Principles for Nigerian renaissance

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Principles For Nigerian Renaissance
 

By

 

Prof. Sola Adeyeye,

Honorable Member, Nigerian House of Representatives

 

 

culled from GUARDIAN November 07, 2003

Their latest buzz word is optimism. The grand apostles of OFN (Operation Fool the Nation) are now telling us that the infusion of optimism will terminate the seemingly endless woes of our country. Their so-called "optimism" is nothing but falsehood decorated by courts of professional bootlickers, paid image makers, sycophantic crumb grazers and toadying trumpet blowers in the periphery of power. In reality, Nigeria is in a big mess and we need to begin an immediate rescue mission for our fatherland. This mission must begin by enshrining certain bedrock principles that are indispensable to peace and progress in a pluralistic society like ours.

1. The Principle of Secularity: Theology is the mother of all philosophy; people ultimately become whatever they theologise. A heterogeneous country like ours must not risk the centrifugal divisions of rabid proselytising. Nigerians must be free to believe or not believe in God. Likewise, those who choose to believe in God must be free to worship Him or Her in whatever way they choose so long as their own freedom does not impinge on the freedom of others. Religion should not become a contrivance for heating the polity and sowing strife. Hence, we must tirelessly enforce the secularity of Nigeria.

2. The Principle of True Federalism: Scientists are conversant with the complementariness of structure and function. At all levels of biological existence, from a tiny cell to an ecosystem, function is inescapably impaired whenever structure is defective. No President, king or emperor will make Nigeria work until we evolve a truly federal system. Nigerians are being masterly coaxed into perceiving the running of Local Governments as our greatest albatross. The truth, of course, is that successive rulers have denigrated Nigeria into a tragic enclave of overbearing centralism and shifty Byzantinism. If those running our Federal Government want to see Nigeria's greatest problems, they should stare at a mirror!

As bestowed by our current constitution, the Federal Government is a monstrous octopus; its tentacles continue to asphyxiate the progress and unity of our people. We need to devolve far greater power from the central government to the federating units of Nigeria. We need to terminate the virtual omnipotence and omnipresence of the Federal Government which cause the epilepsy of our power supply, paralysis of our railway system, incapacitation of our police, ruination of our educational system, pollution of our environment, corruption of our polity and strangulation of our economy.

3. The Principles of Justice, the Rule of Law and Accountability: For too long, successive regimes have attempted to unite Nigerians via overbearing centralism and coercion. Their dismal failure is a conclusive demonstration that we must utilise a different strategy to unite our peoples. Justice is the only glue that keeps a country in harmony. Unfortunately, ours is a country where justice is often denied, continually perverted and habitually mocked.

Jesus Christ once spoke about how difficult it is for a camel to pass through the needle's eye. Poor Jesus, He was not a Nigerian! If he were a Nigerian, he would have known that a giant camel carrying a hippopotamus on its back, has no problem whatsoever passing through the eye of a needle! The Nigerian needle is a magical contraption; its eye habitually expands and contracts to grant or deny passage according to some firmly established even if unwritten diktat.

Although George Orwell did not have Nigeria in mind when he wrote his Animal Farm, his classic satire is most relevant to contemporary Nigeria. In so far as passing through the needle's eye is concerned, a reincarnated Orwell would have correctly asserted that in present-day Nigeria, all camels are equal but some camels are more equal than others.

Unfortunately, a society where all camels are equal and simultaneously unequal is doomed for an endless cycle of forbacky dances! Forbacky, my earlier and first contribution to the lexicon of the English language, is a contraction of forward and backward. Thus, a forbacky dance repertoire comprises of a step forward and one or more steps backwards in an exercise of inexorable nullity and retrogression.

We must summon the courage to terminate on-going impudent criminality from sacred cows around and near the corridors of power. No nation can know lasting peace or progress until its public officials are fully accountable to the people and to the law. Hence, we must wage a peaceful revolution for the supremacy of law in all aspects of Nigerian polity.

4. The Principle of Constitutionalism: Our present constitution is a piece of forgery foisted on Nigeria by a cabal of military adventurers; we must replace it with a testament that emanates from the sovereign wishes of our people. Governmental sovereignty is a borrowed commodity; it should only be derived from the supreme wishes of the people as expressed in a freely derived constitution. As it were, the carts of parliamentary or presidential sovereignty have been placed ahead of the horse of a freely derived Nigerian constitution. The present arrangement, having been flown on the wind of brazen fraud, has yielded the whirlwind of internecine conflicts. We must summon the courage and ingenuity to provide for ourselves a constitution that will reflect our hopes, assuage our fears, and minimise our conflicts. Hence, we must work hard for a free constitution emerging via a Sovereign Conference of Nigerian peoples.

5. The Principle of Building Bridges: For far too long, we, Nigerians, have trapped ourselves in the myth of the greener grass. A 'them-versus-us' dichotomy is a nagging thorn in the Nigerian flesh. Often, we perceive other parts of our country as oases of comfort, parcels of Dante's Paradiso! Meanwhile our respective corner of Nigeria is viewed as a fragment of hell, a piece of Dante's Inferno. The myth is further perpetuated by our seeming incapability to listen to and empathize with the anguish of one another. Why is it so difficult for all of us to see the flagrant injustice inflicted on our oil-producing areas? Must all of us be Ogoni or Ijaw before we can be appalled by the environmental degradation and pollution of the Niger Delta estuaries?

Rather than perish or stagnate together in the floods of needless conflicts, why can we not build bridges of understanding? Why can't we collaborate to hasten the infrastructural development of our northeast, terminate the injustices meted to our south-south, and accelerate the educational development of our northwest? Why must the southwest and the southeast be structurally hampered from developing at whatever pace suits them? The cacophony of the last several decades must be replaced by a symphony of tolerance and the humility to listen to one another. We must build bridges of understanding across Nigeria. We must start doing so today.

 

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