OPINION:Hon. Abubakar Total, Sani Hamza Funtua, Nigeria Police, Democracy, and the Rest of Us By Baba Bala Katsina
STATE & SOCIETY
A case involving one Abubakar Total, a member of Katsina State House of Assembly representing Funtua and Sani Hamza Funtua, an open letter writer, has since dominated discussion in social media. The member felt insulted for being reminded by this his constituent of his responsibilities as a member representing Funtua hence ordered his arrest.
Before it becomes public or generates the kind of uproar it has now generated I was reluctant to respond to an inquirer from Ilorin who said was asked to investigate a case between one Sani Hamza Funtua and a member representing Funtua. I then made not so frantic effort to find out the true state of the issue at hand. One of my informants confirmed occurrence of the incident and assured me of an audio evidence in which the Hon. member threatened to deal with Sani for writing him an open letter. He kept to his words and around 12pm today sent to my WhatsApp chat the short audio clip.
My issue with the episode here is not about the merit or otherwise of the letter or whether it contravenes any law or was an inflammatory one for that matter but the implication of what happened on democracy, police as a symbol of state and the rest of us who are in the habit of commenting on how we are govern. In retrospect, I personally barely one month into this administration wrote an open letter to our governor, Aminu Bello Masari. He read it. His aides too read it and heaven didn’t fall. In fact, the response I got from his media team especially social media office headed then by the now political adviser to minister of Youth Solomon Dalung, Maiwada Danmalam was so encouraging that friends from other states begun to appreciate and respect the maturity with which we at Katsina discuss issues bordering governance in the state on social media.
But the reaction of this member in this case was barbaric, undemocratic and to say the least a display of character of a glorified garage boy. A member that’s elected to protect the interest of his constituents and contributes in making laws that will better their life would turn against them at a slight provocation has no business presenting himself as their representative and has no knowledge too what representation means in a democratic setting such as we have in place now, one would suppose. He has also undermined the implications of his action to his political career. For a discerning mind, it suffices to mean that he is one of the SAK opportunists who can’t win an election on their own merit. Even if the letter or the whole lot writings against him by the innocent Sani Hamza were insulting there is civil way to handle it.
In all of this bizarre action of this member, the police’s way of intervention is the most surprising. Is police established to protect the life and property of the people or serve the interest of a power that be? Police has so much been bastardised that at a dial of their number to arrest whoever a power wants arrested, they respond swiftly without recourse to laid down constitutional procedure. It’s common knowledge that a fight with a big man or woman the under privileged can easily attract the wrath of the police. When police in any given society is reduced to this sorry status, anarchy is only a matter of time in that society. This kind of behaviour of the police as a force meant to maintain law and order will only set them against the people thereby confounds their ability to operate within the dictate of their professional requirements.
Democracy, liberal as it should and as one of it cardinal principles as presented by many scholars being freedom of speech, if denied, an inalienable right of the people is infringed. Democracy is known by its nature of inclusiveness which is why people are oblige to take part in the democratic processes including elections that produce the leaders and when the leaders get “there” are empowered however by constitution to check their overindulgence and in this era of New Knowledge more or less through social media. If this simple processes are suppressed, using state power, then we are practicing something else but not democracy. Matter of fact is democracy is under threat by same people elected to protect it.
The rest of us who dare write on what we feel isn’t in accordance to good governance should be careful? Our state government which is commended for it unilateral resolve to let people express their views on governance using measured language should check the excesses of this zealot house member. And worst still he is a member of APC, the ruling party that was founded and won election around desire for change, including change on how honourable(s) behave when exposed to power.
Nothing in conclusion has become clearer in this whole saga than how elected leaders abuse our democratic institutions, and how further weak these instructions have become despite our return to democracy 17 years ago since 1999; which gives room for all these to have been happening with much impunity. It also shows how anti people they are and could be if left checked. ALLAH RAYAN JAHAR KATSINA.
Twitter Handle: @BabaBala5