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The People Vs The President: Who Owns The Sovereignty?

Published 2006

Greetings!

I truly hope that my passion is not completely running away with me on this matter of the sovereignty of Nigeria. My reaction is always spontaneous when anybody challenges our constitutional declaration that sovereignty belongs to “The People.” A recent pronouncement by President Obasanjo seemed to do just that. If I heard him right, then our president virtually ordered our National Assembly to merge with his executive branch, all in the name of party loyalty. Obasanjo decreed that the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) will no longer tolerate “acts of insubordination” by the lawmakers. He admonished them because they refused to endorse his anti-people moves.

          Apparently, our lawmakers have finally begun to protect the sovereignty that “We The People” gave them in trust. They have decided to wrench our sovereignty back from Mr. President, to whom they had relinquished it for the past eight years. The reasons for their sudden awakening are a matter for another piece. What does matter now is that they finally seem to be getting around to it, and, Mr. President ain’t liking it one bit!

          We have all gotten used to Mr. President’s dogged nature, and we can hardly describe his recent pronouncement as a surprise. He has done everything humanly possible to run the country like his personal company, and to a large extent, he has succeeded. In the first six years or so we had virtually no functional National Assembly because Mr. President held our so-called representatives completely under his control. His bag of tricks for that control was widely perceived to contain tools such as bribery, blackmail and sheer intimidation.

          It is no wonder then, that our dear President finds it very difficult to accept the new dawn ushered in by the present, seemingly reformed National Assembly that refuses to endorse his anti-people, frequently unconstitutional agenda. He finds it difficult to accept that Nigeria is too large a country, with too many intelligent people, to continue indefinitely with dictatorship. He also refuses to accept the apparent fact that the Nigerian Judiciary has recently decided to become independent of his executive branch, frequently passing judgment against many of his dictatorial moves. But like the true, courageous, adamant military officer that he is, Mr. President simply refuses to be “conquered.”

          It is high time that somebody effectively explained to baba the differences between military dictatorship and civilian democracy! Somebody should please tutor him on the concept of separation of power between the three branches of federal government in a democratic setting. He needs to get a grip of the fact that our National Assembly and the Court are not among the departments of PDP, and definitely not extensions of his executive branch of government. He needs to understand that those are purely independent bodies meant to protect the people of this land, and he cannot order them around. He really needs to learn that those bodies are there to check his excesses, and not to endorse them. Somebody needs to inform Mr. President that, according to our constitution, the sovereignty of this country belongs to “The People,” and not Mr. President or his party. He has to learn that, through election, we give that sovereignty to the National Assembly to hold in trust for us, and they swear an oath to do what “We The People” want, and not what PDP wants.

          The Court has tried quite impressively in recent times to teach baba this lesson, obviously to no avail. One clear instance was the Atiku Vs Obasanjo/ PDP case, where the court affirmed that the Vice President owes allegiance to the people, and not Obasanjo and his PDP. In essence, the court affirmed that every public officer owes allegiance to the people, and not his or her party. Indeed, Mr. President himself owes allegiance to the people. But the man is a tough military General that refuses to accept defeat. Like a true General, his battle to retain the control of our sovereignty is “A Do Or Die Affair”, as he once declared to us himself.

          Beside the issue of sovereignty, I do have another important reason for kicking against baba’s recent pronouncement—he is a self-confessed one-man-army! This trait has a great inherent disadvantage. It means that our country is run purely by baba alone. The party has nothing to do with it. I mean, he has severally said it himself that he does not have to listen to anybody’s advice. The man seriously believes that he is the Messiah that Nigeria has always needed. He believes that he has the monopoly of wisdom, and we all know that no man born of a woman is that good.

          Baba would do much better to listen to the heartbeat of his people, and then try to accommodate some of their sentiments. Unfortunately for us, there is no person in PDP with enough balls to challenge his adamant views and tell him the truth. You and I have no need to wonder why this is so; or, do we? It would be an insult to even imply that there are no intelligent, people-oriented individuals with discerning minds in PDP to prevail on baba to listen to the feelings of his people. I don’t really live in Nigeria, but from what I have gathered, heavy-duty bright brains do abound in the party. The problem is that there is a huge shortfall of integrity among the PDP leaders, and, I will tell you one of the reasons, pronto!

          Virtually everybody in PDP who is ranked enough to have a voice, has ugly skeletons in his doggone closet, and baba is a clever blackmailer. They have all compromised their integrity in one way, or the other. None can take a stand against baba without the fear of negative repercussions for one dirty deal or the other. Sure, a few of them, such as Barnabas Gemade and Audu Ogheh eventually called baba’s bluff and tore away from his grip, apparently because they have embarrassing dozier on him, too. But, dozier or no dozier, counter-blackmail or no counter-blackmail, the last man standing in any PDP duel is always baba. Any challenger not only has to go down, but also out. Baba Obasabjo is PDP, and PDP is baba, period!

          I must affirm that I love and respect baba a great deal for three uncommon attributes— forthrightness, courage, and humor. Take forthrightness for instance. Baba is so humorously honest, that he courageously confesses all his negative attributes to us, regularly. People choose to describe his statements variously as unguarded and uncouth, but the man is simply being a very honest man. He deserves some credit for it. You may call it a strange form of forthrightness, but it is forthrightness all the same. For instance, he tells you in your face that he would send EFCC after you unless you do his bidding. You don’t believe me? Then ask candidate Mimiko.

          Baba, of course, has no business letting criminals go free at one point, just so that he can use it to blackmail them latter. On the other hand, speaking in the context of the present argument, we cannot rightly take sides with a criminal who is being blackmailed by baba. I would take baba’s side on this one, that’s if I have to make a choice. Remember, blackmail cannot be executed if the prospective victim is innocent. Anybody that baba can blackmail is a criminal, period! And the person does not have my sympathy.

          Anyway, let’s not lose sight of the point that I intend to emphasize here. The nature of the power structure of PDP is undemocratic. Hence, leaving Nigeria in the hands of the party without very effective, totally independent, people-oriented National Assembly, is terrible for Nigeria. It is akin to giving baba the power to run this country all alone, and dictatorially. The rest of us can bark at baba all we want, but we cannot bite him without the support of the National Assembly and the Court.

          I can admit that baba is good in many things, but, like every mortal being, he can never be good in everything. We do need variety of ideas to develop this country. We The People must force our representatives to live up to their oath of office. Unlike the members of PDP, our lawmakers are elected by us, with a constitutional mandate to guard and protect our sovereignty. Sure enough, a legitimate form of loyalty to one’s party must exist, but never at the expense of the people’s wishes and needs. The lawmakers are to do our will and protect us from the excesses of the presidency. That is what the constitution says. And that is what we pay them all those huge monies to do for us. We do not pay them to agree with Mr. President to kill us all off if he so desires, all in the name of party loyalty. Baba must understand that party loyalty has limits. Every public officer’s ultimate loyalty is to our constitution. The Judiciary has affirmed it…No Bullshitting!

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