ozekhome, SAN


PRESIDENT Muhamadu Buhari's insistence on enforcing non- existent open-grazing laws and the construction of a rail line directly from Nigeria to Niger Republic, inspite of massive opposition by Nigerians, since critical rail lines/road networks have not been carried out in Nigeria, continue to draw public ruckus dire from Nigerians. But, does he have untrammelled powers to always go along such lines? The answer is a capital NO.

Buhari does not have any absolute right to take unpopular decisions that he solely desires, such as those described above, even where they are inimical to the interests of the public, simply because he is President.  Buhari is a democratically elected president of Nigeria, not a military dictator and not a tyrannical usurper who seized the reins of power through the brute force of the gun and bayonet as he once did on December 31, 1983, when he overthrew the democratically elected government of Alhaji Aliyu Shehu Shagari.

There are checks and balances entrenched in the Nigerian Constitution to check absolutism, dictatorship and authoritarianism.  Sections 4, 5 and 6 of the 1999 Constitution provides checks and balances. This is what you call the doctrine of separation of powers, a doctrine that was most ably propounded by the great French Philosopher, Baron de Montesquieu in 1748. The NASS is supposed to check the President bumper-to-bumper, using sections 4, 88 and 89 of the Constitution. These sections give the NASS powers of oversight and powers to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Nigeria. 

Unfortunately, we have in place today, the 9th NASS, especially the "take-a-bow red chamber Senate, which is unarguably the worst in the history of the Legislature in Nigeria since the time of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and Dr Nwafor Orizu of the first Republic. The Senate has deliberately refused to check a rampaging president and his anti-people policies, all because political exigencies, protection of personal interests and the place of origin of NASS head, Senator Ahmed Lawan, which is the same North as President Buhari. We therefore see in place crass nepotism, sectionalism and tribalism in its operation and modus operandi. The NASS does not consider the larger interests of the Nigerian people.

The third arm of government, the Judiciary, though bloodied and harassed, has tried valiantly to hold its ground under a most inclement environment. However, it cannot by itself initiate or instigate suits or cases. It waits for litigants to come forward with their grievances.

This is where the Civil Society which ought to champion the causes of the Masses, has failed woefully and miserably.  In the 80s, as youth, some of us joined legendary Chief Gani Fawehinmi to fight serial military dictatorships. I co- founded the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), the first rights league in Nigeria, on 15th October, 1987. Where are the youth today? They have refused to come out smoking because the State itself has been most unfair to them, failing them at every turn, and at most critical times of their growth and development.

Dire situations such as we now find ourselves in under Buhari, ought to ignite the involvement of critical associations, organizations and unions, such as the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), the National Association of Nigerian Students  (NANS), etc. These groups have collectively failed the Nigerian people. The Labour is much. But, the labourers are quite few. Most of the NGOs you see mushrooming around today are bread-and-butter groups, solely formed by their sponsors primarily to make money and not to defend the interest of the people. Like Learned Hand once put it, the only price we have to pay for our liberty is eternal vigilance. We must stand up to this despotic and fascist government before it irretrievably destroys what remains of a beleaguered and fundamentally structured contraption called Nigeria.

- August 30, 2021 @ 2:26 GMT |

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