In managing a diversity of people, certain enabling elements must be conscienciously upheld. The success, of which, will largely depend on how the interests of the respective groups within such diversity are protected. The freedom in multi-culturalism, as exemplified by members of true secular societies, is fundamentally owed to the existent and the application of the enabling laws.
The separation of religion and state as a political doctrine, has seen many multi cultural societies of today thrive. By ensuring that the institutions of the state were kept separate from those of religious institutions, Muslims, Buddhists and Jews have been able to live in relative peace among their christian hosts in many lands. The U.S pres., Thomas Jefferson, in his January 1802 reply to the Baptists affirmed,”…I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, ‘Thus, making a clear demarcation between church and state.
And in Nigeria, It is that bad. The people’s short memory has once again, reared its ugly head. One of the Sharia-state Governors, Mallam Umar Yar’ Adua of Katsina, has been chosen to fly the ruling party’s flag in the 2007 presidential elections. To this end, many questions are begging for answers. In the first place, most Southern Nigerians are in shock over what they see as a policy somersault, from an administration whose spin doctors were until a few weeks ago, promising that power, for the sake of “equity”, wouldremain in the South.
With the power of incumbency, the scales are likely to tip in favour of the Islamist, UmarYar’Adua becoming Nigeria’s president in 2007. But the out come of this political marriage between a Christian president, who’s recently enrolled in a distant learning programme to study theology, and a state governor who’s been implementing the Islamic legal injunctions, is any one’s guess. What common ideologies united these two men? How long will Yar’ Adua remain Obasanjo’s nice boy?
Pundits wonder what the strategic calculations of the current president were in supporting such a candidacy, even as the dread for Islamisation of the whole country was rife in the minds of the largely christian south.
It is widely believed in many quarters that it was a matter of time before the man the president sees as his man, will fall out of favour with him, as there will be competing interests from the conservative Northern political establishment. Then ethnicity and religion, as in the past, will determine who’ll get what.
Of course, one of the first demands of the pro-military Northern establishment from their son, Yar’ Adua, many expect, would be to return the military configuration to the status quo ante. Wiping out the modest balancing OBJ has effected so far. Then, exposed, would be, the lack of courage and visionary judgment Pres.Obasanjo displayed, by not backing a southern candidate.
The newly empowered office of the BOT chairman that Obasanjo wants to assume after the elections, can never equal the powers of a head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces. After the period of consolidation of powers, such nuisance of an office that may interfere with governance, could easily be impotented with executive fiat by the sitting president..
Far from considering the tripodal political balance of Nigeria, the emergence of Yar’Adua has mainly revalidated the “core” North’s claim of being the eternal rulers of Nigeria. Head or tail, whatever might be the reasons for the choice of Yar’ Adua, It has further impressed upon Southern Nigerians that the Northerner’s words and requests amount to law.
There were regrets of relinquishing the power to the south, perhaps this time, they may not want to let go. And I stand to be challenged. Therefore, the strategic political prognosis of the country would continue to remain jaundiced, visa’vis the CIA report on Nigeria.
Rival bids such as Dr. Chinwe Otunaya Odili, whom Nigerians once viewed as the likely successor to the president withdrew from the race. Coming surprisingly on the instruction of the current president, whom he had worshiped and praised like anything. Odili, the governor of Rivers state, had had a running battle with rival interests in his zone over his being an Igbo man. He’ll now have cause to remember when he told Governor Victor Attah, a few years ago, that Ekwueme’s candidacy would be too hard for him to sell to his “Rivers People” because of Ekwueme’s Igbo roots. What a hard way to learn!
Nevertheless, he would have made a good president. The man is endowed with the prerequisite mental and intellectual capabilities to serve Nigeria on that level.
In the interim, the old Eastern region has once again missed the chance of producing Nigeria’s president. And by 2015, It ‘ll be 48 years since they last smelt the office through Gen. Johnson Ironsi, only for a six months period. What a nation?