Nigeria Matters

Options For Nigeria’s Political Development

What I am about to articulate and submit on Nigeria’s socio-political problems is not new to social commentators. The views have been articulated before now and mine is just an added impetus and a reinforcement of those obvious positions. They are still bandied about in the Nigerian press. However, before I proceed, I will like to prick the conscience of Nigerians who are docile about events in our country by quoting Franz Fanon ; “each generation” [of Nigerians] “must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission,’’ and either “fulfil it , or betray it”.

Any Nigerian, who is worthy of that name Nigerian, ought to be appalled of the political situation in the country. The presidential election’s judgement, which is riddled with contradictions, has further compounded my fears about this BIG-FOR-NOTHING country. What Buhari and Atiku got from that judgement was a questionable legal justice but not social justice, and it serves both of them right for going ahead to participate in that election. We all knew, except INEC and PDP beneficiaries, that there was no election, in a true sense of the word, conducted in 2007. It was an arrogant election, conducted by no less a person but a colourless professor. It has turned out to be the worst in the annals of Nigeria’s history. Again, we may have accepted it and agreed to move on AS USUAL but dubious circuit show continues with no remedy in sight. Blinding corruption and mind blowing electoral fraud now go in tandem in Nigeria. They have become inseparable Siamese twins.

I was a sceptic of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s thesis in the sixties that Nigeria is a mere geographical expression.” This was later aptly supported by General Gowon after the counter-coup of 1966 that toppled and killed General Ironsi. At the instigation of the northern oligarchy at the heat of the time, Gowon had said that “there is no basis for Nigeria’s unity.” A statement he later swallowed having successfully seized power from Ironsi. Of course, we all know that “ideas are products of circumstances and that such ideas depend on conditions prevalent at a particular time“. The critical question is this: can these ideas, mooted in the 1960s, still stand the test of our present time?

Today, Nigeria is a country without a soul; without a political and economic direction and with a shameless political class. The corruption level is though undulating but there is no doubt according to some writers that the value has been rising since 1960. Most of our politicians now have black belt in corruption and corrupt practices. The leadership and, surprisingly enough, the followership are rooted in the practice. It is a big business in Nigeria with international collaboration. Like any other business, people invest in corruption to make profit and not losses, thus the calibre of people involved in big corruption scandals are the mighty political gladiators. You step on their toes; they simply crush you with effortless ease. For now, what remains of corruption in Nigeria is for it to be quoted and gambled on, in the stock market. It is very, very bad indeed and I keep on crying for my beloved country. This is why the fight against corruption in Nigeria, in whatever format, is a fight for justice and development. And permit me here to paraphrase Franz Fanon once more from his epic book: THE WRETCHED OF THE EARTH, that “Every” Nigerian “onlooker,” to this heinous chain of events that is being perpetuated and sustained with impunity by privileged thieving political elites, “is either a coward or a traitor.” Or both, if I may add!

In 1966, Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu and colleagues struck because of corruption and, the damaging electoral malpractice of 1964 in the Western Region { please read WHY WE STRUCK by Major Ademulegun}; in 1975, General Murtala Muhammed and colleagues struck because of corruption in Gowon’s regime; in 1983, Abacha, Babangida, Idiagbon and Buhari struck to topple the inept and overly corrupt civilian government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari; in 1985, General Babangida and Abacha struck again to overthrow Buhari and pursue their own selfish agenda and, in 1990, Major Gideon Gwazar Orkar struck but failed, to topple one of the most evil, corrupt and monstrous regime that ever visited the country and that is, the duo of Babangida and Abacha.

Put differently, since 1966, most of the regime’s change swan-songs were hinged on the quest to fight corruption. And today, 42 years after, these fights have not yielded sufficient and tangible result. The masses are still worst off. According to the EFCC figures, more than $400 billion have been looted out of the country between 1958, when crude oil was first found in Oloibiri in Rivers state, and 2007. This is an alarming figure!

So, where lies the solution to this contagious social disease called corruption which has become a complete anathema to our development? Must Nigerians continue to live in pretence? What reasonable options are we left with to fighting corruption and resolving some of the contradictions inherent in our present social arrangement? Is Nigeria pregnant with conflict and sitting on a keg of gun powder?

I have decided to join the fray by proposing the following five options. In as much as I have no powers to enforce any of the options, I will leave the public to play the good judge. Our deaf politicians can take note if they truly love the nation or at worse, read and then play to the gallery. My propositions, which may sound hypothetical to some Nigerians, are as follows:

OPTION 1: I propose that the country should return to its former regional formation and that each region should be allowed to use its resources to develop at its own pace. Each should contribute certain percentage of its generated revenue to the federal purse. Each region should be run by a Premier with a regional assembly of elected members and regional police. The only slight modification here is that the states in each region will remain and operate with their elected civilian governors and state assembly members. Again, the local councils will still function with their elected councillors. With the evolving agitations by ethnic groupings, the regions should now be increased from the former three to six, namely: South-West {Ibadan}, South-East {Enugu}, South-South {Port Harcourt}, North-Central {Markudi}, North-East {Yola}, and North-North {Sokoto}. This will allow for a reasonable spread of authority and devolution of power.

The central government will be in control of the Army, Foreign Service, Immigration and Customs Services, Central Bank and currency control and other sundry federal agencies. This will presumably make the centre unattractive and power and authority, decentralized. The ideology of the Federal Government should either be socialism, which is an evolved and developed form of our African communal system or, welfare capitalism as is the case in the United Kingdom and most European countries.

The chosen ideology and policies will flow from the centre and down to the regions, states, and local councils. All political parties’ manifestoes would have to revolve around our chosen ideology. This option will enable us to experience the principle of the unity of peaceful co-existence deprived of the present stereotypical mutual suspicion, tribal chauvinism and ethnic antagonism. Any student of undistorted history of Nigeria knew of the excellent performance of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo when he was the regional Premier of the West in the sixties. He used the money generated from cocoa, the chief export crop of the Western region, to implement far reaching policies that the people of the region benefited and are still benefiting from to date. Foremost and notable among those policies was his implementation of free education. Besides, the same parliamentary system, though a variant of it, operates in the UK where we have WALES {Cardiff}, SCOTLAND {Edinburgh}, NORTHERN IRELAND {Belfast}, and ENGLAND {London}.

OPTION 2: I propose Jerry Rawlings approach in Ghana. This approach is pregnant in time and space. It is an incubated historical possibility with differing ideological connotation. I remembered quite vividly that this approach was at a point in the Nigerian academia subjected to divergent theoretical interpretations. To understand this approach and praxis, I will like to posit these probabilities. What would have been the present state of Nigeria if Majors Nzeogwu and Gideon Orkar have had successful change of those corrupt governments? Would they have pursued a-people’s oriented economic policies having cleansed the Aegean stable of corruption or would they have returned the country to the status quo they had sought to overthrow? To these pertinent questions arose in my mindset two possible conjectures and they are:

First, having both executed bloody coups, I boldly submit that they would have revolutionized the whole system by wiping off the corrupt leaders, make a clean sweep and then carefully hand over to a set of progressive minds. This was what happened in Ghana from 1979 under the able leadership of an Air Force officer, Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings and in Libya, under the continuing leadership of Colonel Muammar Gaddaffi. Today, no matter what negative arguments social commentators may like to put across about both regimes, Ghana and Libya are better off than most African countries. The foundation Rawlings laid, borne out of enormous human sacrifice, has now stood that country in good stead. And same goes for Libya. The intellectual and philosophical influence on Gaddaffi is found in his book entitled: THE GREEN BOOK.

One Comment

  1. A very well written article, with a touch of communism. I like the first option, but because option 2 involves some elemnts of bloodshed (and we have had enough bloodshed in our history) I am reluctant to subscribe to it.


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