Ethelbert Okere, who is fast donning the gap of master story teller, has come up with another bang, this time the story of the last general elections in Nigeria. The 180-page book, entitled “The Last Order…” represents the first book to be published on that election that has been described by many as the most controversial in the history of elections in Nigeria.
The thrust of Okere’s latest work is the brazen deployment of the military in the election by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the federal government. Okere points out that that development was in spite of the fact that APC, as a young but vocal opposition party in 2014/2015, obtained three court rulings forbidding the federal authorities from deploying the military for elections. President Mohammadu Buhari, himself, was for more than a period of ten years “one of the most vociferous critics of the involvement of the military in elections”. Yet, Buhari was to give him “infamous” directive to security agencies to “be ruthless” with potentials election offenders. Okere, captured that episode in the very second chapter of his book under the title “Buhari’s Ruthless Order”. He juxtaposes that with an earlier statement by APC’s national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, wherein he described those Nigerians who were speaking out against the involvement of the military in elections as “enemies of democracy”. Okere then asks: “Why did the party and the president make a volte face?”
Although the Nigerian military authorities have put up a defense to the effect that the military personnel found wearing military uniforms and armed with military-like weapons were “fake”, the author wondered how the fake solders were able to overwhelm the true solders to the extent that the former (the fake solders) were able to wreck the type of havoc that was witnessed in parts of the Southeast and Southsouth, particularly in Rivers state.
In further interrogating the heavy deployment of the military in the 2019 general elections, the prolific author compared the relative tranquility that was experienced in the northern part of the country, particularly the Boko Haram enclave, with the virtual invasion of parts of Southeast and Southsouth by solders. He asks: “Was it a happenstance that the Northeast, home of the notorious Sambisa forest and fortress of Boko Haram, experienced unusual calm during the 2019 general elections while solders harassed innocent civilians in parts of the Southeast and Southsouth, particularly Rivers state, where several civilians were killed in the town of Abonema two days before the February 23, 2019 presidential election?”
Okere, author of twelve books including a 1991 Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) prize winner, in the preface to his latest work says “The Last Order…” is, in a sense, a sequel” to his 2012 epic work, “Democracy By Military Tank” which was an account of the event of the 2011 governorship elections during which the Nigerian presidency used the military to ensure that its preferred candidate emerged after the May 5, 2011 supplementary election which he described as something that was “conjured up”
The Last Order… is delineated in 19 chapters that come almost in a chronological order. It is Okere’s fourth book on political developments in the country. The last was his book on the political restructuring of Nigeria, entitled, “We Can’t All Be Wrong: Nigeria And The Restructuring Debate” which was published in 2017.
As far back as 1997, Okere published “Nigerian And The Search For Leadership (A Return To The East)” which came at the heat of Sani Abacha’s plans to transmute from a military head of state to a civilian president. In that book, he advocated that the next civilian president after Abacha should come from the Eastern part of the country. It was a rare show of courage especially as Okere was at the time of the book’s publication, the deputy editor of the Daily Times, owned 100 per cent by the federal government. Luckily, Okere escaped the harmer but most politicians, particularly from his own part of the country, stayed away from the book presentation, according to an account by Okere himself, for fear of Abacha’s and his men.
Described by many as versatile and prolific, Okere recently published his latest novel, “Rebel Cattle From Katsina” which is the story of Fulani herdsmen and their victims. He writes a weekly evangelical column, “Kingdom Voice”, which many have tagged as “extremely radical” especially coming from a fellow like him who has a Catholic background. For example, Evangelist Okere has written severely that the Ten Commandments given to Moses by God has become “obsolete” and that Christians “do not need to confess their sins”