Don’t asphyxiate us, let us breathe. Remove your knees from the neck of Nigeria, and let the country be. What do we owe you, that you make it seem we must never have peace?
That was the sum total of the caution given early this week by the Department of State Services (DSS) on the state of the nation. Nigeria is currently undergoing severe security challenges, but rather than team up with government and security agencies to find solutions, some past and present political leaders, disgruntled religious leaders, and ethnic champions are in cahoots, to exacerbate the situation. They are plotting to hold conferences, which would pass vote of no confidence in President Muhammadu Buhari, a man they so much love to hate.
These agent provocateurs were the first to sow the seed of evil, disharmony and suspicion in the country, through the war of tongues they have deployed against the government of the day for many years. In their estimation, nothing good is happening in the country, except killings and bloodshed. And the only way out, in their narrow minds, is a removal of the constitutional order.
Now, how do you achieve such in a democracy, without subverting the very essence of democracy itself, and throwing the country into a tailspin? They do not bother, neither do they care. All they want is to get the man they do not want to see out of power. They have deployed everything against him: evil speaking, hate speech, misinformation, disinformation, bile, malignancy, and more. In the build up to the 2019 elections, they banded together, endorsed a candidate, whom they were already calling ‘My President’ before the polls. But what did we see? They were beaten black and blue, as Nigerians opted for a man they could trust.
What they lost through the ballot box, they have been plotting to get through the back door. Bad-mouth the man, paint him black, portray him as incompetent, and turn the people against him. And they have found a smokescreen in the security challenges the country is facing. They have crept under it, to show their hidden, hostile hands.
Incidentally, while combating insecurity, and myriads of other challenges, President Buhari is making conquests on other fronts, particularly infrastructure. Roads, bridges, rail network, airports, gas pipelines, other massive projects are ongoing. And they are telling themselves: unless we stop this man, he will still become the authentic Nigerian hero. So they are throwing everything against him, including the kitchen sink.
There is one funny fellow at the National Assembly, who is always using foul words against the leadership of the country. The more uncouth the words from him, the happier he seems to be. He has, to a large extent, poisoned the minds of people in his region of the country against the government. Evil words inexorably germinate, and bear bitter seeds.
It was ironic to see the fellow this week talk of massive insecurity in the land, poor state of the economy, and alleged stifling of voices of dissent. This was a character who stood surety for an insurrectionist who then jumped bail. The government has not put the man in the slammers, where he rightly belongs, and he has the temerity to talk of stifling of voices of dissent in the land. Good grief!
He talked of utilizing all constitutional means to do the needful against the government of the day. Well, every butterfly fancies itself a bird, and the fact that the mangrove tree lives inside the river does not make it a crocodile. Talk is cheap, and dreams cost nothing. The intention of that fellow, and his co-travelers is not really about now. What they are playing is the politics of power grab in 2023, thinking they should muddy the waters before then, as much as possible. When the lobster walks on mud, it stirs it up for everybody. The welfare and well being of the country and its peoples do not matter.
The disgruntled, caterwauling religious and political leaders are working towards a vote of no confidence in the President. After that, what next? The DSS has indicated support for a united, indivisible Nigeria, stressing that government can only be changed through the electoral process. The military has equally done same, saying it is committed to the present Administration and democratic institutions in the land. Good.
The military went further: “The current security challenges are not insurmountable. The Armed Forces in partnership with other security agencies are working assiduously to ameliorate the challenges. Nigeria will know peace again.”
Amen and amen. I can hear you say. This land will know peace again. And yes, this is where those past and present political leaders, religious figures, and chieftains of ethnic groups should have positioned. Instead of shenanigans to pass yeye votes of no confidence in a President doing his level best for the country, they should align with the military in the conviction that “Nigeria shall know peace again.” True, the security challenges are troubling and daunting, but they are not insurmountable. And Nigeria shall win.
These political, religious and ethnic leaders should please get their knees off the necks of Nigerians, and they should let us breathe. They have arrogated too much influence and authority to themselves, while not knowing that they are mere paper tigers. Nigeria is bigger than them, and the country will survive.
As I often say, this country is like the testicles of a ram, which gyrates from side to side, as the animal runs. However fast the speed of the ram, have you ever seen the testicles fall off? Or when a woman runs, and holds her breasts, is it for fear that those tender parts will fall off? It never happens.
No matter what they do or say, irrespective of their machinations, Nigeria will survive. And peace, flowing like a river, shall return to this land.
THEY SHOULD LET US BREATHE — Femi Adesina
*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity.