BARELY a week after he was handed a six-month suspension by a faction of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Kaduna Restoration Group led by Danladi Wada over alleged anti-party activities, the governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, approved the demolition of the building housing the secretariat of the faction owned by Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi (Kaduna North). According to media reports, the demolition was carried out around 5.00 am in the midst of armed security operatives on February 20, 2018. For Governor el-Rufai, it was apparently payback time for his political foes in the Kaduna Restoration Group, and a lesson or two must be taught about respect for constituted authorities.
To be sure, el-Rufai stoked the flame of despotism in a democratic dispensation by his whimsical decision to approve the demolition exercise. Although the government’s spokesperson and the Kaduna State Property Development Agency have tried to rationalise the demolition exercise that has been roundly condemned by all and sundry, claiming certain contraventions of town planning rules and regulations, including the non-payment of ground rent, the defences are a hollow and only smack of bilious vindictiveness. Instead of fostering democratic traditions and principles, the action was actually a throwback to the heinous and crude days of military occupation in Nigeria’s history, now ironically and curiously being reinforced by a supposed democrat.
The reasons adduced by the Kaduna State government for the demolition of Senator Hunkuyi’s house simply belie ordinary logic. Was the government just realising, after so many years, that the house stood in contravention of certain rules and regulations? Why did the demolition coincide with the sprouting of a faction of the APC and barely a week after the governor was handed a suspension by the group? Was there adequate notification before the demolition? Even if the house infringed on certain town planning rules and regulations and ground rents owed in arrears, are there not stipulated procedures for enforcing compliance without involving the personal intervention of the governor? How much was the owed ground rent to warrant the demolition of a multimillion naira property?
Governor el-Rufai’s disposition to dissent and opposition is not only repressive, it is indecent and barbaric. This is most unfortunate because, during the immediate past administration, he was a most vocal critic of the government who, at a stage, even made the incendiary statement that the 2015 general election could be violent, that people were likely to die and that the only alternative left was to take power by force. He was never persecuted for his views. Now, what kind of vendetta could make the governor to defy protocol in the bid to get even with his perceived political foes? Surely, this is the kind of action that makes the country’s voters to wonder if the immunity clause in the Nigerian constitution is not an overkill for a political class with a legendary propensity for dictatorship.
Senator Hunkuyi has alleged that he has received another notification on the demolition of another building for yet another alleged infraction, which means that the governor is bent on muzzling the opposition. We think that those who are close to him should persuade him to desist from such a course of action, knowing that power is, in the end, transient. Governor el-Rufai has, by this obtuse action, given democracy in Nigeria an ugly name. Democracy without opposition or dissent is futile and insipid and it is imperative that there should be a vibrant opposition for it to thrive so that despots pretending to be democrats can be eased out of office.