While still grappling with our economy which remains stuck in the doldrums, our hard earned democracy,seems to be the next target of deterioration, as it is by all indications heading for the precipice, if the current Executive/Judiciary face-off is not handled with care. The reason for the assertion above is that, by interfering in the internal affairs of another arm of govt, respect for separation of powers which is the bedrock of democracy, appear to be under threat and therefore democracy can be said to be in retreat.
It is particularly heartbreaking that the sanctity of separation of powers between the three arms of Govt which has been preserved for sixteen years of practice of party democracy has in the past 18 months diminished significantly.
This is a major reversal of democratic fortunes because after sixteen years of unbroken practice, Nigeria was slowly but steadily inching towards becoming a liberal democracy , but it has now become like a rudderless ship which seemed to have entered a turbulent storm and consequently, it is exhibiting traits that tend to suggest that the end of democratic civilization in Nigeria may be in the horizon.
By way of comparison, in 2008, when president Barack Obama was elected president, in his electoral victory speech, the new and first black president of the USA informed the electorates who did not vote for him that he will be their president and he hopes to impress them enough to win their votes during the next election circle.
Owing to Obama’s inclusive leadership style, he was was re-elected for a second term in 2012 by a larger margin of votes . Inclusivity in governance was also on display when in the course of the debates between candidates of the two main parties and before the campaign for USA presidency closed , Hillary Clinton pledged to Americans that irrespective of whether they voted for her or not, she would be president of all Americans if she wins.
Ditto for Donald Trump the new president-elect who in the course of his campaign had been labeled a Muslim hater because he wants them screened out of USA; sexist for his lewd comments about women and racists for proposing to build a wall that would separate Mexicans whom he accused of being purveyors of crime from the USA, amongst many other anti-social behaviors. But while delivering his victory speech, the president-elect pledged to be president of all Americans, including those that did not vote for him.
That clearly demonstrates that in politics, there are pre-election mode- sound bites that are aimed at firing up the electorates to attract them to a particular candidate- and post-election mode- toning down of initial rhetorics whereby the elected personality has to become magnanimous in victory.
In like manner and in the spirit of reconciliation, during president Buhari’s inaugural speech on May 29, 2015, he made the now famous quotable quote “l belong to no one and l belong to everyone”.
That remark in his speech was such a soothing balm to the frayed nerves of Nigerians arising from the polarizing activities of politicians on both sides of the aisle during the nearly two years long general election campaigns.
This was more so because of president Buhari’s earlier comments during his visit to the USA as president-elect where he unwittingly revealed that he would favor the section of the country that voted him 97% more than the region where he garnered 5% votes, which is illiberal, and was already creating tensions and potential conflagrations in the highly volatile south-east and south-south regions.
Unfortunately, 18 months into office, the positive and inclusive mindset of president Buhari projected in the statement “l belong to no one, l belong to everyone” espoused in his inaugural speech, is opposite of the divisive policy actions which Mr president started taking after he mounted the saddle of leadership.
It is now an understatement to say that the Govt of the day, has been less inclusive and more exclusive.
Don’t take my word for the sad conclusion above, because the assertion is not just my view, but a true situation corroborated by the First Lady, Aisha Buhari in a recent BBC Hausa language interview. Members of the commentariat have attributed the sudden change of attitude to the usual suspects-Aso Rock Mafia/Demons but is it ?. It is against such formidable foes and other cultural odds, that the First Lady has been fighting fiercely in order to defend her husband’s legacy by steering him back to the lofty ideals that he once professed when he was running for office as the president of the federal republic of Nigeria and from which he has obviously deviated.
Since l have no sympathy for corrupt people, l agree with all well-meaning Nigerians that such nefarious ambassadors should face the wrath of the law if found guilty, but what l query is the wanton breach of the fundamental human rights of the individuals accused of corruption in the course of investigating and arraigning them.
Mr president’s seeming cloak and dagger brand of politics currently causing ripples in the polity and rumpus in the ruling political party, the APC is carefully veiled with the toga of the fight against corruption in order to lend it some legitimacy and gain traction with the masses whom the anti-corruption war resonates.
Capitalizing on the rich also cry syndrome, whereby the masses rejoice when perceived oppressors are being prosecuted,(a popular sentiment amongst the downtrodden), Govt under the watch of president Buhari has been more or less on a rampage.
Although the presidency persistently denies the charge, but it has been unable to disprove the notion ,that under the advertised guise of fighting corruption, the executive arm has been intimidating or muzzling opposition voices in the other two arms of Govt which pundits are referring to as disguised plan to settle old scores with those who are perceived to have stepped on the toes or have hurt the feelings of current Aso Rock occupants.
The presidency must prove to cynics that the assertion above is incorrect so that all Nigerians would join the fight against corruption.
For now, the exercise is still being perceived merely as a Buhari agenda to rein in politicians and businessmen/women because while all the shenanigan of catching big thieves are going on,the so-called ‘small corruption’ which is incipient and equally damaging to the economy, is still going on unabated in the police force , customs service and entire civil service where -asking for and receiving bribes are standard practice.
As a way of assessing the state of democracy in Nigeria, particularly with respect to the integrity of our seventeen, 17 years old unbroken record of the practice of party democracy, a catalogue of anti-democracy policies and actions that may be eroding the concept of Govt of the people, by the people and for the people,since May 29, 20015 till date, would be in order.
It may be recalled that the anti-graft war started with the rounding up of politicians who allegedly partook in the conversion of $2.1 billion dollars earmarked to fight Boko haram terrorists to campaign slush funds.
To that effect, Ahmed Dasuki, the former National Security Adviser,NSA was the linchpin by virtue of the fact that he is the one that allegedly dispensed the funds, and was literarily thrown into the dungeon soon after power changed hands in Aso Rock last year and he has remained shackled .
Subsequently, the Executive arm of Govt of which the Directorate of State Security, DSS and Economic And Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC are surrogates,embarked on the naming and shaming of several politicians, mainly from the opposition party, who on a daily basis were put in handcuffs and displayed on the front pages of newspapers and as well as showcased on headline news broadcast on tv and radio as evidence of taming the opposition.
Curiously, some politicians now in the ruling party, APC who only cross carpeted from the previous ruling party, PDP at the cusp of emergence of the APC as the new ruling party , are by virtue of their new party affiliation deemed to be guiltless and therefore are being treated like blue eye princes by thePresidency, DSS and EFCC.
What the above analogy simply illustrates to the non-partisan observant Nigerians, is that the Govt in power may be practicing double standards in the anti-corruption fight and which is why the campaign in some quarters is being perceived not to be really altruistic.
As politically conscious Nigerians were still pondering over the immorality and impropriety of clobbering some politicians on the head and turning blind eyes on those that enjoy the privileges of being members of the ruling party, Govt extended its dragnet to the media by compelling the leadership of Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria, NPAN like Nduka Obaigbena, publisher of Thisday newspaper to, as it were, cough out the money paid out to media houses through NPAN by the NSA as support for distribution of their wares ostensibly due to disruptions in their services occasioned by activities of overbearing security operatives.
That onslaught of the mass media which was a threat to freedom of expression as enshrined in the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, was consolidated with the hauling into detention of Raymond Dokpesi, the proprietor of African Independent Television, AlT, ostensibly for him to regurgitate the funds also paid to the station for its services.
It may be recalled that, AIT platform was used for broadcasting very damaging documentaries against then presidential candidate, Buhari and APC leader and presidential election game changer , Bola Tinubu.
If the ongoing prosecution of the anti-graft crusade which most Nigerians believe is a camouflage for govt vendetta was expected to end after the focus on the media, disappointment awaited such optimists, as what l would like to refer to as inquisition,for lack of better term, got worse with the bullying being extended to other spheres of socioeconomic and public life.
To the shame of some lawmakers and consternation of Nigerians,the threat to democracy spilled into the cyberspace as attempts were made to gag the very dynamic and politically conscious Nigerian youths who were former supporters of president Buhari, but turned against him due to failed expectations.
Thankfully, the proposed piece of legislation which allegedly scaled first and second reading in NASS failed woefully as the legislation aimed at silencing the vociferous cyber gladiators was killed in parliament following the fierce resistance put up by men and women of goodwill.
The legislature which is the second arm of Govt has also been a victim of bullying by the executive arm for going against the guideline of the ruling party with respect to election or selection of its leaders. It only recently regained its voice and independence when it withheld assent to the request by president Buhari for borrowing of about $30 billion from abroad to augment the 2016 budget.
Similarly, to avoid the trend of one region being favored over other regions which is against the spirit and letter of the federal character principle as enshrined in the 1999 constitution, NASS also declined approval for the presidency’s disbursement of social safety net funds, until a breakdown of how the funds will be spread evenly to all indigent Nigerians in all the constituents was made available to members.
That measure may also be a telltale sign that NASS does not trust the executive arm to evenly distribute the social safety net funds which confirms the lack of inclusivity charges against the presidency.
Against the backdrop of the recent actions demonstrating expression of independence listed above, NASS appear to be regaining its MOJO after its leader, senate president, Bukola Saraki was humiliatingly docked by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT ostensibly for breach of code of conduct act. It was not lost on most Nigerians that the CCT trial was indeed a smokescreen of a sort and attempt by the presidency to bully the NASS into being submissive to its whims and caprices, which is a perversion of the spirit and letter of separation of power as enshrined in the presidential system of governance.
Incidentally, while all the foregoing overt and covert denigration of democracy was unfolding, the judiciary, which is the third arm of Govt in a constitutional democracy either lent itself to the travesty of the rule of law by the executive arm by looking the other way or by acquiescence, did nothing to protect democracy.
The docking of Senate president Saraki earlier mentioned; the continued detention of Ahmed Dasuki and Nnamdi Kanu-the illegal radio Biafra operator, in spite of the bail granted by competent Nigerian courts of law, as well as the ECOWAS court, the massacre of thousands of Shiites who were in a nasty confrontation with the convoy of chief-of-army staff in Kaduna and continued detention of their leader El Zarzakky; plus the mowing down of hundreds of youths in Onitsha as they were symbolically marking the birthday of former Biafran leader, odimegwu Ojukwu, are some of the cases in point with tyrannical hues.
While the judiciary had turned blind eyes to the dictatorial anomalies in the ways and manners that the executive arm of Govt has been operating, with the false confidence that it would not be targeted, unbeknown to the third arm of Govt , it was a question of time before it would join the long list of victims.
At this juncture, l would like to reference a speech by Martin Niemoller, a German Protestant priest who spent seven, 7 years in Nazi concentration camp, to underscore the situation that the judiciary and indeed Nigerians may be facing as democracy stands in cross roads.
Giving his account of how dictatorship evolved and blossomed in nazi Germany, Niemoller noted that Germany intellectuals turned blind eyes to the crime when others were targeted until they too became victims
Said he “First they came for the communist, and l did not speak out- because l was not a communist; Then they came for the socialists, and l did not speak out because I’m not a socialist; Then they came for trade unionists, and l did not speak out- because l was not a trade unionist; Then they came for the Jews and l did not speak out- because l was not Jew; Then they came for me-and there was no one left to speak out for me”.
The very poignant Niemoller experience during the ignoble reign of Adolph Hitler in German, mirrors the prevailing circumstances in Nigeria because the judiciary which is supposed to be the arbiter in a constitutional democracy, abdicated its responsibility to protect citizens by not speaking out against executive arm of govt bullying of the legislative arm and the media as well as businessmen and women.
Now that the judiciary is facing assizes or inquisition of the dimension never before witnessed in the annals of Nigerian history,ostensibly for not being above board as the high office demands, who will speak out for the judiciary ?
Ironically, the ranking justices of the Supreme Court, Sylvester Ngwuta and Inyang Okoro, who are among the seven, 7 judicial officers under probe, are now being given same doses of medicine that they dished out to citizens in their courts, as the judiciary becomes the new centre of gravity in the so-called anti-corruption war in Nigeria.
Having had their homes ransacked in the middle of the night by men of the DSS before being herded off and clamped into detention in their pyjamas, according to their petition to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, the judiciary which was like the big masquerade that can not be unmasked publicly in a traditional African setting, has been demystified.
The pertinent question that the shocking event elicits is: will such furious, if not barbaric approach to fighting the epidemic of corruption, fix the malaise for good?
In my considered opinion such savage attitude of the DSS is intolerable to the generality of Nigerians who believe in upholding the tenets of democracy by insisting on maintaining the rule of law, due process and preserving the sanctity of the principles of separation of powers, which is the heart and soul of democracy.
My justification for the position espoused above is that despite the bar beach show of publicly executing alleged drug traffickers by firing squad between 1984/85 under the watch of then General Buhari’s regime, drug trafficking did not stop. In fact it has increased as evidenced by the Nigerian recently caught with several wraps of the illicit substance hidden in his body cavity-anus.
The increased incident of drug trafficking, which is probably derived from the associated publicity the so-called ‘bar beach’ show,could be attributed to the street credo ‘get rich or die trying’ a mentality which evolved loved into a pop culture via the efforts of the likes of American musician, who goes by the name, 50 Cents.
The second reason for not supporting the humiliation of the judges via intimidation instead of applying well thought out sting operation of catching them in the act, so that there can be strong alibi, law enforcement agencies would have to rely on nebulous evidence for the prosecution and at the end of the trial, nothing but waste of public funds and erosion of public confidence in the judiciary and executive arm of govt would have been achieved, as the evidence may not be enough to secure conviction. In other climes , painstaking efforts are made before springing into action via sting operation.
Take the case of USA congressman Jefferson that was allegedly involved in fraudulent practice with Nigerians. He was caught by the FBI with dollars stuffed in a refrigerator in his office, than arraigned, convicted and disgraced out the parliament after passing through due process .
Even in Nigeria, House of Representatives member Faruk Ahmed Lawan who allegedly demanded and was paid bribe by billionaire businessman, Femi Otedola with marked currencies is another case in point. Unknowing to Lawan, he was caught by a hidden camera stuffing the cash in his cap. The two instances listed above are classical examples of a well executed sting operations which are slam dunk, as the American basketball enthusiasts would put it.
The third reason is that regardless of all the hullabaloo about anti-corruption fight in Nigeria in the past 18 months, which as some allege, are merely dramas being put up to instigate Nigerian masses against the immediate past Govt, PDP and impress Western powers, so as to gain legitimacy, as well as cover up of the incapacity of Govt in power to steer the country away from the looming precipice, Nigeria is still stuck in the abysmal 169th position of the 190 countries surveyed in the ease of doing business index by world bank.
Disappointingly, there was no upward movement of the needle in the direction of improvements to justify the corruption crackdown efforts of the govt in power that has literally crippled the economy.
Worse of all, instead of lamenting the misfortune, the authorities are celebrating the sad fact that it is ranked amongst the last 21 countries in the world for ease of doing business.
Considering that Nigeria had the plans of being in the top 20 leading economies in the world by the year 2020, as proposed in the much vaunted vision 2020 document, then the abysmal world bank ranking should have been cause for gnashing of teeth not clinking of glasses.
So in my view,the drama of playing to the gallery and strong arm tactics don’t do the job. Rather, establishment of robust Institutional framework and entrenching enduring systems that are inviolable, are the best ways to combat corruption.
As the outgoing United States president, Barack Obama noted in his speech to the Africa Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Africa needs strong institutions, not strongmen.
To truly fight corruption, president Buhari may have to go back to the archives from his first tenure as head of state 1983/85 to pull out one or two effective anti-corruption policies that he had applied then.
Although I’m not particularly sure if such policies were efficacious, but change of Nigerian currency to compel those holding the Naira to bring the funds back for exchange and the formation of War Against Indiscipline, WAl brigade across the society, so that the anti-graft values being promoted by govt would permeate all strata of society, spring to mind.
As Nigeria did under the watch of Buhari-1983/85, India is banning the use of higher denomination currency notes like 1,000 and 500 rupees in that country , as part of her anti-corruption crackdown.
Although it is currently creating ripples due to the inconveniences, but the country is pressing ahead because she wants to put an end to black money which escapes taxation.
Korea had also taken the measure of putting a ceiling on amounts of money that could be spent by corporate bodies for meals extended to clients in order to steam corruption perpetrated through such means. Prohibiting pricing and purchase of goods and services in dollars and foreign currency in Nigeria could also be a panacea to the dollar or forex craze in our country. It is no more news that in order to circumvent the scrutiny of cashless society which has been fortified with Bank Verification Number, BVN, that compels all transactions to be put on record, bribe money is paid in dollars these days. With Nigerians putting more trust in the dollar than in the naira, the continued downward spiral of the naira is a fait accompli.
Perhaps that is the reason the bulk of the funds allegedly recovered by law enforcement agencies from fraud suspects in the judiciary are in the US dollar and pounds sterling. Is it possible that abolishing the use of forex locally may stem the local demand and reduce the pressure on the CBN in the face of dwindling forex income due to oil price slump? Such seemingly quaint ideas are worthy of consideration in the quest to stop the naira from further tumbling down.
Now, some Nigerians, particularly Nigerian Bar Association, NBA have proposed that the accused judges should be suspended from office to allow investigation of the alleged corrupt practices and possibly bring the top ranking Judicial officials to trial, if there are reasonable grounds to do so.
After initial resistance by the National Judicial Council, NJC on account of the fact that due process was not followed in arresting the seven, 7 judges under investigation,the accused judicial officers have now been suspended or asked to step aside and their prosecution is under way.
To counteract the allegations of corruption , some of the judges have also alleged that their travail is a political witch hunt and they have backed up their claims by stating that two key ministers in president Buhari’s cabinet-Rotimi Amaechi, Transport minister and Ogbonnaya Onu, Science minister – had in the past attempted to induce them to swing the outcome of recent elections in favor of the ruling party, APC but they refused to compromise.
As the judicial dictum goes, he who seeks Justice must come with equity. Arising from the scenario above, it is only fair that the presidency follows the moral rectitude of the NJC by suspending cabinet members that stand accused by the suspected judges.
As the aphorism goes, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
Otherwise the argument that the arrest of the judges by the DSS which is an arm of the presidency amounts to the executive arm of Govt using security agencies which it controls to persecute the judiciary which is an equal and independent arm of Govt, may gain potency and be sustained in the public arena and even amongst the masses who are ardent supporters of president Buhari.
Chairman of presidential anti-corruption advisory panel ltse Sagay has reportedly stated that suspension of the accused members of the federal executive council, FEC was not necessary and such defense flys in the face of equity.
Given the gravity of the allegation , there is the risk or threat of erosion of democracy in Nigeria which is based on independence of the three arms of Govt- Executive, Legislative and Judiciary- through separation of powers, but as stated earlier, such perception or misconception could be defrayed if the presidency does not engage in the antics of shielding the accused cabinet members from investigation.
Anything short of demonstration of such transparency and uprightness, would only give fillip to the belief that the action of the DSS arresting sitting judges amounts to intrusion and bullying of the judiciary arm by the executive which is a major threat and danger to the continued practice of democracy in Nigeria.
Just as the presidency detests the judges remaining on the bench while being prosecuted , and they are now relieved of the job,it’s also fair game for the judiciary via NJC not to trust DSS or EFCC to impartially investigate the accused ministers.
So the question that arises therefrom is: to avoid impartiality in the anti-graft campaign,who will judge the judges and investigate the investigators who are now accusing each other of corruption ? Would it be Itse Saggay led anti-corruption advisory committee set up at the behest of president Buhari or judges would be invited from the ECOWAS court or from the International Criminal Court, ICC in The Hague; and would investigators be imported from the FBI of USA or MI5 of the Uk?
Arising from the scenarios above, and if due process is followed, I foresee another constitutional cliff hanger of the shape and dimension generated by the sudden passing of a seating president and non-transmission of power to the Vice President which was not envisaged in the 1999 constitution.
Until the political imbroglio was cured by the innovative Doctrine Of Necessity introduced by NASS to resolve the leadership lacuna created by the demise of late president Umaru Yar’Adua in 2010, democracy was teetering on the brinks of collapse.
So the issues that have been tossed up by the executive and judicial arms of Govt face-off should engage the NASS and civil society organizations in the coming days, weeks and perhaps months with a view to nipping in the bud,situations tending towards degenerating into constitutional crisis.
Based on trend analysis derived from recent antecedents of the DSS buoyed by the support of the presidency, it won’t surprise me, if civil society organizations, CSOs become the next victim of the executive arm of govt high-handedness.
This would happen when the anti-graft agencies finish with the judiciary and shift their gaze to suspected ‘bad eggs’ amongst the rights activists who might have constituted themselves into a torn in the flesh of law enforcement agencies, which being under the ambit and sphere of influence of the executive arm of Govt, are being unbraided by some CSOs for doing the president’s bidding, instead of working in the overall interest of Nigerians.
Most people know that some civil rights activities are not above board and politicians who surreptitiously fund them for nefarious activities and some members of the judiciary who they help compromise, won’t also be surprised if they are found wanting.
Whatever the case may be, the protection of our democracy through vigilance by concerned citizens through the formation of nonpartisan pressure groups,can not be overemphasized.
Just like BUDGETiT, the non-Governmental Organization,NGO that monitors preparation and implementation of budgets in Nigeria, democracy watch groups that would track of aberrations and raise the alarm when democratic principles are being compromised by any Govt in power by all the three arms and tiers, should be birthed by men and women of goodwill.
In conclusion ,the members of the public that are hailing the unconventional methods of fighting corruption by current Govt may be missing something because as opposed to literarily baying for the blood of members of the other arms of govt being assailed by the executive arm – the legislature, judiciary and the mass media which is the fourth realm of the estate-Nigerians should pause for a while to conduct a close scrutiny of how much our hard fought and well-deserved democracy has eroded in core values in the past eighteen months of the current administration being on the saddle.
For the sake of clarity, l do not condone corruption, but insist on respect for fundamental human rights, rule of law and due process,so I’m pursuing the above cause in the interest and benefit of Nigerians as I’m convinced that not speaking out for others (as Martin Niemoller’s experience reminds us) would leave us with nobody to speak for us when they finally come for us.
From the foregoing,my speaking out is aimed at helping safeguard the sanctity of our democracy, so it is not about APC or PDP.
I’ aware that by engaging in critical analysis that throw up constitutional issues, that l may be getting under the skin of the goons that wield the powers of life and death in the corridors of power , but as a public intellectual and active member of the intelligentsia , my conscience compels me to be more interested in the greater good of society,hence l consider it my civic responsibility to call attention to any actions or inactions of Govt that may threaten our fragile economy and nascent democracy.
Having said that, l would like to crave the indulgence of those that may be discomfited by my unconventional line of thoughts which may be at variance with their views, to appreciate the fact that Nigeria’s democracy is bigger than president Buhari, APC, and PDP or any ethnic group or religion, so our policies should be less personal or parochial but more inclusive and institutional.
At the risk of repeating myself, my intervention is about safeguarding our hard earned return to democracy before it unhinges due to our collective negligence or inability to be vigilant and by omission or commission allow unscrupulous politicians replace tested and tried democratic ethos with anti-democracy prejudices that would ultimately lead to regret by all Nigerians.
In the light of the foregoing,the aforementioned existential risks inherent in the identified dictatorial tendencies creeping into the system to derail our democracy and wipe off the progress so far made since 1999 when the nation returned to democratic paths after long spell with military interregnum, can not be discountenanced, and therefore must be tackled head on.
President Buhari in my reckoning would not deliberately discountenance the rule of law, but could inadvertently do so based on incorrect advice. As he admitted in his Chatham House presentation in London last year , he only recently transited from being an autocrat to a democrat, so he is unlikely to have a full grasp of what really constitutes breaches in democratic system of governance, especially as he seems to be in a hurry to sweep the country clean of the mess that he believes has piled up since his first time on the saddle as head of state in 1983-85.
Worse of all, Mr president who is a purist and has been schooled in the military act of command and control all his life and therefore still a babe in the practice of democracy, can not easily change at age 73 into a liberal democrat, so it behoves of his close associates to help neutralize or water down his harsh militaristic temperaments and tendencies.
As l have emphasized in previous interventions , in the absence of robust democracy-sustaining institutions in Nigeria , president Buhari needs a lot of hand-holding as he walks through the explosive mines infested field of democracy, so there is need for a sprinkling of liberal democrats and less tedious personalities in president Buhari’s kitchen cabinet and not just those who think and act like him and are therefore hawkish.
The blending of managers with hard and soft socioeconomic world views , as members of the inner caucus of a leader, is actually a universally acknowledged sound management style.
Under such fusion,the moderates would serve as buffers that would enable the leader to modulate between extreme views and liberal policy formulation and implementation.
Nigerians have to be literarily blind not to notice that the foundations on which our nascent democracy is hinged are being eroded by aberrations currently being perpetuated through the executive arm of government interference in the affairs of the other arms through its control of the law enforcement agencies such as the police force, DSS, EFCC and ICPC as well as CCB.
Probably, that partly explains the legislative arm’s recent effort at reducing the monopoly of power by the executive arm though its recent passage of the bill to remove the Code Of Conduct Tribunal, CCT from the ambit of the executive arm.
In the United States of America, USA from where Nigeria borrowed the presidential system of governance, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI which the DSS is patterned after in Nigeria, is not a puppet of the presidency as is the case in Nigeria where the DSS allegedly dances only to the tune of Aso Rock villa .
Nothing demonstrates the independence of the FBI more than the recent decision of the director of the organization, James Comey to unilaterally reopen investigation into Democratic Party presidential candidate,Hillary Clinton’s use of private email portal when she was serving as secretary of state of the US govt to the consternation of the seating president, Barack Obama. Without presidential interference, the FBI director after nine,9 days has also cleared Mrs Clinton, who was looking good to becoming the next president of the USA but lost the electoral college vote to her Republican Party rival, Donald Trump although she won the popular vote.
Until our institutions become robust and independent enough to consider the greater good of society above the narrow interests of occupants of high public offices, like governor’s and presidents who control the purse strings, Nigerians have to guard their democracy jealously by being on alert through creation of citizens united type of groups that would report breaches of democratic ethos via alert being sent to designated internet portals which would be subjected to further investigation and scrutiny before the erring arm of Govt is taken to task.
Forensic analysis of the bank accounts of the judges under investigation have been carried out by relevant agencies, but perhaps more needs to be done to unravel the puzzle of who bribed who and for how long such corrupt practices have been going on with a view to holding all involved accountable.
While l recognize that such an exercise could amount to opening up of Pandora’s box of sorts, in my reckoning, that’s okay if it would help clean up the Augean stable that the presidency,the legislative and judiciary arms of govt have become, once and for all and most importantly,transparently.
The closest that the presidency came to such scrubbing scrutiny was when former president Olusegun Obasanjo and then Vice President Abubakar Atiku had a spat over Petroleum Development Trust Fund, PDTF and the dirty linens of how public funds were seriously abused and the way and manner it was applied to purchase cars for girlfriends,surfaced.
Thank goodness for wiki-leaks promoted by the likes of the embattled Julian Assange, we would not have known about world leaders amongst whom are Nigerians involved in the infamous Panama papers revealing those hiding money in offshore havens.
Without the whistleblowing organizations,world leaders might not have known the level at which openly friendly nations are spying on each other.
Take for instance the revelation that the USA has been tapping the telephone line of Angela Merkel, prime minister of German which is one of the strongest USA ally in Europe. In the case of the judiciary against the executive arms of Govt in Nigeria where the trading of accusations of corruption has become both currency and commodity of which the long-suffering Nigerians are confused about who to believe, perhaps the services of wiki leaks may come in handy in unraveling the unholy conundrum of corruption in Nigeria.
As unorthodox as it may appear, wiki leaks intervention seem to be a viable way of solving the jigsaw puzzle of who bribed who in the unfolding operatic drama between the executive and legislative arms of Govt in Nigeria.
If the resort to wiki leak becomes an option , then Nigerians can determine between the presidency, legislative and the judiciary arms of govt, who is holier and fairer than the other.
Until the establishment is ready to subject itself and institutions to such scrutiny, Nigerians will continue to be skeptical about the genuineness and altruistic values of Govt policies and programs in Nigeria, particularly with respect to the war against corruption.
So Nigerians are waiting with bated breath for the outcome of this latest executive and judiciary face-off that could deepen or damage democracy in Nigeria.
Magnus Onyibe, a development strategist, and futurologist is a former commissioner in Delta state Govt and alumnus of Fletcher school of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts university, Medford Massachusetts, USA.