It seems that for President Muhammadu Buhari, there appears to be one solution to national problem: more of it.
Is Nigeria facing the challenge of financial corruption? The approach is not to understand corruption as a primal behaviour that will be inevitably unleashed on any society whose social and political mechanisms operate with loose nuts and bolts. Instead, corruption is treated by a further loosening of the system; undermining the rule of law and staging a public crucifixion of those labelled corrupt. To solve the problem of corruption, they thus entangle us in even more corruption.
On Monday, Buhari did it again when he said at an All Progressives Congress caucus meeting that thugs who snatch ballot boxes on Election Day do so at the expense of their lives. He said he had given instructions to the police and the military authorities to be ruthless with alleged election riggers. In essence, the President is saying that his method of dealing with a primitive and criminal behaviour like election rigging is the equally barbaric summary execution of the alleged riggers without even a recourse to the judicial process. He invests both the police and the military personnel with the totalitarian power to locate crime, pronounce judgment on the supposed criminal and execute judgment at their discretion. When you listen to the men of the Nigerian military saying they too are ready to deal with troublemakers during the elections, you begin to wonder if Nigeria left 1984.
To be sure, the rhetoric of “do-or-die” is not new in the Nigerian political system. We were here when, following a particularly bloody post-election violence enacted by Buhari’s followers in 2011, he claimed that “dogs and baboons” would once again be soaked in blood. In 2014, it was the APC national leader, Bola Tinubu, that pronounced that subversion of the elections would result in “rig and roast.” Politicians of all hues and sizes have made similar inflammatory comments; the vocabulary of violence in Nigeria barely metamorphoses. Recently, a rather desperate politician, the Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, threatened that foreign election observers could go home in “body bags.” El-Rufai of all people should know all about body bags; it was under his watch that 347 Shiites who were massacred by Nigerian soldiers were mass-buried.
By Abimbola Adelakun