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The lessons of history beckon

I wrote a piece in The Guardian titled, ‘We May Yet Thank the Military.’ Many of my highly respected friends, including the highly cerebral legal…

I wrote a piece in The Guardian titled, ‘We May Yet Thank the Military.’ Many of my highly respected friends, including the highly cerebral legal intellectual and comrade, Akin Oyebode, never ceased from reminding me of the aptness of that piece, especially after the content of the article became manifestly uncanny in the overthrow of that massively rigged election as the ultimately capping of a rabidly corrupt civilian government under the leadership of a benign and leprously innocent Shehu Shagari. Looking back, in hindsight, now at what the military leadership is doing and has not done with regard to the postponement of the February 14, 2014 scheduled elections, I am persuaded that we no longer have cause to thank the military for the tottering destiny of our nation, as things stand, even as sarcastic as that thank was!.
The service chiefs at the head of the military had made it impossible for INEC, in spite of its confident pronouncement that it was ready to conduct the election as planned, without deference to the obvious challenges it faced in doing so. This is in spite of the mental readiness of the electorate to put the elections behind them, come February 28. The service chiefs waited until the eve of the elections to inform a bemused nation that it was unable to guarantee the security of the elections and counseled INEC to postpone it. The security operatives said they had a job at hand; a major battle to wage, conclusively? with the rampaging and deadly Boko Haram ‘warriors’. It needed six weeks to dispel that force. It is, I must say, sounding believable, now that the postponement is in force and the time is being utilized by INEC, the campaigning political parties and the military operatives that the postponement has been found useful. The military is vexed with their one-time Commander-in- Chief, Olusegun Obasanjo for roundly denouncing their action and asking them to ‘go home’. Still, methinks it is no longer timely or apt to thank the military in view of the thick palpable rumour making the round. This is to the effect that the military, in spite of the help it is receiving from small nations like Niger, Chad and Cameroon in its onslaught, to terminate Boko Haram’s terror on our land, it is not only unlikely that it can secure the northeast for elections in the next for or so weeks left of the postponement season, but that Boko Haram is even threatening to enlarge its suzerainty to the north-west (heavens and men forbid!).
 The Nation Newspaper carried a report to the effect that the military high command may be hand-in-gloves on an alleged ‘rigging’ plot in the offing against the March 28 and April 11 elections or otherwise foist further postponement of the elections as scheduled. And, in spite of the valiant denials by the President and his aids, the opposition has continued to scream blue murder over the alleged plan to sack Jega and his team, using surreptitious ploys.    
There is no complacency on the part of the articulate segment of the society, including the civil society and the international community in nudging the sitting government not to toy with the destiny of the nation through any act (s)-covert or overt-through further postponement, orchestrating unconstitutional interim governing term or tenure elongation. Many have compared the situation, as it is, due to the postponed elections, with June 12. My friend of many decades, Mohamed Haruna has offered a detailed account of the history of this country, with its copious negative verdict on those leaders and their governments that had, in the past, tried to turn the hand of the nation’s clock without regard to the popular will of the citizens. In his syndicated piece miserly titled ‘Unlearned Lesson of June 12’ (I think the title should be more appropriately couched ‘the unlearned lesson of history’ since the article took us way back in history to the insensitive actions taken since Aguyi Ironsi’s Unification Decree of 1966, Gowon’s shift of transition as 1976  was no longer realistic since the Governors were yet to conclude their nine years’ ‘short’ breakfast tenure, all through to Ibrahim Babangida’s infamous and inglorious annulment of June 12. Everybody who has spoken and written on the subject of the dire imperative for the government of President Goodluck not to attempt to further tinker with the elections or indeed the constitutionally prescribed end of his term, come May 29. The writings and warnings have been strident. The narration of the lessons of the past, which his predecessors had refused to learn from to their unmitigated chagrin, have been unambiguous.    
I may be wrong but I sincerely hope and wish that I am not in believing that Goodluck Jonathan will not be willing to go the way of those of his predecessors in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa (including Gbagbo whom, his most visible nemesis and recanting godfather, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, cited as an example of the designs of Jonathan). I am willing, judging from the sub-texts of his body language, the unspoken semiosis of his attitude, to give the President the benefit of the doubt that he will not touch May 29 will the longest poll within his reach. I will go with the European Union and Ecowas’ observers in suggesting that Jonathan will contest the elections on March 28-stay if he wins or go if he loses. He has said so much in his Media Chat that May 29 is ‘sacrosanct.’ He has denied any plans to tamper with INEC and its electoral process, including letting the INEC boss be.
 At times like this, given the kind of the cacophony of voices/noises that surround and deafen leaders in power and the grand deceptions that they are exposed to (including the experience of his estranged godfather and his poorly- denied third term regime elongation bid), every voice of reason, including voices of repetition, must drum t to the President’s ear the urgent need to learn from the lessons of history.  Ironsi lost his life. Gowon was dethroned and suffered a spell of exile assuaged only by the acquisition of higher education. IBB can never leave down the indelible smear of June 12 as his ‘step aside’ has inadvertently become a permanent ‘step down’. Abacha was whisked off; to the utter relief of an entire nation by (wo) man- propelled divine intervention. OBJ still nurses the bruises- inflicted ego on his unaccomplished regime elongation (whether he accepts or not does not matter). The experience of a failure to heed the popular will has been catastrophic, even lethal, in the past. It cannot be different now.   There is a chance of an election which must be creditably, fairly and freely contested-won or lost. Goodluck Jonathan must not allow himself to run out of good luck, the like of which nobody has enjoyed in our history. He must learn from the lesson of history. It beckons; it tolls.

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