Nigerians Demand Return to the Ideals of the Founding Fathers
The slogan “which way Nigeria at 60” which way do you go, despite the influence of oil era, Nigeria is still slumping to zero non-egalitarian society traumatized by religious fanatics, Boko haram insurgency war agitation for Biafra, and of recent Oduduwa republic, all indication of a polarised Nigeria.
The slogan by Late Sunny Okosun a Bendelite musician was launched to preach the gospel to our leaders on the situation as at Nigeria at 40. But suffice to say that the leaders out of crazy for weak and power usurpation whimsically took to the inglorious path of not reading the handwriting on the wall. Nigeria’s march for greatness started with Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Tafawa Balewa, Obafemi Awolowo, Ahadu Bello, Michael Okpara, Okotiebo, Herbert Macaulay among others. They are the heros who fought to get independence from British Colonial Masters.
The pioneer independence heroes left a legacy that successive leaders after the demise of the first Republic failed to keep alive instead Nigeria was engulfed in social malady such as hatred, bitterness, nepotism, corruption, favouritism, unparallel in the move to arrive at a cross-road, and which inevitably brought us to this present predicament in the national history. Failure of our leaders on good governance culminated in the Nigeria – Biafra war from 1967-1970.
General Yakubu Gowon took control of the nation at from 1966-1975, but could not satisfy the yearnings of the military, and a revolution led by Brigadier Murtala Mohammed and Brigadier Olusegun Obasanjo took over the powers of the central scene. It was a revolution unrival in the approach and within six months of rule; another countercoup came and Gen. Gowon was ousted in a non-bloody coup and Gen. Murtala Ramat Mohammed took over. It was a revolution, and Nigerians were short-lived for six months, but the memory lives long in us, as rice, meets were in greater supply to the people, price control was introduced and a new lease of life comes to effect. But the Ramat Revolution was betrayed by dark forces that ended his glorious reign 13th February 1976.
The second Republic 1979-1983 was short-lived following a military coup led by Mayor-Gen Mohammadu Buhari and his Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters Late Major Gen. Tunde Idiagban, who introduced WAI Brigade-war against indiscipline. This government was ousted in 1985 Major General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida. His government was famous to settling disputes among Nigerians and finding solutions to the economy. Babangida’s government led to third Republic. His annulment of the June 12 1993 presidential election, won by MKO Abiola was a disaster in the political development of Nigeria.
He paved the way for General Sani Abacha as head of State and the man that shade light to the six geo-political six zones, North Central, North East, North West, South East, South West and South-South. His government was tagged looters of treasury and today about $4b-$5b was siphoned to foreign banks by Abacha government. Nigeria we found ourselves in this economic blunder coupled with corruption, nepotism and feudalism. Abacha’s sudden death paved way for Gen Abdusalam Abubarkar took over with a promise to hand over power within one year. Once more, luck brought back General Olusegun Obasanjo to democratic governance; he was elected and sworn in as Executive President of the federal republic of Nigeria in May 1999, under the banner of People Democratic Party (PDP). Obasanjo government was able to control the debts burdens, our external reserves were boasted. He was succeeded by Musa Yar’Adua but his government was short-lived as he died of heart problems and His Vice President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan stepped into the presidential seat of power for six years until the change in battle of leadership on May 29, 2015. Goodluck Jonathan convened 2014 National Conference and its report that gave hope for a new Nigeria is yet to reach the National Assembly.
Major-General Mohammed Buhari elected as President under APC-Alliance for progressives Congress came with determination to control the economy. He is a crusader against corruption which had eaten the fabrics system of the government. The EFCC (Economic Financial Crime Commission) introduced by President Olusegun Obasanjo at curbing the excess of politicians was backed up by Buhari government. Buhari government was known to be friend of the Chinese product and he brought china to improve electric power generation system, rehabilitation of railway from Abuja to Kaduna and that of Lagos to Kano were been finished but being financed by the China. The state of the nation at 60 leaves much to be desired. For example, insecurity in Nigeria grows by leaps and bond. From the Niger Delta between 2004 and 2007 to Boko Haram insurgency in the North East from 2009. It has taking different dimensions kidnapping, terrorism, and Fulani herdsmen killings in various part of the country drawing International attention. Unfortunate neither the PDP led administration in 1999 to 2015 nor the present APC ruling party 2015 to date succeeded in crushing the Boko Haram insurgency and the menace of Fulani herdsmen making Nigerians and foreign National sleep with one eyes closed. In a comparative analysis of terrorism and kidnapping in Nigeria at Sixty, Afe Babalola, Founder of the Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti stated as follows:
“Terrorism and kidnapping in 1960: It existed in the dictionary because governments were responsible and responsive, but in 2020: the twin pro… are found everywhere in the street, in the house, in the farm, offices, schools, day and night. According to the 2019 Global Terrorism Index, Nigeria is the 3rd most unsafe and terrorism-prone country in the world, ranking behind only two war-torn countries, Iraq and Afghanistan. Also: According to the United Nations, “Nigeria is a pressure cooker of internal conflicts and generalized violence that must be addressed urgently”. In January 2020, the European Union Parliament moved a motion for urgent resolution of Nigeria’s high level of terrorism and insecurity, stating that “the security situation in Nigeria has significantly deteriorated over the last years, posing a serious threat to regional and international security; whereas human rights violations, violence, criminality, and mass killings are widespread and constantly reported, notably in the North-Eastern Region of the country”. The UK’s recent Foreign Travel Advisory on Nigeria warns that “Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Nigeria”. Terrorism is a reaction to oppression and dissatisfaction with the system. Kidnapping and ransoming are products of greed and quests to make quick big money, like those in government stealing and looting”.
The core of the nation’s problems is anchored on the return of a Nigeria to the idols of the Founding Fathers.
Nigerians are calling for immediate restructuring of Nigeria’s political systemasin in First Republic were the central will be weak and states are autonomous to control their resources, and feed the federal government. Recently the euphoria of 60th celebration in October was marred by nationwide youth protest lasting for over two weeks; Youths were on the street, clamoring for restructuring, review of the constituting, ending SARS, reopening borders, limit to borrowing youths gainfully employed and political emancipation. Aside the nationwide youth genuine protests, agitations and clamour for true federalism, devolution of power and recently restructuring the country date back to 1994 national conference on the future of Nigeria. A significant outcome of that conference is the recommendation of six geopolitical zones as a system of running the affairs of the country that was accepted by General Sanni Abacha and put into practice by successive federal governments. However, the military authors of the 1999 constitution deliberately omitted the six geopolitical zones in the construction. Since returning to democracy on May 29, 1999, there have been mounting agitations for the return of the country to the ideals of the founding fathers, by socio-cultural groups, religions leaders, traditional rules, eminent Nigerians from all walk of life, and even patriotic politicians.
Before the All Progressive Congress APC, took over the reigns of power at the centre, restructuring Nigeria featured prominently in the manifesto. The Federal Government set up El-Rufai Committee on restructuring but the report of the committee that favoured restructuring is yet to see the light of the day. Among the consensual resolution of the 2014 National Conference conveyed by Former President Goodluck Jonathan is restructuring the country but the report of the conference could not be submitted to the 8th National Assembly as Goodluck Jonathan lost the 2015 presidential election. Ruling Party put the conference report in abeyance to the bewilderment of well-meaning Nigerians.
The recent statement credited to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on media and publicity Mallam Garba shehu, that Buhari will not succumb to the threats and undue pressure over the subject of restructuring has further fueled mistrust and distrust in government. Many Nigeria including the leadership apex socio-cultural groups of ethnic … that including Ohaneze Ndigbo, Afenifere, Middle belt Forum, Northern Elders Forum, Pandez, Niger Delta Ajitators and Eminent Nigerians like Pastor Enoch Adeboye, General Oversea Redeemed Christian Church of God, Nobel Laurel, Professor Wole Soyinka, Gani Adams, Karkanfo Yoruba land and Chief Guy Ike Ikokwu among others have recently re-iterated the call for restructuring Nigeria. The secretary-General of the Pan Yoruba Socio-Political group, AFENIFERE, Mr. Sehinde Arogbola, in an interview with the Guardian, stated that those treating other parts of the country as third-class citizens are pushing Nigeria towards precipice. He explained that the founding fathers knew that as a heterogeneous society the only basis of existence is the federal system and we have no choice. The Alafin of Oyo and Permanent Chairman, Oyo State Connul of Obas and clients, Oba Adeyemi III, says that
“Federalism is the only option for now. The reality of true federalism is that we should always put as our guiding principle and at the back of our mind, the fact that we are peoples of difference backgrounds and no attempts should be made to feign a common culture by an executive fiat. For the more we create that, the more fear and confusion we create, in the local populace and the polity”. The royal father explained that by true federalism, he means devolution of power in such a way that will grant sufficient autonomy to the states. In his paper titled, Imperativeness of Constitutional Federalismas against Federalism of Might (July 1996).
Oba Lanide Adeyemi III explained that federalism is the system of building a heterogeneous society into a single political sovereignty. True federalism, he said, presupposes the equality of state of the federating population.
On his part Nigerian’s first Permanent Representative at the United Nations, Alhaji Maitama Sule (of blessed memory) in a speech delivered on the 50th birthday of publisher of Leadership Newspapers, May 1, 2012, summoned up, the ideals of the founding fathers, “All over our founding fathers, the Azikwes, the Awolowos, the Aminu Kunos, the J.S. Tarkas, all laid solid foundation for Nigerians. They went into politics to be served to give and not to take. They were always prepared to keep interest of the nation above their personal interest. They venerated and respected one another irrespective of their tribal, religion and political differences. They therefore had a dream for Nigeria will be prosperous and really united; a dream that Nigerians will regard each other as brothers. But have we realized that dream? They were able to bring morality into society, honesty into governance. Yes, corruption was little known. Unfortunately, as l keeps saying today, we seem to have thrown overboard these norms and values bequeathed to us by our founding fathers”. Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, founder of Sam Ohunabunwa Foundation faulted National Assembly for scratching on insuface the all important issue of restructuring, that holds key to Nigeria’s Unity and respect before the community of nations.
Sam Ohuabunwa expressed dismay the way and manner the National Assembly is going about in the amendment of the 1999 constitution without heating the nail by the head. According to him “I was aware that the National Assembly had been undertaking piecemeal amendments of the 1999 constitution, but l had hoped that the growing demand for restructuring which seemed to have reached a crescendo recently after the communication caused by the Arewa Youths response to the IPOB demand for the sovereign state of Biafra the NASS was going to abandon this piecemeal approach and took a fresh holistic restructuring of the constitution as to achieve a holistic restructuring of the Federation” He believes the problems Nigeria is facing cannot be resolved in any way by these amendment to the constitution.
Despite the well documented division of Nigeria along ethno-religious lines, there is admirable level of solidarity when it comes to sports, especially football contestations at regional continental and global levels. It is therefore compelling to mention sportsmen and women that branded Nigeria internationally through their exploits. They include, late Hogan Kid Bassey, won that world feather weight Boxing Champion 1957, late Richard Ihetu, known as “Dick Tiger” won World Middle weight title, 1962; Michael Okpala, “Power Mike” the undefeated World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion until 1976 when he retired from active wrestling indeed Nigeria is a toast in Africa and World Football Competitions, kudos goes to Christian Chukwu who led the Green Eagles, now Super Eagles to the first African Nations Football Champions in 1980; Late Stephen Keshi doubled as the first Captain and Coach to led Super Eagles to African Nations Cup Victory in 1994 and 2013 respectively. Kanu Nwankwo, two times Africa Footballer of the year, led the Nigerian’s Junior Team under 21, to win Gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games in the United States. In the same global event, Chioma Ajunwa, now known as Chioma-Ajunwa Okpara, won the female Golden Medal in track and field event, making her the first African woman to bring laurels to her country and African continent.
Futurologically, the years ahead for look hopeful amidst fears of Nigeria uncertainties; but time shall tell.