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LEGISREPORTS EDITORIAL: State of Emergency – Between opposition politics and national interest

LEGISREPORTS NG – The flurry of commendation and endorsement of the decision of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to declare a state of emergency in three states of the north to restore Nigeria’s territorial integrity and sovereignty in the northern parts of the country ravaged by the menace of boko haram insurgency has revealed the underbelly of opposition politicians in Nigeria.


LEGISREPORTS is fully aware of and respects the rights of individuals and groups to dissent and hold opposing views but it is our position that such dissent and opposition should not conflict with national interest.


Late last week, governors of the 19 states in the north under the auspices of the Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF) suddenly made a volte farce from an earlier position and gave its backing to the President’s proclamation of a state of emergency in the three northern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States.


At about the same time, governors from the South-south (apparently without Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State) and South-east geo-political zones of the country pledged their support for the president’s action.


Another noteworthy development on the boko haram insurgency also came about this time. Mr. Ban Ki Moon, the United Nations Secretary General, tacitly endorsed the action of the federal government when he hinted in a statement that the blood-thirsty insurgents may be tried for crimes against humanity.


Curiously, some opposition politicians (including some in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP) had either canvassed against the imposition of emergency rule or condemned it. The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), chaired by Rivers State Governor, Mr. Amaechi, a PDP leader in his own right, had signed a statement on the eve of Mr. President’s declaration, in which he said the country’s governors would kick against emergency declaration.


After the declaration, Nigeria’s vibrant but garrulous opposition mouthpiece, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) issued a statement signed by its rather national publicity secretary, Mr. Lai Mohammed, condemning the decision of the president. As almost usual with criticisms of the government by the opposition, Mr. Mohammed’s ACN offered no alternative to tackle the insurgency that was driving Nigeria to an uncomfortable brink. Clearly against the grain of public opinion (as echoed by its presidential candidate in the 2011 election, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu) the party called on the national assembly to deny approval of Mr. President’s proclamation. In addition, ACN’s standard bearer and national leader, Mr. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a former senator and immediate past governor of Lagos State, said the president missed the point on the issue.


Even the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the popular opposition party in northern Nigeria which earlier endorsed the president’s action quickly ate its words to join the ACN in the unpopular condemnation of the state of emergency.


LEGISREPORTS finds this tendency of opinion moulders, political mobilizers and supposed leaders to play negative politics with every situation in the country very disturbing and unfortunate.


Though criticism forms a major catalyst for robust national discourse and development, it is however critical that such interventions be seen to have been offered from a point of view of national interest, aimed to help those in power to view matters concerning governance in proper perspectives.


Sadly, this has not been the case in the country. Even more disheartening, the current spate of insecurity and heat up in the system was in no way ameliorated by utterances of opposition politicians who have been anything but constructive in their attack of government.


While we commend the governors who suddenly backed the president on his declaration of emergency rule in the three states of the North, we must now ask the NGF how it arrived at its earlier decision not to support the declaration of emergency rule.


That the governors from the north, south-south and south-east who are all part of NGF, now give their backing to the president’s action raises the question as to what manner of deliberation the umbrella body had before making its earlier position known via a statement by Governor Amaechi.


What facts were the governors availed with after the declaration of emergency rule that they had no access to before they supposedly made their earlier decision not to back the president as a body? Or did Amaechi act alone in the name of the collective? Or is it possible that he has now been betrayed by his colleagues in the group who have now seen the political misjudgement in campaigning against emergency rule? Either way, the Rivers state governor, known to be entangled in a notorious battle of political supremacy with President Jonathan, has scored very low points in the minds of the public as far as this matter is concerned.


LEGISREPORTS position is that those who chose to play politics with vital issues that affects the corporate existence of the country must have a rethink and retrace their steps.


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