Thoughts On Nigeria Realities

In assessing ten years of civilian rule in Nigeria, our citizens have expressed misgivings. Many have said that they are not satisfied with the journey so far, while some have said that they are disappointed.

Our nightmares will continue if we continue to criticize those, who have shown interest in trying to do something, while we shoot up occasionally after a good meal provided by others, to just talk.

One will be taking the Nigerian story too far back if one wishes to recount the events that took place between 1966 and 1999.This was the period when the rule of force was institutionalized. Nigeria was treated like war booty by the military. The activities of NADECO and other patriotic Nigerians forced the military to depart.

Unfortunately, the military handed us an inchoate constitutional order that was incapable of making Nigeria move in the right direction. With the exclusion of academics from politics, the way was open to all sorts of touts and those, who had earlier failed to prevail in government.

As the new order was about to gather speed, primitive governance took over, By the time the polluted haze settled down, eight years had passed. The roles of humans, who operate in political parties, are the objects of this study. There are patriotic nationalists, who mean well for the country. There are revolutionary socialists, who are passionate about change and progress, as well as political opportunists, who seem to be on the ascendancy.

They are mounting new slogans like “democratic sovereignty”, “mega party”, “violent revolution,” restructuring the nation” etc. Some are accusing the President of “Katsinasation”, but they forget that the pattern had crystallized long before now.

In evaluating the psychology of human intelligence in Nigeria, one must start from local models to universal theory in order to comprehend the sources of the difficulties in our political, legal and cultural underdevelopment.

There is no homogenous Nigerian nation and there has never been a conscious attempt to create one. There are nation-states in Nigeria in which the elite tug at the proverbial national cake, which some nation-states bake for others to consume a disproportionate part of, through political stratagems, constitutional fiats and legislative fiats.

Nigeria inherited a political tradition based on British parliamentary democracy, a system, in which the government is accountable to the people. Military intervention in 1966 derailed that system irreparably.

Ever since, various political postulations have been canvassed with learnedness and great energy. I remember the “KURU SPEECH” by General Ibrahim Babangida, the CALABAR DECLARATION of 2001, Dr Akinola Aguda’s March 5, 1979 lecture titled, “Nigeria in search of Social Justice through the Law, “and Gani Fawehinmi’s use of law as an instrument of social change. Etc.

In my “Colonial Legal Heritage in Nigeria” (1986), I pointed out some negative effects on Nigeria’s social transformation imposed by the colonial legal philosophy which guides our social thinking and organization.

The various constitutions handed to us by the various military regimes have proved inadequate in regulating our societal advance. Every genuine attempt to jettison each legal contraption has always met with stiff opposition from those, who benefit from its manifold anomalies.

Our republic has suffered inexorably from human animals, whose sole concerns have been to loot the national treasury.

Leadership and Politics in Nigeria, the quality of leadership, the political cadres that work with the political leader, these are still the subject of prayerful wishes in Nigeria.

Many Nigerians blame our collective societal failures on our leaders. The leaders are supposed to be imbued with supernatural cognitive qualities. Many citizens never contribute ideas on governance and even those who do, give up after years of social activism. Others just wait in the wings to criticize and feel good.

As from today, let us come up with concrete suggestions on how Nigeria should be governed .Some leaders, who have been tied firmly to the apron-strings of foreign powers deal t with Nigeria as an object of barter. They took the benefit without carrying the burden. They used political parties and political aides and dumped them.

When they are not in control and can no longer manipulate the direction of statecraft, they throw a spanner in the wheel of governance through disruptive stratagems that can arouse political malcontents to disruptive actions.

This usually creates a situation whereby a change comes about. In the turbulence, to start a new rigmarole, every political tout forms a political party, purely as a business venture.
After elections, some political parties went to court, in order to attract the attention of the new regime, which came to power by hook or crook. This tragic-comedy has been Nigeria’s unfortunate political history since 1960. It is very sad that we rely on chance happenings and throw-up phenomena in choosing leaders.

However, in 1998, a group of intellectually agile compatriots expended their intellectual and material resources to create a new political party popularly known as the PEOPLES’ DEMOCRATIC PARTY.

The patriots that formed the PDP, reflected “upon the ends of political action, upon the means of achieving them, upon the possibilities and necessities of political situations and upon the obligations that political purposes impose” on Nigeria. They set up a political party that was unique and which was not meant to have a concluding chapter too soon.

As a patriot, I fully subscribed to the party’s ambitions to forge a strong federal set-up, in which the composite parts would be free to accelerate the welfare of its citizens, without let or hindrance.

Out of the blues, a motley crowd of political opportunists, semi-literate and crude leaders, with misplaced consciences conjured up funds to take-over the PDP.

The leadership was mired in a shameless power struggle and pettiness of the worst type, while the people suffered. The legacy this khakistocratic rule imposed on the nation is still strongly felt.

Today, an attempt at tackling the problems facing the nation is left to the President without any visible input by the party, whose members strut the ministries and parastatals looking for contracts.

The PDP leadership at the level of the Chairmen of the Board of Trustees and the party seem to pay little attention to the plight of the party. By not attending the last National Convention and denying knowledge of the attempts at Electoral reforms initiated by the President of the Republic, Umaru Yar’ardua, the BOT Chairman who, I know well, is manifesting a lack of interest in the party, he rode to a two-term land slide. This is a mystical manifestation.

When the golden cord of a political organization takes on tarnish, the political institutions begin to march towards disorder, while the democratic and oligarchic principles crumble.

If this apparent abandonment of the party is deliberate and not just a result of leadership fatigue then let me row the PDP boat. I have always offered the BOT Chairman constructive perspectives.

Withdrawal, cynicism or protest could push “our inhabited world” into a Scipionic circle or a philosophy of escape. So, we say to the BOT Chairman, “ROW, ROW, ROW your boat ………” He has always subscribed to the general principles of the Stoic philosophy of the Epictetus/Chrysippus genre. If the OLUMO ROCK becomes shifting sand we must take-over, lest the gains made so far will translate to an arbitrary artifact of statistical whim.

Nigeria must be systematized. Today, the converging consensus is that

we are in need of solid-state ideas on statecraft not sloganeering, which is the fad civil-service culture generates. My reading of this phenomenon is that after the flaming banners of propaganda have been taken down, the officiating Minister beams radiantly. Unknown to the Honourable Minister, these propaganda stunts are a euphemism conjured up to apply or misapply funds from the Ministry’s budget before the call to surrender unspent funds.

The clarion call to re-brand Nigeria is laughable. The pharmacist knows or ought to know that a drug must undergo scientific improvement before a new wrapper is designed for effect.

How do you re-brand a nation, where the top politicians loot public funds with reckless impunity and seem to be getting away with it all?

Even the academia has been involved too. For example, President Olusegun Obasanjo had to dismiss the Pro-Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Justice Anthony Aniagolu and the Vice Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Professor Wale Omole. Both left under a cloud after thorough investigations indicted them of fraudulent acts unbefitting of men placed in the responsibilities of running a high institution of learning.

The various Visitation Panel reports contain acts of victimizations. In my celebrated case, I adroitly moved from victim to victor, with Psalm 37 as my spiritual guide. I seek them, I cannot find them…

When President Umaru Musa Yar’ardua sacked 21 Ministers last year and appointed Madam F. Waziri, as the EFCC Chief, I started getting the feeling that acts of improprieties would be challenged, as time goes on.

The publications in Nigerian newspapers cannot all be the editor’s imagination. Foreign embassies report blatant cases of insecurity, fraud, corruption, incessant electricity failures, long petrol queues, which lead to terrible loss of man-hours, etc.

If we continue like this, VISION 2020 will end in the wilderness. A scientific mind should not pander to the illusory hallucinations of those, whose psycho-galvanic reflexes are triggered by lack of experience and practice. Democrats should never show weariness or irritation. It is only those who have no logical arguments that resort to a do-or-die finality, threats and verbal attacks.

The Nigerian society, even at the elite level is not attuned to “the preservation of ideals, enlightened by the cultivation of art and letters and harmonized by a broader sympathy, good will and gentleness.”

We find, even among the elite a disheartening crudeness, pomposity, in a society drunk with wickedness and unenlightened by taste or ideas and has no means of idealizing civility or a civic heritage.

The politician, who got rigged into power through criminal conspiracy, shamelessly takes an obscure chieftaincy title, non-existent until his bundle of Naira went round the village square.

The other politician, who is barely literate seeks for and acquires a “doctorate degree Honorius causa” from one of the mushrooming universities. He ignorantly or deliberately removes the “HONORIUS CAUSA”, so as to deceive the world that he obtained a real doctorate. One day, some of these impostors will face criminal charges of impersonation and go to jail for seven years.

I blame some cheap universities that doll out cheap doctorate degrees (Honorius cause). A university that was barely one year old gave a doctorate degree (Honorius causa) to a Senator!

It can be recalled that the former British Prime Minister, Mrs. Margaret Thatcher was denied an honourary doctorate degree by Oxford University, during the time she was in office. Recently, President Barack Obama was not given an honourary doctorate degree by the University of Arizona, in spite of his brilliance.

Yet, in Nigeria, people, who can hardly qualify for higher degrees are given. Universities that dish out doctorate degrees (Honourius causa) are only ridiculing themselves. A numbskull cannot be redeemed by being “dressed in borrowed robes”.

Written by
Emmanuel Omoh Esiemokhai
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