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The longest stretch of Nigerian democracy

The longest stretch of Nigerian democracy

By Theo Adebowale
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May 29, 2019 makes it 20 years at this attempt to democracy. Colonization enveloped Nigeria, nay Africa, in the 19th century, taking many forms and steps. There was contact with foreigners. Europeans came to trade, to preach the gospel and to educate and civilize the people. Thousands had earlier on been shipped overseas into slavery to work on the sugar cane plantation, or shall we say, to supply labor to the productive sector.

There was no Nigeria then. The steam engine evolved in a period of one century beginning from 1698 and Europeans intensified their efforts to discover the world and pattern it into a market master plan forcibly forming it into manageable units. The European template produced Nigeria under the whims and caprices of the British. That powerful British imperial machine designed the economy, and the polity significantly redefining and restructuring her culture and development.

The British colonial policy was evidently to make outposts of the United Kingdom in all her colonies. Exposure to Western education, involvement and participation in the World Wars dramatically affected the perception of the people in the colonies as they affirmed their belief in the British struggle for freedom, and later on insisting that if it was good for the British, that freedom was also good for Africans, and in our case for Nigeria, the handmaid of imperialists. Therefore the road to flag independence was not only rough, tortuous and deathly, it is unending.

The nationalists waded through it. But because they came from different cultural, historical and belief backgrounds, the liberation slogan was disjointed and discordant. When October 1960, independence came, the euphoria beclouded their sense of nationalism and the young blood of these uncommon achievers intoxicated them. Conservatism was acceptable to imperialism for its tolerance to, and accommodation for exploitative tendencies. Western imperialism found compatibility in Islamic feudalism which it generously reinforced intellectually and logistically. Simultaneously, Western education ignited radical, ambitious rather impatient methodology for social transformation and economic ideology. The youthful actors would not exercise patience to understudy their groups and facilitate emergence of an enduring culture. Though inexperienced, each group had its template for national development but nursed suspicion against the other. Their rivalry was seized on by the British who sponsored and funded inter ethnic warfare with economic arsenal.

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The first democratic experiment lasted from October 1960 to January 1966 when the military dimension was introduced into Nigerian politics. When the military struck, the ringleaders assumed they would easily rally support in the forces to mobilize Nigerians into patriots. How mistaken they were! The disruptive tendencies trending in the polity penetrated the Armed Forces, empowered agents of imperialism for an upper hand. Corruption, fierce corruption was cloned in military juntas and transmitted into the larger society.

Beginning with February 1976 putsh and assassination of General Murtala Mohammed, the tide turned in favor of plunderers. They redefined the Indigenization Decree making it serve personal interest while they persecuted opponents and perceived enemies. The Structural Adjustment Programme that would follow the collapse of the second attempt at democracy brought about a new specie of colonialism.

The contradictions in the Nigerian political process played up prominent anti democratic personnel who believed that the best hands were not fit for political leadership. In feigning patriotism, the electoral process was manipulated to predetermine the democratic process. Between 1979 and 1983 national hypocrisy made a way for political gangterism. Barely 51 months later, that Republic wound down. Back to square one, the Structural Adjustment Programme, initiated by the World Bank exposed Nigeria to economic hardship. The vulnerable citizens were assured that it was intended for their good. Many Third World countries in Africa and Asia were similarly subjected to it. In South America, it was a bitter pill from the Brentwoods. In those places, economic and industrial fortunes have birthed, so much so that Nigerian youths now troop to South Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Brazil even Ghana in our backyard. The political will was mustered to back up industrialists, manufacturers, farmers, scholars and investors. Nigerians abandon their resourceful fatherland to engage in prostitution, drug trafficking, and sundry crimes. They are confronted with xenophobia and other dehumanizing treatments. Whereas they are dispersed all over the globe Ghananians who were once settlers in this land have returned home and made the best of their place.

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The evil genius recruited as many willing hands as were available and initiated them into Corruption Incorporated. Today these recruits, who were further upgraded by the man in dark goggles are strategically stationed in the political sphere, economic sector, public service, private sector and the Armed Forces.

This Republic was midwifed by products of the previous experiments, the good, the bad and the ugly. Sanctimonious hypocrites, religious marauders, political brigands who mismanaged the economy through money laundering, foreign exchange scams, invoice racketeering having wrecked the economy are dangerously financially loaded to sponsor and contest elections. They are powerful enough to prevent good governance as private citizens with official backing. The then Anambra Governor was not towing their path and that sitting governor was displaced in broad day light under the watch of Dr Aremu Obasanjo. Lamidi Adedibu held sway in Ibadan installing and uninstalling state governors, and President, Federal Republic of Nigeria confessed him as his (Mr President’s) political leader. The ruling party went on rampage conducting elections and declaring results that suited it. Military chiefs were subordinated to an election contestant who was conferred with status of commander in chief that electoral victory could be pronounced in his favor.

Islamic insurgents held sway in Northern Nigeria suspending the authority of the state, paralyzing social life and holding hostage, Western education was prohibited as schools were sacked and school girls in their hundreds are held in captivity for years. Communities have been plundered and population wiped off. Internally displaced persons are found all over Nigeria in camps which some misguided public officials take as opportunities to further loot the treasury. And the militants, they are also a product of the past dispensation. Saro Wiwa, undoubtedly an environmental activist was wasted by Abacha, the village tyrant while operators of government deluded themselves into believing that environmental degradation had been so eliminated from our political lexicon. How wrong they were has become public within the past 20 years in which the Asari Dokubos of the South South have overcome the tyranny of the state becoming an irritant to it.

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Free funds from breast pocket budgeting, over-invoicing, outright money laundering were thinning out and bankers who had learned from operations of past regimes employed sharp practices to swindle unsuspecting millions of customers as banks went under. Nemesis caught up with not well connected bank robbers-in-chief and their foot soldiers. To the chagrin of a blessed nation-state double crossed by a legion of accursed elite that had smuggled themselves into sensitive locations in the economy, polity, labour, church and community, Nigeria has been heated up like never before. Herdsmen rose up as one man to wreak havoc mindless of whomever could be blackmailed, have had to seek collaboration from outside to pound the system so hard evidently to impose their religion and culture, but technically to break the union if they fail. Provocative public officials like the one putting Afenifere, Igbokwenu and Fulani herdsmen in the same class are also prominent in the assault in the 20 year democracy in Nigeria.

Nigeria has withstood military hegemonists, political conspirators, incompetent and fraudulent officials, economic saboteurs, Fulani enemies within and without, and local adversaries all over. Recalcitrant and unrepentant, they are not about to repent. Rather, they are poised for reproduction, rebranding, rekiting and restrategising. There should be enumeration of patriots, those who have confidence that self determination and economic emancipation are available, attainable and achievable at our finger tips. Such must come together now and let us begin the journey of the faithfuls. That June 12 will mark a departure from the past, is not sufficient. June 12 must be taken as a turning point to commence a decisive commitment to a democratic Nigeria where the state works.

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The longest stretch of Nigerian democracy

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