The Creation of Nigerian Imperial Presidency, By Adeolu Ademoyo

Adeolu Ademoyo

Diaspora imposes a burden and enables a privilege – the critical evaluative privilege. The privilege is that of an intellectual and moral distance from one’s original country. This allows you to see the affairs of your country in a different manner. Call this Diaspora Gazing.

But the state of Diaspora gazing is also a political and social burden because you the Diaspora gazer are your original country’s  “passport” in your Diaspora environment.  Anywhere you go in the Diaspora you are like a local “embassy” that reminds your Diaspora environment of the moral dirt of a country.

Diaspora subjects and gazing differ especially given their level of moral and social commitment and sacrifice to their original home country before their departure. Understandably, this difference produces different moral burdens.  Some of us share this burden differently and carry it with complete equanimity.

Thus, we simply gaze on with private profound peace and critical silence. For some of us with a deep historical emotional, non-chauvinistic, non-exhibitionistic, non-opportunistic, investment in the country it is an internal injury, to witness the near moral collapse of a country that we thought once held the biggest hope for Africa.

This is why as the year comes to an end we must put on record two things that will define the fate of the country in 2014 and beyond. They are ethics and the misuse of the ethnic-the moral question and the distortion of the national question. Nigerians will be caught in between these two. The way the two are resolved or used to resolve relevant questions will create and deepen Nigeria’s bourgeoning Imperial presidency under President Jonathan as its impunity continues to constitute a threat to the security and fate of the country.

I will be succinct in isolating the issues to refresh Nigerians’ legendary short memory. It may help those who hold different opinion to self examine if they wish.

Boko Haram. The very symbol of evil in contemporary Nigeria. Any moral agent knows what you do with evil. But for political reasons Boko Haram will continue o be useful tool in the hands of Nigerian politicians on both sides of the divide. Please watch.

President Jonathan, Boko Haram and MEND October 1 2010 bombing. President Jonathan once said Boko Haram has infiltrated his government. On October 1, 2010, Nigeria’s independence celebration in Abuja was bombed. President Jonathan on record absolved MEND. On the other hand, MEND claimed responsibility. This is an “ambiguity” too close to be ignored. This “ambiguity” means that President Jonathan and Nigerian politicians use terror and violence as negotiating tools.

Dokubo-Asari. His commitment to violence and his rescue from the Republic of Benin by the Nigerian government. Dokubo-Asari put it on record that he together with his comrades will unleash terror and violence on Nigeria if Mr. Goodluck Jonathan loses the election in 2015. 

Today, we do not know the offence Dokubo-Asari  committed in Republic of Benin when he was detained and hurriedly procured by Nigerian authorities under the watch of President Jonathan. Mr. Egon of the ministry of foreign affairs of Benin Republic confirmed this to Reuters News Agency.

Mr. Egon is a live human being. He breadths. He exists and made this statement. Reuters exists. Human beings run Reuters. They breadth. They exist.  Fortunately, Reuters is not a Nigerian news media that could be accused of “ethnic” bias. The Nigerian government has stealthily kept quiet about this report but the Nigerian government owes Nigerians the obligation of public disclosure.

Some Nigerians have read ethnicity to the call that President Jonathan owes Nigerians and the world- who are concerned with increased terrorism and threat to security in Nigeria -an explanation on Mr. Egon’s claim that Nigerian government put pressure on Benin Republic to release Dokubo-Asari , a disciple of violence and terror.

On this, I wish to put myself on the spot just so that this is clear to those who wonder why this is an issue.  I believe that if today I commit a crime in the U.S. and I am detained, and if the Nigerian authority procured my release, the authority must inform and put on record explicitly the nature of my offence. And the United States government must and will also inform her own citizens the nature of my offence that (i) warrant police action and (ii) hurried procurement by Nigeria if U.S. government grants such request. The case of Umar Farouk  Abdulmutallab, the failed 2009 Christmas Day  underwear bomber, who was arrested in the U.S., is a good example.

Public disclosure  is basic, standard and straightforward in a democracy.  But this has not happened in the case of Dokubo-Asari. Such hushed act by President Jonathan  is a violation and a breach of Nigerian security. No amount of Christmas platitude for “peace” by Nigerian politicians should be allowed to  brush this threat to security away.

Sadly any call on President Jonathan and the Nigerian government  in this regard to publicly disclose what they know about Mr. Egon’s statement is tagged “ethnic”. The silence and support of some Nigerians for this high level secrecy, and the reading of ethnicity to a call for openness on this issue is an equal threat to security and part of what is promoting an  imperial presidency in the country – a recipe for the continuous wreckage of the country.

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Today, some states -Bayelsa state is on record – are sending youths to train in  a “university” established by same Dokubo-Asari in Benin Republic. Question is: what will youths learn in a “university” established by someone who has put on record his faith in the use  of violence and terror to resolve a democratic process which the outcome of voting represents? What will Nigerian youths learn in a “university” founded by a disciple of violence and terror?  In a democracy, the minimum that is required to clarify things  is called openness. Nigerian government owes the world a duty to respond to Mr. Egon’s claim on Dokubo-Asari and inform on the reason he was detained and hurriedly released.  Some Nigerians who object to this call for openness and appeal to ethnicity need to state why they think the  call for openness and public disclosure is wrong.

Hamza Al-Mustapha. The controversy that has followed the judicial release of Hamzat Al Mustapha  has followed the same pattern of ethnicization of the June 12 democratic act.  Given the deliberate attempt to ethnicize the issue, I will invite young  Nigerians to independently  search for the truth. Go to the libraries and read the newspapers of that period. Read memoirs. Balance the memoirs.  Read the sponsored  comments  and balance them with your findings in the libraries . Come to your own independent conclusions.  That is the way of knowledge.

In this regard, of relevance is the view that the PDP and the Nigerian presidency influenced the judicial release of Hamza Al-Mustapha.  Just as in the case of Dokubo-Asari where Mr. Egon gave fillip to the Nigerian government’s subterranean influence in procuring the release of Dokubo-Asari, Alhaji Dauda Birma -a PDP member and an ex-minister – has given fillip to the PDP and the presidency’s subterranean influence in the release of Al-Mustapha.

 Sadly, those who are witnessing just a moment – 2013 – in the long  history of the country have deliberately tribalised  the issue. This ethnic clannishness  will define Nigeria in 2014 and beyond. To have subterraneously influenced the release of a suspected murderer like Al-Mustapha and simultaneously tribalise the issue raises questions of impunity with an implication  for   Nigeria’s collective security.

Elbit Internet Security systems. Again  in view of the impunity that the contract has raised, those who defend this contract –regardless of its secret history – from a clannish  standpoint  has willy-nilly deepened an Imperial Presidency who, according to President Jonathan’s handlers, must never be told that he has a moral obligation of public disclosure to the people.  It is  a mystery how  the ethnic champions are comfortable with the fact that (i) while the Israeli company disclosed the contract to its own public, the Nigerian government did not and (ii) the contract figure given by the federal government differs from the figure given by Elbit on the same contract. Nigerians who respond to just a moment  on an issue for purely ethnic reason fosters an imperial presidency. It is unethical.

The sad thing is that these ethnic champions know that the Israeli state – the country of the company – or any self respecting state that respects her own people will never behave this way to their  own citizens. How the defenders of the Nigerian presidency on this issue think that Nigerians deserve this contempt is a mystery to me. It perplexes me.

Corruption. There is no single case of corruption today whose  defense is not ethnicised.  But the  case of Mrs. Stella Oduah, the aviation minister  is clear, crispy and sufficient. I take this just as a  trope of explanation.  Granted that Mrs. Stella Oduah is innocent, how come we have  the presentation of conflicting chassis numbers of the armoured cars by Mrs. Oduah’s handlers in their defence of her innocence? That the Nigerian state and Mrs. Odua’s defenders will overlook such major contradiction in Mrs. Oduah’s case shows that the Nigerian state under President Jonathan’s watch  will  reconcile itself with corruption now and for some time.

Epilogue:  The Bowl of Rice as a  Nigerian Voter.

Our epilogue for the year is the indication of the complete moral failure of the Nigerian state. The INEC, according to a news report on the site of the online newspaper, Sahara Reporters, allegedly registered a bowl of rice as a voter  in the last governorship election in Anambra state. The alleged voter registration number of the curiously animate bowl of rice are –Number-90F5b17871295274448. The occupation of the bowl of rice is Civil Servant. The gender of the  voter bowl of rice is male. And the bowl of rice is thirty-seven years old.

I call on INEC to please investigate this. This is a serious ethical issue. That we registered a bowl of rice as a voter in Nigeria is a tragedy of the Nigerian state. It is even sadder and more tragic that any critical examination of this dirty and  unethical symbol  of the Nigerian state is resisted, and ethnicity is evoked. It is a moral loss of the capacity for rational discourse. This indicates that the failure of the Nigerian state is a moral one. And this is why it is deep, and its redemption is open-ended.

As we round off the old year and begin the New Year, I wish Nigerians profound peace as we beckon onto the New Year with peaceful foreboding.

Adeolu Ademoyo (aaa54@cornell.edu) is of Africana Studies And Research Center, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.



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