Doubting Thomases is the plural of a doubting Thomas. It refers to an incredulous or habitually doubtful person who is sceptical and refuses to believe something without proof.
I learnt the expression is a reference to the Apostle Thomas in the Bible, who refused to believe that Jesus Christ had resurrected despite testimonies of his friends and the 10 remaining fellow apostles insisting that he would only believe after seeing.
Going by experiences of Nigerians with their leaders especially on politics, there are many who will rather prefer to remain Doubting-Thomas. In fact some of the Doubting-Thomases are not ordinary individuals but highly placed personalities even among the the media.
I do not judge a person by the group or party he/she belongs but by that person’s character and attributes. Remove Major General Mohammad Buhari from All Progressive Congress (APC) and President Goodluck Jonathan from Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and what remain of the groups is same people that are of the same antecedents, character, dispositions and embodiments among others. These influence the wanton decamping from one party to the other because they lack ideological differences.
I must declare from the outset that whoever insults General Buhari, a former Head of State must be psychotic; and whoever attacks President Jonathan of non-performance must be a prevaricator.
Just to outsmart one another, the major political parties i.e. APC and PDP recourse to gutter politics to hoodwink not only the gullible public but surprisingly, even brainwash the supposedly enlightened individuals. It is surprising how people accept some conspiracy theories without questioning the rationality.
Sometimes last year, a former top military officer and a governor issued an official statement accusing Federal Government of being behind terrorism activities in North-East. He even claimed that aircrafts were dropping food and ammunition to the terrorists in their enclaves. Many of his colleagues believed the arguments until the accuser was asked to substantiate the allegations at the meeting of Council of States. Those who had earlier believed his allegations were ashamed when he was unable to substantiate and was thus forced to recant.
Sometime this year the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki gave sincere advice that due to widespread insecurity in the North East as well as inability of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to distribute permanent voter cards (PVCs), it was necessary to shift elections. The spirit of cynicism aka Doubting-Thomas took over and many Nigerians came up with theories of conspiracy. Just weeks after however, the same individuals who doubted the military’s excuse are now the ones commending Nigerians troops for liberating dozens of towns and villages from Boko Haram. Again, the rate of distribution of PVC has increased from about 50% on February 3, 2015 to 80% by March 3, 2015.
While the debate on the postponement of elections raged, there were also allegations by Doubting-Thomases that federal government was planning to institute an Interim National Government (ING). The media was awash with insinuations despite the insistence by the Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke that such contraption was illegal, unconstitutional and therefore, baseless.
In the midst of the confusion came yet another allegation that the Chairman of INEC was in the process of being removed without running afoul of any laws or regulations. Government officials did not only deny the speculations but President Goodluck Jonathan himself was forced to publicly deny the speculations. According to him, “INEC is a very sensitive body… You cannot wake up and change INEC Chairman… I never told anybody that I will remove him”. The President is conscious that he lacked powers to unilaterally removed INEC Chairman just like any other constitutionally recognised commissions. There are some arguments that are neither morally or logically sound.
Meanwhile, apart from politicians playing their games, there has been a deliberate ploy by certain individuals to bring security agencies into the fray. For instance, Doubting-Thomases raised false alarm that Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) have been ordered to withdraw their personnel from some borders in the North-West without any cogent reason. One wonders what that action could have achieved. The timely response of Comptroller-General of Customs, Abdullahi Dikko and Comptroller General of Immigration, David Parradan in denying the allegations saved the situation from further controversies on same.
Though Doubting-Thomases are still sceptical if security chiefs would allow the rescheduled elections to hold, the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshall Alex Badeh and Inspector General of Police Abba Suleman have assured eminent members of National Peace Committee on General Elections led by former Head of State, General Abubakar Abdulsalami that “the elections will be free, fair, credible and violence-free.”
Not yet done, when the online news syndicate platform, PRNigeria reported that the military have been instructed to make every effort to capture the leader of Boko Haram terrorists alive, another allegation emerged. This time, the theory was that government was planning to arrest a fake terrorist and force him to implicate some leaders through false confessions and statements.
Not even the operations of the Multinational Joint Taskforce (MNJTF) were spared in the antics of Doubting-Thomases. It was politicised. Rather than see the Nigerian troops as our people, the military is being portrayed as part of the ruling party because they serve the government. For that reason some critics would rather attribute successes and accomplishments of the Nigerian troops to the efforts of partnering countries.
The painful irony is that Nigerian troops have been victims of the insurgents, victims of local collaborators within the communities who betray them, victims of a political class which castigates them unnecessarily and are also victims of social critics who refuse to commend their efforts when they do well but ridiculed when they fall to the bullets or daggers of terrorists.
While some of us enjoy the friendship and brotherliness of patriotic and well intentioned officers and politicians, it will be disappointing and disheartening if either of the political parties play into the hands of enemies of progress and inadvertently help to truncate our hard-earned and cherished democracy.
There are not much differences between the major political parties apart from the names of their flag-bearers. Our appeal therefore to partisan politicians, is that they should be conscious and mindful of what they do and say because Nigeria is bigger than individuals and institutions.
The March 28 and April 11, 2015 rescheduled dates of elections should remain sacrosanct while the swearing in of the elected President on May 29, 2015 must be respected.
Yushau A. Shuaib