The freedom of the people to speak and air their mind regarding the activities and actions of the government which they are part of is considered one of the most important feature of a democratic system in any country of the world. It is a feature and display of the readiness of a government that is not just democratically elected but also democratically oriented in the order of its affairs. Either good or bad, that is whether the public comments are good or bad, the ability of a government to accommodate the opinion of the people, its people gives it a firm credibility that it is truly after the tenet and values of democracy. The Nigerian society by structure and ideological set-up is purely a democratic society with the constitution to back it up which lends credence and validity to the order or the rules of engagement in a democratic setting. In recent times the Goodluck Jonathan led administration in Nigeria was highly praised for its ability and willingness to embrace and live with the harsh criticisms thrown towards its administration. However, the Muhammadu Buhari led administration in Nigeria has come under fire in recent times over its inability to accept public criticisms from different angles in the nation. Since the inception of the Buhari led administration in Nigeria, several bigwigs in his administration has showcased a high intolerance towards the harsh criticism thrown at it which has led to the arrest of several Nigerians over what they called or categorized hate speech in Nigeria. The Popular and former presidential aspirants and owner of the Sahara Reporters was for a long time detained over his activities which the federal government felt threatened with or by which led to them accusing him of anti-state charges. This saw to him being detained for months which created a national scene and debacle in Nigeria. Similarly, this was the case of Agba Jalingo who was arrested in a similar manner by the cross river governor Ben Ayade.
The minister of information of the federal republic of Nigeria,Lai Mohammed was once involved in a similar fracas all which are a pointer to their intolerance for criticisms. The recent comments by President Olusegun Obasanjo regarding the administration of the Muhammadu Buhari Government in Nigeria has been met with harsh criticisms from the Presidency as he was labelled as a divider whose action is nothing but another attempt to create division and disruption in the country. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was reported to have stated that the Buhari led administration in the country has created more division than ever in the history of the nation.
He added that the dialogue process in the nation has not at any point in time proven fruitful as the various recommendations has been ignored and neglected. While many from the presidency has continued to crticisize the former president, Prof.Wole Soyinka has also aired his opinion regarding the issue. The novel prize winner for literature stated that although he’s not an avid fan of the former president of Nigeria nevertheless he is in support of former president Olusegun Obasanjo. He explained that Nigeria has been greatly divided under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. And if effective measures are not taken to curtail this, it might spell doom for the country.
Analysing the positions of these two elder statesmen, we must carefully examine and objectively examine how valid they are. Considering the various issues evolving around the Nigerian national discourse.
First the Nigerian society has been torn apart by politics, while the next presidential and general elections in the nation is still few years away, there has however been various political activities and calculations has began to see to a tensed federating units. While the North seeks to retain the Presidency, the East have laid claims to the Presidency stating that their region has been neglected and marginalized in the power sharing history of the nation. While other regions in the nation has at one point or the other had a share in the nation’s Presidency they have never at any point have the luxury of having one of them rule the nation. In the same vein, the South-West is already making a list of potential candidates who are best suited for the exalted position.
All these continual permutations and arrangements has in one way or the other divided the nation. Also the manner in which several state elections has bee conducted so far in which many people believe that the will of the people has been taken away from the people; coupled with the maladministration being witnessed in the nation which has seen to the embezzlement of state funds which has denied the Nigerian populace of even growth and development, there has been a shift or division between the nation’s political class and the masses.
Also the issue of insecurity in the nation has created so much tension across the nation and its federating units. The inability of the Muhammadu Buhari led administration in Nigeria to successfully put an end to the various cases of insecurity in the nation has left a huge disappointment on the minds of many Nigerians. The rising cases of the activities of the armed herders from the Northern part of the nation has created a tensed atmosphere between the Fulani herders and other Nigerians. There has been various clashes recorded so far in recent times between the herders and civilians in the nation Nigeria. While the federal government has failed to do something meaningful to curtail the situation, this has led to the politicization of the issue as many believes that it’s an intentional plot of the federal government to take over their lands by using the herders. These thoughts gained much popularity with the proposed plan of the federal government to create the Ruga settlement for herders in the nation.
While there are plenty reasons and factors which can be used to justify the position of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Prof.Wole Soyinka,it is quite important for the federal government to dwell more on its policies and rules of engagement, it’s important that they are more tolerant of the criticisms of others no matter how harsh they might seem. They must also ensure that their subsequent activities in the nation are geared towards uniting the nation as one.
By Marcus Amudipe