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Between individual interest and Buhari’s national interest

Is it going to be determined by those in government, who, in their warped belief, think that national interest is their individual interest…?

Onuoha Ukeh

On Sunday, President Muhammadu Buhari dropped all pretences to show the world his anti-democracy tendencies. Looking executives of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and the top echelon of the country’s judiciary, including the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, straight in the eyes, he declared: “Rule of law must be subject to the supremacy of the nation’s security and national interest.”

READ ALSO: National security can’t be sacrificed for rule of law – Buhari

If the lawyers present during the declaration thought President Buhari made a mistake, as it is unbelievable that a leader in a democracy could actually give conditions for the rule of law to prevail, they were wrong. President Buhari justified his position. He stated: “Our apex court has had cause to adopt a position on this issue in this regard and it is now a matter of judicial recognition that, where national security and public interest are threatened or there is a likelihood of their being threatened, the individual rights of those allegedly responsible must take second place in favour of the greater good of society.”

First, it is pertinent to understand what rule of law and national interest mean. A dictionary defined rule of law thus: “The restriction of the arbitrary exercise of power by subordinating it to well-defined and established laws.” For Wikipedia, “national interest, often referred to by the French expression, raison d’état, is a country’s goals and ambitions, whether economic, military, cultural or otherwise.”

In President Buhari’s republic, “national interest” and “national security” would be superior to “rule of law.” However, he needs to also tell Nigerians who would determine “national interest,” most especially. Is it going to be determined by those in government, who, in their warped belief, think that national interest is their individual interest and that anything against them is against national interest? That is the point. There is a difference between the interest of Nigeria and the interest of President Buhari, for instance. So, when a presidency, which thinks that it is all-knowing, as the one in power at present, becomes the accuser, prosecutor and the judge, there is everything to worry about. It simply means that the government is gradually turning to dictatorship.

The Buhari government has told the world that it does not want to abide by the tenets of democracy, by the president’s declaration. Indeed, by his actions and body language, President Buhari has directly told us that “an accused is guilty until proved innocent,” against the norm in English law that “an accused is innocent until found guilty by a competent court of law.” Those who thought President Buhari was joking when he said former National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki, would not be released despite court orders, should now know that rule of law has been given to the dogs. If Dasuki is being held in national interest and national security, does it mean that when former Military President Ibrahim Babangida held President Buhari under house arrest, after taking over power from him in 1985, it was justified, being in “national interest?” If so, why did it take Buhari decades before he said he had “forgiven” Babangida? This is if he truly has.

READ ALSO: The many ‘gates’ of Buhari government (2)

We are supposed to be running a democracy, which guarantees individual rights/liberty, separation of power and the supremacy of the law, among others. It is a “system of rule by laws, not individuals.” In a democracy, the rule of law protects the rights of citizens, the maintenance of order and the limitation of the power of government. Therefore, by saying that the rule of law would be subjected to the so-called national interest, President Buhari is telling Nigerians that he wants to become an absolute ruler, who would determine what is right or wrong, depending on how it favours him. He wants to turn Nigeria to George Orwell’s Animal Farm, where a few people in power not only manipulated and exploited the public but also entrenched dictatorship.

The country under Buhari is gradually descending to autocracy, whereby the will of one man in government would prevail above the generality of the people who surrendered the country’s sovereignty to him through votes. Now people are no longer free to talk, as the government considers criticisms, more or less, as hate speeches. Government can impound anybody’s property, as provided in Executive Order 6, on the suspicion of corruption. Journalists are being harassed, arrested and detained for doing their job of holding the government accountable. And the freedoms provided in a democracy are being eroded, while some President is saying that this is in “national interest.” This is impunity of the highest order.

Separation of power presupposes that the three arms of government function independently, but with one goal of working for the good of the nation and for good governance. It is insulting for one arm of government to claim to love the country more than the other arms of government. It is unacceptable that a few people in government would claim to know more about love for country than the 185 million Nigerians who are the strength of the nation. The executive, legislature and judiciary have equal stake in the governance of the country. No matter how highly the Buhari presidency thinks of itself, it job is not more important than the legislature and the judiciary. It is absolutely wrong for the executive to run roughshod on everybody or to punish or incarcerate anybody without the directive or approval of the judiciary. And the executive cannot spend money that is not appropriated for or approved by the legislature. Doing so is a breach of the cardinal principles of democracy, which is an offence, impeachable offence at that.

The other arms of government should be blamed for the disregard to rule of law. To say the least, it is shocking that, six days after President Buhari insulted the judiciary right in its face, by his declaration on rule of law, the NBA, in particular, and the judiciary, in general, have not found it expedient to tell him that his position was antithetical to democracy. The judiciary dares not let Buhari’s comments go unchallenged because, by so doing, it is surrendering its independence and powers to an executive that wants to be in maximum rulership. This government is not pretending that it is out to disrespect the courts and the fundamental rights of Nigerians. Incidentally, Buhari, who is now invoking the supposed position of the court on national interest, is not ready to obey court orders. What a contradiction! The National Assembly, nay the legislature, dares not also look the other way when freedom is being raped on the altar of impunity.

READ ALSO: National security subject to rule of law, Falana tells Buhari

A plague now stares Nigerians in the face. It is a plague of authoritarian rule. Therefore, Nigerians should rise up against all anti-democracy behaviours of this government and its agents. If this descent to dictatorship is not arrested now, we will all discover, sooner than later, that we have lost our freedom. For one, such comments by President Buhari do not give anybody hope that Nigerians still have a say in the affairs of the nation. When a government is the absolute determinant of national interest, the people should just resign to fate and take whatever comes their way. Come to think of it: At a time when elections are coming and the President is telling us about national interest, which he is the interpreter, is it impossible that those in government could say that President Buhari’s loss of election in 2019, for example, is not in national interest and, therefore, do everything, including election manipulation, to ensure he wins? I am just thinking aloud.

Tokunbo David :Sun News Online team writer and news editor

View Comments (4)

  • There must be a Nation, before one ralk about national interest. A national is a sovereign state founded by the people concerned. The fraudulent political name Nigeria is not founded by this territory natives. The fraudulent political name Nigeria is founded by British bandits without Democratic consent of majority this territory natives, by so doing, existence of the fraudulent political name Nigeria in this natives territory is illegal by law, existence of fulani fraudulent criminal sultanate political government with its emirates in this natives territory is illegal by law, all the institutions etc. existing under the dead fraudulent political name Nigeria are illegal by law. Legitimate Sovereign States by law in this natives territory are: Biafra Republic of south east, Niger Delta Republic of south south, Oduduwa Republic of south west, North East Republic, North West Republic, North Central Republic, which must be defended with the Sword in this final conquest of the Liberation Revolutionary Warfare of the natives which is the conquest of Sokoto which has begun. God given Victory is the natives. Only the Sword decides. God Is With Us!!!

  • If we want one Nigeria, we sit down and discuss how we get along with the job of creating one Nigeria. If one Nigeria is not possible, except on individual terms, not on collective terms, I am in favour of going our different ways- Ango Abdullahi. Going our different ways- which is Disintegration based on backgrounds of the natives is the only answer. This territory natives of this generation has Disintegrated which are: Biafra Republic of south east, Niger Delta Republic of south south, Oduduwa Republic of south west, North East Republic, North West Republic, North Central Republic, which must be defended with the Sword in this final conquest which is the conquest of Sokoto which has begun. Disintegrated Republics of the natives with economic cooperation and assistance etc. which secures existence securities and freedom of this territory natives in this 21st century world international order- education, employment, salary, pension, social securities, business, public infrastructures, amenities etc. God given Victory is the natives. Only the Sword decides. God Is With Us!!!

  • "Individual terms" of Ango Abdullahi emphasis is the fact that so-called national interest, is only interest of fulani fraudulent criminal sultanate political government with its emirates and their brainwashed terrorism mercenaries nickname military, police etc. controlled by British bandits and fraudulent criminal America with their fraudulent criminal UN of 20th century world international order- which is to keep the dead fraudulent political name Nigeria in this natives territory and steal this territory natives God given Oil, Gas etc., use the dead fraudulent political name Nigeria to held Africa bondage underdeveloped, backward and steal Africa's God given wealth. Not "collective terms" of Ango Abdullahi emphasis- which is existence securities and freedom of this territory natives. "Going our different ways" of Ango Abdullahi emphasis- which is Disintegration based on backgrounds of the natives is the only answer. This territory natives of this generation has Disintegrated which must be defended with the Sword in this final conquest of the Liberation Revolutionary Warfare of the natives which is the conquest of Sokoto which has begun. It is Revolutionary Militant Groups- RMG etc. formation which its members are the new military, police etc. under the natives Disintegrated Republics- Biafra Republic of south east, Niger Delta Republic of south south, Oduduwa Republic of south west, North East Republic, North West Republic, North Central Republic. The war front is Sokoto- the last bastion of fulani fraudulent criminal sultanate political government with its emirates and the brainwashed terrorism mercenaries nickname military, police etc. controlled by British bandits and fraudulent criminal America with their fraudulent criminal UN of 20th century world international order. God given Victory is the natives. Only the Sword decides. God Is With Us!!!

  • Anyone who stand for fulani fraudulent criminal sultanate political government with its emirates and their brainwashed terrorism mercenaries nickname military, police etc. under the dead fraudulent political name Nigeria controlled by British bandits and fraudulent criminal America with their fraudulent criminal UN of 20th century world international order, stands for the so-called "national security" in compromise of "rule of law". Which is "existence securities" of the fraudulent political name Nigeria in compromise of "existence securities and freedom" of this territory natives. This territory natives of this generation must defend their "existence securities and freedom" in this 21st century world international order under the natives Disintegrated Republics in Southern Countries Union- SCU in this final conquest of the Liberation Revolutionary Warfare of the natives which is the conquest of Sokoto which has begun. God given Victory is the natives. Only the Sword decides. God Is With Us!!!

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