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Published On: Mon, Aug 11th, 2014

Bankruptcy of leadership and rule of law

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nigeriaBy Shamsudden Hussaini

On 29th June, this year, the revolutionaries in Iraq known as ISIS declared an Islamic state of Iraq and Syria denouncing those boundaries created by the colonialists about a hundred years ago. At the same period several explosions took place in Nigeria including one in the centre of Abuja, killing several people. In the midst of this crisis, more than 200 of the Chibok Girls – in spite of all the campaigns, the protests, the hash tags, the military and technological support from advanced countries – are still missing.

The referred crisis are taking place in two different parts of the world (Middle East and West Africa) apparently unrelated. However, the apprehension is that the crisis in the latter, if not contained, may lead to the aftermath of the former.

Let us reflect on the Nigerian crisis as it is today. The country has never experienced this type of crisis it is now facing. Some may argue that the Civil war was worse. Yes I would agree that proposition, but not without reservations. My reservations are that the civil war was a more defined and a coherent conflict in the sense that the territory was defined; the belligerents were defined; and the Goals of both sides were also defined, unlike this one when the foe and perpetrator remains elusive and invisible, and the goals still vague.

The most question we must ask ourselves is “how did we arrive here?” This is very important because we cannot get to the root of our problems without addressing this question.

The geneses of this crisis we are facing today are nothing but the consequences of the insignificant acts of injustice and corruption by ourselves (All of us) in one way or the other, but more especially by the actions of our leaders. They are actions which manifests in disobeying traffic rules, to failure to appropriately punish a criminal for his crimes, to failure of the authorities to investigate the murder of an innocent citizen; to prosecute and execute a murderer; to rigging of elections and swearing-in the candidate without the majority of votes; to the unjust verdict of our superior courts for legitimizing the result of rigged election.

These sporadic and insignificant acts may seem inconsequential and unconnected. However, there are various examples that one can give to fathom the nexus between these singular actions and major crisis we are faced with in the nation today. Our major crisis in the polity at present is the insurgency in all its ramifications. Let us consider the following scenario; perhaps we can have a picture of how these actions are connected, and how one acts leads to another like the fall of dominoes.

An election candidate, who foresaw that he is going lose, rigged the election to emerge the winner. The same candidate is sworn-in as the Chief executive of a state or the federation. The victim of the rigged election contested the result and tendered sufficient evidence to substantiate his petition. However, the judiciary (which is the last hope of the common man) sitting as a court or tribunal dismisses his petition and prayers on grounds of “public Policy” or Judicial “technicalities”. The victim appealed to superior court. His appeal got dismissed by the superior court also on grounds of technicalities or public policy (or even special interests).

The scenario continues:  because of the disregard of rules and regulations of those in authority, pundits and political thugs emerge; religious demagogues emerge to constitute a strong political base, preaching their  extremist views and sowing a seed of discord among the public without checks, consequently, converting   vulnerable youths in droves. The youth have become vulnerable because the system neglects their education, their livelihood and future, and also denied them their votes.

The chief executive could not deal with the excess of the political thuggery and extremists by bringing them to law and order because he himself is the beneficiary of the excesses and the bastion of breaking that law and order in the first palace when he rigged the election.

As the youths drop out of school and a multitude remains unemployed, they lost hope in the system and at last found succour in the clutches of a demagogue who will provide them with alternative sense of belonging. They metamorphosed from victims to militants. Becoming so militarised that they could dare to test the strength of the authority.

Because of neglect, they were so poorly (or not) educated to understand that attacking the uniformed personnel or breaking law and order has serious consequences. Or most probably, the uniformed personnel have contributed in pushing them to the extreme by violating their human rights through arbitrary arrests and extortion of the citizens for crimes they have not committed. They are the same personnel who joined the force by giving bribe, not on merit and poorly educated to understand that they are supposed to be protectors of the citizens, and that same citizens have some basic rights against the arbitrariness of authority.

After several years of this cyclical disregard of the rule of law and corruption, the tension finally reached a boiling point it now exploded like the eruption of volcano, its spilt becoming difficult to contain. It was that volcano that erupted in Maiduguri in mid-2009, culminating to the controversial execution of Muhammad Yusuf, but more tragically that of many innocent people including infants, aged and disabled when the same Government deployed troops to besiege and bombard a community for the crimes of a minority. The criminals would have been fished out systematically and efficiently with much less causality, by an effective and well-disciplined police force or security network, be dealt with by efficient criminal judicial system; and the network infiltrated and liquidated more effectively.

Those who survived from the carnage vowed revenge. And some profiteers saw an opportunity to wreak havoc to achieve their selfish political goals. The strength and effectiveness of the government was put to the test. It was tested that it now exposed the weakness which was caused by corruption in the system to the extent that security personnel are now deserting their posts. To the extent that personnel have turned their guns against their superior commander when they discovered he has compromised their safety. Because of the same compromise, the  personnel are poorly armed and poorly fed compared to their enemies, and indirectly sending them to their slaughter.

Shamsuddeen Hussaini, a legal practitioner based in Minna, Niger state, can be reached on talk2suddeen@yahoo.com

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