April 30, 2018
Chris Odinaka Nwedo
An objectively just political order is beginning to be difficult in Nigeria because of the absence of truly national leaders. Today, we seem besieged by jingoists, moles working very hard to promote sectional interests against the collective will of Nigerians. This fact gives the pertinent answers to the questions why Nigeria is spinning out of control, why there are bad and imprudent government’s policies on one hand and overwhelming violence and slaughter of the citizens on the other, why Nigeria is in auto-drive and there is no impression that someone is in charge, why Federal government Ministers and aids flaunt commands, why the parliament is invaded by thugs unrestrained, why security forces execute judgements self-style and preferentially and finally why the parliament has just woken up from the bruising shame and indignity to announce it is contemplating impeachment processes against the incompetent president for operating outside the law as it relates management of funds.
At the commencement of this administration, the anti-corruption campaign has targeted only members of opposition parties from a particular section of the country. Discrimination, preferential treatment, nepotism and the feeling that Nigeria is now breeding sacred cows are gaining grounds. The fact that all heads of security agencies, all outstanding national institutions including independent national electoral commission are headed by people from one religion and one tiny section of the country makes the point less polemical. These appointments are antithetical to Nigeria’s multi-ethnic and multi-religious compositions. Unarguably, the national situation has gone from bad to worse because the best are not sort in appointments into sensitive position nor polices well-thought. The Buhari led the APC government has become irreproachable and unapproachable. His Royal Majesty, PMB, does what pleases him and has nothing else to care but the federal power he ‘commandeered’ for his interest. The APC leadership that suppose to lead the way to revolutionary government it promised Nigerians serve only the interest of president and the party’s founders who depended on the indices of the nation’s fault lines for relevance.
Generally speaking, party politics in Nigeria has never been valid tool for integration, good governance, service delivery and/ or promotional instrument for quality development. Parties have been impoverishing and polarizing instruments. They are potent in promoting unhealthy ethno-religious competitions and marginalizing and exploitative mechanisms. In every election season Nigeria is shaken to her foundations traumatised due to awful invectives by sectional champions who will insist that the presidential candidates must come from their tribe. The violence done to Nigeria by the double-crossing irredentists is incalculable in any term. These elements are known to have risen to national prominence for harping sectional tunes. The horrifying violence and cataclysmic instability in the polity are the brain children of the unscrupulous elements.
By downright indiscretion, these politicians designed the bait that made military interventions indispensable. It is difficult to substantiate what Nigeria and the people have gained each time the military shoot-down the system and impounded the governance. Nothing has really been positive in the endless interventions by the military. They are prompt to exploit the chances given them by imprudent politicians to empty the national coffers and expropriated the wealth. And with military incursions into the Nigerian polity, all democratic structures and institutions, including the elective principle were dissolved and banned.
Six years after independence (1966), a military coup stimulated by a disputed election and a breakdown of law and order in the Western Region, presaged the outbreak of a civil war between the federation and the eastern region. This tragedy cost millions of lives directly and indirectly. Nigerians are in reality faced with disillusioning facts, the reality of frenzied tussle for power between those who confiscated the political power to advance subjective agenda and the objective deployment of power for productive governance. Nigeria is a nation betrayed and denied of right to quality development. The reoccurring challenges have been how to transform the array of competing ethnic and religious groups into instruments for better and greater Nigeria.
After the nation’s independence in 1960, the struggle for political power was moved from the foreign manipulators to an enduring conflicts of interest emanating from the motley ethnic groups and other competing interests. This is what Nigeria was left with as the imperial masters depart. Ethnic warriors or euphemistic religious martyrs ‘sought for power by all means and maintained the same powers using every available means.8 The implication of this form of absolutist sectional interest and arbitrary reference to the rest of the folk was politics reduced to a crude tool of marginalisation and repression. Power consequently became reserved for its maintenance. Power was made the top priority in all circumstances and sought by all means. ‘As the rulers extended their right to powers, the idea of lawful competition became impossible, and politics was invariably reduced to a single issue do or die. For some scholars, “the 1967 to 1970 civil war period, gave the mafia and its allies a certain character; an essentially sectional one. The other periods of crisis, the contemporary one, 1993 till date, perhaps more dangerous than a civil war situation, has equally propelled the hegemony’s power play of the north to the front burner in a manner” so destabilising.10 The civil war splashed the stench miasma of dirty politics on traumatising post independence national predicament. In fact, the war in Nigeria was precipitated by the infusing brands of injustices, political corruption and economic mismanagement but very regrettably the war did not stop the vices afterwards.
Ethnic related prejudices were blamed on the colonial mucilage of racially disparate groups in a compulsive compatibility in manner devoid of essential spade work. Formally, Nigerian racial groups were agglomerated into a single political unit in 1914, but integration among the races was minimal because Britain’s policy of ‘indirect rule’ sustained and even magnified differences among the Nigerians.11 The size of Nigeria limited internal communications, ethnic diversity, cross-cutting alliances and cleavages render it a difficult country to govern under the best of circumstances. By the time of independence in 1960, Nigeria was divided into three semi-autonomous regions, each composed of many nationalities with few common cultural experiences and even fewer incentives to act collectively as a nation.12 This imposition simmered signs of prospective implosions of tensions at the very on set. The potential tension soon became actualised in ill motivated inter and intra disunity and clashes within micro levels, disaffections, armed conflicts and wars at the macro. Besides, the cultural and ideological disparities distinguishing the heterogeneous groups constituting the country, personal interests of the superintendents at various levels complicated genuine understanding among the peoples.
Typically, “the introduction by the British of a system of indirect rule whereby kings, emirs and chiefs were allowed a measure of local autonomy with power to administer their individual states or principalities within the country subject to the supreme authority of the government later created instability and lack of cohesion. And ‘colonial forms of authoritarianism underlying ‘indirect rule’ did not create a legitimate social contract among constituent groups. Much of Nigeria’s independent political history has focused on the relationship between the federal centre and the subordinates, sub national units defined as regions or states.
For convenience of administration, the imperialists created to large extent federalism and encouraged tribal groupings and ethnic antagonism that are plaguing Nigeria today. The procedures of the hand-over and the deficiencies among the beneficiaries of the power preconditioned the kind of structures for the transition. Imprudently, the transfer of power was ritualistically executed consequently, the administrative strategies and the edifices of the government were devoid of solid base and therefore vulnerable to easy dilapidation. These eventually, were inevitable extension of invitation for furtherance of economic and other related ambitions of the alien forces waiting in wings. It is scarcely problematic to say that the transfer of power was concretely speaking, a more surface gesture because the very objective of the relationship which is exploitation of the resources of Nigeria was more important to the imperialists. In other words, the imperialists were prepared to compromise on political de-colonisation rather than economic de-colonisation. ‘The logic behind this was obvious for… replacement of the White rulers with Black ones was morally and pragmatically sound. This is because Africans would no longer accuse the imperialist whites of exploitation or as responsible for their mal-development.
Nonetheless, “it is good to state, ab initio, that a distinction is recognized between physical and mental decolonisation. While the former has been achieved in the late 1950s and early 1960s in most African countries with the lowering of the colonial flags and hoisting of the national ones, the later is yet to be achieved…a conceptual decolonisation.17 Indigenous administrators were not merely willing tools to be manipulated by imperialists, rather such willingness was objectively determined by their inherent weakness in various spheres. Basically, the active imperial patronage remains indispensable in asserting clandestine economic interests in such areas as in the solidification of controls and in containing effectively local resistance to grotesque external manipulations in the manner of neo-imperialism.
In Africa generally, post independence leadership objectively speaking is weakened and impeded by myriad of stumbling blocks as the states struggled to develop realistic self-determination and capacity to meet the peoples’ fundamental needs. Paramount among the impediments is the inability to combat confrontationally the inherited social and economic downward spirals. The deplorable failure is ostensible also in the inability of the leadership to build formidable prospective work-force, expose native administrators to prerequisite knowledge, skill, integrity, rectitude and discipline indispensable for dynamics of the modern political environment. The implication is that some African countries lacked the expertise and well seasoned civil servants capable of initiating, interpreting and overseeing the execution of government policies. There were few capital projects, few experts to tender meaningful and disinterested advices, few proficiently knowledgeable workforces, few selfless politicians and an understanding citizenry amenable to the demands of the democratic government.
However, in Nigeria the problem is no longer lack of training or efficient man-power development, it is an intractable trite of corruption that fights its attackers with disproportionate assault weapons. The trend today is that over sea training programmes have become surreptitious channels through which deceitful public servants sideline and expropriate huge state funds. In spite of billions of dollars spent yearly on in-service staff training and reorientation, no commensurate change has occurred in the system. Skills and integrity in Nigeria are traded for patronage informally and formally in the federal character policy that merely favours paternalistic inclinations of the elite class. Getting job in Nigeria is mostly not the function of the sort of training but connections, a phenomenon of class, tribe and prominently religion. The proliferations of doubtful religious houses in Nigeria were reactionary to the desperation of those schemed out favour in politics, economy and job. The personal religious houses are miracle centres because the proprietors of these churches promise instantaneous miracles. And the adherents are encouraged back out of challenging the system of unjust structures and go for miracle jobs, cash, etc.
Chinaka I.F. observed that one of the characteristics of Nigerian politics is its ethnic reliance, an obvious evidence of sheer differences rooted in language, religion and way of life. According to Chinaka, some nations have diverse ethnic heritage which have diffused within the society and is rarely referred on issues of nationality. But in Nigeria since amalgamation, religion and ethnicity have proven to be stubborn flies at the scrotum. Almost our daily lives and to an extent personal relationships have been shaped and influenced by these phenomena. For reasons of indiscretion, discriminatory factors of ethnicity and religion were allowed to infiltrate into the national politics, and they proliferated varied brand names of corruption which at present submerged competence and merit. Ethnicity rendered tools pulverising any national integration programme and orchestrated loudening calls for national conference for reassessments of the basis for the national unity. The most hotly contested issue in the national narrative is restructuring of the polity. Those who are positive about survival of Nigerian nation proposed restructure as a means of reinvigorating her but the ‘pests’ believe that restructured Nigeria will decimate their ‘prerogatives’. ‘Pests’ here refers to varied classes of highly placed Nigerians who are directly or indirectly connected with the looting and plundering Nigeria. The criminal elites who see Nigeria as own cash cow.
The ‘pests’ greatly impeded socio-political and economic development of Nigeria. The mammoth encumbrances bedevilling Nigerian nation are chronically traceable to the repellent attitudes of the ‘pests’ classes’ who presume Nigeria and the people as booty. It is worrisome that after the exhaustive toils for sovereign government the nationalists dozed-off leaving behind unprincipled power mongers to hang on. They virtually monopolized the system, thus, access to national wealth became reserves of the self-perpetuating tyrants in various forms. This is to the extent that our democratic politics has become disparaged. The imperative to hang-on came with distortion of the idea of democratic politics, there is this disorientation in the values of our disparity as a people, in religion and in politics. Many Nigerians have progressively accepted misrepresentation of facts, duplicity, recklessness utterances, tirade, electoral violence, do or die politics as parts of legacies of true democracy. The pests flagrantly distort facts, swindle the citizens and denigrate the laws of land.
Impunity is a manifestation that the pests are above the law. The pests perilously over heat the polity whenever they feel that their interests are under threat in any disguise. Think of the endless slaughter of innocent and armless communities in the Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau, Taraba states to mention these few. The intentions for sacrilegious slaughtering of men, women and children are multiple as the shocking events point to the level of impunity, insecurity and desperation. The fact is that today violent people are hunting citizens down indiscriminately, the fraudulent politically exposed people are carting away loads of cash from the national coffers, bigots are appointing incompetent relations to handle complex national positions, security agents are going after enemies of their various bosses and incriminating them outside the provisions of the laws while the government efficient propaganda machines are actively twisting facts and shinning off sophistically in depravity. This is practically an era of flagrant impunity.