Last Tuesday morning, Nigerians woke up to be confronted with what was apparently an attempt to scuttle the electoral process and subvert the country’s democracy.
In a gestapo-like manner, masked operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) and their police collaborators, invaded the National Assembly Complex in Abuja, desecrated its sanctity, in a boldface attempt to prevent some Senators and members of the House of Representatives, including journalists from performing their constitutional duties.
Apparently acting a script from ‘the power above’, the DSS operatives barricaded the NASS Complex and barred some lawmakers, particularly those of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from accessing their offices and even threatened to shoot them, including journalists covering the Parliament.
More worrisome is the fact that the NASS invasion was part of a grand plot by some Senators elected on the platform of the APC to effect leadership change in the Senate, without recourse to laid down rules, as provided in the Constitution.
Indeed, the scene that played out at the National Assembly that day, is a throw-back to the inglorious days of full military rule, where dissent is not tolerated and freedom of association and other fundamental human rights are willfully and carelessly violated
Not once have anti-democratic elements and forces held the nation hostage, as it were, against the spirit of the country’s Constitution, and carried out, with a sense of ignominy, such a brazen and despicable action and got away with it since the present All Progressives Congress (APC) – led Federal Government under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari.
From Ekiti, Benue, Plateau, Taraba, Kogi to Akwa Ibom, Kwara and Zamfara States, the stories have been the same. Members of the opposition have been at the receiving end. They are being haunted down and persecuted; pointing to the fact that under President Buhari, the country is rapidly descending into full-blown dictatorship, with scant regard for the separation of powers and the rule of law.
It was no doubt, an attempt by the Buhari administration to further asphyxiate the legislature and make it pander to its whims and caprices, apparently forgetting that the essence of constitutional government is to ensure that the powers of the state are kept in check so that personal liberty would not be infringed upon. Undoubtedly, the legislature is the unmistable symbol of democracy.
Though the Presidency, in an uncharacteristically swift response, sacked the former Director General of the DSS, Lawan Daura, many Nigerians still believe that the move is a face-saving measure to insulate the present Federal Government from complicity.
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, while sacking Daura described the unauthorised take over of the National Assembly Complex “as a gross violation of constitutional order, rule of law and all acceptable notions of law and order”.
For the past three weeks, the country has been awash with reports of misuse and outright abuse of power.
The Tide recalls that on July 24, 2018, security operatives displayed the same level of rascality when 14 Senators and 37 House of Representatives members defected from the ruling APC to other political parties, particularly the PDP. The police and officers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had invaded the Abuja homes of the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki and his Deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and prevented them from leaving their homes.
Events followed one another in quick successions since then. The Senate President, Governors Samuel Ortom of Benue, Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara and Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto States, inadvertently announced their defection from the APC to the PDP.
To show that this did not go down well with the APC and the Federal authorities, it did not take long before Nigerians were treated to another macabre dance in Benue State where the police locked down the State House of Assembly and aided eight minority lawmakers, in an assembly of 30 members, to launch impeachment proceedings against Governor Ortom.
The EFCC has since then bared its fangs, as it is now probing the governor’s spending of security vote and has gone ahead to freeze the accounts of the Benue State Government including those of Akwa Ibom State, an action that clearly lends credence to the fact that the APC-led Federal Government is hell bent on caging members of the opposition.
That the DSS operatives laid siege on the National Assembly Complex for over nine hours, locking out lawmakers and other NASS members of staff from their chambers and offices, was, infact, the height of impunity.
The Tide joins other well-meaning Nigerians including members of the international community to condemn, in strong terms, the actions of our security operatives. We think that the invasion of the NASS Complex is not only reckless, unconscionable and unacceptable, but, also portends grave danger to the country’s democracy.
The isolated cases of naked abuse of power as witnessed in the country today are themselves disturbing and ominous. We make bold to state that President Buhari bears the responsibility and blame for this avoidable and needless recourse to fascism, aimed at furthering some personal political interests.
We think that the earlier he comes out clean of this weighty accusation, by halting the flagrant display of these dictatorial tendencies forthwith, the better for our democracy.
Undoubtedly, what is currently playing out in the country does not bode well for her political stability and economic prosperity. Right now, the country is in dire need of foreign direct investments, and only actions that portray her to the outside world as an embodiment of the rule of law can suffice and ultimately bolster the confidence of investors.
It, therefore, behoves the APC-led Federal Government to drop every shreds of lawlessness and impunity noticeable in the polity and cultivate and inculcate the politics of tolerance and inclusiveness, which are the fundamental principles of democracy.
Tackling Insecurity In Kenpoly
Perturbed by the activities of criminals and hoodlums in their campus and its environs, students of Kenule Beeson Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic (Kenpoly), Bori, in Rivers State, are bemoaning heightened insecurity. Many students are roundly raped while robbery attacks are on the increase.
There is no doubt that the growing level of insecurity in Bori has spilt over to the polytechnic. Robbery incidents are comfortably executed and almost on a daily basis, students are heard crying helplessly in their hostels. Female students are the worse for it as they are molested and robbed, while their male counterparts are brutally beaten.
According to reports, the attackers mainly target students living off-campus. The victims have been left to their fate as repeated entreaties and calls to the police in Bori to come to their rescue had fallen on deaf ears. However, the police had defended their non-response by claiming that they were not informed about the development.
Their defence notwithstanding, it is disappointing that there is scant security presence at the school. The only security outfit seen on the ground is the anti-cultism squad which entirely has very few men amounting to an acute shortage of manpower on their part.
The happenstance indicates that life is no longer comfortable and safe for the polytechnic community given the incessant or unabating criminal activities. Apart from the incidents of robbery and rape, cult attacks and maimings have become the order of the day. Sadly, the pathetic phenomena have been ascribed to some unscrupulous students of the school in collaboration with a few natives.
Unfortunately, the Khana Local Government Area Chairman, whose primary duty is to protect lives and property in the area has failed to demonstrate sufficient concern about the obvious threat to students of the polytechnic. According to sources at the school, several correspondences made to him on the matter had received no response.
We are worried by this impression being created by the chairman, and call for pragmatic approach by the chief security officer of the local government to combat crime and criminality in the institution, albeit, the area. We urge him to work with all relevant security agencies to bring the situation under control.
The entire scenario playing out at Kenpoly is appalling and shameful. Therefore, we call on the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Mustapha Dandaura, to urgently do the needful. The police should be held accountable if the trend continues and more students are maimed or killed. Despite the denials by the force, the truth is that the Bori police division on its part has remained dormant in the equation of providing adequate security as they are of little or no assistance to the students’ community in their ordeal.
As the trend escalates, the school authorities have to beef up security around the school and the off-campus hostels. They can do this by taking measures such as drafting military and police officers to vulnerable points around the school to curb the menace. This is where the expertise and professionalism of operators of ‘Operation Sting’ come in handy.
Furthermore, the school authorities should provide its security unit with new security equipment such as scanners, analyzers, bomb detectors, and CCTV cameras to assist the security personnel in achieving efficient and effective operations. The authorities have to realise that not only students are at the receiving end of this menace, lecturers and non-lecturers alike had had a fair share of the heinous attacks by these criminals.
Also, we advise all students of the institution to be wary and security-conscious always and monitor the movements of their fellow students because the proliferation of these criminal and robbery incidents is perpetrated by some students within the institution. Similarly, the security situation at Kenpoly underscores the need for governing authorities of higher institutions in the State to build additional hostels to reduce the number of off-campus students.
The constant attacks on Kenule Polytechnic have left an impression of a general state of insecurity, not only in Khana LGA, but the entire State. That is why we think that the Rivers State Government should not let this matter lie low, but should, where necessary, employ similar drastic measures applied in the Rivers State University (RSU) cult clash saga to restore normalcy in the polytechnic.
To this end, The Tide welcomes the proposed meeting of the State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike with heads of all state-owned tertiary institutions, including Vice Chancellors, Rectors as well as Provosts and Chairmen of Governing Councils to be held today. We believe that such a meeting will properly convey the resolve of the governor to end the various security challenges confronting these institutions while charting a path towards achieving educational excellence in the State.
It is also important to note that not all students of the polytechnic whose lives are threatened are indigenes of the State; many of them hail from different parts of the country. Therefore, if the dangerous trend does not cease, a wrong signal may be sent out to the effect that Rivers State is unsafe.
Rivers: Our State, Our Responsibility
For those whose stock-in-trade is to debrand and de-market Rivers State for egocentric considerations and other selfish reasons, the recent campaign powered by the State Ministry of Information and Communications christened: “#Our StateOur Responsibility” may well serve as food for thought. It is, indeed, a lesson for every Rivers man and woman worth their onions.
As instructive as the campaign may be, the fact remains that despite the political and socio-cultural differences of our people, there can be no better place or State where we, particularly those of us living and doing business in the state, can proudly call our own than Rivers State, as envisioned by our founding fathers.
It is against this backdrop that The Tide is particularly appreciative of the bold initiative of the ministry for powering the campaign to, among others, correct the erroneous impression by the infinitesimal minority portraying the State in negative light.
While elucidating on the motivation for the campaign, the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Paulinus Nsirim, affirmed that to achieve the desired results, all stakeholders should collaborate in order to sustain what Rivers State proudly symbolises since its creation in May, 1967, especially in the over four years of Governor Nyesom Wike’s stewardship.
It is, indeed, particularly heart-warming that the ministry acknowledges the pivotal role of the media as agenda setters and public opinion moulders whose practitioners could take the campaign to all strata of the society, and for this reason, kick-started the advocacy with the media.
Interestingly, too, the ministry recognises the importance of other stakeholders including traditional rulers, market women, petty traders, the political class, among other stakeholder groups in the advocacy which, according to the ministry’s arrow-head, would be taken in phases to make it all-encompassing and comprehensive.
No doubt, Rivers brand is one in a million which no matter how much the insignificant minority may strive to de-market, will continue to remain a factor in the historical, economic and socio-cultural relevance of the Nigerian State.
As Nigeria’s hydrocarbon hub, richly endowed with oil and gas resources, the State’s potentialities in agriculture and tourism cannot be wished away, no matter how much the detractors try. Moreover, the hospitable nature of the typical Rivers person is exemplary and second to none in the country. These facts are incontrovertible.
Perhaps, that is why most visitors feel much at home whenever they find themselves in Rivers soil. Truly, Rivers State is a microcosm of Nigeria, where virtually people from every tribe or ethnic group find comfort or solace.
Thus, the campaign must be holistic and should embrace all aspects of our life as a people with common destiny. So, we have to key into the vision of the Wike’s administration of making the state an investors’ haven and a tourism destination.
We, therefore, implore enemies of the State to desist from their negative narratives by looking beyond current political differences, as such destructive tendencies will be detrimental to the same people they are meant to protect. No doubt, such vices disparage the State and the consequences are grave and unimaginable.
It is our appeal therefore, that rather than paint the State black, we must collectively promote the potentials and opportunities that abound in the State and drive the milestones recorded by the Wike-led administration.
It is on record that the State has successfully hosted over 20 local, national and international events cutting across sports, media, law, tourism, art, politics, real estate, banking, science and technology, education, religion, among others, without any security breach or untoward incidents recorded. All these events attracted national and international personalities and attest to the fact that the State is safe and secure.
Rivers State is rated the second strongest economy in Nigeria after Lagos and no matter how much enemies of the State try to de-market it, the State will continue to grow from strength to strength, especially with a visionary leader like Nyesom Wike on the driver’s seat.
To deride the State which is naturally and humanly blessed is simply ridiculous and the meanest display of unpatriotism, contempt of the people and ingratitude to the State. Such detractors of Rivers State and her people have the moral responsibility and obligation to respect the feelings and aspirations of her people.
Our elders and well-meaning individuals have a major stake in the Rivers project and, therefore, must always strive to call such vicious critics to order in the interest and well-being of all.
This is our charge.
Eid-El-Kabir: Call For Sacrifice
Yesterday, Muslims all over the world celebrated Eid al-Adha otherwise known as the Feast of Sacrifice. It is one of the two most important celebrations in the Muslim calendar after the Eid al-Fitri which marks the end of Muslim fasting (Ramadan).
Eid al-Adha is observed by Muslims to commemorate the trial faced by Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and his willingness to sacrifice his beloved son, Ishmael, as an act of obedience to God.
God, however, bestowed His mercies on Ibrahim by giving him a lamb to sacrifice in the stead of his son, hence, the beginning of making sheep as a sacrifice to God by Muslims during the Eid al-Adha festival which always falls on the 10th day of the Lunar month of Dhul al-Hijjah.
The day also marks the height of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia by Muslims.
In Nigeria, a two-day public holiday is usually declared by the Federal Government to mark the celebration. This year, today and tomorrow have been declared public holidays to enable Muslims commemorate the Eid al-Adha festival.
As The Tide celebrates with Muslims all over the world, we urge Nigerians, irrespective of religion and ethnic background, to emulate the exemplary qualities shown by Prophet Ibrahim. Some of these qualities include the fear of God, total obedience to the will of God, imperative of keeping promises and the need to make personal sacrifice for the common good of humanity.
Prophet Ibrahim, fondly called the ‘father of faith’ was, indeed, a good model to humanity. His unmatched example signifies common underlying constructs namely; fear of God, honesty, sincerity, compliance, obedience and total submission to the will of God. He was also said to be extremely generous.
Sadly, all these elements appear to be diminishing with humanity in every sphere of life. This is evident in the proliferation of hedonism and individualism which eventually contribute to moral decadence, social disorder, corrupt practices, high level of intolerance, greed, selfishness, failure to keep simple promises and rising cases of bloodletting across the world.
We, therefore, encourage not just Muslims alone but all Nigerians to use the occasion of the Muslim festival to emulate the good examples of Prophet Ibrahim by cultivating the fear of God, and the habit of sacrifice, sincerity and keeping of promises.
Also in line with the significance of the Eid al-Adha is the need for Nigerian leaders to extend helping hands to the needy, sympathise with the grieved and keep promises made to the electorate.
We believe that if all mankind can internalise the philosophy behind Ibrahim’s story, the high level of corrupt practices, poverty, broken promises, kidnapping and bloodletting that pervade most parts of the world including Nigeria would reduce in the society.
Suffice to say also that there is a great lesson to learn from the trial faced by Prophet Ibrahim. His trial by God is a clear testimony to the fact that human life is full of trials and tribulations, and could take any form.
The way and manner we react and respond to each test, however, demonstrates our measure of consciousness of God and our faithfulness to Him. It is thus myopic for anybody to resort to unholy actions at every little test, frustration or disappointment.
Again, Eid al-Adha is also a harvest day. All the good works done in the service of God are rewarded and all believers reap the fruits of their good deeds as God grants His mercy and blessings abundantly without measure.
Above all, the replacement of Ibrahim’s beloved son with a lamb as the sacrificial animal is instructive. It clearly and unambiguously indicates the total forbidding of shedding of innocent blood.
We pray that with the moral lessons embedded in the philosophy behind the celebration of the Eid al-Adha, the unnecessary bloodletting by Boko Haram and herdsmen, and kidnapping of innocent Nigerians by hoodlums would stop in Nigeria, while the milk of love, kindness and generosity would begin to flow from Nigerian leaders to the ordinary masses.
Once again, we congratulate Muslims across Nigeria and beyond on this year’s celebration of Eid al-Adha.
We say Eid Mubarak.
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