“In the speech of Mr. Ayo Fayose he said propaganda would only waste time and that attack is the best form of defence. He maintained that the party in general and South West PDP needed to be valiant to face the Tinubus anywhere they are. He further said we have control of the police and the army and I cannot afford to lose my control on police and the army' and without Jonathan being the president we will lose the control. Further, he said presidential election is a do or die affair but Governor Mimiko quickly countered that it should not be a do or die affair but rather a do-and-win affair” – SaharaReporters
The above statement was culled from the report of the inaugural meeting of the South West PDP chapter held on Saturday, 27th December 2014, at the Government House in Akure, Ondo State: It was lifted from Sahara Reporters (SR). I was moved to write this open letter to the military and the police because of the weight of the statement above and the danger it poses to our renascent democracy. I write as a concerned Nigerian who wants the best for my country at this critical point in the nation’s history. I write to appeal to the conscience of the army and the police to take a deep and honest look at the above statements and rise up to defend democracy and Nigeria. I write to ask the army and the police to issue a warning to Governor Fayose and his forty thieves before they destroy further the already battered image of these vital institutions.
The Nigerian police have been battling with credibility crisis for years now and today most Nigerians see that very important and strategic institution as a government parastatal at the centre. For the almost 16 years since 1999, a vast preponderance of both the senior and junior officers have abused, rubbished and disgraced that very important institution to the extent that there is no trust again that they can get it right. The Nigerian police's duty is to protect the 150 million Nigerians irrespective of tribe, tongue, religion, and culture, but they have abandoned their primary duty in order to serve whoever is in power in Abuja. They help to rig elections, oppress, repress and suppress the opposition, and they intimidate, abuse, hound and physically assault the populace. Police are used to settle scores, and used to retrieve debts. They sometimes encourage armed robbers, and they beat up Nigerians at the drop of a hat. I can go on and on but time has come for the Nigerian police to take stock and try to redeem its battered image to face the challenges of the days ahead.
The Nigerian Army I knew then has been one of the best in Africa. They have given good accounts of themselves in peace-keeping missions abroad and they are rated very high even outside Africa. But the emergence of Boko Haram few years back and the news from the army formations across the country have become worrisome. Today we hear of mutiny in the army, we hear of junior officers refusing orders from superiors, we hear of our once strong soldiers running away from Boko Haram rag-tagged shooters, we hear of Boko Haram seizing army barracks and carting weapons away, we hear about funds meant for junior soldiers being diverted, we hear about our soldiers being arrested by the Cameroonian Army and today we hear that there are Boko Haram sympathizers in the nation's security agencies and even in ministries, parastatals and agencies of government.
This is an unbelievable and unpleasant story to believe in the 21st century and even at peacetime in Nigeria. We can ignore the antics and rude shock from the Nigerian police but allowing the famous Nigerian Army to degenerate further is like committing suicide. The country will be dangerously exposed to external aggressors if nothing is done to rebuild, reconstruct and rehabilitate the army of Nigeria. Nigerians will go the polls on February 14, 2015 to make an important statement that will determine the road to travel in the years ahead. Nigerians are expected to rebuke those that have stunted our growth and made Nigeria move at 5 metre per hour instead of moving at 50 kilometers per hour. Nigerians will take a very important decision that will bring respect and honor to our country.
This decision will change the way we do things, the way we think, the way we reason, the way we work, and the way we relate with others. Nigerians will, by that very important decision, stop impunity, corruption, insecurity, indiscipline, brigandage, mediocrity, thuggery and abuse of democratic institutions like the security agencies, INEC, NYSC, Civil Defense, the judiciary and others. These institutions must work effectively for us to get what we want. Like my friend Sonala Olumhense says, nobody is expected to sit on the fence this time around. It is either you are for change or for the maintenance of status quo. The choice is yours. Nobody is interested in mantra that PDP and APC are the same. It is either you are in APC or PDP. If out of omission or commission, the agents of change lose again next months, Nigeria may go down in history. We must all join hands in one accord, in amity, in agreement, in unity, and in tandem chase away PDP for Nigeria to breathe fresh air.
I am therefore appealing to the army, navy, air force, police, INEC, NYSC, Civil Defense, judiciary, Road Safety, DSS, SSS, etc., to gear up for democracy. These vital institutions of democracy must do their work this time around. We expect impartiality, we expect cooperation, we expect full protection of all and sundry, we expect team work, organization, networking and understanding. We must all prove that Nigeria is not a basket case.
Now I want the Nigerian army and the police to call Governor Ayo Fayose and his gang to order. This impunity and abuse of power and office must stop. A lot was revealed in that Akure meeting and APC leaders should open their eyes wide now.
Joe Igbokwe writes from Lagos.