Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Dr Kelechi Udeogu: The fragility of Nigerian institutions

The “politics” we witnessed is not a politics of development; it is a politics of retrogression and underdevelopment.

• November 4, 2023
Siminalayi Fubara and Rivers State House of Assembly
Siminalayi Fubara and Rivers State House of Assembly

The events in Rivers State this week have left me dismayed at how weak and fragile our institutions are and how complicit politicians are in weakening those institutions.

The failed attempts to ‘nicodemously’ impeach the governor, Siminalayi Fubara, after barely five months in office without justification is as brazen as it is worrisome. If that attempt had been successful, it would have thrown the state into deep crisis.

The Niger Delta region is known to be very restive, and it disturbs me that the Rivers State House of Assembly would, without care, attempt to throw the state into a crisis mode.

The ethnic slant that the crisis undertook would have ensured that the state and, by extension, the Niger Delta region became embroiled in a conflict that we would have struggled to get out of and would have cost us a lot of losses in lives and prosperity. The “politics” we witnessed is not a politics of development; it is a politics of retrogression and underdevelopment.

Nigeria, as a constitutional government, has the three arms of government to act as checks and balances. The principle of checks and balances empowers the three separate arms of government with their powers to prevent other branches from being too powerful, and they are induced to share power, to create a synergy that works for the good of all and should not be used to pursue personal vendettas. The actions of the Rivers State House of Assembly show that it did not have the people of Rivers State and the peace of the state at the heart of its actions; their attempt to play God and throw the entire state into crisis shows how easily our institutions can be manipulated and should be condemned by all well-meaning Nigerians.

The weakening of our institutions by state actors for personal gains will only push Nigeria further down the ladder of underdevelopment. If institutions cannot be empowered to serve the people, then how do we as a people trust these institutions, how do we expect these institutions to function for the good of the people?

The entire drama that played out at the Rivers State House of Assembly, from the burning of the assembly complex to the assembly members attempting to impeach the governor in their conference room, is indeed shameful.

Let’s not forget the failed attempt of the Nigerian police to keep the peace and how they almost deepened the crisis.

The attempt on the governor’s life was alarming and a serious cause for concern. We watched in dismay, videos of the police firing teargas and using water cannons on the Chief Security Officer of the state on his way to assess the damage caused by the fire at the Rivers State House of Assembly complex.

The excuse of the police that their men did not recognise the governor is even more alarming and indicting; how can a senior police officer not know or recognize the Chief Security Officer of the state where they are assigned to protect the lives and property of its people? What would have happened to the state if the governor had been injured or worse? What kind of crisis was the Nigerian Police trying to sink Rivers State into? The chaos that would have ensued in the state and the Niger Delta region is best left unimagined.

Also, the killing of three protesters and injury to some others at the official residence of the Speaker of the State House of Assembly should be condemned by all.

Why would the police shoot directly at unarmed protesters? Why is the Nigeria Police never equipped to handle protesters? Do Nigerians have to die every time they go out to make their voices heard? This is a disproportionate use of force and unprofessionalism that we have witnessed the Nigerian Police display so many times. Who would be held accountable for the death of those three young men?

Generally, and I’m not sure the politicians understand this, Nigerians are going through a very hard time; this is not a time to manufacture chaos. Nigerians have suffered and are suffering a lot, we don’t deserve to also suffer from an unnecessary politically made crisis and hopefully, this shameful episode has come to an end.

Kelechi Belinda Udeogu has a PhD in development and political communication.

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