‘We will put the enemy in a position where they will have to choose between giving us freedom or giving us death’ – Emmeline Pankhurst

The militarization of politics in Nigeria

Today, It is a cause for laughter and celebration in some quarters in Nigeria that the military directly or indirectly holds the ace of  when elections, the precursor to democracy should be held or not. Today, permit me to be a Prophet once again so that when the repercussion hits the celebrants and the lagging nation like a thunderbolt, history will vindicate me just as it will snatch laughter and celebration from the jaws of those who ignore it in desperation for political expediency and transient  survival! The advantage of democracy is that all, including the military become subservient to its institutions and structures. Today, the Nigerian version of democracy is reversing this trend and the reviewing meaning and at the impulse of the military, using insecurity as tool of blackmail.

Experience and history have guided me to know that any nation and people that celebrate the twin evil of militarization of politics and politicization of the military are like the Monkey hailing the Farmer who is cutting down trees, forgetting that it is its house that is being demolished. We are now irresponsibly expanding the frontiers of the wars by contracting the marriage between politics and military. It is bad enough that in spite of the attacks by some patriots, we have not been able to secure divorce between religion and politics, ethnicity and politics; to encourage marriage between military and politics at this stage of our nation building is a monumental insult on our history and those who patriotically suffered the burden of its weight. With this happenstance, I agree with Dwight Eisenhower that ‘the shadow of fear again has darkly lengthen across our—country. ’ Military is not a democratic institution. In all civilise society, it is the responsibility of the military to protect its values and this defence becomes more necessary in times of threat. The lessons Afghanistan sent when elections were held during war was that protection is possible even in bad situations. It was to project government of the people over and above the terror of the Rebels. It was to build the faith of their people and enhance their self-worth as citizens and make them to once again repose hope in their country. In Nigeria, we have today chosen to excuse ourselves from our responsibility.

We have raised barriers against hope, against national integration and the collective capacity of our people to prove to the world that white pap could come out of black pot; by bringing enduring democracy out of the ruins of raging terror. We have proven to the world that we are a country that can only thrive depending on the weather of terror and not irrespective of the wind those blows- a nation whose destiny depends on the ambition of a single man. A nation that is ghastly losing the capacity to regenerate herself! The whole wide world is watching the magician we have become. The Magician who would defeat Boko Haram within six weeks, the feat we could not perform in the last six years. The sudden strength of our military is poised to become a strategic study in military science. The world is indeed waiting to confirm whether our Bank of Conscience is bankrupt. How I wish that this demonstrated capacity of Commander-in-Chief has before now brought to bear more on Boko Haram than breathing down the nostrils of INEC to postpone election. The government's usage of insecurity in the North East as alibi for postponement of election now looks like, one; an admission of failure to secure and protect citizens; and two, profiting from that  failure!

The big questions that are likely out for answers now; what is the use of a government that can not guarantee the security of citizens? and now, that of election materials? I thought the President was not playing politics when he assures us that security is improving in Nigeria. So the President was not sincere when he told them in Maiduguri on Campaign podium that his government has improved the security situation? What the Military ended up doing by telling INEC that it can not guarantee security if the elections are not postponed is exposing its own incapacitation. Each time a ruler of a country stands up and magnify insecurity as a problem beyond his power of containment, he sends down a quantum of despair, a volume of disillusionment and a –ton-load of frustration on the nerves of his people. He, without knowing it, endorses the passage of vote of no confidence on himself and his government. It is not a sin for a leader to admit his or her incompetence; only that he or she has to follow up on such admission by honourably resigning from such position so that his or her incompetence does not end up becoming the grave yard of hope and expectations of the governed.

There can be no hope for survival of democracy in our country if in difficult times like this our military can not stand up at all cost to strengthen democracy just the same way it always appeal to the civilian population to support it to defeat Boko Haram. Last year when the President was giving reasons for his oversea travel in spite of previous day terror attack, the President responded that, ‘the business of government must not be allowed to stop because of Boko Haram. In fact, that is what they want to achieve. If we stop, the Terrorists will be happy. As a President of this country, I will not allow that.’ The President was indeed right; only that against his vow, government has now stopped because people can not exercise their most critical right in democracy, the rights to vote and be voted for. Just because of the same terror group’s activities! Let no Nigerian on whichever divide rejoice at this postponement of the elections from February to March and April. It is a decision that should make us to reflect on where we are headed and the precipice on which the feet of our nation and democracy are planted. It is a sad day for our democracy but a triumphant day for its foes. It is a day   victory is snatched from the jaw of security and good governance. A day of revival of our ugly history in which we set the past to collide with our future!

Gbenro Olajuyigbe is an Abuja based Human Security Expert and a Human Rights Activist.
E:Mail: [email protected]

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