From the social and economic angle, the issues confronting us today are more monstrous and more life-threatening than in Buhari days. Prices of goods must rise as the government has set a precursor for uncontrollable inflation, while income has remained stagnant. The government of President Bola Tinubu, in the course of pretending to be solving the problems Buhari government left behind, has created more problems it may not be able to solve in these next four years. People are then left with no alternative than to continue where their cries stopped.
If the people chose to be in street peacefully to protest against the policies of the government they believe are not in their best interest, it is democracy. The only role the government and all the security agents of the government, such as the police, the DSS, the Civil Defence et cetra, can play, is to allow the people to express their anger or frustration not to stifle the people or intimidate them or judicially arrest the people’s voice.
The government might run ahead to court to get interim order to restrain the NLC from embarking on industrial action or strike, but no court can restrain the people of Nigeria from crying out when their lives are threatened by government policies. No court can restrain the people of Nigeria from protesting peacefully, it is a constitutional right given by the constitution. The right to protest takes its source from the same place that the court takes its source, the constitution. Both are constitutional creations. Both are messengers of the constitution and constitutionalism, without which there is no democracy. One messenger will not disturb another messenger. Each one has its own duty and role.
If Nigeria must progress to the comity of civilized democracy, the culture of running ahead of the organized labour to court each time to obtain an order that has the capacity of eroding the constitutional rights to strike or to protest must not become the hallmark of any democratic government. It is a mere postponement of the evil day. The only antidote to perennial protest or strike action is good governance. Buhari government was run as a dictatorship. Court orders were flouted every day but the same government found it convenient to run to the same court to rely on potency of court order whenever there was impending strike or protest. Nigerians cannot be proud of any government that cannot do things differently. This present government has started off badly in the same direction, nursing the thoughts of using the instrumentality of court to stop legitimate voices of dissent. It does not pretend to bear any semblance to any form of civil rule. It’s a mere judicial militarization of the polity. It must be discouraged by anyone who genuinely seeks a better Nigeria.
Lawyer and Human Rights activist
August 1, 2023!