A presidential adviser (Ahmed Gulak) and his dangerous polemics, By Garba Shehu

Garba Shehu

Mr. Ahmed Gulak, the Political Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, can be a very dangerous man as is evident from some of his pronouncements.

In a recently published interview he is yet to retract, he reminded Nigerians that our democracy is a hand-out by the kind grace of the President who he said we are lucky to have. This President, he thundered, “has the power of life and death” but that because he is a good man, he uses only 40 percent of those powers. In effect, Gulak wants Nigerians to be thankful and loyal to the President for his kindness in not using his full powers (to crush all of us) otherwise, as he said, he would have deployed those enormous powers to do evil.

If Dr. Jonathan is surrounded by dangerous people like this one, they no doubt would make him feel like a leader with absolute sovereignty; one who is entitled to make rules for the conduct of human life and therefore one who is entitled to unreserved obedience. Such leader would deserve our prayers because he is in urgent need of deliverance. He must be rescued from the power group around him. A leader who is persuaded, as Mr. Gulak is trying to do, that he has unlimited authority to command the country is as much a danger to himself as he is to the nation. This is the stuff with which absolute dictators are made of. Such leaders demand unreserved loyalty failing which they label any resistance or opposition individuals as rebels and traitors.

Mr. Gulak may not have paid attention to the Holy Bible or the Holy Qur’an (Baqrah: 258) where a detailed narrative of the encounter between God’s Prophet Abraham and the powerful ruler of his kingdom, Nimrod, was given. “Who is your Lord?” Abraham was asked. “My Lord is He who gives life and causes death,” Abraham told Nimrod.

Nimrod: “I give life and I cause death.”

To prove his point, Nimrod caused two condemned prisoners to be brought to his court. He ordered that one be let go and the other, executed and this was done. He turned to Abraham and said to him that “I have just given life and caused death. What else can your God do that I can’t?” Abraham was not given to quick temper. God’s gift to him was logic. He didn’t get angry or lose his temper at his affront. He then said to Nimrod “Allah brings the sun from the east; just bring it from the west.” At this point, Nimrod was confounded. He lost the debate.

Gulak’s dangerous polemic is almost as dangerous as this one.. It is an insult to the many Nigerians who fought and defeated our varying types of dictatorship, pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial. Many has paid the supreme price doing this. We can’t forget those years of dictatorship that bled the nation.Any advocacy for dictatorship, benevolent or otherwise, at this time is a slap on the face of all Nigerians who fought for, and nurtured democracy as a form of government and this, not withstanding its inherent imperfections.

And for the record of it, Nigeria does have a constitution and the fact of it being there is itself a limit on the powers of whoever is the president. Why do we have a constitution if the ruling group does not believe that there is a limit on the powers of the President to do as he wishes?

The constitution defines the powers and tenure of the president. It doesn’t say that his powers are absolute. Where the constitution prescribes death penalty for instance, it confers on the president or governor the prerogative of mercy but sets a limit to this because this power is to be exercised in consultation with the Advisory Committee on prerogative of mercy.

Similarly, the president is the head of the army as commander-in-chief. But to deploy soldiers to war, the constitution requires that he seeks the approval of the Senate. The president is required by the constitution to operate under the law. Where he fails to abide by this, it sets guidelines on how such leaders can be removed from office through impeachment. As a politician with a following and a large family to feed, Mr. Gulak no doubt needs money to put food on the table. It becomes dangerous however when he must become a scam master and massage the ego of the President to do this.

It is incumbent for the President to denounce Gulak’s dangerous statements and distance himself from them for his own as well as his government’s credibility. Otherwise all this talk about recasting the ruling party and the government in a new mould by ending the country’s rowdy political culture will come to nothing.


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