“If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” – Charles Darwin
Last week Tuesday Nigerians woke up to behold the gate of their national parliament look like a scene of drug war market in Columbia or a terrorist battle ground in Syria or Afghanistan, with masked gunmen threatening to shoot whoever comes near. The gunmen had a mission, to stop staff and lawmakers from gaining access to the parliamentary building because something was cooking. The process to impeach the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu was then loading at the residence of the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Chairman, Adams Oshiohmole.
The National Assembly, precisely the Senate chamber, was slated to be the execution venue and there was the need to clear grounds for hitch free operations. But something striking happened, a 47-year-old female member of the House of Representatives from Rivers State, Hon. Boma Goodhead stole the show and proved to democracy that all hope is not lost. That there are still good heads who are ready to die for democracy to strife in the land. The dreaded gunmen yelled orders to harmless workers threatening to shoot if they do not keep off the area. “Get away here with your rubbish identity card,” they screamed to staff, legislators and even smashed journalists working tools as they claimed that they were acting on a directive from above. ‘Above’ in Nigeria sense means it came from the Presidency. We were to be told later that even the above didn’t know of it.
The whole truth about what really informed the atrocious act and who gave the order may never be made public as the chief culprit, the Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Lawal Daura, has since been fired alone with various whispers flying about on the real reason for his sack. Nigerians know as a fact that the fall guy Lawal would not have acted alone, but for his professional indiscretion and uncouthness he is now left in his own slip-up.
A huge lesion it should be for all mavens who sycophantically abuse their professional ethics either for what they get or due to greed and power drunkenness or in some cases both. Political Musing today is being devoted to idolize a unique character who was thrown up by the incident and who deserves to be called the amazon of this democracy, Hon. Boma Goodhead. What the honourable member of the House of Representatives, Goodhead, did on that fateful Tuesday was not ordinary. It was too early in the morning for anybody to allude she must have been drunk. She was just intoxicated by the instinct to defend democracy. She confronted the masked DSS men, saying: “I dare you to shoot me! “I say shoot me!!
If this was how Goodluck Jonathan used his power while in office will Buhari be President today?” Although she did not get an answer for that question, it must have unflustered the DSS operatives who would have agreed within themselves that what she said hypothetically was true. Every Nigerian except perhaps antidemocrats loved and admired her for the courage. I am definite that even the operatives on returning to their office after their illicit mission must be doffing their hood for the lady who dared them and their guns. I must also commend the restraints of the operatives who probably realised sensibly later that their services are to the state not to either the President or the ruling party.
If they had acted otherwise by now they would have been cooling off in a cell somewhere abandoned by the people who sent them. Perhaps, if it were operatives from their sister force who always claims ‘friendship’ with the people but does otherwise, they probably would have acted differently. Who is this bold fearless lady who put her life on the line for democracy? A little profile of Hon. Boma shows that she represents Asalga/Akulga federal constituency in Rivers State on the platform of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The other background of her that would fascinate everybody is that she is a biological sister to the Niger Delta warlord Asari Dokubo. I can hear you scream no wonder, struggle against oppression and injustice is in her DNA.
What she did is the kind of courage that can save this democracy from the hands of anti-democratic forces trying to overwhelm it. In this dispensation, Hon. Boma has emerged the heroine of this democracy and we expect all those award-giving organizations and institutions to list her for honour accordingly as encouragement for more of her ilk to stand up for justice, freedom and civil liberty. Hon. Boma has by that singular courage merited for herself to be a member of the legendary race of female warriors called the amazons by the ancient Greeks.
But as we continue the struggle to liberate our people from poverty and oppression, we should be worried at the growing intolerance in our society. The failures of leaders to harness our positives, but instead are putting all their energies in heralding our negatives. We should be worried to the marrow at this time that all ingredients of democracy have been violated enough to encourage the people to look out for alternative? But the question is whether there is a better alternative to democracy, the answer is no. Are we really practicing democracy? The answer also is no. So what do we do?
Carry arms against politicians, stage an uprising against the system or what? What do Nigerians do to end this vicious circle of failure in our polity?
As you drop your ear on the ground to pick what Nigerians are saying about the state of affairs in the country especially ahead of 2019, what you hear would shock you, the despair and the amount of frustration in the land. It’s no longer a concealed fact in this country that leaders take the people for granted despite the enormous power given to them by democracy to determine who becomes what in the polity? It has long been established by studies that what is inhibiting people from realizing their potentials in a democratic setting in our country are the twin evil sentiment of religion and ethnicity being selfishly painted across all the divides.
The current dearth in the delivery of democracy dividends to the populace and the unabashed level of corruption among public officers, would have been enough lead for proper class segregation in this society and which would have invariably speeded up the required uprising to define our existence. But instead, the oppressors have continued to use the sentiments of religion and tribe wrongly to manipulate the people.
No wonder Napoleon Bonaparte wrote that “Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet and is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.” And I add from Nigeria perspective that religion is what keeps bad leaders on the throne and prevents good ones from getting access to power.
This oppressive strategy against the people has been on going with successive administrations as guilty as the current one. But what stands out President Muhammadu Buhari and his ruling APC as a major accomplice to the deteriorating situation in the country today is the fact that it’s exasperating governance in the last three and half years has greatly helped to bring to the fore the idiocy of our leaders.
Perhaps more worrisome and a huge cause for concern is the growing intolerance of the government of the day to dissenting views, clear abuse of democratic principles like respect for the rule of law and legislative independence. But with resolute democrats like Hon. Boma, there is still light at the end of the tunnel. Last line If Samuel Ogundipe, a journalist with PremuimTimes, online newspaper is still being incarcerated as you read this piece, then say welcome to 1984.
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