Last week, officers of the Nigerian Army invaded the offices of Daily Trust newspapers. Apparently, Daily Trust had published classified information.
The Presidency came out the next day to distance itself from the actions of the Army. It means that the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces was unaware of the plans of the Army and being aware after the fact, one must wonder whether there will be consequences, or whether this will just be brushed under the carpet as is usual in rights abuses in this country. Are there any plans to pay for the damages that Daily Trust suffered? It is not enough to say that the offices have been reopened and seized items returned. My guess is that the seized property did not make it back to Daily Trust in the same condition before the Army invasion.
In a democratic government, one expects that the rights of citizens will be respected and protected and if action is to be taken against a citizen, the due process of the law will be followed. I think that the Army, having been in power for many years, has forgotten its place in a democratic society. But who can blame them? Their Commander-in-Chief has expressed in different ways his willingness to set aside the rule of law in the interest of national security. National security becomes the convenient excuse for abuses of fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution. For national security, we can flout the orders of a court. This is an insult to the judiciary. It says that judges, in deciding to grant bail or grant some other order, are incapable of weighing the effects of their orders on the accused and on society.
There are three arms of government: the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. Each acts as check and balance to the others, to curtail the excesses of each arm. In a country that truly respects democracy there is a mutual respect between the three arms. This is obviously not the case in Nigeria, where the executive feels that it alone knows what is good for Nigeria and Nigerians, and refuses to respect the other arms of government.
Classified information is by its nature accessible to a handful of people. It is not information that is made available to all and sundry. The Army therefore needs to look inwards and find out which of its officers made the so-called classified information available to Daily Trust. That officer(s) is who the Army should be chasing with a big stick, not Daily Trust. Beyond that, the Army needs to come up with a social media policy for its officers because there are things that the public is made privy to through the recordings of Army officers.
These are things that certainly do not build any confidence in the Nigerian Army. There is no reason why a video of tactical training should be floating around social media. The Army is its own enemy and needs to look into its own processes before coming out to harass ordinary citizens.
Also trending last week was the leaked audio recordings of the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, giving an insight into the mind of President Buhari. The recordings have not been verified and it is indeed possible that they were doctored but one must be concerned about some of the revelations. It is of concern to hear that a President does not know what his business is with a goat seller. Or that a leader does not pay attention to what is said about him. A leader should be concerned about how his citizens are faring because that is a reflection on his leadership. If the citizens are not faring well, the only way that can be addressed is by being aware. In some countries, leaders are keen to know what their citizens think about them and systems are put in place to establish the leader’s approval rating amongst the public.
As a leader, you cannot lose sight of the people you are leading otherwise you may find yourself driving a train with no one but only you on board.
You may reach your desired destination but of what use would that be when all of your passengers have been left behind? There is poverty in the land, most of us feel it. Those who can afford to are leaving the country in droves. Yes, the government is fighting corruption, we are all aware. The President has also said that we should prepare for further hardship. I do not know how much hardship a people can take. When all the corruption is fought and the fight is won, I hope that we would have all survived the hardship to enjoy the fruits of this fight against corruption.
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