By Sola Ebiseni
LAST week, l recalled how I came across the term Afghanistanism as an undergraduate and student’s activist at the then University of Ife in the 1980s, during the Major-General Muhammadu Buhari/Brigadier Tunde Idiagbon military rule. The regime had reasoned that the problems plaguing Nigeria was the indiscipline of the citizens.
The War Against Indiscipline, WAI, was so elastic and nebulous in definition but the enforcement was with military precision. It included staying patiently on the queue in public places, observance of monthly environmental sanitation and barring women from wearing trousers in public.
The penalty against transgression was either summary trial in WAI courts or instant corporal punishment of flogging or combined with some aerobic exercises, particularly frog-jumping, enforced by the ubiquitous soldiers and WAI Brigade officers.
Fundamental issues of the economy, and particularly a programme of return to democratic rule, were not part of the regime’s agenda which also outlawed political parties and all associations considered to harbour opposition or radical tendencies against military dictatorship.
Lecturers perceived to harbour or inculcate radical thoughts were dismissed from the university system “for teaching what they were not paid to teach”; top journalists were jailed and newspapers barred from reporting any event which the government considered embarrassing, even if it was true. Laws were made with retrospective penal sanctions where the accused was presumed guilty with the onus of proving his or her innocence.
Ebiseni is Secretary General, Afenifere.