Nigeria’s social media peace was shattered yesterday, following President Obasanjo’s epistle to President Buhari. Obasanjo may have tried to put Buhari on the defensive through the use of embellished common knowledge; but the fact of his statements constituting incitements pursuant to breach of the peace, criminal intimidation, inciting disaffection to the Government, and mischief caused by reckless publications are clear and flagrant violations of our Criminal and Penal Codes, well versed by all legal minds. Given the direction of metaphor and satire freely employed the publication, it is hard to understand why any Nigerian President, would not consider the weight of hate speech loaded on the statements in a pre-election year.
In his open-letter titled “The Way Out: A Clarion Call for Coalition for Nigeria Movement”. Obasanjo specifically amplified statements such as “dismount from the horse”, and “horse rider”. He said “with such lice of general and specific poor performance and crying poverty with us, our fingers will not be dry of blood”. The “horse rider” is a Yoruba urban legend, and “squashing lice” allegory is a metaphor, all calling for terminal deadly purposes. Besides, “squashing lice” is reminiscent of Rwanda’s “cockroaches” that precipitated genocide in that country.
Furthermore, he alluded to his constructive knowledge and involvement in a plot to oust properly constituted government (Goodluck Jonathan Administration) through unconstitutional means. The Nigerian Constitution and Laws clearly established the electoral process as the only recognizable means of effecting a change in government. Anyone laying claim to being able to influence that process clearly undermines the integrity of our electoral process; and alludes to his complicity and conspiracy to commit crimes or felony against the State.
Any Nigerian who has ever tried to engage with the public sector in any form knows that our challenge often lies with the bureaucracy, and not necessarily with our leadership; and overt concentration of public scrutiny on Federal Government without any demand for accountability on State Governments who are in a much better position to deliver socio-economic goals for the citizenry. President Obasanjo demonstrated that knowledge when he identified the Local Government Areas as being responsible for cattle colony issues.
His “clarion call” could definitely serve a better purpose for the public good if his benefit of insight and direction is conveyed in a way that does not suggest criminality and rogue conduct. As it stands presently, the content of contempt, mischief and fostering of breakdown of law and order, loaded on his misdirected umbrage appears unnecessary and disappointing.
We will not be able to conduct a fair and peaceful 2019 election, or help the course of our Country in any way, if we could only give vent to innate beastly impulse for unguarded statements.
(Samuel is one of our Senior Editors)