Beware of Abubakar peace committee By Bayo Olupohunda

gen-abdulsalami-abubakar

I have been thinking about it. But I still cannot fathom the reason behind the phenomenon called the Nigerian Factor. This malevolent sidekick that stalks us like a shadow defines our national character and is ingrained in our national life. There is no denying that it has stunted our development and has not taken our country beyond being a “potential” giant in the comity of nations. The Nigerian Factor has the propensity to perpetuate the status quo and retain the old order that has set our country back in decades of under-development and mediocrity.

The Nigerian Factor often emerges at the point when the potential for significant change seems imminent. It comes like a thief in the night to scuttle the potential for progress. It comes disguised when you least expect to put spanner in the wheel of progress. It wields its influence to sweep past crimes and injustice of our nation under the carpet.

The Nigerian Factor is afraid of a new Nigeria. It seeks to perpetuate the business as usual mode of doing government business. It frets at new paradigms of conducting the affairs of the nation. It delights in protecting the minority against the majority. It seeks to look out for the interest of the few rapacious elite as against promoting policies that affect the common good.The Nigerian Factor has been there since the birth of our nation. It re-creates itself in different forms. It metamorphoses to fit into contemporary times. The Nigerian Factor is not a nebulous concept. It is a full blown code of behavior that is essentially Nigerian. Simply put, “it is uniquely the Nigerian way of doing things, of solving problems that convey the Nigerian worldview even when the proposed solutions are detrimental to our national well-being.” Nonetheless, Nigerians docilely accept such solutions, apply them and move on while postponing the Evil Day.

The Nigerian Factor is the reason why there are so many injustices in the land. It is the reason why our country has refused to make progress and all institutions are inefficient. Those who use the Nigerian Factor as a tool for governance have always found it convenient to coalesce under the same alliance when their interest is threatened. In this way, the concept transcends ethnic and religious fault lines. We have seen how the ruling elite have held on to power and dispense the commonwealth to cronies and friends.

The Nigerian Factor has seen to the perpetuation of the status quo. Since the return to democracy in 1999, the 16 years so far has brought more suffering than democratic dividends to the citizens because of the Nigerian Factor that has seen to the depreciation of every facet of our national life. For example, in 16 years, our country still cannot provide stable electricity. Corruption is even worse than in previous years while only the elite appropriate the resources of the nation.

Now, the Muhammadu Buhari administration risks falling into the vicious machination of those who want to sneak in the Nigerian Factor to derail the anti-graft posture of the President. A certain group of influential Nigerians dubbed as the National Peace Committee recently visited the President. The purpose of their visit is still shrouded in mystery. But the outcome of their mission has exploded into controversy. As the saying goes, there can never be smoke without fire given the timing of the visit.

In spite of the professed “altruism”, their intent bodes no good for Nigerians and this administration. I won’t bore the reader by scrutinising the composition of the members. But some individuals in the group give Nigerians a cause to worry considering the role they played in the last democratic dispensation. Again, I see the Nigerian Factor as playing a role in this.

They seem to have come to tell the President to soft-pedal. That is why the President must beware. He must be told to stay away from all these “advisory” groups. Too many cooks spoil the broth.

Nigerians are obviously not comfortable with this Greek gift in the name of peace. Why at this time? The elections have been over months ago? A peace committee that was formed before the elections which laudably extracted commitment for peaceful conduct by the two candidates has suddenly transformed into a post-election lobby group. As it is, the reputation of the committee has been gravely compromised.

You cannot visit the President and begin to advise him on how he should implore due process in his anti-corruption war. Advising the President to conduct the anti-graft war according to the rule of law is patronising and pre-emptive. Why browbeat the President or give conditions dressed as peace?

A member of the committee, Father Mathew Hassan Kukah, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, gave away the committee’s intention in his Freudian slip. It is the reason why Nigerians have expressed fears that the committee intends to influence the administration of Buhari. Kukah said in an interview in the Channels Television, “I think what we are concerned about is the process.

It is no longer a military regime and under our existing laws, everybody is innocent until proven guilty. Again, our commitment is not to intimidate or fight anybody, the former President’s (Jonathan) commitment and what he did still remain spectacular and I think that President Buhari himself appreciates that. So our effort really is to make sure that the right thing is done.”

Kukah also said his committee was speaking for Nigerians. Sorry sir, you cannot claim to speak for Nigerians. You speak for the group and the group only. You speak for a group whose relevance ended as soon as the 2015 elections were done. Transmuting into a Peace Committee after elections is distractive. Thus, the committee must allow the government do its job for which it has been elected to do. Kukah said they came to remind Buhari of due process. The President knows that he is not heading a military regime. He has said due process will be followed. He also once said there will be no sacred cow. So, why the fuss?

Kukah praised Jonathan. It is true the former President conceded defeat and Nigerians have acknowledged that fact. Why is that being over-flogged by this group? Is Kukah saying that because Jonathan conceded victory to Buhari, all the atrocious expenditure said to have been spent under him should be forgiven and forgotten? Should the alleged massive looting under Jonathan be swept under the carpet because he conceded electoral victory? Did he not lose?

Why this veiled reference to “concession”? Is it being used as a trump card for a soft-landing? So, we should let the treasury looters go free for peace sake? Nothing can be more bizarre and ridiculous. Nigerians are not deceived. When respected senior citizens seek to influence the system it promotes impunity.

It is for distractions like these that Buhari must constitute his cabinet and get the government working because not doing so creates a vacuum which gives rise to sundry groups to seek relevance and make demands. No matter the defence put forward by the group, the timing and purpose of the visit are suspect. That is why the President must beware of this poisoned chalice dressed as “peace”. Nigerians are watching.

PUNCH