The Totalitarian Tendencies of My President By Olu W. Onemola

When my President remains silent, when he is required to speak, it tells me that he is complicit in the actions that I wished for him to condemn. For he is my President, my chief executive, the elected “role model” of my nation, and because of this, I expect him to lead my countrymen and I by example.

 Sadly, for the most part, this is not always the case.

For example, for my President to remain silent, and not denounce in the strongest terms possible, the blatant disregard for the rule of law recently exhibited by the Police Command in Rivers State (when they denied Governor Amaechi and his visiting dignitaries access to Government House, Port Harcourt) forces me – an everyday Nigerian – to wonder what constitutional rights I still have as my country descends gradually into a democratically-veiled tyranny.

The totalitarian tendencies of this administration are not new, but with the race for 2015 underway, the power-grab game of “kneel or be conquered at all costs” has led to the brazen neglect of the rule of law by my President and his cronies.

Because of this lawlessness, the political party system in my country is now in shambles – as non-elected individuals declare themselves as the de facto executives of my President’s party: the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

 The new faction calls itself the “New PDP”, and although its cast of characters includes some of my favorite political figures, I often grapple with the notion of whether or not to condemn the formation of the ‘New PDP’ – solely because its existence circumvents the democratic process. But after taking the events of the past year into consideration, I tell myself that my President (by proxy) started this “wahala”. By this, I mean that my President did it first.

 He did it first on a smaller scale in Rivers State – when he basically sidestepped the democratic process to install a “loyal” individual as chairperson of the state chapter of his party to further his 2015 ambitions. Because of the aforementioned, each time I ask myself whether the G7 governors and their allies are undemocratic in setting up a parallel party system within the PDP, I rest easy, for I tell myself that the G7 governors are only playing my President’s game by his own previously established rules. My only problem with all of this is that this time, my entire country is both the chessboard and the prize, but elephants do not play chess – and we all know that African saying about what happens when elephants fight.

As a consequence of all that is happening in Nigeria today, I worry for the everyday Nigerian – most especially, the young people. What are we being taught about democracy, when our leaders seem to only adhere to its principles when it aligns with their interests? What legacy will this current generation of leaders leave behind, when instead of ideological divides heating up the polity, we have insatiable politicians fighting solely for the acquisition of power.

I also fear because we have all seen this story play out before. When a former president of ours basically put the priority of administering the nation on autopilot to seek out a third term. In the end, when this former president did not get what he wanted – we all remember what happened – he shoved a man that was incapable of leading us (because of his health) upon us. And with that man’s passing, we ended up with my dear and current President.

As I wrap this up, I ask myself the following, and you should ask it too, because just as it affects me, if you are  a Nigerian, it will affect you too. With the impunity with which the chase for 2015’s presidential ticket is being conducted, if my President – our President – gets his wish and is returned to lead us, when the dust settles what does this mean for us? More of the same? More of the same inaction, corruption, and cronyism? Or will things change for the better when my President finally gets what he wants?

On the flip side, what will it mean for us if our President does not get what he wants? If such a time will ever come, he would be a man with nothing to lose – and when a man with nothing to lose, has nothing to lose, we must be wary of such a man.

Finally, in an effort not to be biased, we must not lay all the blame of the impunity game solely at the president’s feet – for there are other actors out there in his corner perpetuating travesties on his behalf, but not necessarily with his consent. But, going back to my initial train of thought if this is truly the case: if my president remains silent, when he is required to speak, it really means that he is complicit in his silence.

Till next time, I am @OluWOnemola. Let’s continue the conversation on Twitter.

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In the beginning...Let there be Light

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