By Festus Ogun
Zimbabwe’s President, Robert Mugabe, finally resigned a week after his former political allies and the army took steps to get him out of office. The resignation signifies an expected end to the dictatorial and undemocratic rule in Zimbabwe as Mugabe had ruled for about four decades. To point thoroughly to the level of highhandedness and autocracy displayed by Mugabe, he unanimously sacked his Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa. It was the sacking that led to the military takeover which finally forced Mugabe out and made him bow to civil pressure on Tuesday.
Wild jubilation and celebration are presently ongoing all over the world – Africa in particular – as the 93-year-old man that had been in power since the country’s independence on April 18, 1980 gets out of power. Many described his resignation as a victory to Africa. In fact, The PUNCH editorial argues that his resignation “is good for Zimbabwe, (and) it is excellent for Africa.”
Even with all this, I am surprised to see Nigerians jubilate over the “victory” as if it is Uhuru already. Thousands of Nigerians are making commentaries praising the Zimbabwean Army for a job well done, saying the resignation symbolises the end of the dictatorial regime in Africa. As I will not disagree with their claims, where they get the moral rights to make all these assertions is the source of concern to this writer.
In Nigeria, many of those parading themselves as leaders are not in any way better than the brutal Mugabe. Any person that has properly studied the leadership and governing style of Nigeria will not make an attempt to dispute this fact. Even though we are made to understand, by virtue of several provisions in our constitution, that we operate a democratic government, we know in reality that what obtains in this clime is far away from democracy.
It is unarguable that the key features of democracy are periodic elections and majority rule. Mugabe had been contesting and “winning” presidential elections in his country even without the people’s legitimacy since 1980. It will interest you to know that Mugabe had made himself eligible to contest the August 2018 presidential election despite being very close to his grave. Reports have however shown that election rigging, killing and persecution of political opponents, chronic hatred for criticism and totalitarianism were what kept him in power till the point of his resignation. It is clear that self-imposition on the people and gross violation of his compatriots’ fundamental rights are against the tenets of democracy.
All that featured in Mugabe’s many years of misrule is equally prevalent in Nigeria up till today.
As a people, like Zimbabweans, Nigerians are still being governed by people of the same wine since our official birth in 1960. We cannot deny the fact that it is the set of people leading us even before Zimbabwe gained her independence that we still call leaders till this present moment. It was the men that ruled us in different offices decades ago that are still ruling us till today. To buttress my point, it will be apt to figure out that two heads of state who ruled during the military era have ruled and still ruling (not governing) us since our return to democracy in 1999. The yesterday’s governor is today’s minister. Today’s minister is tomorrow’s Senate President. One time vice president, tomorrow’s president. One time local government chairman, today’s House of Representatives member. That is how the rigmarole continues that there is no difference in our ruling class. As yesterday’s PDP, is today’s APC. No difference. The same people who governed us in the past are those still in power today, even till tomorrow despite the provisions of periodic elections in our constitution.
Then, tell me, how are we different from Zimbabwe? How are they different from Mugabe?
Do we talk of our Mugabe-like leaders’ sheer abhorrence for political criticism and disrespect for fundamental human rights? Till today, political killings and persecutions are still prevalent in our society. Election rigging is still the order of the day which makes the same set of people remain in power as many of them lack the legitimacy of the people.
In the final analysis, let’s just hope a day is coming when our leaders who have clung to power for too long doing virtually nothing will honourably resign and allow citizens with fresh but progressive political ideologies, ideas, insights and the zeal to deliver Nigeria from eternal damnation to move to take over leadership roles. We have our own Mugabes too, let them resign now!
Ogun is 400 Level Law student of Olabisi Onabanjo University. [email protected]