Inside Nigeria's Fourth Republic: Nothing But A Messy 14 Years

By Ambrose Ehirim

President Olusegun Obasanjo meets President Bill Clinton in the White House after the ignition of the Sharia Debacle in 2000.

Nobody  expected it would really happen soon. The despot Sani Abacha whose reign of terror was by no way giving in. Abacha was a national nightmare. In fact, Abacha had planned to succeed himself like his African dictator colleagues, when his engineered program for the return to civilian rule takes effect under the orchestration of his iron rule, having backers of the civilian stock who gave him counsel.

Nigerians had become confused and a stroke of luck to get rid of Abacha had not been in their favor. Abacha had become more of a brutal ruler in their assessments. Their demonstrations against dictatorship and political propaganda was going no where; they had thought the international community had ignored their plight and lamentations about injustice, policed state, mayhem and all sorts of criminal behaviors that had befallen the country in the hands of brutes and military juntas.

Some of the desperate activists and proponents of democracy, nevertheless, gave up with their campaign to restore elected government by way of well organized, monitored elections. Meanwhile, Abacha had seen the mountain of pressure on him by the United Nations and other global leaders, to buckle up and do what had been expected of him, in his obligations, what had been necessary - the right thing - to save the country from its present state of how the world had viewed it; the pariah and rogue state it had been known for.

Abacha, despite a worldview capturing him as a tyrant, a murderer and a gestapo-like police state operational ruler, listened and somehow welcomed reform when world leaders and the clergy community had talked him into reclaiming the nation's tarnished image, if there had been any, by handing over power and stop chasing around the democracy advocates he had compelled to flee the country. Many disappeared while some made their grievances of bad taste known, from their hideouts in exile - Alani Akinrinade and Wole Soyinka were among the escapists, though they used their mouthpieces as propaganda aimed to dislodge Abacha until the notorious ruler succumbed to his ailment.

But when Abacha ceased to live, leaving the remnants of a messy republic with a transition to a civilian rule doctored by the Abdulsalami Abubakar-led military juntas, and a democratic fabric popped up, longest in the nations entire history; and, after fourteen years of said democracy, and still permanently battered and disfigured, not a single leadership henceforth could foresee what would erupt after the country had been deprived for so many years delibrately occupied by soldiers of mischief, from around which all aspects of civil liberties were destroyed.

In the fourteen years of said democracy, things that never happened in the past - the way it had now turned out - started happening at an alarming rate and spooky by its nature.

Like the Sharia debacle that swept a wave of Igbo folks making a living in the north, just not too long after Olusegun Obasanjo had been sworn-in, declaring in opening up the Fourth Republic that "there will be no sacred cows" upon his mantle of leadership to transform the country, and Obasanjo telling the nation "I dey kampe" when asked on his take on the Sharia wanton killings.

Like the military assault on that little Bayelsa State town of Odi, Obasanjo had sent his kin Col. Agbabiaka and his command to plunder and demolish.

Like the Ganiyu Adams-led faction of the deadly gang O'dua Peoples Congress that ransacked the Lagos metropolis, maimed innocent civilians on and about their routine business takes, invading homes and killing those who did not agree with the policies of their movements.

Like the MASSOB, the Movement to Actualize the Sovereign State Of Biafra, giving no breath to a newly born Fourth Republic, with threats of another secession from the republic by way of its peaceful demonstrations and later becoming a full blown outfits of gangsters.

like the MEND, the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta storming the nation with its complaints about the oil companies that destroyed their land and giving nothing back to the communities where the main ingredients of the nation's source of wealth are found.

Like the determination to pursue corrupt politicians and make them pay through the series of prosecuting federal commissions on crime, financial frauds and things like that only to be let go on grounds of ill-founded misconducts coupled with some inexplicable events and the ridiculous nature of an immunity clause which gives them the impunity to do whatever they liked and get away with it.

Like the mess in Anambra State all along its gubernatorial campaigns and electoral runs, deadly as it had been, and all the uncertainties from ill-feelings, and a predictable tragic outcome that would follow its pre-and-post 2014 election, and a confused bunch of its Diaspora lot who would be the key players from afar, inciting and applauding chaos, and would say nothing, having no solution to what had be-felled its kin.

Like what would happen in Okija, a congregation of Igbo elites on carnivals of oracles of witch-crafts and voodoo practices in the name of sworn declarations for political gains and thuggery against the people and the state.

Like Obasanjo and his coattails who demands the doctored constitution be changed once more to enable Uncle Sege an extension for a third term after coercion and theft from the nation's treasury to pacify his band of admirers and proponents of a fabricated third term run.

Like a very lousy National Assembly still operating with a military doctored document, mocking all democratic procedures considering the time-frame since a fledgling Fourth Republic commenced.

Like the SNC, the Sovereign National Conference agitated for since May 29, 1999, and yet to take place so the people can chart the course of their own destiny. 

Like the widespread scandals of kidnapping in the Igbo-related states not much had been done to apprehend the situation rather than play to the gallery of the racketeering gangsters.

Like the all of a sudden about-face and the quest to declare an Islamic state since power shifted from the northern Islamic Jihadists to the Christian South.

Like the terrorist group Boko Haram, a subsidiary of the al Qaeda network in its terrorist bombing campaigns since 2009 until a nervous and panicking Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in the regional strongholds of the terrorists - Adamawa, Yobe and Bornu.

Like the once calm and peaceful Middle Belt and what had been a showdown in faith.

Like the Brothers feud - Umuleri and Aguleri - no one wants to talk about and what had been the origin of said conflict among kinsmen.

Like my ancestral home of Amazano two police officers were fatally shot, some political attached thugs killed and a native son murdered in the most brutal of circumstances and, hanged on a tree.

Like the recently busted baby making factories and child trafficking conduits in the Igbo-related states no one is saying much and every kinsfolk is now tongue-tied.

And like the politically suicidal Igbo elites - Evans Enwerem, Chuba Okadigbo, Pius Anyim, Adolphus Wabara and Ken Nnamani - under Obasanjo's watch and a followed-up witch-hunt;  two (Enwerem and Okadigbo), had died unexpectedly and mysteriously; one (Wabara), is still battling with federal agents to save his head from charges on accounts of funny bookkeeping; one (Anyim), remains a puppet and covering up as the government's scribe for time missed as senate president while evading Obasanjo's survellance on him, and, Nnamani, whose tenure as senate president influenced the denial to Obasanjo's lobbied third term which weakened his political power play, ever since, and eventually, with Uncle Sege still smoking as conqueror of Nd'Igbo.

Even the political parties have not been stable. They have not been consistent to live by their creed. They have not been intact and viable. They have not had a sense of purpose regarding the issues concerning the country and its well being. They have been tearing apart, falling from the standards and forming alliances which has a resemblance of events leading to the fall of the First Republic and beginning of a long haul of military rule.

And as the list goes on and on, after fourteen years of experimenting with democracy following three failed attempts in a country supposedly to have been thorough in its engagements, considering its ever dominating status of a buoyant natural resources, accompanied by an enormous human capital, and yet, nothing progressive comes its way in all its trials save for a continued state of empire and anarchy is ground enough in classification as a failed state.

May 29 has become a national public holiday in Nigeria from the experimentation of the Fourth Republic and the endurance it had taken thus far without interference. A national holiday called Democracy Day. 

Democracy Day for what? 

Burnt shoes once belonging to a young child are left inside a destroyed home in Kakuruk village, Gashish district, in the local government of Barkin Ladi, near Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria. The village, inhabited by Christians from the Berom tribe, has received various attacks by neighbouring Muslim Fulani - a nomadic cattle-herder tribe non-indigenous to Plateau - with the last one on 7th July, 2012, when more than 30 houses were demolished and 8 Christian villagers killed. Image: Alex Masi