THURSDAY Column with Mohammed Adamu
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THE ‘LETTER’ OR THE ‘SPIRIT’?
“The reason we bicker over what should be legal from what is not, is that we have elected always to hold ourselves captives of the naked ‘letter’ and not secure ourselves freeborns of the liberal ‘spirit’ of the law. Our lawyers and judges, for their own selfish reasons, are happily subservient always to the written ‘law’ and not to the jurisprudence of it, which provides the philosophical underpinnings or raison d’être for its existence in the first place. Neither the bar nor the bench are prepared to liberate us from the usually complex hyacinth of duplicity that almost all un-reformed English systems of law are hostage to. It is not true that the hands of judges can be tied by the rigid provisions of the law as most crooked judges would want us to believe; rather it is the rigid and illiberal disposition of judges who will not apply their judicial minds to the jurisprudence of law that make it well-nigh impossible for the courts to do justice according to law. As Lord Denning said in his ‘Landmarks In The Law’ “A judge must not alter the material of which (a piece of legislation) is woven, but he can and should iron out the creases”.
-‘The Judiciary, Its Own Enemy’ 02/01/19
CHOICE OR MERIT?
“Democracy is first a choice-driven enterprise before it may be driven by the consideration of merit. People vote ‘choice’ either because they do not even have the capacity to discern ‘merit’ from ‘mediocrity’, or they may vote stark mediocrity even in spite of ‘obvious merit’. If the law allows mediocrity on the ballot, then mediocrity is an option. Democracy is concerned more with the freedom of the majority to choose what it pleases than with the desire of the society to be governed aright. All well and good if in the exercise of the right to freely choose, the majority is lucky to install good government. It is the reason that of the many definitions of democracy, ‘the right even to elect the wrong candidate’ is inclusive. Are we not often confronted with Hobson’s choices on the ballot? Are we not often faced with choices only as good as those ‘between the devil and the deep blue sea’? Or -as the English would say- between a terrifying Scylla and a horrible Charybdis?….. And it is the reason that ‘democracy’ is called ‘majority rule’: the right of the majority to a ‘way’ -no matter what other ‘way’ the minority would’ve preferred. Thus besides being an expression of the ‘will’ of the people, elections confirm what the majority –advertently or inadvertently- is willing to be governed by. As in our present situation, whether by a ‘stingy, right wing tyrant’ allegedly personified by Buhari or by a profligate, no-wing, thieving capitalist represented by Atiku. Democracy, like ‘virtue’ is its own reward”.
– The Tyrant Or The Thief -14/Feb/19
IN PEACE, NOT PIECES!
“But not so in Nigeria. Election periods are anything but avenues for the renewal of mandates and for the resolution of matters of common concern and benefits. Election times are potentially divisive times. They are times when tribes and tongues, religions and geographies go for each others’ wind pipes. Election times are kegs of gun powder. They take us to the precipice. …sponsored thugs roam the streets maiming, killing, mutilating and desecrating those things that symbolize the sanctity of the electoral process, namely the ballot box and the ballot paper…… And since we are fated to have an electoral system the micro-managing of which requires that ‘security’ is of the utmost essence, maybe it is time we begin to bite our electoral exigencies in bits and pieces rather than in chunks or in wholes. The electoral umpire itself, election officials, security agencies and others with important roles to play on election day need to be a little less overwhelmed by the sheer size of areas to police, sensitive materials to secure, persons, personnel and polling centers to man and to protect. Maybe we should consider conducting all our elections ‘one state at a time’. At three dedicated days per state, it will only take us about four months to conclude all elections in the 36 states plus Abuja. If we do that in one piece, not in pieces, it’ll be worth the time. It takes even almighty America two years to conclude its two circles of Mid-Term and Presidential elections”.
–A Vote For Staggered Elections –Feb/28/19
ATIKU’S GOING FOR BROKE
“The Waziri should’ve hearkened to the counsel of his erstwhile protégé, Kaduna’s El-Rufai, who had warned that taking a Buhari-bull by the horns electorally would be always as risky as grabbing a tiger by its languid tail. But “The more pity” again Shakespeare said “that fools may not speak wisely what wise men do foolishly”. Driven by the delirium of un-earned wealth, Atiku was destined to act the proverbial dog, heedless of the call of its wary master. He had thrown all caution to the wind and had strayed too far into harm’s way. Secondus et al have made un-patchable gaping holes in Atiku’s pockets; he is now a walking ‘mint’ printing and dripping. They have made a gaping wound on his jugular; Atiku now limps about dripping life blood. Either way, sooner or later something has to give: the minter or the mint. His money or his life! Because Atiku’s affliction neither orthodox physicians nor even his favorites unorthodox marabous can handle. And it is the reason that his demand for ‘a throne or else a glorious tomb’, ‘a scepter or an earthly sepulcher’, should worry us all”.
–‘Atiku’s ‘A Throne Or Else A Glorious Tomb’ 03/07/19
BETWEEN THE ‘WAY’ AND A ‘SAY’.
“But sometimes democracy, as someone rightly said, is ‘four wolves’ and a ‘lamb’, voting on what to have for lunch. The ‘lamb’ will merely have a ‘say’ and the ‘wolves’, a ‘way’; because it has always been democracy’s eternal dictum that to the minority is a ‘say’, and to the majority, a ‘way’. And that is just the way that the democratic ‘cookie’ always crumbles. The whisper of a faction, said the British Prime Minister, Lord Russell, should not “prevail against the voice of a nation”. The problem we have in Nigeria has always been this arrogant arrogation, by the minority, of the right to have both a ‘say’ and a ‘way’. And often this is done in a manner that potentially self-destructs the entire system. We need an electoral minority or an opposition that is content always with its own democratically allotted station. It is the way of all ‘civilized’ democracies: that self-righteous oppositions bide their time with superior argument, to take over governments –not with a lethal narrative, to subvert the system. Lyndon B. Johnson once said: “The vote is the most wonderful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice”. How can we establish justice in our society if we persist wantonly in violating the sanctity of the electoral process?”
–‘Let The People Decide’ 03/14/19
HOW THE 8TH PARLIAMENT WAS LOST
“I had written ‘The Revert As Democrat’, praising the swift transformation of Buhari from a command-structured, regiment-acting soldier to a politician and a democrat. (I was wrong). In truth Buhari had only dazzled as a democrat, by not interfering in the politics of parliament. In truth he failed woefully as a politician, by his stubborn refusal to be concerned about the bottommost line of politics, which is always about ‘who gets what, when, where and how…?’ Poor Tinubu; in 2015, he became Buhari’s virtual Artemidorus -so to speak- alerting the new President to a cogent matter that touched him ‘nearer’, namely the need to inaugurate a parliament amenable to the concerns of the newly installed APC progressive government. But Buhari had acted with the same righteous indignance as Julius Caesar: selfless yes, but in a terribly self-neglecting and self-harming way. Tinubu had desperately sought the General’s attention, entreating Buhari to take heed of a conspiracy at the Senate by a renegade section of APC senators to install a surrogate APC leadership; one with umbilical cord tied to the navel of a malevolent PDP opposition. It was the complot desperately needed by the opposition to take the sail out of Buhari’s government’s change agenda”.
-‘Buhari’s Once Bitten’ (I) 03/21/19