Look, if before now, you needed any more evidence to accept that Nigeria has lost all pretence to democracy at least under President Muhammadu Buhari’s ruling government, then look no further, yesterday’s arrest of Tanko Yakassai popularly known as Dawisu, who is a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and Media aide (now sacked by the way) to the Governor of Kano State Abdullahi Ganduje, offers that poignant evidence and reminder.
The whereabouts of Dawisu was first declared unknown, following his criticism of President Muhammadu Buhari over his inept, clueless and incompetent handling of the security situation asking Buhari to resign if he does not have solution to the prevailing security situation. But it was not until Saturday morning that it was confirmed that the Department of State Security Services (DSS) had arrested and conveyed him from Kano to Abuja in a gestapo style arrest that is only a sordid reminder of the dark days of military dictatorship.
So, here is what is disturbing, Dawisu was arrested for only expressing his constitutional right to free speech and demanding accountability from a government that has a responsibility to secure the people. The other one is that, if Dawisu who is a prominent member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and erstwhile aide to the Governor of Kano State, can be arrested in such arbitrary manner, then one may need no further clarification on whether Nigeria has lost all pretence to democracy.
Let me start by offering this reminder to President Buhari and his proxies, that the right to free speech is not just constitutional, it is a God-given right that will never and has never been at the discretion of the state. It is the reason you will too often hear them say in the United States of America, that everyone is endowed by the Creator with certain inalienable rights (cannot be taken away), among these rights is Liberty and one of the most fundamental expression of liberty is the freedom of speech, the right to hold an opinion and impart idea. Sadly, what we have seen consistently under President Buhari’s government, just like in the case of Dawisu is that rather than guarantee the right of the people to free speech, what we have seen over again is the egregious abuse, violation and deliberate effort to criminalise dissent and intimidate (using brute force) those who demand better of their own government. For me, this can never be democracy; it is far from it, what is presently playing out under Buhari is borderline absolutism – an idea that is completely alien to true democracy.
If Dawisu, a member of the ruling Party who is demanding better of his own party can be arrested in such arbitrary manner, what then is the fate of the majority of Nigerians who do not have a voice and lack such access and close proximity to power.
Everyone should be worried, isn’t it scandalous, that after the government has failed to protect us, it is now doing everything to suppress and take away our right to express our dissatisfaction, if the right to expression is taken from us, what then is left of our humanity? I mean you cannot beat a child and then tell a child how to cry or react, that will be obnoxious and evil.
Under Buhari’s administration people are consistently arrested summarily without explanation or legal warrant for making demands of the government they put in power by their own “power” of legitimacy and mandate, it can only be in a dictatorship, certainly not in a democracy. If Buhari does not want to be held accountable for even the most fundamental responsibility of government like Security, then he has no business staying one more day as the President of Nigeria.
Just yesterday, over 300 school girls were kidnapped by bandits from their school in Jangede in Zamfara State, yet no explanation from the government, no accountability, no urgency, just the usual rehash of Buhari expressing “his shock” and sending love and light to those affected from his fortress in Aso Rock. SAD
I recall asking Buhari to resign last December over this same insecurity that has gone almost unabated. From farmer-herder clashes, banditry, abduction, killings and all forms of criminal activities, the level of insecurity across the country is alarming, most Nigerians can hardly barely boast of the slightest sense of safety. It is that bad.
The Security agencies that should rout the criminals have also suddenly become incommunicado and incoherent, safe for when it is time to arrest innocent citizens who are demanding better of the government. This is the reason it will never make sense to me that the same DSS that has failed in its function to gather the security intelligence that is required to stop the banditry, killings and terrorism is the same arresting people who criticise the government. SHAME
Buhari and his proxies may have chosen the path of executive recklessness, crass abuse of power and military-like dictatorship, but if there is anything I have come to know about democracy it is the fact that the power of the people will always TRUMP those of the people in power, as with any other time in history, time will tell again.