CURRENT HAPPENINGS IN Nigeria these days suggest that the Nigerian constitution is fast asleep.  If the Constitution is asleep, then it is all for a free day. If an eye-for-an eye is for the Fulani herdsmen, then a balance of the equation is needed somewhere. After the blame game is over, let’s see if the Presidency will look the other way or favour one party against the other.  The fundamental duty of the state and any responsible government is the protection of lives and properties. It is about maintaining basic law and order as the foundation for citizens to go about their daily activities to facilitate economic growth and development. This informs the existence of the apparatus for the maintenance of law and order and organised violence strictly controlled by the government, to the exclusion of every other entity in the state. Laws, regulations and policies are made and are bound to be obeyed by all citizens at the pain of punishment for disobedience. Sanctions and retributions follow the disobedience of the law.  But in a situation where herdsmen are allowed to carry arms and ammunitions because they practiced their private business and no security agency is challenging them makes the situation to be worse than imagined.  Cow grazing is a legitimate and private business but in Nigeria it seems the government has adopted it as a government business. The Constitution is simply asleep!!!

In the Nigerian context, our constitution is supreme and provides for fundamental human rights. The first of these fundamental rights is the right to life which is only written in the constitution within narrowly defined prisms. It is this right that provides the fulcrum for the enjoyment of other rights, because human rights are only for the living. The same constitution recognises the right of citizens to defend themselves against unwarranted attacks to their lives. Indeed, the right to self-defense is an inseparable part of the right to life. The state is therefore obligated to prevent, investigate and punish any human rights violation carried out in its territory, not only by the acts of public officers or individuals but also directly resulting from acts not directly imputable to officers of the state.  It is expected to have a government in firm control of its territory with a monopoly of the instruments of the legitimate use of force and coersion.  The killing of human beings over disputations on cow grazing which has become accentuated since the Buhari administration is very disturbing.  Hundreds have lost their lives from Benue State to Plateau, Kaduna, among others.  What has been the response of the Buhari led federal government that controls all the security apparatus and instruments of organized violence? The government has simply looked the other way when killings are going on.  After each round of violence and killings, government seems not to bother about these.  After a few weeks, the dead are buried and the noise settles down and life continues like a jolly train ride.  No one is ever held accountable and prosecuted to the end so that Nigerians can see and understand that there is no penalty for murder and mass killings. The Constitution is simply asleep!!!

In a civilized community, the President calls off foreign trips or any other official assignment to return home if a few citizens died in any mishap.  Not in Nigeria where President Buhari was in Abuja when the Benue massacre took place; he neither visited the state to commiserate with the people nor did he send any high powered delegation during the burial of the 73 innocents who were murdered by the herdsmen.  This is simply insensitive, uncaring, condescending and shows a lack of feeling and contempt for human lives.  To compound matters, some governors from the President’s party gathered a day after the burial in Benue State to urge him to run for a second term in office.  Indeed, without anyone asking them for any apologies, they indicated that they had no apology to anyone for supporting this re-election bid.  This is a government that promised security as one of its major campaign promises now presides over a nation where human life is equated with cows and President Buhari believes he has done so well in terms of security.  The Constitution is simply asleep!!!

Nigerians primarily expect a government (at all levels) that would put the nations interest ahead of any individual interest or aspirations which more than often, proves inimical in the long-run to the unity of the country. From the activities and results Nigerians witnessed in the last one week, it may be safe to assume that, individual interests, as opposed to national interest, was the leading component that influenced the conduct of the government. This would be applicable to both the leading factions that played a part in macabre dance that has come to be known as the Nigerian political contest. If there was a genuine desire to enforce national unity and exhibit an “extraordinary change”, the federal government could have sat down and consider the issues that would have been in the best interest of Nigeria. They could have considered the best option that would foster the unity of Nigeria and provided the most conducive atmosphere for every Nigerian to enjoy the so-called mandate of change.

Indeed, there are valuable lessons to be learned from the past if we want to forge ahead positively. The yearnings for change have got to be protected and sustained at all cost during this administration. The nation must be put ahead of the interest of every single individual either in government or out of government that is putting self before the over 170-million people who gave their mandate. Our country is already besieged with a myriad of problems, and Nigerians voted for change in proffering effective solutions to them. It’s about time that we realize that the unity and overall benefit and interest of the country prevails over any interest or aspiration of any individual, in power or out-of-power. If all the game playing is about 2019, they must appreciate that 2019 is around the corner and we should not allow any individual aspiration hedged on the future, to continue tainting and informing the decisions of the present.

The Constitution is fast asleep!!!

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