Nigeria: Where ‘Leaders’ Are Rulers

[Article by Ayokunle Adeleye]

I woke up this morning to the harmattan occupation of my room. Little
did I know that in nearby Lagos, my fellow Nigerians woke up more to
the army occupation of their neighbourhood than to the harmattan
occupation of the same! My fellow Nigerians are under siege, not by
the neighbouring Beninois army, not in a House of Assembly-sanctioned
State of Emergency, but at the whim of a capricious and rather
effeminate President caving in to hideous pressure. I can hardly
believe that my beloved President and Commander-in-Chief of my
fatherland’s armed forces will deploy the latter on us—my fellow
Nigerians and me! Yet, this was the same man who would not deploy the
army on the Boko Haram, but now so readily—it seems—deploys it on
law-abiding citizens merely utilising their constitution-guaranteed
right to peaceful protests and lawful assemblies! Something is
definitely wrong with someone in some (asshole) Rock somewhere. (DO
pardon me. I have lost my civility to my indignation at my injured
civic pride for there is nothing civil about deploying soldiers on my

Had I woken up earlier, I am told, I would have listened to my
President speak to us like my principal spoke to us students on the
assembly ground back in secondary school years ago. Confused in my
confined rage, and confounded by the blatant rape of our once stellar
democracy, I ponder, Why will a non-military President deploy troops
on us when even past ex-military Presidents did not? Could it be that
he is ignorant to the weight of his actions having never been in
uniform? Alas, he does not feel our pains who is not in our shoes.
Alas, our case is as the British historian, Lord Acton deplored in his
Letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887, “Power tends to corrupt,
and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always
bad men… There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies
the holder of it.”

A long time ago, another wise man observed, “Power corrupts and
absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Has our President been so carried
away in political inebriation to deploy his troops on his people? But
why won’t he? He never had to contest. He had opportunities handed to
him on platters of silver, if not gold. Was he not handed the
Presidency without sweat? And afterwards, did he not have the
incumbent’s advantage in the last general elections? Whatever felicity
he feels, he feels in error, for his recently acquired felinity makes
him the Nebuchadnezzar he purportedly detests being. His lion’s face
is scowled, rather unfortunately, at the wrong people; we are after
all not Boko Haram. And as it did not end well for Nebuchadnezzar, as
he was humiliated before his people, so shall it be with our President
if he does not reconsider, for democracy is a government of the
people, by the people and for the people. He obviously needs to be
schooled in history, for my earlier-quoted wise-man George Bernard
Shaw concluded, “Except for those who learn from lessons of history.”

And here is the history:
Long ago before records were kept, long ago when history was still
written in the minds of the aged and recited in the ears of toddlers,
long ago when men had little available history to learn from, Ilorin,
the capital city of Kwara State, Nigeria, was under Yoruba kingship.
Long ago, before, as we are told, Afonja, Yoruba king of Ilorin
solicited the assistance of the Fulani MILITARY against his own
people. The rest, as they say, is history, but Afonja lost his throne
to the Fulanis he invited, so that rather than have an Oba of Ilorin,
what is is an Emir of Ilorin.

The Bible itself is replete with accounts of kings who enlisted the
help of other, supposedly more powerful, kings only to be dethroned by
the latter or rendered vassal kings. If you wonder if the same is
possible in contemporary times, or in modern-day Nigeria, consider
this: As recently as two scores and six years ago, our then young
(six-year-old) democracy was overthrown by the military in an event
that was commemorated yesterday, January 15th, the same yesterday when
our President intimidated our Labour leaders. Yet it is the same
military that our President turns to for help.  What remains to see is
if the same can happen in modern-day Nigeria as our incumbent
President gives our military the veritably desirable taste of power.
Perhaps our President needs to be re-schooled in our National Anthem,
“The labour of our heroes PAST,
Shall never be in vain.”
May God help us all.

It is rather distasteful that Nigerians in diaspora can protest in
another man’s land but our own President shuts us up in our own land!
Yet he shuts us up, not by soliciting for empathy, nay, that is rather
un-Nigerian. He shuts us up by letting soldiers out of their barracks
and into our streets while he stays un-terrorised in Aso Rock. Our
President bullies us into submission on the pretext that we are
hoodlums in need, and dire need indeed, of military subjugation.
Whatever the case, he should not have deployed the Nigerian Army on
Lagos State. If anything, he should have charged the Mobile Police
instead. As reference, the US will never deploy their military on
their soil; they will rather employ the National Guard. Our President
therefore leaves us to wonder about what he really wants, another
coup? or another civil war?

And what is worse? He called our Labour leaders together and BRIEFed
them! When did a dialogue become a BRIEFing? With all the respect
befitting a Grand Commander of my Federal Republic, and in full
utilisation of my rights to freedom of speech and expression, and my
entitlement to my opinion, it is suggested that the President’s latest
acts of instigation be evaluated for no DEMOCRATIC President deploys
troops without cause on the electorate—especially not an electorate
that endured sorrows, tears and bloodshed in the fight for democracy;
especially not an electorate that braved horse whips, tear gas and
bullets, to enforce him as Acting President, and defied the heat of
the tropical sun just to ink the ballot papers in his favour despite
salty brows and sweaty palms that refused opposition bribes. We wiped
sweat off our brows for him, he cannot browbeat us, however ungrateful
an ingrate that he is.

With the suspended Labour strike, Nigerians have seemingly been
silenced in their fatherland, intimidated by their own military forces
and once again denied their voice, their right. But the struggle is
far from over, for when a government refuses the voice of his people,
it welcomes the herald of his demise. In his Declaration of the Rights
of Man, Maximilien Robespierre wrote, “Any law which violates the
indefeasible rights of man is essentially unjust and tyrannical; it is
not a law at all.” In shutting down our peaceful protests, our right,
our government has become an unjust law to us. In the Summa
Theologica, Italian theologian and philosopher, Thomas Aquinas, wrote,
“Human law is law only by virtue of its accordance with right reason,
and by this means it is clear that it flows from Eternal law. In so
far as it deviates from right reason it is called an unjust law; and
in such a case, it is no law at all, but rather an assertion of
violence.” Our government has become an unjust law to us, yet an
unjust law is no law at all.

Our President has brought the fight to us, and those of us who
hitherto were on the fence must now leave the borders, the fence, that
we are and move in to OCCUPY NIGERIA that we may force out liars who
claim to reduce fuel price from ₦141 to ₦97 when in fact they have
increased it from ₦65 to ₦97. The fuel-price bottle is not half-empty,
it is half-full, and may it not fill up with the wrath and indignation
of the Nigerian populace incited by a dictatorial, un-uniformed RULING
Head of State parading as a democratic, LEADING President in civvies.
Should the fuel-price bottle become full, it would not be the end of
our beginning; it would indeed be the beginning of our end. May that
never happen. Amen.

A student of The FOUR Generations: Why You Do the Things YOU Do!
published by AuthorHouse UK Publishers and University Press Plc.,
Ibadan, I remain yours, a fellow-Nigerian Nigeria occupant, Ayk Midas
Afowoolukoyasire, urging, they can’t kill us all for they won’t dare
govern themselves (they are not just civilised enough, you know).


Ayokunle Adeleye currently lives in Sagamu, Nigeria. His recent book, The Four Generations, is currently available for purchase on

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