Mbu: Common sense, where art thou?

Adventures of Dan Fulani Email: fulbeadventure@gmail.com Twitter: @dan_pullo

Dan FulaniMbu bans protests in FCT. Mba unbans protests in FCT.

That was what we were treated with this week when the controversial Abuja Police Commissioner, Joseph Mbu, announced that the FCT Command of the force will no longer tolerate protests from the #bringbackourgirls# activists who have been on the streets for weeks now demanding government take proactive measures to rescue the over 200 Chibok girls abducted by Boko Haram terrorists in Borno State.

However, a day after Mbu’s unconstitutional proclamation, the Inspector General of Police, speaking through the force spokesman, Frank Mba, diplomatically contradicted Mbu, and said rather than ban the protests, what the Police did was to issue an ‘advisory notice’ to the activists for them to be of good conduct while they seek to air out their grievances.

CP Mbu’s despicable action, is unfortunately the norm among many security agencies in the country. Fifteen years after the end of military rule, we are still grappling with serial abuse of citizens’ rights so common under military dictatorships. Things have only gone from bad to worse now that there is insurrection in the North-Eastern part of the country. The situation has given our security agents added leeway to attack citizens’ rights under the guise of national security.

But things do not have to be this way. The #bringbackourgirls# protests gathered momentum at home and abroad when it became apparent the government was dithering on its responsibilities to the abducted students. The Federal Government and its spin masters have not only sought to demonise the daily peaceful gatherings at Unity Fountain in Abuja, but have allowed supporters of the government to attack and brutalise innocent citizens.

Rather than lead the charge to execute the mandate given to it by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), which in Section 14 (2) (b), states that: “The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government,” the government and it’s hardened sympathisers have sought to curry sympathy, exploit religious emotions, lather them with ethnic sentiments propagated by rabble-rousing supporters, and top them with wasteful, uncoordinated and ineffective style of governance.

From the look of things, many in government circle want this issue to be kept quiet. But it cannot be quiet. Two hundred innocent souls in the hands of demented rascals is enough reason to push us to the streets. If Mbu or any one expects otherwise, I am sorry to say, they will all be disappointed. The protests are necessary in order to remind government of the need to up its game. While the protests on its own will not bring back the girls, it will make it hard for government to forget or ignore the peoples’ pleas as they are wont to.

US politician, Mitt Romney, aptly captured the essence of governance when he said “leadership is about taking responsibility, not making excuses.” By this, I want our young men and women, our internet warriors, who have made it a point of duty to attack Oby Ezekwesili and Hadiza Bala Usman, to tarry a while and take a deep introspection. Why attack persons who have simply asked the government to do its job? Why attack persons by whose protests we are all being reminded of our humanity?

In Fulfulde, there is an adage which roughly means that “when a child falls while walking, he will cast his next glance forward, but when an adult falls he looks behind.” Blaming the activists, to me, is diversionary and unnecessary. They are doing what we are all supposed to be doing: holding elected officials to account. That, and only that, will bring an end to the culture of impunity that is the bane of our development.

It is worth reminding all of us that President Goodluck Jonathan is a product of street protest by ordinary Nigerians.  As such, no government agency should deny the people the right to assemble freely and hold peaceful protests. Mind you, the protesters have been peaceful; in fact they were attacked by hired thugs for being peaceful. So, I think Ezekwesili should be commended for her doggedness. As a mother, I am sure she is feeling the pains of the Chibok mothers. The IG did the right thing by contradicting Mbu.

Though the Police have the constitutional right to ban any protest that involves destruction of properties and lives, in the Abuja case, they have no point. This is because it was a civil gathering that did pose any threat to public order. To demonstrate his seriousness to work, CP Mbu should rather do what common sense dictates: banning all those bribe-taking cops still active in the force, and further more, ban all illegal checkpoints (or is it toll points) at all nooks and crannies of the FCT.