Suddenly What Happened in 1966 is Happening Again

By Jude Atupulazi

When the military struck for the first time in Nigeria in January 1966, they gave their reason for intervening as the unacceptable situation in the country as at the time. Chief among those problems were large scale corruption by the politicians of the day, chaotic politicking and violence. That military intervention marked the beginning of that phenomenon which has contrived to place the country where she is today.

That was 52 years ago. After such a long time, the expectation, naturally, was that things would get better; but have they? Indeed, today, if anything, things have gotten far worse. Corruption has been taken to ridiculous heights. The polity is as chaotic as ever and wanton killing of innocent Nigerians is going on unchecked. Worse still, the country has been badly polarised along ethnic and religious lines. Adamu has suddenly realised how very different he is to Okoye and the imam now sees the pastor as a mortal enemy.

Security agents are now so biased that they openly take sides and dare the rest of us to do our worst as they execute orders from ”above”. That was what we all saw last Tuesday in the National Assembly when officials of the Directorate of State Security, DSS, stormed the national assembly and stopped senators loyal to the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, from going into the red chamber.

When they were asked why they were stopping them, the DSS, some of who wore masks, said they were acting on orders from above. Then, for the first time in the life of the present Federal Government, the presidency, or better put, the Acting Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, or acted the way he should and as he and the president ought to have been doing all this while, by sacking the Director General of the DSS.

Again when the military took over in January 1966, people were not being killed. It was only after the counter coup of July that the pogrom started. But today, people are being slaughtered on a large scale, as if the country were at war. The worst aspect is that only a particular group of people are targeted. These people are either Christians or ethnic minorities. Their deaths are treated as though they don’t matter and even though the Federal Government knows the killers and the reasons for the killings, the FG has been conveniently dismissing them as results of herdsmen’s/farmers’ clashes; an interpretation that is at once spurious and insulting.

The spewers of such trash probably see the rest of us as fools who can be told anything and we believe. They forget that everyone knows that the herdsmen are sacred cows who herd even more sacred cows. Indeed, the fear of cows has become the beginning of wisdom in the country as recent experiences have shown.

There is also the issue of witch-hunting of members of the opposition or those who criticize the government. Buhari’s attack dogs are always let loose against such people, especially once they leave the APC.

The case of the Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, is very recent. After many of his people had been killed by the herdsmen, with the Federal Government doing virtually nothing, the governor hearkened to the voice of his people and crossed over to PDP. Then, all of a sudden, the All Progressives Congress, APC, remembered that the governor should tell the world what he does with his security vote.

In asking for that, they forgot that it was not only the Benue governor that received security votes but all the other governors, including the APC governors and also the president. Of course, the Benue governor asked them to also demand same from the president.

That was the same way they wanted to arrest the senate president, Olusola Saraki, over alleged involvement in the Offa Bank Robbery, immediately Saraki had refused to remain in APC. They forgot that everyone knew when they were begging him to remain in APC and that it was clear that had he remained, nothing like any bank robbery allegation would have surfaced.

This was after the mace at the senate was stolen in the full glare of the security apparatus.
The Federal Government of Buhari is also known to hold courts in contempt. Many cases abound where officials of the Federal Government had blatantly refused to obey court summons. The Inspector General of Police, has also refused to obey the invitation by the senate on many occasions. It is now as if only particular people are supposed to obey the court and obey the summons by the national assembly.

The Buhari Government has also been encouraging impunity and lawlessness. The other day, a few members of the Benue State House of Assembly attempted to impeach the governor, despite knowing that they could not do it constitutionally because of their inferior number. Of course they had police protection.

Now, isn’t it obvious that some people somewhere are actively trying to truncate our democracy? Were these not the same things that caused the military to take over for the first time 52 long years ago? Haven’t we learned from history?

This is the reason some people are beginning to fear that another military intervention may not be far off. The only thing that gives hope, however, is that military coups are no longer fashionable.

But then, it is suspected that some people may instigate a coup and install their lackey at the helm after which a kangaroo election will be organised to produce whoever they favour as president. This way, they will avoid the embarrassment of losing an election.
In the Nigeria of today, nothing can be dismissed outright as strange things continue to happen.

It is increasingly becoming difficult to distinguish between democracy and military rule in Nigeria today. It will be easier now to call Nigeria a police state. May God help us.

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