By Ayodele Fagbohun
On the “post mortem” analysis of the just concluded presidential election, it could be vividly seen even at a cursory look that ethno-religious cleavages played dominant role which if not promptly and constitutionally addressed now could be incendiary. It may blow the nation into various disparate ethnic linguistic and religious fiefdoms; and knocks out the existence of Nigeria as a viable democracy.
It is constantly averred and submitted that presidential election, all things being equal is a serious, earnest and burdensome undertaking not to be taken at one’s leisure. The office of president must be contested on units, competence, capability and experience to excel in the management of men and materials.
Besides, the sheer territorial size of Nigeria necessitates the adoption of true federal form of constitution, hence the division of the vast country into states or regions, even if the inhabitants of Nigeria are linguistically or ethnically homogeneous.
Nigeria should as a matter of course be led by any Nigerian acceptable to all or to majority of the people of the country; and not to be consigned on the lap of indolent and lazy religious bigot or which chauvinist in an obscure of corner of Nigeria.
For instance, during the last presidential elections, ethnicity and religion literally became a deciding factor; not expertise on economy and ability on intelligence gathering to tackle insecurity which is the dearth of non modern governance.
Was it not astonishing that unknown Labour Party (L) hurriedly organized by Peter Obi of Igbo extraction raised some dust in a blitz and swang a surprise win right in the heartland of the ruling All Progressives’ Congress (APC) dominated core Yoruba land.
Aside from the vile propaganda of Mr. Peter Obi which had negative and harmful effects on ethnic conscious. Igbo youth in Lagos in collusion with the gullible preponderant youths of Yoruba extraction having an axe to grind with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu over his unchallenged leadership profile since his governorship career in 2007.
Some Yorubas have no qualm of conscience in conducting violence, mayhem and arson on their kith and kin at the slightest provocation, without even finding to know what is amiss, let alone conducting research into any vexatious issue at stake.
They more often than not join multitude to do evil. There is need more than hitherto, to infuse solidarity into the disjointed, tribes that comprise Yoruba ethnic group in a bid to protect our sovereignty from being encroached or trampled upon by common intruders.
The unshaken and implicit loyalty which Igbos alongside their brothers and sisters in Yoruba, to secure narrow victory for LP in Lagos state did not arise from any ideological standpoint or faith. Rather from linguistic affinity ethnic and Christian self assertion and vitriolic bitterness brazen hostility avuncular animosity and envy. This is very dangerous and ominous sign that negates true federalism.
Nigeria must thrive and flourish under true practice and principle of federalism. That is to say, the division of the country into states along ethnic lines will enable each linguistic group not only to develop its own peculiar culture and institutions but to move forward at its own pace without let or hindrance.
Only a unitary constitution with only one central government will promote frustration to the more pushful or more dynamic ethnic group.
How on earth would Labour Party (LP) having no structure of responsible and accountable government could now be boastful of winning Lagos? This is mere mid-night summer dream.
This is sheer anarchy that will not stand the text of time in a true federal setup of government.
Peter Obi and his infantile LP should race home quickly to the South East and put his house in order before attempting to venture into national politics across other parts of the country; to prove his mettle for charity begins from home.
Obafemi Awolowo, in his Autobiography Awo he did say: Nigeria should have as many provinces , zones, regions or states as there were linguistic or ethnic groups in the country and that each region should have a legislature and government of its own.
“There would be a central or federal parliament and government on which the various linguistic groups in the country would be represented. Under these arrangements, each ethnic group could develop its own peculiar culture and institutions in accordance with the wishes; and inter-tribal acrimony and jockeying for leadership which are rearing their heads way cease.
“The Government of each linguistic group would be led by one of their members, and Nigeria would be led by any Nigerian acceptable to all or to majority of the peoples of the country” Awo asserted.
Nigeria is multi-lingual, religions and secular nation comprising over 250 ethnic groups which are independent and autonous before the conquest of British colonial rule and the eventual proclaimation of British pax.
In the 1931 census, 10 main national groups were identified in Nigeria as follows (1) hausa (2) Igbo (3) Yoruba, (4) Fulani (5) Kanuri (6) Ibibio (7) Munshi or Tiv (8) Edo (9) Nupe (10) Ijaw. According to Nigeria handbook, 11th edition, ‘there are also a great number of other small tribes too numerous to enumerate separately whose combined total population amounts to 4,683,044.
It is remarkable to note that the nation and her people have weathered every conceivable political storm peaceably in spite of the huge diversities in culture, to language, religion and the needless strains and pressure inflicted on the nation due to rank administrative ineptitude and naked capacity of our political office holders both in the civilian and military attire.
It is apposite in my conclusion to extensively quote Chief Obafemi Awolowo having played a leading role in constitution-making in Nigeria since 1949.
The late sage had empirically demonstrated both in theory and practice that constitution-making is Applied Science. It follows therefore that certain laws or principles must be observed else the society or the country go into flames or come to grief and peril for the wrong application of the constitution.
According to Chief Obafemi Awolowo (1) if a country is unilingual and uni-national, the constitution must be unitary.(2) if a country is uni-lingual or bi-lingual or multi-lingual and also consists of communities which over a period of years, have developed divergent nationalities, the constitution must be federal, and constituent states must be organized on the dual basis of language and nationality.
(3) If a country is bilingual or multi-lingual, the constitution must be organized on linguistic bases.
(4) Any experiment with a unitary constitution in a bi-lingual, multi-lingual or multi-national country must fail in the long run.
No wonder, the gargantuan and recurring abysmal failure of the military rule and its concomitant self serving civilian administrations in Nigeria driving us from pillar to post; grope in the dark in elusive search for workable constitution over the years.
From the foregoing, the constituent states must not only be organized along linguistics ethnic lines and relatively geographically contiguous but autonous, and shall operate separate constitutions to manage their own affairs independent of the federal constitution.
This was precisely what obtained when Nigeria was under the British tutelage which ushered in the first Republic politics. The three regional governments viz: Northern , Eastern and Western operated their won separate constitutions independent of the Federal government. The western Nigerian constitution empowered the premier, Chief Obafemi Awolowo to appoint chief Gabriel Akindeko as Agent-General to United Nations UN, Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) office based in Accra, Ghana.
Following the Pan Nigerian electoral mandate feely and fervidly given to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of APC, the road to true federalism is assured to guarantee peace, orderly development, progress and unity of the country.
For the president-elect can effectively through his rich antecedents and track records in both private and public service can be or tremendous influence in mobilizing, uniting and knitting together the various disparate ethnic and partisan people in the country for effective governance,
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