By Raymond Nkannebe Esq.
One struggles to find the right word to capture the chicanery that passes for internal democracy in Nigeria. The brand of politicians that appeared onto the political firmament with the return of democracy in 1999 with their inflated sense of importance and voracious taste for power worryingly turned the field of politics to one where anything goes riding roughshod on constitutionalism and getting away with it in many cases, save for occasional moments where an over-stretched judiciary rises up in defence of democracy as was seen in the landmark decision of the apex Court in the case of Amaechi v INEC (2009) 10 WRN 1 and even more recently the decision of the same Court in the case of Mato v Hermber (2017) LPELR-42765(SC) to name a few. In the particular case of Amaechi, eminent Professor of Law, Itse Sagay SAN, described the judgement of the court as a “groundbreaking one, spinning of and spurring many legal off-shoots, principles and precedents in Nigerian Electoral Law and practice and ushering in a more civilized and enlightened political culture”.
The power-by-all-means syndrome that afflicts our overrated political class unfortunately have come with great cost for internal democracy in Nigeria. And when one expects the situation to get better, it has arguably gotten worse. Nothing signposts this more, than the parallel congresses that characterized many state organs of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the build up to the recently held general elections. And without a doubt, Rivers, Imo and just recently Zamfara state are currently bearing the highest lump of the prostitution of the internal processes of the party.
It is against the backdrop of this therefore that the recent decision of the Supreme Court over the political crisis that rocked the APC in Abdulaziz Yari’s Zamfara is both instructive and commendable irrespective of how harsh it may be perceived in some quarters. By holding that the ruling APC did not conduct a valid primary election in the state with crude implications for the candidates purportedly elected under its platform at the recently concluded election, the apex Court has once again drummed home the message that Nigeria is a nation under laws to which political parties and politicians alike are bound.
In an article entitled “Towards a Political Hygiene in Intra-Party Politics” published last year few days to the flag-off of party primaries by INEC, I had underscored the recurrent problem of intra-party politics in Nigeria thus:
“At the core of intra party disputes and disaffection on the part of members is the disrespect of the constitution of political parties by their hierarchy; non-compliance with laid down rules and regulations and the habitual compromise and impunity by so called godfathers with an inflated sense of their importance over the affairs of the party. One veritable feature of this ill democratic practice is the illegal substitution of persons who emerge victorious at state primaries for other persons under circumstances that leave a sour taste in the mouth. Indeed, in the numerous cases that have made their way to the court for determination by aggrieved party members, this thread is always to be seen. But while some of these aspirants get lucky by having the decision of the party reversed, many others are often not so lucky. Hence the ceaseless cross carpeting and other signs of protest that have become a feature of partisan politics in our chequered history”.
I had also admonished in that article that going into the primaries (irrespective of which method that has been adopted by the state caucuses of the individual party), the irreducible minimum conduct expected by those to spearhead the exercise irrespective of the political party in question, should be one that accords with the laid down provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010 and the individual party’s constitution and INEC’S guidelines and regulations as anything short of these would not only be setting the democratic clock of the nation backward, but also a recipe for disaster in the individual party.
Apparently, these admonitions meant nothing to many politicians and their political party. To be sure, the circumstances that led to the non-holding of a valid party primaries in Zamfara state finds its root in the major albatross around the neck of party-politics in Nigeria namely, the parochial interest of one man to lord his will over others thus feeding the emotions that almost always give rise to renegade or splinter factions within the party. In Rivers State, Sen. Magnus Abe and transport minister Rotimi Amaechi represented these conflicting interests, while in Imo State, incumbent governor Rochas Okorocha and his adversary, Sen. Hope Uzodinma were very visible. In Delta, Enugu, Adamawa, Bauchi amongst other states, the ugly head of this monster was also visible with tell-tale consequences here and there.
But by no means is the ruling APC the only affected party here. Not at all. if the situation in the APC has gained more commentary in recent times, it is perhaps because it is the ruling party. Of course, the PDP era was also marked by the same crisis and until recently was lurked in a fratricidal leadership crisis until the same apex court came to the rescue.
In my referenced article above, I had written of the main opposition party thus: “At the commanding heights of the PDP rule, we saw the elevation of sharp practices in the internal affairs of a political party taken to a whole new dimension. This impunity which gained traction under the watch of former president Olusegun Obasanjo perhaps had its ugliest manifestation in Anambra, Imo and Rivers states to the utter embarrassment of the civilised world. Indeed one could say, without any fear of contradiction that intra-party corruption as we have it today, remains one of the ugliest legacies of the current opposition party PDP, who while it enjoyed its status as the ruling party within the space of 16 years, nearly institutionalized a culture of needless intra-party squabbles through sundry acts of subterfuge and injustice in deciding who gets what, when and how within the hierarchy of the party.”
Nor are the smaller political parties excepted. In the state chapter of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Imo State for example, it is the complaints of alleged hijacking of the party by some quarters that necessitated the decamping of a former governor of the state to the Accord party to contest the gubernatorial election almost at the eve of the election. And at the national level of the party its leadership was until recently mired in serious crisis arising from the non-observance of party processes until same was resolved by the apex Court rightly or wrongly mid last year.
All of these scenarios unfortunately leave an ugly picture of intra-party politics in Nigeria- which needless to say remains the foundation of representational democracy. But an undisciplined political class must be disciplined one way or another. And this is what the judgement of the Supreme Court represents in Zamfara. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. It is in many respects a necessary hemlock down the throat of the state chapter of the ruling APC in Zamfara for daring to mortgage the divergent interests of the party hierarchy in the state to the whims and caprices of one man. Through and through, the judgment must be a hurtful reminder of how not to conduct intra-party affairs and the need for conforming to the minimum requirements of the law in party affairs.
But the greatest credit in all of these must go to the judiciary- that institution that continues to live up to its billing as the last hope of the common man; for rising courageously at opportune moments to defend our cherished democracy and instill discipline where impunity has become the rule of thumb.
Raymond Nkannebe is a legal practitioner and public interest analyst and writes from Lagos.
Leadership in Trying Times (Pt. IV)
By Tolulope A. Adegoke
“Don’t believe in what you are called; it can trap you! I don’t trust your titles. You have not done what you could have done yet! What they have seen so far is only a fraction of who you are. Don’t allow what you have done to prevent what you could do! “ – Tolulope A. Adegoke
It is pertinent to note at this juncture that leaders initiate change. Leadership naturally demands change. Nigerians are not the problem, but the leaders. You can only lead people as far as you have gone yourself. If you do not improve, your organization will never improve. I have discovered something about developing countries, because I was born in one and still live in one; when you give them a title, they stop learning. Nothing is worse for a Third-World man than giving him promotion and a title, because he believes he has made it. When you call someone a manager or CEO or honorable, reverend, or bishop, they stop learning. And that’s when an organization stops working or growing. When you are given authority or a title, you should buy more books and take more courses. Because you are not just leading your own life, you have lives to lead to a higher future and a higher level. This is why true leaders never graduate from the school of life; they are always learning. Because I must constantly re-educate myself, Dr Myles Monroe (of blessed memory) says, “I read four to five books a month. I have been doing that for the past years… that means one book per week.” I am an eternal student.” You are reading this article right now because you are willing to expand your mind. You can never grow beyond what you know, unless you grow what you know. To lead in difficult times, you must be a reader, because readers may end up becoming leaders when they apply what they have learned in school.This is why you should never allow anyone to prevent you from studying and growing. Also, never believe that you have made it. Don’t trust your titles. Don’t believe in what they call you, it can trap you. I am a recipient of several awards, but I do not allow them to get into my head, because the greatest enemy of your progress is your last success. Don’t trust what you have achieved. Don’t believe anybody’s accolades, because it is a trap. You have not done what you could do yet. What they have seen so far is only a fraction of who you are. Stop being mediocre! It’s time for you to stop complaining, and start studying. Don’t allow what you have done to prevent what you could do. The act of leadership is taking followers from where they are to a place they have never been. As a true leader, you have to be able to take people to where they have never been. That’s your role. Leadership is not about maintenance, it’s about innovation, exploration (that is, going beyond the box).
Leadership entails an adventure of thriving in creating a future, even in trying times, when all hope seems to be fading off. I believe that many of you (readers) are tired of the majority of the difficult situations that you face.I sense strongly that you complain so much about it. It may be about your nation, family, continents, or low-level leaders or governments who tend to take you on a journey to nowhere. But if you truly desire a genuine change, you have to be willing to take an adventure into the unknown.
Thriving could entail some form of discomfort.
Leaders will always create discomforts that are worthwhile. Why? Because they are uprooting people from their own familiarity. This is why true leaders seem not to be liked by a majority. They disturb your laziness and also irritate your comfort. They make people do things that are uncommon, probably things that they have never done before. They make people change their behaviour. In short, they frustrate your comfort zones but re-shape our cultures, ethics, norms, and values. True leaders thrive the most in trying times, because they are ‘eruptors’, they are catalysts! They always act as leverage, taking you from a place you know to a place that you do not know. The major problem with the majority across the world is that they like the familiar. It’s amazing how much we say we want change, and when it’s time to change, we tend to hate it.
The Crisis is increasing-it is called Trying Times.
Thriving comes with a brand of leadership that naturally creates change, and this comes with crisis. We tend to talk about crisis in the world today, even globally in diverse facets of life. But sincerely, all of that is not true. To me, there is no such thing as a crisis. It doesn’t exist! A lot of people are doing so well, achieving great feats in the middle of crisis, simply because they could see beyond the ordeals. Such people, like me, see opportunities! Mentality is key! Leaders create crises so that there can be more opportunities to thrive. They are not victims of them. Simply ask me how?
Leadership is an exercise in the management or the creation of crisis. A true leader says we would construct a six lane road network. That’s a crisis! Because many people are used to the single lane-road, where they sell and hawk their goods in the middle of its pot-holes. Now it’s a crisis because the government is trying to make a change happen on such a road network, and many people may not be able to sell and hawk their goods anymore. But it takes a leader to take such a drastic step for a good change to occur within the system. These actions create discomfort for those benefiting from the bad road network. It is a crisis to take people to the level that they have never been, even though it may be a good place. Leaders initiate change… This change tends to change or reshape the patterns of people’s lives daily.
The Change Factor
You are a leader only if you initiate change. Managers only maintain things, while leaders change things. This is why a manager and a leader are completely different. Managers focus on systems, while leaders focus on people. Managers focus on the bottom line, while leaders focus on the issues that arise. Managers focus on what to do, while leaders focus on ‘why’ we are doing it. They think differently. And I strongly believe that you are finding this write-up interesting because it’s time for you to move into leadership. This moment in this write-up was a divine appointment, because you are tired of being what you are. You’ve most likely been faking it for the last few years, telling your parents you’re having a good time.But why is this happening to you? It’s simple. You are bigger than who you really are. You are far stronger than what they say you are. You can do much more than they told you that you could do. You are far better than what they say you are. And I am doing this writ-up to irritate you. You do not change until you are angry. Anger could be a crisis, but it could also be a weapon for a good change. Whatever you tolerate will never be changed by you. This is why what you call crisis comes into your life. A crisis comes to take you out of the ordinary and force you to dream bigger! It forces you to be creative! There is no problem in your life or around you, they are only opportunities to be better and bigger.
You all must come to understand that change is your best friend! It is the only thing that is guaranteed and has your best interest at heart. Some nations are excelling more in these trying periods because they are not seeing crisis in the common senses or language of ordinary thinkers or seers. These categories of nations are only seeing opportunity! And they all keep maximizing it, whether you like it or not. You must also come to understand that a thing is what you call it! They say opportunity, while shallow thinkers say crisis!
Come on! You need to align yourself with creative people. You need to start reading and studying the right books! Being with the wrong people and a bunch of complainers will only keep you stagnated and wanting or wishing for life, if you are not careful. I charge you to change your relationships. As a matter of fact, you can never rise above your company. If you are the smartest person in a group, then it’s time to leave the group… Waking up from mental slumber is one of the greatest make-ups which fine-tunes our beings into stepping up in the right order and lanes to thrive at any point in time in life.
LSSTF Decries Spate of Attacks on Law Enforcement Agents, Assets
Dr. Abdurrazaq Balogun Executive Secretary/ CEO, Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF) decries the spate of attacks on law enforcement agents and the wanton destruction of security assets particularly the recent killing of a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) at Asa Afariogun Road, Ajao Estate area of Lagos on 23rd September 2021. The sequence of these attacks on security facilities and the blatant confrontation of security operatives have become unprecedented in recent times.
A Police officer that should be a highly respected agent of enforcing law and order in any society is no longer regarded with any reverence. We need to reflect on how we got to this point in our State where hoodlums and criminals seem to have a field day especially have we have seen more of this type of attack since the riot that followed the EndSARS protest which dealt a blow to our security infrastructure.
Lagos state which has enjoyed relative peace compared to other parts of the country is threatened by the activities of misguided individuals who believe that they can take laws into their hands. Such actions can only lead to a state of anarchy which would eventually impact negatively on the security of everyone in the State.
It is therefore pertinent to bring the perpetrators of this kind of act to book and also ensure they replace the destroyed assets. The Fund strongly believes that when people take responsibility for their actions they become more responsible actors in our society.
We should also remember that the security assets destroyed in such attacks were provided through the sacrifice of well-meaning individuals and organizations who commit to the security and safety of all residents in Lagos State.
The Fund therefore enjoins all and sundry to take ownership of these assets and stop their willful destruction.
Lagos Police Confirm Killing of Senior Officer by Hoodlums
By Eric Elezuo
The Lagos Police Command has confirmed the killing of a senior officer in its fold, CSP Kazeem Sumonu Abonde, by hoodlums, during a raid of criminal hideouts in the Ajao area of the state.
A statement by the Command’s PPRO CSP Adekunle Ajisebutu, stated that the officer was attacked by a crowd of hoodlums armed with guns, knifes and other dangerous weapons. He also reported that other officers in the company sustained various degrees of injuries.
“The incident happened when tactical teams of the Command comprising men drawn from RRS, Taskforce, Ajao Estate Division and other divisions were carrying out raid of identified flashpoints and enforcing the ban on use of motorcycles in restricted areas in the Estate and similar places in the State,” the statement revealed.
Ajisebutu added that the Command’s Commissioner, CP Hakeem Odumosu has vowed to ensure that the perpetrators of the act are brought to book.
Read the full statement:
SENIOR POLICE OFFICER ATTACKED, KILLED DURING RAID OF CRIMINAL HIDEOUTS IN LAGOS
The Lagos State Police Command lost one of its finest officers during a raid on criminal hideouts in Ajao Estate, Lagos State yesterday 23rd September, 2021.
The incident happened when tactical teams of the Command comprising men drawn from RRS, Taskforce, Ajao Estate Division and other divisions were carrying out raid of identified flashpoints and enforcing the ban on use of motorcycles in restricted areas in the Estate and similar places in the State.
The exercise was a routine proactive approach aimed at curtailing activities of armed robbers and other criminal elements in the State. Similar exercises were carried out in the past in other parts of the state which have resulted in reduction in crimes in the areas.
After the successful operations which led to the arrest of some of the suspects, other criminal elements and hoodlums in their large number laid siege to the exit of the Estate and attacked the policemen with guns, cutlasses and other dangerous weapons.
Unfortunately, during the fatal attack, CSP Kazeem Sumonu Abonde attached to the Operations Department of the Command was brutally killed by the hoodlums. The DPO Ajao Estate, CSP Abdullahi Malla and other Police officers equally sustained varying degrees of injuries. The corpse of the deceased officer has been deposited at the Yaba Mainland Hospital for autopsy.
The Commissioner of Police, CP Hakeem Odumosu while condemning the attack on the policemen who were carrying out legitimate duty at the time, has directed that a discreet investigation into the incident should be carried out immediately. The CP has equally vowed to ensure that all suspects responsible for the dastardly act would be brought to book soon.
The Commissioner of Police has promised that this mournful incident would not dampen the morale of the Command or discourage it from carrying out its statutory duties of protecting lives and property of the Citizens in Lagos State.