October 17, 2021


documenting the nigerian story…

Buhari’s de-constitutionalisation of Nigeria, and insecurity

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Recent developments in the processes of governance in the country raise valid concerns over whether the administration of President Muhamadu Buhari has lapsed into a state of panic, with respect to the prosecution of the war against insecurity which is ravaging the country from border to border. Against the backdrop of its failure to exploit the full potency of Nigeria’s military capacities and capabilities, along with the humongous possibilities from a well mobilized ‘win-the-war-effort’ by the Nigerian people, the administration has raised the spectre of what in common Nigerian parlance can be referred to as ‘power miss road’. Not a few Nigerians are disturbed that the spate of turbulences in the country is taking too long to resolve, as well as claiming much more costs in human lives and other resources than should be allowed, given the humongous punching power, which a better mobilized Nigeria is capable of any day.

Among the recent disturbing factors is the invitation of the US military’s Africa Command (AFRICOM) by President Muhamadu Buhari, to relocate its command headquarters from Germany to Africa, ostensibly to get the foreign agency more directly involved in the anti-terror war on the continent, and by implication assist Nigeria deal with its own nightmare – the Boko Haram insurgency and other criminal tendencies. That several Nigerians of high political value – including members of the National Assembly and other ranking political figures, have bought into contemplating several desperate initiatives such as inviting foreign assistance to tackle the country’s insecurity challenges, declaring a state of emergency and convoking a national security summit, has accentuated the incapacity of the administration with respect to resolving the matter without assistance. Even at that, the issue of foreign assistance at this time, raises eyebrows given that in a world where there is no free lunch, any foreign military assistance – especially during a war situation attracts significant collateral costs – a factor that puts a question mark on the intervention of AFRICOM.

Another factor that is stirring concern among Nigerians is the rather subdued clamour in the Ninth National Assembly for impeaching President Muhamadu Buhari over manifest evidence of incapacity to drive the machinery of the federal government personally, and conceding such a critical function of his to surrogates, especially at this darkest period of the country’s history. Needless to observe that the impeachment dispensation is one which even some of the more vociferous members of the federal legislature are in deep fear of mentioning or being associated with, not to talk of prosecuting. Meanwhile, even the Constitution assigns to them in the National Assembly, the exclusive statutory responsibility of holding the President accountable, and if necessary removing him from office. Many Nigerians are actually wondering what other motivation they need beyond the present state of near collapse of governance, to save the country by calling the President to order, and even going for the jugular of the administration, if necessary. Otherwise, against the backdrop of the laid back position of the National Assembly in the present circumstances, Nigerians have no other option than endure (hopefully survive) the present plight, until perhaps the tenure of the administration lapses in 2023. And that is if another clone of the present dispensation does not take over political power in the name of continuity when that time comes.

With the benefit of hindsight, it needs to be appreciated that the present dip in the fortunes of the administration was easily predicted at its inception even from the first tenure in 2015, when the President took off with an inclination towards a ‘one-man show’, as he asserted his will to de-constitutionalise governance by breaching extant provisions of the Constitution. It was a slow and innocuous start, even as the indications of his intended direction were as clear as daylight. And the country – especially the National Assembly allowed it to hold. Space will fail this piece to enumerate all the instances when the President acted in total breach of the Constitution with his loyalists citing his privileges and in a manner that placed his idiosyncrasies superior to the nation’s sacred Constitution. The ultimate implication of the wide berth of unilateral action allowed the President was that much of the processes of governance were executed without the input from some other power centres, as the Presidency was always trifling with the impossible act of clapping with only one hand. It is this ‘one-man-show’ that has failed the country today and led to the complement of existential threats facing her.

In the light of the current exigencies, Nigeria through the National Assembly needs to impress on the President that with the unmistakable dip in the fortunes of the country especially in the light of the existential threats to its corporate existence, it is ‘thus far and no more’ to his parochial administrative style. The times demand a game change based on a consensus that is driven by the extant provisions of the Constitution that unite the country and provides the justification for his Presidency of one Nigeria.  And just in case, any interest in the Presidency is nursing any illusions about the end game for de-constitutionalization of a country, next door Chad, which sank into political upheaval soon after it lost its former sit-tight and ‘one-man-show’ President Idriss Deby a fortnight ago, provides more than enough lessons.