By Akanimo Sampson
BEFORE the 2015 elections, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)—a coalition of the then All Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP)—criss-crossed the entire country advocating progress (change) as opposed to maintaining things as they were under the PDP.
Three years after sacking the PDP from Aso Rock, Nigeria’s seat of power, the Muhammadu Buhari administration does not appear to be showing any progressive tendency. For those who know better, progressivism is the support for improvement of society by reform. As a philosophy, it is said to be based on the Idea of Progress, which asserts that advancements in science, technology, economic development, and social organisation are vital to the improvement of the human condition.
Scholars say progressivism became highly significant during the Age of Enlightenment in Europe, out of the belief that Europe was demonstrating that societies could progress in civility from uncivilised conditions to civilisation through strengthening the basis of empirical knowledge as the foundation of society.
A German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, identified progress as being a movement away from barbarism towards civilisation. Eighteenth-century philosopher and political scientist Marquis de Condorcet predicted that political progress would involve the disappearance of slavery, the rise of literacy, the lessening of inequalities between the sexes, reforms of harsh prisons and the decline of poverty.
With the persisting unfair treatment of Nigerian women, harsh prisons, widening poverty, slavery and the worrisome barbarism of the Boko Haram and the herdsmen, it is obvious that what has been manifesting in the country since May 29, 2015 is not the change the APC promised. It might just be the change of the CPC variety.
Buhari is seeking re-election in 2019 with the mindset that the place of Nigerian women is in the bedroom, and with the worse forms of barbarism all over. With a slavish labour condition, crushing poverty in the country, the Buhari Support Group, an amalgamation of some 200 groups has endorsed him for the 2019 race. Abu Ibrahim, leader of the group, says they are not leaving any stone unturned to ensure that President Buhari stays in office beyond 2019.
‘’We have been holding meetings, discussing the problems of this country, Nigeria. So, we thought it was high time we met with the President to intimate him about the activities of the group. We discussed with him about the plans to improve the situation in Nigeria. Mr President was very pleased with our programmes’’, Ibrahim said, pointing out that their belief in Buhari remained unshaken as he remains the man who can ensure the progress and stability of the nation.
Buhari’s Women Affairs Minister, Aisha Alhassan, has always maintained that she will support former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who is also in the race, than Buhari. Last October, President Buhari’s wife, Aisha, whose place is in the other room, also indicated that she may not support her husband if he decides to run for a second tenure. This could be because they are not seeing any tangible progressive change.
For instance, barbarism is still ongoing under Buhari’s watch. Though the spiraling insecurity in the Middle-Belt is a local communal conflict, its root causes and impacts encapsulate many of the country’s biggest political challenges. Unclear and discriminatory legal codes fuel conflict, warp political dynamics, and undermine democratic progress. Analysts say governance shortcomings create vacuums in which citizens are forced to turn to self-help solutions such as ethnic associations or vigilante groups.
According to this school of thought, a modern economy conducive to local entrepreneurship and appealing to foreign investors remains impossible while the free flow of people, goods, and ideas is restricted by indigeneship and resulting instability. Resolving the conflict in Jos, the Plateau State capital for example, will require looking past the symptoms of Nigeria’s ethnic and religious divisions to focus on the institutionalised inequities that encumber not only stability in the Middle-Belt but the entire country.
Politically manipulating religion and ethnicity for populist causes, by all standard is not a progressive politics. Without the doubt, ethnicity has played a significant role in religious conflicts in Northern Nigeria, where sectarian groups have exploited tensions between Hausa settlers and Fulani indigenes. The religious dimension has been misconstrued as the primary driver of violence, when in reality disenfranchisement and inequality are the main causes.
The politics of religion in the country is evident in the Sharia law debate that engulfed Nigeria after her return to democracy in 1999. It created a space for the expression of ethno-religious demands suppressed by decades of military dictatorship. There have been clashes between Muslims and Christians, violence between Islamic sects and fighting with members of the police force. Religiously and ethnically mixed populations in urban areas of Kaduna State have been particularly affected, as have those in the North-East axis of the country, where insurgent groups have flourished.
The violence that followed the 2011 presidential election in the North left 170 Christians and 500 Muslims dead, and nearly 65,000 people were displaced in three days of violent protests across 12 states. It began with protests by supporters of the opposition CPC galvanized by Buhari, after Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP, was re-elected. Police were generally unable to control the riots that broke out, despite accusations by Human Rights Watch (HRW) that the security forces used excessive force.
It seems, chronic poverty, corruption, abuses by the security forces and longstanding impunity for the perpetrators of human rights violations have combined to create fertile ground for the emergence of militant armed groups over the past decade. The most significant is Boko Haram, Islamist militants whose name loosely translates as “western education is forbidden”. Formally Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, or People Committed to the Prophet’s Teachings for Propagation and Jihad, it has systematically sought to destabilise the Nigerian state and impose Sharia since 2009.
Boko Haram began its insurgency with assaults on members of the security services, politicians, civil servants and other authority figures in Bauchi, Borno, Kano and Yobe states. It started to expand its operations in 2010, when it bombed buildings in Jos, and has since acquired tanks, rocket launchers, anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons and sub-machine guns. It pushed further south, bombing police and United Nations offices in Abuja in 2011, and its targets came to include schools, churches and places that sell alcohol.
Thanks goodness, troops of Operation Lafiya Dole, comprising the land and air components have continued their offensive and clearance operation against Boko Haram with the destruction of their Improvised Exclusive Device (IED). Ongoing offensive has led to severe depletion of Boko Haram and destruction of their enclaves in the fringes of Lake Chad and the Sambisa forest.
But the terrorists leader, Abubakar Shekau, has been vowing to continue his fight to establish an Islamic caliphate, urging members of his group not to spare any Nigerian that pledges his loyalty to Nigeria. He specifically in a video vowed to shoot and kill such Nigerians anywhere they are found.
Wikipedia defines a Caliphate as a state under the leadership of an Islamic steward with the title of caliph, a person considered a religious successor to Prophet Muhammad and a leader of the entire Muslim community. Historically, caliphates according to the free encyclopedia, were polities based in Islam which developed into multi-ethnic trans-national empires. [During the medieval period, three major caliphates succeeded each other: theRashidun Caliphate (632–661), the Umayyad Caliphate (661–750) and the Abbasid Caliphate (750–1258). In the fourth major caliphate, the Ottoman Caliphate, their rulers claimed caliphal authority from 1517.
Prior to the rise of Muhammad and the unification of the Arab tribes of the Arabian Peninsula under Islam, the tribes of Arabia followed a pre-Islamic Arab polytheism, lived as self-governing sedentary and normadic communities and often raided their neighbouring tribes. Following the conquests under Muhammad of the Arabian Peninsula, the region became unified and most of the tribes adopted Islam.
For now, could Buhari be tacitly supporting a caliphate agenda for Nigeria by pressing on with a CPC-inspired change instead of the humane change the APC promised? It seems the President is more prone to farcism than progressivism. With his political tendencies, Nigeria might not see the best fr such. Under him, APC is more of an Islamic brotherhood than a veritable vehicle for economic, political, and social change.
Akanimo Sampson is a celebrated Editor, activist, prolific writer and publisher of The Oak Newspaper 📰