Just as I was about crossing the road, I was accosted by a stern, mean looking man clad in an all-black attire and carrying a horrifying gun. I began wondering what I could possibly have on me that would convince this austere individual to waste his money, time, and even risk his life to rob me. While I was still lost in my thoughts the man spoke up, “come! u no dey see? Abi u don blind? Your sense no tell you say this road dey blocked”? It was then I realized he was just a security agent and I relaxed my nerves. But then I said- “oga no vex o, wetin be the reason”? he replied “you no know say local government oga wan pass”?. I was shocked. I said to myself that if this road was blocked just because one corrupt chairman was passing by, then Nigeria is gone. Such is the prodigious amount of power our leaders have amassed in this country.
It is time and again said that the problem of this country is corruption, but I say it is rooted in the awe-inspiring amount of power our public leaders wield. I may not be old enough to know how Nigeria was governed pre-1999, but certainly I have witnessed enough since 1999 to conclude that our problem is hinged ninety percent on the goliath-sized power our leaders, most especially, the president and governors possess. During Obasanjo’s administration, it was an open secret as to the manner in which he used all the agencies of government to brandish terror, maim, molest and intimidate all opposition and all those who dared to differ publically from his own political ideals. ‘Baba’ did this expertly. He used EFCC, the Nigerian police, military and all other necessary government agencies to exercise his political vendetta. Governors and some other people who did not share the same views as him at the time were brazenly abused and as sickening as it was, nobody could do a thing. The apex of this abuse of power was when ‘baba’ practically imposed an extremely unhealthy man on Nigeria as the president as ‘punishment’ for his failed third term bid.
Recently, the exasperating excesses and undue powers of a president can be seen in the disqueiting tussle between the president and the incumbent governor of Rivers state- Mr. Rotimi Amaechi. Their misunderstanding dates back a few years but took a fresh twist lately when the president started using NCAA and FAAN indirectly to investigate a plane owned by the governor. These agencies alleged that the plane operated without a license; a fact they were privy to all these years but refused to act on till the president needed to fight an ‘enemy’. In addition, the president, once again working behind the scenes succeeded in biasing his party leaders against the aforementioned governor. This subsequently led to the recent suspension dished out to the governor and the in-house fighting within the previously unified governor’s forum.
GEJ . . . flexing his excess political muscle
Amaechi shocked by power tussle
I strongly aver that those clamoring for and pioneering the fight against corruption as a way to normalize the nation should also consider and explore all available avenues to curtail the excesses of the power our public office holders so autocratically wield. What is one to expect when a president single handedly chooses the INEC chairman? It is difficult to imagine this president ever losing any election he contests or has a vested interest in. What do you expect when a president chooses the CBN governor without any checks from other arms of government? Of course, this president will control the economy alone. What can be expected when the head of all anti-graft and law enforcement agencies are selected on the sole whim of the president? Surely, they will definitely dance to his tune and aid in controlling the society the way their oga wants. The astonishingly copious powers of our leaders must be curtailed else the extremely deleterious effects it is currently having on Nigeria and its people will continue.
By Steve Arum . . . a concerned Nigerian
Follow him on Twitter @sirbohr