Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has 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 days of the dictatorial and undemocratic rule in Zimbabwe. Mugabe has 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.
Wild jubilation and celebrations are presently ongoing all over the world – Africa in particular – as the 93-year-old man that have 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 argued that his resignation “is good for Zimbabwe, (and) it is excellent for Africa.”
Even with all these, I am surprise seeing Nigerians making much jubilation over the ‘victory’ as if it is uhuru already. Thousands of Nigerians are making commentaries praising the Zimbabwean army for the job well done saying the resignation symbolizes the end of dictatorial and kakistocractic regime in Africa. As I will not disagree with their claims, where they get the moral rights to make all these assertions is a source of concern.
In Nigeria, the set of people 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 election and the rule of majority. 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 has 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 serious totalitarianism are what kept him in power till the point of his resignation. Without much imagination, it is crystal clear that self-imposition of himself on the people and gross violation of his subjects’ fundamental rights are against the tenets of democracy.
All that featured in Mugabe’s too many years of misrule are equally prevalent in Nigeria up till today.
As a people, like Zimbabweans, we 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 that ruled during the military era have ruled and still ruling (not governing) us since our return to democracy. The yesterday’s Governor is today’s minister. Today’s minister is tomorrow Senate President. One time Vice-President, tomorrow’s President. One time local government Chairman, today’s House of Representative member. That is how the rigmarole continues that there is no iota of difference in our ruling class. As yesterday’s PDP, is today’s APC. No difference. The same people governing us in the past are those still in powers today, even till tomorrow despite the provisions of periodic election 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 rights? Till today, political killings and prosecutions are still prevalent in this society of ours. Election rigging is still the order of the day which makes the same set of people remaining in power as many of them lack really the legitimacy of the people.
In the final analysis, let’s just hope a day is coming our leaders that have clung to power for too long doing virtually nothing will honourably resign and allow citizens with fresh but progressive political ideologies and the zeal to deliver Nigeria from eternal damnation to move to the seats of power. We have our own Mugabes too, let them resign now!
*Ogun, a human rights activist, is a 400-level law student of Olabisi Onabanjo University