Agenda For New Nigeria (1)
DEFECTIVE governance structure, ethno-religious mistrust and economic lopsidedness are some of the foundational challenges still plaguing the 63-year-old independent Nigeria. This is not to discountenance the divisions among major ethnic groups about the need for Nigeria to seek independence from Britain when she did. Whereas Nigerian leaders of southern extraction were ready for independence, their northern counterparts were not, until after they were persuaded.
THIS is more so as the amalgamation of the southern and northern protectorates in 1914 has, over the years, been classified as a ‘marriage of inconvenience’ by people who believed the troubling continuous existence of the country is traceable to the negative aggregation of uncooperative multiple ethnic groups that were not fairly, sincerely, and transparently consulted on how to co-exist within a federation. To this end, nationhood continues to elude the Nigeria nation.
NOTEWORTHY is the fact that the granting of full independence to Nigeria on 1st October 1960, under a parliamentary constitution, allowed for a measure of autonomy and self-government for the three major regions of west, east and north, with remarkable marks made in the horizon by religion and ethnicity. The leaderships of the three regions under Awolowo, Azikwe and Balewa respectively, notwithstanding the political shenanigans that unsettled the western region, emplaced sustainable dramatic developments that left indelible imprints in their regions. The proclamation of Nigeria as a Republic in October 1963 occasioned the centralisation of national assets did not stop the festering ethno-religious tensions in the country but rather got expanded by the disparities in economic and educational development between the south and the north.
THE culmination of ethno-religious strives to military interventions on 15th January 1966, laced with what many perceived as systematic ethnic cleansings of officers of northern extraction, irreversibly precipitated the Nigeria Civil War that raged between 1967 and 1970, with the collateral loss of estimated 3.5 million people from the declared Biafra enclave. The popular axiomatic declaration of “No victor, no vanquished” by the then military Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, could not reverse the socio-economic setbacks caused by the war. Painfully enough, the memories of the Civil War have continued to hunt the country, as mutual suspicion, recrimination, and ethnic profiling play major roles in political cooperation and multifarious dealings among Nigerians. We agree that, no doubt, a house divided against itself shall not stand!
WITH different military interruptions and experimentations with democratic republics, Nigeria has continued to teeter, with what is considered a military-imposed defective 1999 Constitution, with negatively skewed manifestations used to administer the nation. Given the inadequacies in the 1999 Constitution as amended and serious attacks on the secularity of the country, constitutional provisions have been brazenly violated, with basic principles of fairness, equity, and nationhood being frontally diminished by tokenism, patronage, and ethnic jingoism. Justice is tainted by ethno-religious and political colourations, even as agitations for true physical and fiscal federalism have reverberated endlessly.
THE Hope notes with concerns the divisive propensities that especially defined the Buhari administration, which was arguably considered to be favourable to people of northern extraction, particularly killer herders that decimated people across the country, mostly in the southern hemisphere. We considered as commendable the assent of the president to some bills passed by the 9th national assembly, supporting the autonomy of the legislature and the judiciary, as well as that removing the generation of electricity and construction of railways from the exclusive list, to allow the participation of states. It is, however, redundant that the efforts of the national assembly to review grey areas in the 1999 constitution did not touch on the vexatious issue of fiscal federalism. The tendentious national discourses go on unabated, straining nerves and pushing people to the edge, under political leaderships that have demonstrated lack of knowledge about the basis for Nigeria existence, and continuous stay together by the people.
THE Hope is unequivocal that Nigeria needs a patriotic leader that; understands the diversity of the country, recognises the need to abide by constitutional prescriptions, is ready to run the country as a national project, adheres to the principle of true federalism; is willing to provide good education, and move the country towards scientific, technological, and economic breakthroughs.
WE are particularly of the opinion that the new government should be deliberate about creating jobs for the teaming youths that revolted, somewhat, at the polls during the last presidential election. There is the need to cut the cost of governance, and redirect the resources saved from such initiative to meet the collective good of citizens. As we deepen our constitutional democracy, the new government should encourage the 10th National Assembly to follow through the constitutional amendments started by the Ninth Assembly, in order to get rid of contentious provisions, and move governance in Nigeria towards true federalism to promote mutual trust, responsible citizenship and sustainable nationhood.
NOTWITHSTANDING the sixty-days window the newly assented constitutional provisions allows for the forming of cabinet by the president and governors, The Hope encourages the president-elect, as he has promised, to emplace his cabinet as soon as he is inaugurated, which should be made up of the best and brightest brains available in the country, needed for the rescuing of the ailing economy, jump starting the technological growth of the nation, and mitigating the insecurity that has more or less turned Nigeria to a slaughtering slab.