By JEROME-MARIO UTOMI
The recently performed ritual tagged; Democracy Day offered me the ample opportunity to ruminate over the marriage of two unwilling brides who had no say in their forceful and ill-fated union- an amalgamation of the northern and the southern protectorates by Sir Lord Luggard, on the 14th February 1914, a day set aside to celebrate love all over the world,
The British colonial overlords probably intended the protectorates to operate in a symmetrical manner with no part of the amalgam claiming superiority over the other. And at independence in 1960, Nigeria became a Federation, resting firmly on a trivet of three federating regions-Northern, Eastern and Western Regions. Then, each of the regions was economically and politically viable to steer its own ship.
But today, it would require sufficient courage and willingness to defeat the mutual suspicion that has eaten deep into the fabrics of the federating units. In fact, regional loyalty currently surpasses nationalistic fervor.
Under this condition, can we really say in both concrete and moral terms that we are amalgamated in all aspect of our nationhood? If not, what is holding us back as a nation? Have we made an effort or paid a price as an individual or a group to make this oneness a healthy one? What steps are we taking today to really revamp the nation that has fractured into ‘ethnosyncrasies’ and idiosyncrasies? Is our celebration of democracy day real in the face of the above facts?
Indeed, looking at the pre and post-independence political structure of Nigeria, it is understandable that Luggard, in trying to cure one old disease gave rise to a hundred new ones-with the nation now a vast country with vast problems. However, besides the ills that flow from Luggard’s extraordinary inabilities, several other factors now contribute to the rise of the nations’ current, political and socioeconomic challenges.
From the political analyst’s points of view, it’s not amalgamation but leadership that is Nigeria’s problem. The reasons are not far-fetched.
First and most fundamental, next to the awareness that advancing the a course of the common good of the people highly depend on the leadership of the state, a responsibility that has since been replaced with sustained economic stagnation, is the widespread corruption and view of public office not as an avenue for public good but as an opportunity for private gain.
A troubling reality it is, particularly when one remembers that dysfunctional democracy and demand for restructuring by the masses have its origin in bad leadership.
Further supporting the inglorious role bad leadership plays to bring a society to anguish is the frightening revelation that while several societies were well-governed in spite of poor systems of government, because good and strong leaders were in charge, over 80 constitutions drafted by Britain and France for their former colonies came to grief, not because of flaws in the constitutions but because of the preconditions for democratic systems did not exist’.
The challenge is made worse here in the country by our none possession of a tradition that accepts and supports the public office based on merit but tribal and other mundane consideration.
Regardless of what others may say, leadership knowledge is gained by probing the past and using the knowledge derived to tackle the present. Or, analyzing the present and using the information gained to predict the future.
But now that the information coming from our past and present leaders are faulty and defective, and the system is not achieving the goals and objectives it is supposed to achieve? How do we as a people tackle the future?
It is obvious that some of the provisions of the nation’s constitution are not achieving its goals and objectives. And urgently calls for examination to identify the non-performing aspect of the constitution in order to engineer a redesign or overhaul. Our ability to providing answers to section such chapter two, sections 13, 14, 15 to 24, of the 1999CFRN will settle restructuring questions that currently threatens our nationhood.
Thankfully, the template to solve these problems is already there: the Report of 2014 National Conference. The holistic implementation of that report is germane to the survival of Nigeria.
To my understanding, what the pro- restructuring advocates are saying is that the padding of the second schedule of the exclusive legislative list, of our 1999 constitution with about sixty-eight (68) items have made Abuja suffer ‘political obesity’ and needs to shed some weight via devolution of power.
In like manner, this over blotted exclusive list has made our nation currently stand in an inverted pyramid shape with more power concentrated at the top, with the base not formidable enough- making collapse inevitable if urgent and fundamental steps are not taken.
But in making this call, I am well aware that there is nothing more ‘difficult to handle, more doubtful of success, and more dangerous to carry through than initiating such changes as the innovator will make more enemies of all those who prospered under old other’. But any leader that do, come out powerful, secured, respected and happy. This is an opportunity that Mr President must not miss.
This second term is the time for my President to prime and position for this major national transformation. This time is auspicious for Mr President to make his vision sharp and his goal clear to all. And this is the time in history for President Muhammadu Buhari to demonstrate that the credibility of his leadership is built not in words but action.
On the peoples’ part, we must graduate our ‘thought system and loyalty to a level of being united rather than sectional. Our loyalty must transcend our race, our tribe, our class and we must develop a world perspective on the affairs of our nations.
Jerome-Mario(firstname.lastname@example.org) writes from Lagos.
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