It was Lord Acton, a Professor of History in Cambridge in a letter he sent to his bishop on April 5, 1887 who said “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
It is quite instructive to view from the lens of Lord Acton’s theory, which is no longer a theory but an impeccable natural law, the Naira re-design and swap’s storm President Muhammadu Buhari unleashed on Nigerians since January this year and the stubborness with which he and his co-travellers in this ignoble, pauperising and dehumanising policy, have refused to bow to voices of reason from within and outside Nigeria, including the World Bank.
Judging by the unbelievable way this man-to-man inhumanity is being served on Nigerians as if it is dinner, by fellow citizens, especially those entrusted with their sovereignty, it has become imperative to interrogate how we found ourselves in this “one chance vehicle”, with a view to avoiding a repeat of self-inflicting tragedy which this has undoubtedly become. From experiences all over the world, there is a consensus that dictators like leopard can never change their skin and always see the most harmless attempt to correct any of their worst decisions as attack and challenges to their authority and authoritarianism and are ready to fight back in the fiercest manner.
In Nigeria, we don’t have to travel far to locate some of these dictators, we have them in our backyard. For instance all the military men who had forced themselves on us as leaders without any exemption, were nothing but dictators. Even after accepting that ignominious history as our fate, it is unfortunate that we have continued to inflict further injuries and pains on ourselves in many forms by recycling some of these dictators as civil or democratic presidents.
Nigerians’ unforgettable experience under outgoing dictator-turned President Buhari who even deployed his dictatorship against his own people (All Progressives Congress, APC) on the eves of the ongoing elections, without any provocation has indeed validated my hypothesis that dictators like the leopard can never change. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo equally displayed the same belligerent dictatorship when we returned him as civilian president.
A remarkable credit should indeed go to those who propounded the doctrine of “Separation of Power”, who created the three arms of governance and decorated them with a common insignia of sovereignty, thereby saving mankind from feudal lords who take pleasure in making the people who are the real and original custodian of sovereignty, serfs. In Nigeria, the Judiciary, one of the independent leg of tripod sovereignty has remained the most trusted friend of the true custodian of sovereignty, often saving them from the carnivorous executive arm.
The recent landmark decisions of the Supreme Court with respect to the totalitarian and tyrannically imposed currency re-design and Naira swap order monster unleashed on Nigerians, the totalitarian order was not only reversed, but for the first time in recent history of the Supreme Court, it stood face to face with the evil-genius authors to address them in their real names; enemies of the people and lawless individuals.
The historic rulings, including the earlier interim injunction, have qualified the Court to contest for Nigeria’s Man of The Year 2023. The grave disobedience of the earlier injunction by the trio of President Buhari, Malami and Godwin Emefiele and the blind continuation of the insidious and evil exercise, is part of the tragedy of being governed by dictators, who by their nature, are insensitive, covering their ears and eyes at all time.
Having commended the apex court, especially its ability to assert its sovereign judicial authority and divesting Buhari of self-imposed judicial power to review judgment of the Supreme Court, I am of the opinion that both Malami and Emefiele should have been given jail-term sentences, which of course, no court in the land can review, to serve as deterrence to others, especially from the executives who took pleasure in inflicting maximum suffering on hapless Nigerians.
That the duo escaped being punished by the Court should not mean that the case is over or that they can walk freely. Far from that, they should be made to face some sanctions at the level of their professional bodies, because they have brought disrepute to their various profession going by the manner the apex court chastised them. If the Nigerian Bar Association and professional bodies in the banking sector which Emefiele belongs to do not want Nigerians to see them as aiding and abetting in this matter, the duo must be maximally sanctioned.
The Naira swap tragedy, whose suffering may be fairly close to what Nigerians passed through during the civil war must be accorded the right attention by the in-coming government of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who should set up a Panel of Enquiry similar to the one set up shortly after the 2020 historic EndSars protest, to fish out all the conspirators, their ulterior motives, other than what Nigerians were fed with and award compensations to families of the 14 persons killed as well as those who were wounded.
In addition to the above, the principal culprits, Buhari, Emefiele and Malami should be severally sued in court by government as well as individuals and be prosecuted for the murder of the 14 dead victims.
Having spoken on behalf of the martyrs of this tragedy, it is equally important to salute the heroes of the struggle, particularly the APC governors who jettisoned party affiliation and loyalty to Mr President to initiate and led the titanic battle. The governors of Kaduna, Zamfara and Kogi who were on the front line as well as other governors who joined them truly deserved kudos. The President-elect, Tinubu should also be singled out for commendation for his audacious outcry against the policy, notwithstanding the fact that he was standing for election on the platform of the same party whose president with this policy, descended on Nigerians like Hitler.
Probably the only gainer from this tragedy is democracy going by the fact that those who championed the struggle were people from the same political party, not members of the opposition; meaning that in democracy members of the ruling party and opposition do have certain things in common, chief among is the wellbeing of the individuals and the country as a whole. It has clearly shown that for a healthier party system there must be opposition within, the absence of this in the past is the reason why we are where we are today. Let the music playon!
As we are closing the chapter of the 2023 presidential election, another beckons in four years’ time and beyond. However, the worst crime Nigerians could commit against themselves again is to elect a former dictator as president, while I am not taking from them the right to put themselves up as aspirants or candidates during elections/party primaries. But as long as the power to decide belongs to us, we should think twice, there can never be a benevolent dictator.
• Fanoro, a journalist, is the national president, Congress for Rights Of Yoruba Nationalities (CROY)