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Nigeria democracy day as a bespectacled devil – Part 2

By Evans Ufeli  
30 June 2021   |   3:02 am
The United States has condemned the continuous suspension of Twitter adding that such action ‘has no place in a democracy.’ That, ‘freedom of expression and access to information both online

A protester holds his national flag during a demonstration at Ojota in Lagos on June 12, 2021, as Nigerian activists called for nationwide protests over what they criticise as bad governance and insecurity, as well as the recent ban of US social media platform Twitter by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari. – Hundreds of protesters gathered on June 12, 2021 in Lagos, a sprawling megapolis of over 20 million people, and police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

Continued from yesterday

The United States has condemned the continuous suspension of Twitter adding that such action ‘has no place in a democracy.’ That, ‘freedom of expression and access to information both online and offline are convivial to a prosperous and secure democratic society.’ The European Union, Britain, Ireland and Canada have made similar statements against the continuous suspension of the same in Nigeria. The Nigerian government under Buhari is unperturbed as the minister for information is still busy issuing threats that other social media blogging sites must register with the Nigerian government or risk being banned from operations in Nigeria. That democracy is under threat in Nigeria is unfortunate, that the international community is pissed off and the government barely cares about that pains an ugly scenario of a brutal regime has vested on its citizens as well as disregard for her foreign counterparts.

The President at an interview some days back informed the nation that the Endsars Protest of last year was actually orchestrated by the youths to remove him from office by unlawful means. A protest that had a clear objective, with a proposal sent to the government wherein it responded to the nation’s demand to end SARS. That interview gave discerning Nigerians an insight into the president’s mindset. It’s disheartening and a spectacular display of ignorance to hold such an unfortunate view that the exercise of the fundamental rights of citizens provided for in the constitution is now a ploy to remove a sitting president from office. With the aforementioned expression, it is inferable that much more than the action of the Lagos State Government, the presidency has a hand in the shooting of innocent Nigerians at the Lekki tollgate on the 20th of October 2020 during the Endsars protest.

Not only is the Nigerian President unprepared for leadership, but he is also ignorant of processes and the constitutional framework of citizens’ engagement in governance in the exercise of human rights. The global trend today is that the creation of the internet has expanded the right to human communication and once that right is inalienable, it cannot be withdrawn because freedom of expression is a non-derogable right that cannot even be negotiated. Dictatorial leaders like Buhari cannot tolerate the peoples’ use of the internet to negotiate their space in a country like Nigeria. One of the reasons the internet was invented is to pull down oppression and expand the frontiers of human communication such that access to information and the platforms for human interactions remains unlimited. With this very viral quality of the internet, every empire, kingdom and government of the world today as we know it is heavily reliant on the internet which in turn dictates the pace of world affairs. The Nigerian government which has the majority of its leaders, from the old generation, finds it extremely difficult to play a catch up with its youthful and energetic population, hence the constant jittery that the youth plan to remove the president from office by unlawful means.

Nigerians must be free to exercise their fundamental rights as that is the only succor left for them having been led poorly to live low-quality lives and impoverished in ways that keep the average Nigerian gloomy and distraught. The government had better come to terms with the truth that the daily clampdown on the citizens cannot deter them from expressing of their fundamental rights. The brutal and draconian approach of the government will continue to meet fierce resistance as the citizens are emboldened to ask questions until the government finds an explanation to us and how so that since independence, Nigeria is yet to fix basic amenities for her populace and drive the economy towards a prosperous lot where all and sundry will find a reason to raise their voice to the dream and reality of freedom.

The thought that we have become the veterans of creative suffering as the bane of ethnicity ravages the totem of our common unity. Nigerians are asking why tribalism is dictating the face of our existence. Why criminals are pardoned and treated with kid-gloves just because of the premise of their geography and tribal lushness. Why inequality and unfairness reign in the land that swore to protect all under the umbrella of equity and justice. Why a tribe threatens another with death and the government stands in the middle of this tongue-tied. Why the government deploys the Army against one tribe as it beckons for secession and plays politics with the rest of us, confusing herself around the issues it should deal with forthrightly.

We must find the answers to these questions to leap up the oasis of freedom. The faith of our unity will not leave this trial until the verdict of justice is made clear. This conversation will not die as much as we live and the generation after us will make the demands if we fail to make meaning out of this strange union that seemed to have defied even its own solutions.

Ufeli Esq is a Lagos based Lawyer and executive director Cadrell Advocacy Centre.