New Telegraph

Nigerian Crisis And Fundamental Questions (1)

It is clear to everybody that Nigeria is in crisis. For a very long time, the country has carried on as if all is well. But it is clear that all is not well with her. All pretensions, paper over and make believe are laid bare for even the blind to perceive.

Yes, Nigeria has been living in denial of its existential problems. For its absence of unity, it pretends that its over 300 ethnic nationalities have no fears, entertain no sense of mistrusts or reservations about each other but rather dismisses those who raise questions about the glaring differences as ‘tribalists’.

For absence of national consciousness, purpose and focus it points to the ‘strong’ armed forces that pride itself as the preserver of national unity. For all these fundamental questions of unity, socio- economic and political purpose, the rulers (especially the military leaders) casually assert that these questions have been resolved.

As least on two occasions when the country was presented opportunities to review its situation but the military leaders restricted the people to issues outside the questions of national unity, religion, type of government, revenue allocation and citizenship arguing that these fundamental questions have been resolved or settled by resolutions in the previous conferences (meaning pre-independence conferences) and the logic of the civil war.

For these reasons, these fundamental questions were prohibited from debate and ruled “no-go-areas” in the 1978/79 Constituent Assembly and in 1999 Niki Tobi Constitution Drafting Committee. What came as the sovereign-willed national charter is the 1999 Constitution that has been in operation since 29th May, 1999.

This is the grundnorm that has been the moving force for societal regeneration and development of the country. But it serves rather as brake to the engine of social development for it is not the people’s will that willed into existence and so does not represent the national spirit that moves and shape the creative forces of Nigerian society.

It inspires nobody! Every country depends on certain fundamental principles which flow from certain fundamental questions to exist, grow and prosper. Without building or founding the country on these basic principles the country gets stunted, decays, stultifies and retrogresses.

These principles are that a people or group of peoples desirous of forming a country must share certain affinities, values, mutuality of needs, national purposes and sentiments. A combination of principles will lead to unity which makes the country possible.

In absence of these principles, no country can be found and exist upon the principle of conquest and subjugation. Let’s use the USA and Nigeria as case studies.

The United States of America was formed on the principle of union of peoples based on shared values, affinities, mutuality of needs, national purpose and sentiments. Nigeria on the other hand was formed on the principle of conquest and subjugation hence the creator did not bother with the principles of shared values, affinities, mutuality of need, national purpose and sentiments.

To form the United States of America, the peoples constituted in the 13 colonies rebelled against Britain and dismantled British monarchical state and the autocratic constitutional framework to found a state and country based on shared values, common affinities, mutuality of need, national purpose and sentiments.

The United States first adopted confederal state and constitution but in 1787 it adopted a federal state and federal constitution which constitution was drafted by a constituent assembly elected by the 13 state assemblies and fiercely debated the fundamental questions and adopted the resulting resolutions based on democratic majority or consensus of opinion.

These resolutions were collected and enacted by majority of states of the union upon ratification by 2/3 of 13 state assemblies which was 9 states.

In the case of Nigeria, Britain conquered the over 300 ethnic nationalities and forcibly formed then into a unitary state ruled autocratically by British colonial officials who as matter of policy utilized traditional rulers appointed by them.

This policy termed Indirect Rule was an adaptation of the Sokoto Fulani Caliphate structure and governance norms. Britain grew this system into Nigeria’s national governance structure through series of basic laws called constitu- tions imposed on the people through sham conferences the people had no control.

It is this state structure and constitutional framework that Nigeria has maintained. Indigenous rulers have maintained this state structure and constitutional framework forming one unbroken legal instrument and organic whole from which the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 draws its bearing and essence. Gowon, Murtala Mohammed/Obasanjo military regimes twisted this British imposed state and constitutional framework to grotesque shape and substance by transforming them into feudal autocracy.

It is this state structure and constitutional framework that Nigeria has been operating from 1914 to date. Since 1985, Nigerians have been agitating for a sovereign national conference where the 300 ethnic nationalities massed and delineated in the present 36 states and Abuja FCT will agree on political charter comprising duly tabled, debated and agreed resolutions on the fundamental questions of unity, religion, liberties type of government, economic system and citizenship.

Against these agitations, the rulers, especially the military leaders that fought the Biafra War and have had the opportunity to rule Nigeria as military rulers casually dismiss these popular agitations claiming that these fundamental questions have been settled in previous constitutional conferences/constitution drafting committees and by the logic of defeat of Biafra which symbolized these agitations in the 1966 crisis.

But it is clear that as long as these fundamental questions are not tabled in a duly constituted sovereign conference and debated and a resolution adopted and agreed upon there can be no peace in the land.

This much was the conclusion of Mrs Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala who after serving as Minister of Finance and coordinating Minister of the Economy retired to her study to hold in a book entitled, ‘Reforming the Unreformable’ that Nigeria as presently constituted and operated cannot make any progress into development, modernity and prosperity unless the present system is broken, dismantled and rebuilt into an organically organised and regulated modern nationhood founded on freedoms, democracy and rule of law and etched in a sovereign-willed constitutional framework.

This is the first condition to making Nigeria a livable state and a just society. Nothing else will work just as Britain painfully found out after its tragic errors of maintaining autocratic monarchy founded on the principles of conquest and right of rulership which lasted from 1066 AD when Williams the Conqueror instituted feudalism and autocratic monarchy until 1688 when British people dismantled monarchy, feudalism and autocracy replacing them with Capitalism, Parliamentary Democracy and Rule of Law.

Since then, Britain unleashed its social creative forces and prospered by pioneering Industrial Revolution and great scientific and educational development.

Read Previous

Why Tinubu Needs To Change Direction, By Adebayo

Read Next

Unsafe Abortion: WARDC, Others Begin Advacacy To Curb Maternal Deaths