Dedicated to Nigeria's socio-political issues




October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007



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Professor Omo Omoruyi

CEO Advancing Democracy in Africa (ADA).

Research Fellow, African Studies Center,

Boston University.



There is an assumption of what a political party is and what it is meant to do in all political systems today, especially after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the emergence of democratic transition in Eastern and Central Europe and in Africa. Political parties were strategic tools for bringing about the change or transition from a one party regime or military regime or apartheid regime or strife torn country to a competitive political order.


A political party is 'a social group' defined by Herbert Simon as 'a system of interdependent activities characterized by a high degree of rational direction of behavior towards end that are objects of common acknowledgment and expectation'.(1) It is different from other social groups, such as labor unions and other associations because of the unique functions a political party performs for the system, such as organizing for public opinion, communicating demands to the center of governmental decision-making and political recruitment. This is why a political party is taken 'as a useful index of the level political development'.(2) Hence the relationship between a viable party system and a democratic order is axiomatic.


The topic of this paper is to assess 'Party Politics in Nigeria' since 1999, i.e. after two and half years with one and half to go in the first term of four years. Does Nigeria since 1999 have a viable party system? Does Nigeria since 1999 have a viable democratic order? Is there any prospect of having a viable party system? Is there any prospect of a democratic order? What are the factors militating against a viable party system? One could also ask what are the factors impeding the full realization of democratic order in Nigeria? These are some of the questions that we would have to examine in this paper.

I do not want to fall into the category of those Nigerians in Diaspora who are accused by the folks back home of making comments on the politics of Nigeria without facts. Some even accuse Nigerians in Diaspora of prejudice. I would want to be corrected on facts. In my interpretation and prognosis, certainly I harbor no prejudice, because there is no reason for it.


I am aware that parties should possess certain characteristics and that they are meant to perform certain functions, hence I shall try in this paper to use many yardsticks to assess the role of political parties in Nigeria since 1999. My conclusion is that the political parties in Nigeria are still in search of a role, hence since 1999 the role of political parties is still fluid. In many cases the so-called political parties since 1999 have become a major part of the problem in Nigeria. I came across political parties in Nigeria from three aspects of my life. I studied political parties as a political scientist. I organized a political party and used it to seek political power as a partisan politician and I initiated and managed political parties and those who used political parties for seeking political power as a policy maker. These aspects of my life shall affect my appreciation of the political parties in Nigeria.


First, as a Political Science student with a strong interest in stasiology, i.e. the study of political parties, as a subject, I tried to use the literature on political parties as the basis for understanding the parties in Nigeria since 1999. I reached for my notes from my course as an undergraduate at Ibadan in 1963 under Richard Sklar to inform me on how to assess the political parties in Nigeria. He exposed me to the work of Mosei Ostrogorski in its original form on the origin and organization of political parties in the US and in Britain and the work of Maurice Duverger on the origin and structure of political parties in Western democracies. I also read Thomas Hodgkin on the origin of political parties in Africa during the colonial period and the application of these theories by my teacher himself to the Nigerian political parties.(3) From what I learnt from these, I know what a political party is when I see one. I know how to assess its origin, composition, structure and organization and functions. I come to the conclusion that what we have in Nigeria today since 1999, as political parties are just political parties in name. They are difficult to place in terms of origin, structure, organization and function, if we apply Ostrogorski, Hodgkin Duverger, and Sklar to these organizations that call themselves political parties in Nigeria.


Two, I tried to look at these parties from what some of my colleagues and I did in the Constituent Assembly in 1977/78, which led to the formation of five political parties in 1978-83.(4) I come to the same conclusion that what we have in Nigeria since 1999 would be difficult to place within the context of the experience I had with the formation of the five political parties mostly from the Constituent Assembly in 1977/78.


Three, I also tried to apply some of the reasoning in my role as a policy maker involved in the design and in the implementation of a program of democratic transition in 1989 leading to the formation of two political parties in 1989-1993.(5) I come to the same conclusion that there is no basis for comparison between the 1999 system and the 1989 system.


Four, I applied the usual method of looking at political parties in a federal system. I reached for the approach developed by Samuel Eldersveld that in a federal system, we should not look at the organizations in political parties as hierarchy but as stratarchy with strata commends.(6) There is nothing called organization in these parties to be analyzed. With the exception of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to some extent, the other parties only exist as organization around certain offices in states or in local government areas with no link with the national offices based at Abuja. The PDP is run as factions and caucus with many big men posing members of the Board of Trustees and others posing as Elders and Leaders of the party on the one hand and the President's men on the other. The collision between the arms of the party and the official leaders of the party is inevitable from time to time.


The All Nigeria Peoples Party (APP) does not exist in the southern states and even in the northern states where it produced more Governors than the PDP, it operates around the Governors and hence it is called the Northern Governors' Party' rather than as a Nigerian peoples' party. The Alliance for Democracy is in two factions even in the Yoruba land where it is the dominant party. It has two National Chairmen from the north where the party does not exist and cannot boast of a single digit support for the party in their home States or local Government areas in the north.


Five, I also tried to look at these parties to find out if they have owners. These parties do not fit into the mold of parties with owners or discernible leadership core as in the Second Republic. Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim and Alhaji Aminu Kano owned their respective parties (UPN, GNPP and PRP). The NPP and NPN were organized around certain individuals of ethnic group, the Igbo and Hausa/Fulani respectively. In the First Republic, we knew the relationship between the three national leaders, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief Obafemi Awolowo and the NPC, NCNC and AG respectively. It is difficult to know who are the founders and the joiners of the three political parties today. There are many claimants. The official leaders of these parties are quite different from the actual owners. This is why these parties are capable of being hijacked or military jacked as and when necessary.


Six, I tried to look at the function of these parties with respect to some issues such as their relation with lawmakers and the executives. To what extent can we say that the Nigerian political parties perform the function of recruitment, organizing public opinion and communicating demands to the center of governmental power and decision? This will be fully examined later in specific terms.


Seven, I tried to apply the theories of political development to the emergence of political parties as 'creatures of systemic political crises'. Of all the crises identified in the literature on political development, three of them are critical to the understanding of the political parties in a post military regime. They are the crisis of legitimacy, the crisis of integration and the crisis of participation.(7)


First is the crisis of legitimacy. Scholars of Nigerian political parties would want to know to what extent are the political parties that evolved in 1999 capable of providing alternative political order to the military in the minds of Nigeria. This is a legitimacy question, which I would leave with scholars today.


Second is the crisis of integration. Scholars would want to know to what extent have political parties that evolved in 1999 approximated the federal union. This is a political integration question, which will be dealt with in this paper.


Third is the crisis of participation. Scholars would also want to know to what extent have the political parties that evolved in 1999 meant the need of those who want to participate in the political process. Again this would be discussed in the paper.


In Nigeria, only those who are living on this confused state of affairs would tell one that what we have in Nigeria since 1999 are political parties today. For these to be called political parties, they would have to meet the test set by Joseph LaPalombara, that a political party is so called, if there is an intergenerational transfer of political affiliation. There are many studies that link stability of any democracy to the intergenerational transfer of political affiliation.(8) What would these parties be like in 2003, in 2007 and 2015? Do Nigerians believe that these political parties would still be there in 2003 or in 2007 or in 2015?


Applying the test of intergenerational transfer of political affiliation, one could make some broad generalization. The Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), the Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP) and the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) were organizational end product of the same ethnic nationalities predominant in the Action Group (AG), the National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) and the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) of the First Republic. It should be noted that the two parties in the Third Republic, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the National Republican Convention (NRC) destroyed that intergenerational transfer of affiliations. The 1999 parties are yet to claim their lineage. If these parties cannot claim lineage to former political parties since 1960, can they be a beginning of future political parties? This again is a problem for those who want to apply LaPalombara.



Nigerians in office would like his party to be the only party; Nigerians competing for office know that only two political formations are necessary.


Nigerians dissatisfied with existing parties seem to have two options. In order to defeat the party in power, they realize that they would have to put together another sprawling organization, hence they are very likely to opt for a two party system. These are the leaders who are arguing for a realignment of political forces such as we had in 1964 and in 1982 with the formation of the United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA) and the Progressive Parties Alliance (PPA) respectively.


The other option available to those who are yet to stake political career is that would prefer many parties and a liberal condition for the registration of new parties. These are usually for those who want to seek some political power at the local or state level or would want to use the political formation as a clout for political bargaining purposes. This might be a temporary devise and could still lead to a two party formation.


This is the broad generalization, which one could make from looking at the attitude of Nigerians, in and out of office, to the formation of parties in the past. One could think of a one party dominance for the party in power; a two party system for the parties out of office, and many parties around some offices and in some localities for those who are still idealistic and want to break into the political arena.


The leaders of the PDP want a one party dominance; they today want to control everything in Nigeria from the local to the federal levels.


Those who are losing grip of the party and the party government want a relaxation of rules for the registration of new parties to enable them put together another sprawling organization to compete with the PDP in 2003. All politicians in Nigeria know that in order to take power from the PDP too many parties would not be an answer to the monopolistic tendency of the party in power. Again we can also cast our minds back to 1964 and 1983. As a policy maker, my view would have been on how to make this a reality as the empirically demonstrable way to reduce the 'political salience' of ethnicity, religion, regionalism and statism, which is the bane of politics in Nigeria.


My name is associated with the introduction of the two party system in 1989. I worked on it; I believed in what I did then and I still believe in it today as a response to how to reduce the political salience of ethnicity, religion, regionalism and statism in Nigeria. It was one good thing that ever happened to the country and may never be repeated as long as Nigerians are running away from tackling the issues in the plural character of Nigeria. 'Multiparty system', 'plural society', 'federal system' and 'executive stability' are an issue, which informed the introduction of two political tendencies by politicians on their own in the past in 1964 and in 1982, because they appreciated that multi-partysm was antithetical to the formation of a stable government in a plural society. The resort to coalitions after the election had never worked after an election in Nigeria from the experience of 1959 and 1979. Would it not be better if the voters are faced with the prospect of working together before and during the voting stage rather than after the election where elite try to outmaneuver one another as we had in 1959-64 and in 1979-83 under the NPC-NCNC and NPN-NPP governments respectively?


My view is that the issues in the plural character of Nigeria should have been reviewed in 1998 as was done in 1989 before throwing the system open to anyone with ethnic and religious agenda. The system today is worse than what was before me in 1989. Today tribalism or ethnicity or regionalism or statism is a revered political platform for aspiring politicians and for those in various offices in the country. This is a debilitating disease. It is worse than what Sir James Robertson realized in 1974 when he confessed after 14 years of leaving Nigeria, that the British colonial rule underestimated the strength of tribalism in Nigeria.(9)


As a minority in a country where politics before and after independence was in the hands of the three majority ethnic nationalities, any opportunity to create room or political space for the non-majority groups I seized it.


From our experience, multipartism in 1960-1965 and in 1979-93 only encouraged the three ethnic players with their respective political parties and made the small group to search for shelters under any of the three ethno-regional political parties founded by the leaders of the majority groups.



The innovation of the two party system in 1989 introduced some elements of discontinuity between the past and 1989 in terms of origin, composition, leadership selection, funding and the interest they serve. It removed the idea of 'founders' and 'joiners', as all were joiners. It removed the idea of owners, as the government financed the founding of the two parties and provided a level playing field for all those who wanted to stake a political career from either of the two parties.


May I use this forum to make certain points not yet found in the literature on the political parties in 1989-1993. The evolution of the two political parties, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the National Republican Convention (NRC), which grew out of security and national integration considerations was one of the least understood by professional political scientist. Yes, they were created by the government and so what? This singular act was the least understood by those who had commented on it. Maybe one should ask some pertinent questions.


What democratic rules were violated by the act of giving the two names? Was it the act of funding, which removed the 'money bags' from converting other Nigerians into some second-class citizens? Was it the act of giving all Nigerians majority and minority, north and south, east and west, a level playing field? Was it the act of educating the political class on the rudiments of running political parties? I shall use another forum to answer these questions.


If the system was not aborted in 1993, the year 2001 would have given the two political formations the opportunity to face over three major elections. There was a gradual reduction of the political salience of ethnicity, religion and region in 1993 as the data on the series of elections between 1989 and 1993 would demonstrate. Nigerians were beginning to have the opportunities and the experience to see politics and political affiliations and political programming as something that should cut across the known divides in Nigerian politics such as ethnicity, religion and region.


For those who had reason to pass judgment on the period I am referring to, one could ask, how many of us still remember that the SDP had two Muslims on its ticket? I still recall that President Babangida was advised by his security aides to disqualify the Muslim-Muslim ticket (Abiola-Kingibe), because it violated known balancing act of Christian-Muslim. The data available to us at the Centre for Democratic Studies did not rate the religious affiliations too high. In any case, my advice to the President in 1993 was that we should let Nigerians decide in the election and Nigerians did ignore religion. We could not label any of the two parties as belonging to the south or the north or that this or that belongs to one religion or the other. We were beginning to see a party calling itself, progressive as opposed to what the other party was calling itself, as conservatives. This label had nothing to do with the wealth of the leaders of the party, as wealthy men were found in equal number in the two parties.


How many of us recall the Presidential debate when the issue of religion was raised? How many of us still recall the attempt of some Igbo Christian in the NRC to capitalize on the Muslim-Muslim ticket? How many of us still recall that the Christian religious leaders including the leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) endorsed the two ticket?


In any case, the two party system delivered a shift of power from the north to the south through the interplay of democratic forces. How this was achieved is a subject of my forthcoming publication on the design and implementation of the transition program. This is a response to those who are arguing that the Constitution should specify "power shift" in the Constitution.


What I can say today is that the abortion of the transition was not because of the two party system or in the manner of their origin. It was due to forces extraneous to the two party system or the manner of their origin. Those forces are still with Nigerians till today and they are in search of resolution.



Why the two parties? The two political parties had to be resorted to in 1989 when the military President placed before me a security report, that military officers, retired and serving (names withheld), sponsored most of the six political associations. I recall my meeting with the military President in his office one night about 12 midnight in early August 1989. He faced me with the reality of his survival based on the security report he had. He was scared and pleaded with me that a new system should be innovated quickly that would take his colleagues by surprise. This was the origin of the two parties, as we knew them in 1989.


First, I suggested to him that he should appeal to the 'official' leaders of the six political associations to sort these parties on their own into two political formations with an assurance that government would fund the take off of these two parties. I then made a case for him to raise with the political class in an open lecture, which President Babangida delivered as part of the Guardian lecture in August 1989.(10)


Second, I did some one to one meeting with some of the known official leaders with the prospect that political education would help them if they yield to the requirement of a two party system.


Third the President followed this with informal pressure on the known officers of the political associations on a one to one basis with the security reasons why he preferred the two parties.


Of course, the military officers who were behaving like the civilian founders and owners of political parties in the past as the actual owners of these political associations would not agree to the merger plea. General Babangida knew this, hence he decided to take his colleagues by surprise on October 7, 1989 when he announced the famous Abuja Declaration, which set up the two political parties with names and the training program under the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions. This was later changed to the Centre for Democratic Studies (CDS)(11).


The public policy consideration has to do with the need to reduce the political salience of ethnicity, religion and geography. The two party system was devised to cut across the known ethnic, religious and regional divide in the country. What should be noted was that the two party system changed the character of the tripod in Nigerian plural society. Give them two names; give them two symbols from the national crest or coat of arm (Horse and Eagle) and give Nigerians the opportunity to work together within the two political formations. The introduction of two manifestoes came from Ibadan Political Science group acting in the name of the Nigerian Political Science Association. They drew up the manifestoes of the two parties and impressed the plan on the Secretary to the Federal Military Government (SFMG) who in turn impressed it on the military President as the modality for deciding or determining on who would be on the right and on the left. Again Nigerians were told to put themselves under either of the column and not forced to do so. But there was a problem with the terms, right and left, which was not anticipated when they were bought. No sooner were the notions of 'right' and 'left' used by the military President on December 5, 1989 than they acquired religious connotations, especially in the north and had to be abandoned. The left was associated with evil or devil and those who were on the left were deemed to be on the wrong side of the political order. All I can say in this forum was that the manifestoes were not used by the political organizations after the constituting them in 1989. They never featured in the program of training by the CDS. This was what happened; I implemented this through a programmed political education.


How many Nigerians still recall the past experiments, which politicians, on their own adopted in 1964 and in 1982. They, on their own push for two sprawling national political formations in the past. We had the Nigerian National Alliance (NNA) and the United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA) of 1964; we had the Progressive Parties Alliance (PPA) and the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) of 1982. Sometime we forget that the political class had come to appreciate, in their own way that democracy was doomed if they allowed uncontrolled multiparty system to order political participation in Nigeria. Politicians know that the day voters are induced into political participation on the basis of religion or ethnicity or regionalism that would be end of a stable democratic order in Nigeria. Did we not see how the AD and the APP had to belatedly have a joint Presidential ticket to fight the PDP in the 1999 election? Why were these experiments devised? Nigerians have always wanted to have two political parties as the political solution to the known divides in Nigerian society.



What we have since 1999 in Nigeria as political parties {the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP), the All Nigerian Peoples' Party (APP) and the Alliance for Democracy (AD)} have nothing in common with the political parties of the First or Second or Third Republic. Their manner of origin does not fit into what we know from literature. Their composition is fluid and unstable; they can be viewed as instrument of transition from military to civilian rule and for the future and with the prospect of more parties, they raise more questions than as answers to the lingering political problems of Nigeria.


The relationship between the origin of a political party and its structure and operation is well established in literature.(12)



The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) arose from four sources. First were those so-called politicians, who were denied registration by General Sani Abacha during his self-succession project. They later combined in their lukewarm opposition through the law court, which was under the military to the self-succession of the military strongman, General Sani Abacha. This group called itself the G-34 Committee from the fact that the petition against the self-succession project, was signed by 34 men and delivered to General Abacha by Chief SD Lar. Included in this group was Dr. Alex Ekwueme who thought the Igbo should use this as their vehicle to the Presidency.


Second were those politicians, who were former followers of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) who were not opposed to the self-succession of the military strongman but were not part of his machine, nevertheless. This group called itself the All Nigeria Congress (ANC) and was led by Chief SB Awoniyi.


Third were those who were the followers of the late General Shehu Musa Yar'Adua as the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM). This group had Chief Tony Anenih and Alhaji Abubakar Atiku.


Four were those who called themselves social democrats with the name, Social Progressive Party (SPP). This was a collection of politicians from different parts of the country that failed to make their positions felt today in the party.


In the appreciation of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Ghali Na'Abba, the PDP is a mixed bag of persons with diverse political background with one and only one purpose. It was meant to send a message to the military that the political class meant business with sending the military back to the barracks. To this extent, the founders covered all and sundry political persuasions: conservatives, radicals and progressives.(13) Did they have any commitment to democracy from their pasts?


From my notebook, most, if not all of them were in support of the annulment and flirted with the military during the annulment and in the post-annulment period. Some of them served as Ministers or members of the Interim National Government (ING) or as members of the Abacha undemocratic Constitutional Conference or as leaders of some of the five political parties set up and managed by General Abacha's aides that finally endorsed him as the sole Presidential Candidate in April 1998.


All of them were of one and only one commitment, the filling of the slot left vacant with the death of General Sani Abacha. The deannulment of the June 12, which they masterminded in the past, the actualization of the mandate of the winner of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election and his release from detention never formed part of their campaign during the period of General Abacha or after his death.


This party was committed to returning power to the south not necessarily the southwest. The Yoruba leaders who were in this organization such as Chief Bola Ige who was in the leadership of the Group of 34 wanted an explicit commitment to returning power to the southwest (Yoruba), especially after the death of Chief MKO Abiola. This was rejected and the Yoruba leaders led by Chief Ige left the organization to search for an organization that would make that explicit commitment.




The second political party, the APP arose from the self-succession outfit of General Abacha. The founders of the party served him as Ministers or as aides in different parts of the country. This was why APP was fondly referred to as Abacha Peoples Party.


The same Yoruba group that initially went to the leaders of the PDP again went to the leaders of the APP still in search of a commitment that the party would nominate a Yoruba. On the day of the formal inauguration of the party, these Yoruba leaders found the instrument used by the military to annul the June 12, Chief Arthur Nzeribe on the platform of the new party. This was why they quickly left the venue of the meeting. With no time at its disposal, the Yoruba leaders with some who believed in the June 12 quickly regrouped to found a new organization, which became the Alliance for Democracy (AD).



The Alliance for Democracy is essentially a Yoruba outfit committed to producing a Presidential candidate in 1999. It did not meet the Federal Character clause in the Constitution. But the military had to register it on national security grounds. The military had to face the prospect of denying a voice to the Yoruba people after what they went through after the annulment. The military junta appreciated that since the Yuruba decided to act through the AD and the junta concluded that not to register the AD would have amounted to a denial of a voice for the Yoruba. The junta in my view should have forced the Yoruba to seek other venues for making themselves heard and participate in the transition program. The military decided to err on the side of national security and allowed the highly ethnicized political association to continue as a political party.(14) It came to the field after jumping in and out of the PDP and the APP. By the time it went into the political market, it was too late to make a dent in the area outside the Yorubaland. The Yoruba people who gave it support from the late period did so because the leaders appealed to the Chief Awolowo's base.

Even after about three years after they wee declared political parties, they are still in search of a role in Nigeria. They are still different things to different people in different parts of the country. None of them had been able to organize a convention for the purpose of electing national officers to run these parties.




What was the program of these political parties? The PDP and the APP were status quo parties when they were formed. They did not have policy position, besides wanting to occupy the vacant positions at all levels of the federation in 1999.


The AD with an ethnic agenda knew it could not win the national election with its ethnic agenda, hence it was very definite that a decentralized Nigeria would be in the interest of the Yoruba nation who were itching to develop on their own. This was why the AD was committed to pushing for a fundamental restructuring of the Nigerian plural society into a thriving federal system based on the ethnic nationalities. This was not original to the AD, as this was a position strongly argued by Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the 1940's, which formed the basis of the formation of the Egbe Omo Ododuwa in late 1940's and later the Afenifere or Action Group in 1950. The AD was committed to the principle of local control over local police and a truly representative armed forces that reflects the ethnic composition of Nigeria.



What was left out in the program of the various political parties in 1999 was the idea of 'local control over the local resources' now popularly called the "Resource Control" in the popular parlance today, because it is popular. This would have been the political platform of the south-south people or of the oil producing areas. The south-south political leaders or those aspiring to political roles from the area during the transition period in 1998 would have used the "Resource Control" as their political platform. It should have been used as the basis for inviting other Nigerians to join them to form a political party or as a basis for seeking to work with any political party formed elsewhere or as a basis of supporting any Presidential candidate in the February 1999 election. Consequently, one would say that the political leaders of these areas failed their people in 1998 as they were unable to develop a vision and an agenda based on the political resource called 'Black Gold", during the period of the formation of political parties. As if that was not enough, they did not use the oil as the basis of bargaining for position and policy when they were been wooed for support later during the Presidential election. I saw it coming when they threw their support behind the PDP and later General Obasanjo without demanding that "Resource Control" should be made part of the political platform of the PDP or of the Presidential candidate, Chief Obasanjo. They went into the PDP that did not have a program on the matter and later supported Chief Obasanjo who had views about the oil made up from his past that is inconsistent with the idea of "Resource Control".


One should not blame President Obasanjo for refusing to adopt the belated agitation for "Resource Control" after the election. I understand his fears; I worked for him as a Member of the Technical Committee on Revenue Allocation in 1977 when he was a military Head of State. I knew his views about oil. His views about the former Military Governors of the former Midwest, Rivers and Southeast States are no different from his views about the civilian Governors of today. I knew how critical and disappointed he was with the Military Governors in 1977 on what they did with the oil money without having anything to show for it in the areas that actually produced oil.


If the political leaders of the south-south had known of his views, they should have told the PDP candidate that they were new men in a new age. Why did Chief Obasanjo not behave as a politician in search of the peoples' vote as the basis of his rue? Why did others in the PDP from the south-south not impress on him that he would have to meet the minimum demands of the political leaders of the south-south or those aspiring to political office? They failed to make candidate Obasanjo appreciate the politics of oil. The elected Governors from these states ought to have gone to him with the demand that on the issue of oil and resource control they would want to swim or sink with their people.


I am on record as strongly advising the Governors of the six states in the south-south that oil should be used as their political resource and that instead of making a case for the Presidency or the control of the armed forces, they should go to the Nigerian people with their simple request, "Resource Control" as it applies to oil. Oil should therefore have been used as the basis of throwing their support behind any political party or a candidate in future. They seemed to have bought this from the various statements attributed to them since then. Unfortunately the issue of "Resource Control" was lost in the politics of 2003. One could ask, what explanation do they have for ignoring the issue as they prepare for the 2003 election? One was shocked that during the South-south zonal Congress of the PDP at Asaba only concentrated on two issues. One was the passing of the vote of confidence on Chief Tony Anenih and the second was endorsement of the position canvassed by Chief Anenih that the zone supported the idea that 'there is no vacancy in Aso Rock in 2003'. One was surprised that no mention was made of "Resource Control" or of the case in Court, which Chief Anenih promised the zone in August 2001 would be settled out of court before October 2001.

For those who would want to read of the Vision I worked our for the political leaders of the South-South should read the WWW of the Nigerdelta. I am referring to the WWW. for my trilogy on the 'Politics of Oil', especially the third part.




The AD strongly believed that a Sovereign National Conference was the proper mechanism for bringing about the above positions. Of course, the other two political parties believed that there was nothing wrong with the existing political order, which could not be resolved through the law making mechanism or through the process of constitutional amendment. These two political parties were opposed to the AD position because they were suspicious of the Yoruba leaders, as they saw the AD advocacy for a Sovereign National Conference was a ploy to break up the federation.


My view after the annulment, which I expressed forcefully after my aborted meeting with General Abacha in December 1993, was that Nigerians should meet and reexamine the basis of the union. It was my view then from what I knew as the cause of the annulment that the Nigerian ethnic nationalities should meet to sort out the basis of Nigeria continuing as one country.(15) Unfortunately the political class that even supported the idea of a Conference such as the AD failed to buy this even after the death of the military strongman and the winner of the June 12 as the only basis of moving the country forward and instead bought the transition program of General Abdulsalami Abubakar.




The AD had its heart in the right place, but it made two errors of judgment. It was a tactical error to think that what the party was preaching after the death of General Abacha could and would be implemented after the change from military to civilian rule under any President. There was no basis for this faith. This tactical blunder on the part of the AD signaled a complete collapse of the pro-democracy forces and once again raised the futility of civil society in Nigeria. The impotence of the civil society comparable to the oil workers in 1994 was obvious to the northern political leadership.


I was surprised when I saw the AD agreeing to team up with the APP at the last stage of the transition program to have a joint ticket against the PDP. This was a second blunder on the part of the AD and it completely opened it to the plot of the north to sow a seed of discord within the party and within the Yoruba political leadership.


Since 1999 certain facts had come to light not yet reported in the Nigerian media. Why the AD and the APP had to have a joint ticket for the Presidential election on the platform of the APP in 1999? This would require some explanation.


One, it was informed by the reality of the situation in which the APP northern oriented party found itself in 1999. The leaders of the APP knew that a northern candidate would not be ideal after the death of General Abacha and Chief MKO Abiola.


Second, it was informed by another set of given in the north that a southeastern candidate, an Igbo was not the ideal candidate to be taken to the north at that time as the party's presidential candidate.


Third, it was informed by a political trick initiated by the military and PDP that adopting an AD candidate and another Yoruba was a sure way make the AD and the pro-June 12 Yoruba leaders impotent.


Four, the APP, a left over of General Abacha's self-succession machine did not need to be told that everything should be done to secure the northern votes for the PDP candidate that was to work in the northern image.


Unfortunately the AD leaders itching to field a candidate at all cost fell for the trick or fraud. AD on APP with what both believed in and advocated in the past and in earlier campaign for previous elections in the eyes of Nigerians was like grafting an apple on an orange.



How the two Yoruba candidates emerged and were superimposed on the two fluid political parties PDP and APP demonstrates two facts. One is the political sophistication of the northern political leaders and the other is the political naiveté of the Yoruba political leaders. I am referring to Chief Olu Falae and General Obasanjo of APP and PDP respectively. Did they know they were working for the same end?



The first issue was the decision of the APP to forego its party candidate, an Igbo and use the AD nominee, a Yoruba as its candidate. This decision raised many questions.


One was whether the decision arose from the sophistication of the northern political leaders.


The second was whether it arose from the political naiveté of the Yoruba political leaders.


The third was whether it was a fraud perpetrated by the northern political leaders on the Yoruba political leaders. It was this third; this was the biggest fraud on the south in the last decade of the 20th Century.


Why did the Yoruba political leaders not detect the nature of the fraud that was to happen to them and by extension to the south and the pro-democracy forces in Nigeria? Maybe it was the pressure the Yoruba leaders in the AD put on themselves that they must produce a President at all cost. My view was that it was a fraud, which I would associate with those retired military officers who military jacked the PDP and forced General Obasanjo on it.


This fraud can be traced to the action of the National Chairman of the APP, Alhaji Mahmud Waziri, and a Fulani from Yola in Adamawa State before the election. It would be recalled how he took some unprecedented steps to achieve a pre-determined end for the north. Alhaji Mahmud as the National Chairman of the APP did everything to cause division within his party before the Presidential election. This was a trick played on the Yoruba politicians who were simply too anxious for the position of President at all cost. The northern leaders knew so and decided to take advantage of it and it worked.

Alhaji Mahmud knew fully well and it ought to have been obvious to Chief Falae that there was no way the northern supporters of APP would switch their votes to the Yoruba candidate of the type sponsored by the pro-June 12 Yoruba political leaders. It should have been obvious to Chief Falae that for the northern political leaders of the APP to campaign for vote for Falae would be like saying that the annulment, which they supported, was an error.


I also found the behavior and decision of an archconservative, Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi, a son in law of the late Sardauna of Sokoto and fellow Kanuri as General Abacha another twist in the fraudulent saga. His agreeing to run as the running mate to the candidate of the AD was in the same context of the decision of the National Chairman of the party. It would have been obvious to the Yoruba political leaders that the remnant of Abacha's machine would not set out to crown the pro-June 12 after the death of General Abacha. It should have been obvious to the Yoruba leaders that the duo of Alhaji Mahmud and Shinkafi were working for the military brokered transition program and the military backed presidential candidate. This was obvious to me when I saw the action of the duo of Waziri and Shinkafi despite the cost to the party.


After the rigged convention, the party leaders mostly from the south-south such as Chief Tom Ikimi and from the Igbo land such as Chief Emeka Ojukwu and Chief Iwuayanwu and a prominent leader of the party in Kwara, Dr. Olusola Saraki refused to back the ticket. They later shifted their support to the PDP candidate, which was also the end sought by the duo of Waziri-Shinkafi without their knowing. Eventually some of them left the party.


The PDP President rewarded Alhaji Mahmud after the election for a job well done. He abandoned his position as the National Chairman of the APP unknown to Chief Olu Falae, the candidate of the APP from AD secured one of the major appointments made by President Obasanjo as the Presidential Adviser on Inter-Party Affairs. No one needs to ask what is the function of an Adviser on Inter-Party Affairs in the face of two other advisers, on Political Affairs and on National Assembly Matters?


Sometime we forget that the APP had as many Governors and local government areas in the north as the PDP as the two parties were going to the Presidential election. If these Governors and local government were to work for the ticket of Falae and Shinkafi, the new APP ticket would have given the PDP ticket a run for its money. The APP northern Governors virtually worked for the ticket of the PDP; the APP northern leaders refused to fund the campaign of the Falae-Shinkafi ticket. In fact as one influential Yoruba APP leader told me, the APP north called on Falae to cough out the fund from his Yoruba supporters for the campaign in the north. Did Chief Falae not know that he was tricked to work for the PDP? I will leave this to him to answer.


Did the Igbo political leaders in APP know that the National Chairman of the party tricked them in order to give way for the PDP? Again this is a question for Dr. Ogbonaya Onu, an Igbo from Abia State who thought he had been nominated the Igbo Presidential candidate after the PDP humiliated its favorite son, Dr. Ekwueme at the Jos Convention.


What should be noted was the effect on the Igbo as a political force in Nigeria. They suffered a double loss. They lost in the PDP, which they thought they founded; they lost in the APP, which they thought they were part owners being in the self-succession project of Abacha.


What is disturbing is the behavior of the Igbo leaders after the double loss. Did they lose to the Yoruba or to the Hausa/Fulani? Unfortunately they did not see the north as the one that inflicted the double loss on the Igbo but the Yoruba. To them, the Yoruba again! The Igbo leaders should have seen the Yoruba and the Igbo as both victims of the plot of the north.



Another thoroughly unexplained issue in the development of the parties was the emergence of General Olusegun Obasanjo who was in Abacha's Gulag at the time of the death of General Abacha on June 7, 1998. Immediately he was released from the prison he made it clear to Nigerians and the international community that he would not participate in partisan politics. Why did he change his mind? Who brought about the emergence of General Obasanjo? How did he emerge? Most importantly, what was he expected to do, which could not be done by Chief MKO Abiola in 1993?


The emergence was linked to one source; it was General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) acting directly and later indirectly through his trusted aides such as General Aliyu Mohammed Gusau and the then current Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar.


On why IBB did this, someone said it could only have been driven by a guilty conscience after what he did to the June 12 and knowing what eventually happened to the winner of the June 12. It should be noted that IBB made this overture to General Obasanjo when the winner of the June 12 was still in detention and the country was still in turmoil as a result of his action in 1993.


Did IBB oppose the self-succession project of General Abacha? What did he do when Abacha was embarking on his terror in general and in the framing of Generals Obasanjo and Yar'Adua in particular? One should leave the answers to these questions to General Babangida, maybe in his memoir.


IBB saw the death of General Abacha whose self-succession project he connived at as a solution to the issues in the annulment and as an opportunity to actually search for a special kind of Yoruba candidate. The operative phrase is 'Special kind of Yoruba'. This is important when one is asking what is the difference between Chief MKO Abiola and General Obasanjo?


Nigerians know that Chief Abiola and General Obasanjo were from the same place. They were classmates or schoolmates of the same school, Baptist High School, Abeokuta. Both were distinguished and illustrious sons and High Chiefs of Egbaland and above all, both had a favorable rating among the northern leaders from their past dealings with the north.


But there was something, which distinguished General Obasanjo from Chief Abiola, which made him special. This is an issue not adequately discussed in the account on the question, "Why General Obasanjo and not Chief Abiola" or "What does Obasanjo have, which Chief Obasanjo did not have"?


The first condition was that IBB wanted a candidate from the Yoruba land most preferably from Egbaland, who he could sell to the northern leaders. This quest for a candidate from the south who he could sell to the northern leaders occurred twice during the period I worked with him. One was in 1988 and the other was after the annulment in July 1993.(16) What this meant was a Yoruba candidate who would meet the goal of the annullist, that is, a candidate who would protect the rampart, being guarded by the 'military in politics'. They were convinced that Chief Abiola would not do this. One could recall that circulating in the north before the election were unsigned documents that portrayed Chief Abiola as someone who would reverse the gains of the north since 1966. It was rumored that he would undermine the ramparts being guarded by the northern led military, if he became the President. High on the list were the restructuring of the armed forces and the movement of the seat of government from Abuja back to Lagos. They convinced themselves from his past that President Obasanjo would not do either of these things.


The second was that the candidate supported by the north must not be liked by his people or massively supported by his people before the northern leaders gave their support. This explains how General Obasanjo, not particularly liked in the southwest from the way he was reported to have dealt with the leader of the Yoruba in the past, became the candidate backed by the northern political leaders. Even though Chief Abiola was against the leader of the Yoruba in the past, he had since leaving the NPN made it up in the Yorubaland unlike General Obasanjo who never did so since leaving office in 1979. This explains the difference in the level support both had in the Yoruba states in 1993 and in 1999 respectively. Chief Abiola had well over 80% votes in June 12, 1993 compared with less that 20% for Obasanjo in 1999. Chief Abiola was seen to be loved by his people from the level of support he received from the southwest; General Obasanjo on the other hand was seen not to be particularly liked by his people from the southwest from the votes he received from the Yorubaland.


To the extent that Chief Abiola could count on the support of the Yoruba in addition to the support he received from the rest of Nigeria, Chief Abiola was considered too autonomous for the north to handle. And to the extent that General Obasanjo was less dependent on the votes of his people and more on the votes of the north, he was seen to be less autonomous and more pliable for the north to manipulate.


Those who have been asking why Dr. Alex Ekwueme did not win the endorsement of the northern military officers should examine how Dr. Ekwueme emerged. Yes, he was the leader of the group of 34 that partly gave rise to the PDP. Yes, from his past he could be trusted by the leaders of the north having served as the Vice President under the leader of the Turaki Committee, Alhaji Shehu Shagari. Yes he had democratic credentials having been on the Presidential ticket that won an election twice in the past. But Dr. Ekwueme met the same disability test of Chief Abiola; he was endorsed by the Igbo leaders of the Ohaneze N'Igbo as the candidate of the Igbo. Of course, Chief Olu Falae was dismissed because he too had the support of the Yoruba ethnic nationality, the Afenifere behind him. Dr. Ekwueme and Chief Falae were considered too autonomous for the military to consider as someone who could be entrusted with power from the north.


The second reason why Dr. Ekwueme was rejected was no different from why Olu Falae and Chief Abiola in 1993 were rejected. This also explains why the two southern leaders in the First and Second Republics (Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief Obafemi Awolowo) never made it to the top and became the President of Nigeria through an election. As long as ethnic organizations such as the Afenifere or the Ohaneze N'Igbo threw their support behind Falae and Ekwueme respectively, the northern political leaders saw them as dependent on their ethnic groups that were interested in autonomy. Dr. Ekwueme was rejected as long as he was associated with the issue of restructuring through regional structure of Nigerian federal system. This was evident from his days in the Constitutional Conference in 1995.(17) According to the northern military, what Dr. Ekwueme was advocating was no different from what the candidate of the Afenifere was advocating in the name of fundamental restructuring, which they took as wanting to reduce the power of the north. This was what they feared in Chief Abiola that he would reduce the power of the north through his plan of restructuring of the federation of Nigeria.


When people asked me what did General Obasanjo promise the northern political/military leaders when he agreed to join the PDP and become the Presidential candidate of the party, my response was simple. One should see his emergence within the context of why the President has been resisting any discussion that would lead to changing the structure of the Nigerian Federal system and how Nigeria is to or should be governed. These two issues are at the root of the Nigerian political problems thrown up since 1993.


Nigerians are amazed at President Obasanjo's approach to the idea of a meeting of the Nigerian people to address these fundamental issues. He wanted it in June 1998; he does not like it after June 1998. When he saw that the matter would not go away, he solicited the effort of traditional rulers. The idea of Nigerians meeting to resolve the two contentious issues plaguing Nigeria since 1993 was not only put forward by politicians but also by well-meaning Nigerians, such as Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Alhaji Babatunde Jose, Ola Vincent, Chief FRA Williams and Professor Adebayo Adedeji to name a few. Nigerians in the north and south are aware that there is a need for the Nigerian people to meet and resolve the two questions, which I call the two HOWS: how the Nigerian people can live together and how Nigerian is or should be governed.(18) But the President refuses to bulge. Yet the various crisis facing the country today are manifestations of these two lingering political problems.



This is amazing because before IBB and the northern military offered him the 'forbidden fruit',(20) General Obasanjo in a sermon in a Baptist Church in Abeokuta after he was released from the military Gulag, said the following:

Once again as God has given me

the opportunity,(21) I will comment

on the election of June 12, 1993.

I have always held the view that

the non-resolution of that issue

will remain an indelible blot on

our body politic, that a bad

and dangerous precedent for

political development in this country.

Nigerians would also recall that in that sermon by 'Preacher Obasanjo', he went on to state that the non-resolution of the June 12 with the harm it is doing for the body politic "forebodes ill for the destiny of Nigeria". One could ask some questions.

Is that not the situation today since 1993? Why has the President failed to deal with the situation? Did he see his emergence as the solution to the issues he raised before he was approached and given the forbidden apple? Did he see the issues as something, which could be resolved through the normal law making process?

Why the above questions were critical was because of what he characterized as the non-resolution of the issues of the June 12. According to him,

Without resolution of the events of June 12, 1993,

we may not have a FIRM and SOLID

FOUNDATION to erect the structure of

democracy on a lasting basis apart from

the implication for unity and stability

in the country.

General Obasanjo, in the same sermon proffered solution to the issue of June 12 in the following words:

I believe it is never too late

patriotic men and women of goodwill

in this country to get together and dialogue

to find generally acceptable solution

to this unnecessary problem.

He went on;

With the spirit of give-and-take

any human problem can be solved by dialogue.

Sweeping it under the carpet and pretending

that it does not exist does not solve it,

rather it makes it to incubate and fester.

'Preacher' Obasanjo and later President Obasanjo then warned his listeners at the Church in the following words:

Let it not be said that by an

act of omission and commission

there are two classes of Nigerians

as far as political, economic

and social participations are concerned.


From what I knew of the mutual feeling distrust between these two political generals, there is no doubt in my mind that IBB's decision to go for General Obasanjo was not because of his respect for General Obasanjo as to his indispensability. It was because of the use he could make of him. His campaign for Obasanjo within the northern political/military circles was based on General Obasanjo's track record in the office of the Head of State in 1976 on the platform of the same northern military officers.




On the performance of the parties since 1999, one could say that the so-called political parties are not in competition with one another. They are in factions; these factions are more in competition within themselves than with another party.


President Obasanjo is alone, as he does not have faith in his party or in the party system in the political class. He, from inception had more positive dealings with the APP and the AD and than with the PDP, his party.


The three political parties function as ethnic or regional defenders. All the Northern Senators for instance form a Northern Senators' caucus involving the two parties, PDP and APP under the chairmanship of Professor Iya Abubakar. The caucus meets regularly with the pan-Northern organization, the Arewa Consultative Forum on the setting of a northern agenda, which cuts across parties.


The AD Senators from the southwest act, to the embarrassment of the Igbo Senators, as the defenders of the President because he is a Yoruba.


All the Governors from the so-called north from the PDP and the APP hold regular political meeting under the umbrella of the PDP Vice President and are committed to the PDP ticket of Obasanjo-Atiku for 2003.




President Obasanjo from his past has contempt for politicians and for political parties.(22) Is this why he is virtually killing the PDP to which he is a stranger? How do we explain his policy of splitting other parties? These are the two aspects of the President's approach to politics and politicians since he assumed office.


He was not a member of the initial political groups that formed the PDP. It was the military wing of the geo-ethno-military-clique of the northern leadership that hijacked the transition program and the PDP that also drafted him to the party. The same clique organized fund for him and facilitated his election as the President in February 1999. But his emergence as the party's nominee for the presidential election introduced four classes to the party made up of

'Founding Fathers' of the party to which Dr Ekwueme and Solomon Lar and Awoniyi belong;

the 'actual owners' of the party to which the retired military officers belong;

the 'official leaders' of the party', which consist of the known party officials; and

the 'we' that came with President Obasanjo to the party consisting of those who worked with him when he was the military Head of State and some of those inherited from the Yar'Adua machine led by General TY Danjuma and Chief Tony Anenih respectively.


These four classes are at war within the party and within the government at Abuja.

Having secured the position on May 29, 1999, President Obasanjo, he told his party convention at Jos that with his 'we' he would proceed to make himself independent of the party. He demonstrated this with the way he picked his running mate from the 'we' wing of the party, the Yar'Adua faction of the northern leadership.


While in office, he took two other measures. First, he adopted the policy of divide and rule. Second, he proceeded to form a new coalition to guarantee his survival in office.


On the divide and rule tactics, President Obasanjo within few months of assuming office wanted to sack the National Chairman of the party, Chief Solomon D. Lar and set up a Caretaker Committee. He even named him and other party leaders, such as SB Awoniyi as Ambassadors to make way for him to restructure the leadership of the party.


Of course, Chief Lar did not only decline the nomination, he, an astute politician of many years, decided to mobilize the National Assemblymen on his side and alerted them that the party was heading for a disaster if the President was allowed to undermine the leadership of the party. The disruption by the President was narrowly averted when the President and the Vice President dropped their plan. This matter did not end here.


President Obasanjo used the earliest opportunity, which came in November 1999 to fiddle with the structure of the party. This was the climax of the National Convention of the party in November 1999. In that Convention, the President took one position and the National Assembly took another. The candidate of the President Chief Barnabas Gemade was forced on the party through a massively rigged election, which was described by the Independent National Electoral Commission in the following words:

The only irresistible inference deducible

from the findings and observations is

that the manner of election of officers

of the party at the Convention were arrived

at and announced fell short of the

level of transparency expected

of a democratic process"(23)


The result of the rigged process at the Convention in 1999 led to the dissatisfaction of the leader of a faction in the PDP, the All Nigeria Congress, Chief SB Awoniyi, who eventually moved out of the party to found another political association.(24).


On the coalition to guarantee his survival in office and a second term, President Obasanjo seems to be relying on the trio of the Vice President, the Minister of Works and Housing and the Minister of Finance (Atiku, Anenih and Ciroma) and the 'invisible hands' of the former President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari. He is also working through the Minister of Internal Affairs, Chief Sunday Afolabi on the one hand and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General Chief Bola Ige on the other to put together a new pro-PDP pan-Yoruba organization, the Yoruba Elders Council to campaign for his reelection in 2003.(25) Chief Tony Anenih had assured him that he would deliver the 'south-south' as evidenced from the action of the South-South Congress of the PDP in November.


What is obvious is how the Igbo leaders suddenly abandoned their avowed commitment to the quest for an Igbo Presidential candidate come 2003 and the formation of an Igbo led party to implement an Igbo agenda like the Yoruba. Another obvious development is the factionalization of the PDP in Igbo States. All the States in the Southeast, Igbo are in factions organized between the Abuja leaders and the Home Governors. That was played out during the national Convention of the PDP when the delegates to the Convention had to be shared between the Abuja leaders and the Governors of the States and each wanting to be more loyal to President Obasanjo than the other.


The President is breaking up other parties when he is openly inducing the leaders of the other parties with plum offices. Examples are the appointment of the Deputy Leader of the Afenifere, Chief Bola Ige as the Minister of Power and Steel and later as the Minister of Justice and Attorney General and the former Presidential candidate of AD, Dr. ChukwuEmeka Ezeife as his Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs. He has in his cabinet the daughter of the leader of the Yoruba, Chief Abraham Adesanya and the son of the former President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, who since 1999 is one of the critics of President Obasanjo in office. What functions are these people performing for him? Are they by definition members of his party or members of his 2003 campaign team?




The underdevelopment of the legislature grew out of the many years of military rule in Nigeria. The presidential system, which Nigerian bought since 1979 is at the expense of the legislature. The Legislature is still in search of a role under the Presidential system. The militarized system of President Obasanjo is no help. The status inconsistency in the three arms of government especially between the Presidency and the Legislature is a threat to the democratic health of the country.


The confused state of the three political parties in the National Assembly further complicates the status of the majority party as an agenda setter in conjunction with the President of the same party. The position of the majority party and the other parties in the legislative process ought to be a subject of study.


The opportunity for giving the legislative branch a position of respect was lost when Dr. Alex Ekwueme, the former Vice President declined the offer of Senate President in 1999, a position, which would have given some respectability to the legislative branch. This is still one of the fatal mistakes of Dr. Ekwueme and the Igbo leadership after the election. Dr. Ekwueme and the Igbo leaders should have faced President Obasanjo with an Igbo of status and stature comparable to the position of the Chief Justice in the hand of the Hausa/Fulani. This was implicit in the plan of those who came up with the system of power sharing formulae. By this act of omission, Dr. Ekwueme made it possible for the Igbo leadership of the National Assembly through the Senate zoned to the Igbo to become one "of anything goes". Can one put General Obasanjo heading the Executive, Justice Mohammed Uwais heading the Judiciary and Anyim Pius Anyim heading the Legislature on the same scale? This was where the Ndi Igbo made a grievous mistake in 1999. Could one think of Dr. Ekwueme being humiliated by the President?


Dr. Ekwueme should have accepted the offer made to him by the President after the Jos Convention. The Igbo, as a group, would have had a position of relevance as the head of the National Assembly or the legislative branch that would be respected by the President. The three tripod of Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo would have occupied the three branches of government with their 'first eleven' with a track record of experience.


The argument that a former Vice President could not descend to the level of a Senator is borne out of ignorance. How many of those who make that argument appreciate what one sees in the US? Do they know the political career of Hubert Humphrey, a former Vice President who narrowly lost the presidential election to Richard Nixon in 1968 to know where he finally ended? Can they look at the career of Barry Goldwater and Mr. George McGovern who were presidential candidates of their parties? They all sought election back to the Senate after losing the Presidential elections. Do they know that a former President in the US later ended as the Chief Justice?


What do we find today beside the lack of vision and leadership in the legislative branch? The National Assembly is in search of a role and relevance; this is further complicated by its uncharted relationship with the President, who does not respect the National Assembly as a co-equal branch of government.


It is a matter of public knowledge that the President's relationship with the National Assembly is one of cat and dog, which is virtually impeding the law-making process. The President has a jaundiced view of the separation of power as if it means a watertight compartment between the three branches of government as spelled out in Sections 4, 5, and 6 of the 1999 Constitution respectively for the National Assembly, the Executive and the Judiciary. The political process calls for working cooperation between the President and the National Assembly. What should be noted is that the political process is non-existent in Nigeria because President Obasanjo mistakes a normal political bargaining between political actors in the legislative process as tantamount to corruption. The former US President Jimmy Carter and the Under-Secretary of State, Thomas Pickering had to go to Nigeria to advise the President on how to work with the legislature when it became so obvious that what they supported was in jeopardy. It was obvious to them that the work of the new dispensation, which they backed was failing to deliver. It could not approve the first Budget; it could not meet the needs and assuage the agitation of the people of the oil producing areas even through the Niger-Delta Development Commission and it could not approve the Anti-Graft measures.


There are four areas in the dispute between the President and the National Assembly, which have been evident since 1999.


One is the lingering budgetary process as a source of controversy. The President's position is that it is the President's position to appropriate and the Assembly duty is to say yes or no to the Budget and cannot vary it even when it has the votes. Even when the Assembly approves a budget, the President simply refuses to abide with the provision of the Constitution to implement the Budget. He is even impounding the money approved by the National Assembly contrary to the Constitution as provided for in Section 81 of the Constitution.


Second has to do with the process of processing the nomination from the President for appointment as Ministers and Ambassadors. This is one of the least understood processes by the Senate and the President. The President simply sends a list of nominees for the Senate to approve as Ministers or Ambassadors. The documents on these nominees are never examined with respect to their suitability for appointment because there is no indication as to what they are meant to do. The Senate on the other hand is confused whether it should deal with the nominees as a list or it should be done one by one. The Senate is erring on the side of the lacuna in the Constitution because the Constitution does not specifically say that the nominees should be dealt with individually along with the functions they are meant to perform. One would have thought that this was common sense that that no one is declared suitable and competent unless one knows the function to be performed.


Today the Senate is confused; it does not know whether names and posts should constitute the bases of clearance by the Senate. The precedence set by the Senate is unfortunate where a list of nominees is approved and where approval is given to nominees without an indication as to what the nominees are expected to do. Consequently the nominees are later to be 'square peg in a round hole'. Who do we blame? Because the Senate has no hand in assessing the competence of the nominees, the President assigns his Ministers as he likes and relieves them of their appointment as and when he likes through the system of making ministers to sign a resignation letter before being sworn in. This is an attack on the power of the Senate to approve the nominees as to their competence.


Third is the Oversight function of the National Assembly, which was assumed under the separation of power and under the mode of law making provisions in the 1999 Constitution. This can be done in various ways, which grow out of the mode of law making. The President and his Ministers have vehemently resisted this. Let me cite two cases:


The House Committee asked the Minister of Works in a letter sent the Minister with the following information on the capital projects:


All Contracts awarded;

Contracts' sites/locations;

Mobilization fees paid;

Contract duration in each case;

Level of Completion.


The Minister fired back with the following:

I am of the view that the House has

no oversight function over the Ministry.(26)


A second case was the letter sent to the National Assembly by the Minister of Defense General TY Danjuma (retired) warning it against passing a law to introduce quota system in the Armed Forces. This arose from the consideration of a Bill pending in the Senate Committee on Defense for the setting up of the Armed Forces Reflection of Federal Character Authority. How could the matter before the Senate Committee be a subject of reprimand by the Minister of Defense? How does the Minister of Defense consider himself superior to the Senate? What action did the President take to bring the Minister to order? What was disturbing was the tone of the Minister of Defense letter calling the action of the Senate 'dangerous' and 'counterproductive'. It should be noted that the Senate Committee simply capitulated and stopped action on the matter. The question is why?(27)


Four has to do with the power of investigation and to collect evidence in Section 88 and 89 respectively in the 1999 Constitution.


Up till now the Senate fails to evolve a process on how to approve the President's nominees; both Houses have not been able to evolve a process on how to perform the general oversight functions. The National Assembly has never even tried to embark on the investigative functions well spelled out in Sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution. It does not hold hearing on critical issues such as the foreign and military entanglements of the President, on the budget and on the use of the military in police duties.




Another area, which one would have liked to discuss in detail if time permits, is the role of the parties in the National Assembly within the politics of lawmaking. Let me make some preliminary observations for our discussion.


All we know is that the President is unable to get on with the PDP in the National Assembly even though the PDP produced majority in both arms of government. The question is why?


The PDP members in the National Assembly, especially in the Senate are notables in their own right with different individual agenda different from that of the President. This also applies to the members from other political parties. Consequently, the members of the National Assembly are not able to work with the President in his agenda-setting function.


At the time they ran for office there was no General Obasanjo as the would-be candidate of the party; there was no party agenda around which they were committed and there was no Constitution specifying their powers vis-à-vis the President. When General Obasanjo became the nominee of the party at Jos, he came with his personal agenda and talked of 'we' did it before and 'we' will do it again. The 'we' did not include the members of the PDP and of the national Assembly. The 'we' was made up of the retired military officers such as General TY Danjuma and by extension, the successors of late General Shehu Musa Yar'Adua and others he inherited from General Babangida and General Abubakar.


The organization of the National Assembly also makes the members to work as individuals. Under the Second Republic the leadership of the Committees was in the hand of the parties to the accord, the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) and the Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP). This was reduced to writing through the Centre for Democratic Studies in December 1992 that only the majority party would produce the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House and the Chairmen of the Committees of the National Assembly. But today since 1999, that seemed to have changed when the President intervened to force a non-original PDP member on the Senate with the support of the non-PDP Senators in the Senate. Today also the Chairmanship of Committees is at the pleasure of the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House with the result that non-PDP members, as individuals and not as representatives of their parties are Chairmen of Committees even when the PDP men are in the majority. This will be unheard of in the US to which the Nigerian practice is patterned. The implication of this is obvious as the agenda setting function by the party in majority is impaired as some of the Chairmen of the major committees are of different political parties from that of the President.


The seating arrangement in alphabetical order is killing the party cohesion in the National Assembly. Under the Second Republic and in the Standing Order worked out for the National Assembly by my office in 1992, the seating arrangement was in consonant with standard practice in modern legislature where members sit together under the party leaders and whips. The advantages in this arrangement cannot be over emphasized. It facilitates communication among party members in the House; it facilitates the control of the party leaders and whips; it facilitates voting during debates and voting.


The third factor is the inability of the President to make himself the democratic political leader and play his role as the legislative leader. He should have learnt from the experience of the Second Republic with Chief AMA Akinloye as the National Chairman of the NPN, Dr. Joseph Wayas as the Senate President and Dr. Olusola Saraki as the Senate Majority Leader and Alhaji Shehu Shagari as the President. There was an institutionalized caucus of the leaders of the Party, the National Assembly and the President on a weekly basis. All attempts to make the President buy this failed. President Obasanjo calls such a meeting as and when he decides and refuses to make such a meeting a regular one. Of course, he refuses to make the caucus form part of his 'we' for the purpose of agenda setting.




The notion of the deep-seated uncertainty has to do with the relationship between the past, the present and the future. When it affects a country, it can be a severe crisis. This is the problem in Nigeria today. I shall try to apply the concept of deep-seated uncertainty to three areas of Nigerian political life.


The lingering political problems;

The declining faith in the political order; and

The notion of winner and losers.

I shall deal with these areas. All I can say in response to a question what is the achievement of President, is to repeat his response he gave when asked the same question in the US, Nigeria is still one!


One is attracted to the warning of the Chairman of the Human Rights Commission, Justice Oputa that

there exists a simmering discontent,

which should not ever be allowed to boil over'.

He challenged the political leaders

'to find an answer to this dreaded trend

called 'marginalization'.(28)




The President’s achievements in the list of problems called the lingering political problems afflicting the country since the annulment and death of General Abacha are fluid in all the cases. In some cases the President’s approach lacks focus. In some specific cases, the President’s approach is over-personalized. In all the cases there is no attempt at institutionalization. The President’s records so far are bizarre. In his response to the question as to his achievement since taking over from the military in 1999, he said at least "Nigeria is still one"!(29) Yes, Nigeria is still one and so what? Is the President aware of the lingering political problems afflicting the country?


The reason why the President’s record is low in resolving the lingering political problems is that the President is consciously avoiding the bases of the crises. The President has only been confronting the manifestations of these issues as they arise and prays that they would wither away. This was his attitude to the issue of Sharia when it was first raised with him in 1999 at Harvard. His quick response was that it would fizzle way. Is he surprised that it never does since then?


What President Obasanjo failed to appreciate is that these problems would not wither away because he prays so; they would continue to linger or use the President's words, they would continue to "incubate and fester" and would manifest in various forms. My fear, which the President and the political class do not seem to appreciate, is that the lingering problems could become cumulative crises and could overwhelm the system. Yes, Mr. President, Nigeria may continue to be one, one as what, should be the question we should be answering.


My contributions in the various essays I have been writing since 1999 had been on how to avoid the cumulative crisis. I am glad the President came to the conclusion on October 1, 2001 that there is nothing to celebrate after 41 years of independence because of the 'dismal reality' in the country of the country he inherited on May 29, 1999, which he underestimated. This only reminds one of the lamentation in the admission in the memoir of the last colonial Governor General, Sir James Robertson after 14 years of Nigerian's independence, that Britain underestimated the strength of tribalism in Nigeria. This is what President calls the dismal reality in Nigeria manifesting itself in various forms.(30)


President Obasanjo and the political class do not yet appreciate that the lingering problems of today are manifestations of some deep-seated uncertainty as to the future from the past. This relationship between the past, the present and the future is something, which Mr. President has not yet understood. If he does, it is not yet reflected in his approach to the treatment of the manifestations of the lingering problems. I have been working on the relationship between the past, the present and the future. I shall publish my preliminary findings soon in a monograph.


The concept of the past is critical in the demands and counter-demands, claims and counter-claims among the various groups in Nigeria. Should we not discuss the varieties of the past? Let me provide a list of my preliminary findings.


For some groups in Nigeria, the past is associated with ‘the mistake of 1914’ or the ‘fraud of 1914’. Those who called 1914 a mistake in 1953 are now calling the 1914, the blessing of 1914. The exclamation, 'the mistake of 1914 has come to light' was attributed to the late Sardauna of Sokoto, Mallam Ahmadu Bello in March 1953. It arose out of the 'self-government' motion moved by young Tony Enahoro, never mind the revisionists in Yoruba land debating as to ‘who moved the independence motion’. I shall deal with this matter in another essay.

For some, it could be the Ibadan Conference of January 1950, where the northern leaders first raised what they were promised in 1914 and threatened to go back to the status quo ante, which in effect secede. This was why Britain resolved the impasse with a decision that the north would be given fifty percent of the allocation of seats in the Central body with out any relevance to the population of Nigeria and that the claim of the Yoruba to have Ilorin and other Yoruba communities as part of the Western Region was rejected;


For some it was the politics of Western Region when Dr. Azikiwe was defeated in his bid to become the leader of government business in the Western Region in 1952; I saw how this became an issue during the NPN/NPP accord in 1979 and the conflict between Dr. Azikiwe and Chief AMA Akinloye, which turned out to be a replay of their first encounter in 1952.


For some it was the decision of Dr. Azikiwe to move to the Eastern Region at the expense of the minority in the Eastern Region led by Professor Eyo Ita. This was the birthplace of the movement for a new state and the springboard of the Action Group in the Eastern Region. This was how Dr. Azikiwe of Africa became the Dr. Azikiwe of Eastern Region and later the Owelle of Onitsha;


For some it was the civil war, which reduced one of the original three majority ethnic nationalities (Igbo) into neither a majority nor a minority ethnic nationality in Nigeria since 1970.


For some it was the Independence Election of 1959, which raised many questions about the status of regional political party in the formation of government and in the determination of succession.


Still for some, it could be the fraud of 1960 at Independence when the two versus one was introduced under which the north and the southeast or the Hausa/Igbo entente was made the Independence Settlement to the disadvantage of the southwest or the Yorubas.


Still for some it was the fraud in the NPC/NCNC Coalition of 1959-1964, which reduced Dr. Azikiwe to a toothless bulldog and made him to lament in 1978 that "he never ruled Nigeria for one day".


Still for others it was the conspiracy of the NPC/NCNC against the AG in 1962, which led to the following developments: (a) the declaration of a State of Emergency in Western Nigeria, (b) the creation of Mid-Western Region from the West, (c) the Census fraud, (d) the massive rigging of the 1964 federal election, (e) the massive rigging of the regional election in the west and (f) the first and other coups in the nation's history;


Still for others, it was the evolution of a close knit ruling clique with two wings (Civilian and Military), which I called the geo-ethno-military-ruling-clique after the civil war;


Still for others, it was the decision of General Murtala Muhammed to take over power in 1975 from another military leader from the clique;


Still for others, it was the decision of General Murtala Muhammed to become the first elected President of Nigeria under the Sharia system;


Still for others, it was the assassination of General Murtala Muhammed and the emergence of General Obasanjo, which adopted the Presidential System but abandoned the Sharia;


For others, it was the decision of military wing of the geo-ethno-military-ruling-vlique to overthrow the civilian wing in December 1983 under General Muhammadu Buhari;


Still for others, it was the decision of General Ibrahim Babangida to overthrow General Muhammadu Buhari on August 17, 1985, which was a Holy Day;


Still others, it was the annulment of June 12 1993, where they are still asking, what did Abiola do wrong to deserve what he got from the geo-ethno-military-clique to lead to the annulment of his mandate, his arrest and his detention unto death?


Still for others we are beginning to hear of the mistake of 1999 foisted on the political scene by the northern retired military officers through the process of military jacking of the transition program and the election as it affects the Arewa leaders, the Ndi Igbo leaders, the south-south leaders and the Yoruba leaders in various ways. still on the other.


For my people in Edo land, we could go back to 1897 when Britain invaded Benin, which eventually led to the signing of a Treaty of Protectorate with Britain.

For other minorities in the north and in the south, they can list a catalogue of injustices from the colonial period to the post-colonial period in the hands of majority internal colonial rulers.

For the various groups in the south-south it was the incursion of the Igbo into their areas during the civil war, which changed the pattern of alliances in many communities in the south-south with the Igbo on the one hand and with the north on the other. The decision of the minorities in the southeast to support the NPN (Hausa) and GNPP (Kanuri) against the NPP (Igbo) arose from this. Also the decision of the Midwest to split their support between the NPN and the UPN (Yoruba) against the NPP arose from this;


For some in the oil producing areas it is the ownership question of oil or the politics of oil within the context of the power structure of Nigeria, which dates back to the military take over of Nigeria. The people of the oil producing areas in particular, saw the military era as one of pillage of their God-given-resources; they saw how their property was turned into a ‘Nigeria’s’ property in name but the source of wealth for individual military officers in fact from outside the oil producing areas.


All these issues are conceived in ethnic, religious or regional terms. All groups without exception in the country believe that President Obasanjo is not the answer to the problems above. Some even go so far as to categorically state that President Obasanjo does not in fact understand these problems. Still some are very certain that since President Obasanjo would not want them to resolve these problems, he is actually becoming the problem. Hence some are clamoring for different kinds of solution as Nigeria prepares for the 2003.


For some, they see the solution to their problem in the 'production of the President' in 2003.(North, East)

For others, it is in the formation of new political parties and challenge President Obasanjo in 2003(north).

For others, it is in the ‘resource control’.(South-South)

For others, it is in the 'restructuring'. (Southwest and South-South)

For others, Nigerian ethnic nationalities should meet and come to terms with how the various groups can live together and with how Nigeria can or should be governed.


These prognoses from different sectors have different implications for the political order and sometimes they are conceived in zero-sum terms. What is important and germane to the resolution of the problems is that they all believe that all the problems and solutions they proffer are political and not just constitutional matters that could be approached from the process of amending the Constitution. They all believe that they are not merely trivial issues, which could be resolved through the normal law making.


Those who are raising one question or the other have some sense of injustice from the past, which they strongly believe is still with the group in the present and which the group strongly believes ought to have been dealt with under President Obasanjo since 1999. Why did the President not listen? If he cannot solve them, why did he not set up a mechanism for resolving them?




After two and half years into the first term of this administration, I have found that the President’s policy measures cannot lead Nigeria to a democratic order. The question is why? I have my doubt, not because the President is inadequate to the task, but because the President does not seem to appreciate the effect of the deep-seated uncertainty on the character of the demands on him and on the political system.


The deep-seated uncertainty is beginning to give rise to citizens’ lack of faith in the system, which is extended to the lack of faith in the capacity of the political order to deliver on the problems within the period of one term.(31) This is a crucial issue.


I hope the politicians should know that the various Nigerian groups have come to believe that the President and the politicians are under some understanding to serve for one term. Is that not why some are trying to run the clock on the President through many unresolved or lingering problems? While some are apprehensive of the plot to run the clock on the President and the political order, others are also working out their strategy of pushing for their agenda should the President’s term be restricted to one term. In fact, some are jockeying for their share of the pie as long as the President and the political order exist. Over to the President, one may ask if he is aware of this seesaw game? If he is, what is he doing about it?


There is an increasing feeling among Nigerians that the present dispensation is not a system that would last. All the politicians I ran into in the past few weeks in the US and are in communication with me from Nigeria are in agreement on the future of Nigeria. They seem to be apprehensive that the system would not last with the way we are going. What would happen, is something I would rather leave to you.(32)


What I could deduce from my interactions with politicians in the various sectors of Nigeria and from the various comments in the Nigerian media is that all the complaints about corruption, groups’ claims, counter-claims and Sharia arise from the feeling on the part of some actors that there would not be another election.


To the National Assemblymen, there seems be an apprehension that there would not be another opportunity or another election, which would be free, fair and credible. Majority of the Nigerian political actors tends to feel that they contested the last election in 1999. Some who are holding appointive offices seem to harbor the feeling that they are holding the last office or appointment. That Ministers on appointment were made to sign undated letters of resignation does not contribute to enhancing confidence in the political order.


I saw manifestations of bounded uncertainty from research findings at the Centre for Democratic Studies (CDS) in 1989. The solution we proffered then was that we should evolve a programmed political education to make the political class have faith in the election as part of a series of elections. The erratic system of banning and unbanning from Babangida’s changing move and moods ruined the system that was beginning to bear fruits. It opened the political space to a new political class made up of the members of the National Executive Committees and the Presidential candidates of the two political parties that did not benefit from the programmed political education of the CDS between 1989 and 1992. The annulment of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election finally killed the little faith the political class was beginning to have in election and the prospect of a series of elections.


Someone once asked me, if President Obasanjo knew that the people he is working with either as leaders of the parties or serving with him in his cabinet or occupying position of responsibility in the National Assembly actually have no faith in the prospect of another election. I leave this to the President to answer.


What President and the political class should appreciate is that democracy is anchored on the feeling or faith under three conditions.

That there would be another election.

That the winner is not the winner for all time.

That the loser is not the loser for all time.

Consequently, democracy abhors the expression attributed to Chef Anenih that 'there is no vacancy in the Presidential Villa in 2003' or that the Ndi Igbo could only aspire to the highest office in 2015.(33) One wonders, if President Obasanjo knows the implication of such an expression for the future of democracy in Nigeria. If he does not know, one should let him know that the expression, "no vacancy in the Presidential Villa or in the Aso Rock in 2003" can only mean one of two things or both, which are:

1. That there would not be a free and fair nomination process within his party.

2. That there would not be a free and fair election process in 2003.


The meaning of both would be the followings:

1. That the two processes would be massively rigged to achieved the predetermined ends

2. That the President’s men are at work to implement a program directed at the two ends.

3. That the process of choosing party offices within the PDP would be applied to achieve the same ends.

4. That the process of divide and rule would be implemented to deal with other parties.

5. That the electoral law coming out of the National Assembly on the next election would be such as to as to achieve the predetermined ends.

6. That the use of "faked" security reports as an argument to determine the schedule of elections in 2002 for the local government must be seen within the context of the two ends.


These are 'warning signs' directed at both ends.

One may ask, why did the President not distance himself from this kind of expression associated with his Minister and other aides? The President ought to know that this kind of expression is at the root of the declining faith in the President’s capacity to deliver democracy now or in future. Certainly, Anenih’s assertion, which extends to those who would be President in 2007 and in 2015, is not only disturbing, but the thought is anti-democratic.


This was why I refused to talk about sustaining democracy in the Atlanta Dialogue organized by the Nigerian government with Nigerians in Diaspora in 2000 because, as I argued then there is nothing called that yet to sustain in Nigeria. What we have today is a militarized civilian rule, which does not grow out of the ‘will of the Nigerian people’. What we should have been doing since 1999 is how to move from a militarized civilian order to a democratic order.


What the President should have been doing since he emerged as the President would have been to be a strong and broad ‘bridge’(34) that would rekindle faith in Nigerians that the 1999 election would not be the last election or that the appointment people had in 1999 would not be the last appointment. Now that President Obasanjo is virtually coming to the end of one term, it would appear that he is fighting to get over the one term pact he signed with his original sponsors. It would appear that the way he is going about this is either through an extension of the four year term to a one term of five or six years or through an organized ground swelling endorsement from PDP Governors in the country for a second term.


The organized endorsement from the PDP Governors is another variant of the anti-democratic plan of the President to secure an extension of his one term to a second term.


What these methods portray is that the President is afraid to go to the people to seek a renomination and a reelection. We were told by his handlers that he would agree to a second term if there is a ground swelling demand for him to do so. Of course this ground swelling support would not be expected to come from Ogun Sate, his home for obvious reasons.


2003 MAY BE ANOTHER 1964 AND 1983 UNLESS….


The President and those who are managing him have no faith in a free, fair and credible election. The signs are there that there would not be a free, fair and credible election come 2003. One is constantly been reminded of the 'succession elections' of 1964 and of 1983 organized by the ruling political party and massively rigged by the same political party. Do we need to be reminded of the consequences of both infractions?


The solution to a situation of a ruling political party being saddled with organizing an election in which its office holder is also a candidate is to internationalize the process from the pre-election to the post-election period.(35) The Nigerian political situation warrants the UN taking over the entire electoral process.


1. Would the President be willing to forego his sovereignty and internationalize the succession election?

2. Would he be willing to allow the Federal Government controlled mass media be placed in the hand of an independent body?

3. Would the President be willing to allow independent domestic monitoring groups to monitor the entire electoral process?

4. What role would be assigned the international observers?

5. Does the President appreciate the fact that he could not be a candidate in a highly contentious election and at the same time be expected to be a credible umpire?




There is an alternative. The Nigerian politics is built around the Presidency and Aso Rock. Would the incumbent be willing to remove himself from the race, so that he would be free to organize not only a free and fair election, but ensure the credibility of the election? The Nigerian history is there for us to learn from. The President and the members of the political class can always say that the situation is different because they are involved as beneficiary.


President Obasanjo is trying to convince Nigerians that he is quite different from Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and Alhaji Shehu Shagari, the Prime Minister and President in the First and Second Republics respectively. Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and Alhaji Shehu Shagari in their various ways would have said so too. But they turned out not to be credible managers of elections in 1964 and in 1983 respectively. Why does President Obasanjo think that he would be different in 2003?


We are not dealing with President Obasanjo as a person. We are dealing with those who have no faith in the practice of free and fair election from their pasts. Sometimes we forget that these are the same persons who were members of the NPC in 1964 or of the NPN in 1983 who massively rigged the 1964 and 1983 elections. Sometimes we do not cast our minds back and recall that these were the same persons who were major actors in the denial of the Nigerians right to human dignity. How did they suddenly switch from their ignoble role as members of Gen. Abacha's Self-Succession Project to that of Democrats ought to have been a source of research for scholars? What should be obvious that is that democracy is a behavioral and attitudinal issue that should be learnt. The switch from a non-believer to a believer is not an overnight thing; it takes some time.


There is a need for a voter's register. What I knew from my experience in the management of the transition program leading to the 1993 Presidential election was that the figure attributed to some sections of the north cannot be sustained in a thorough voter's registration. Registration has always taken the population figures as given and the voters' figures also as the assumed percentage of the assumed population. This is a country, which defies all rules of settlement pattern, where population density is associated with certain natural factors such as water. What usually appeared in the voters' register was not on the ground.


I recall how the Nigerian Election Monitoring Group was able to reduce the prospect of taking advantage of these non-existent persons in the Presidential election of 1993. This can still be done. A lot would depend on the President and his determination to deliver a free, fair and credible election in 2003.


We need to use the National Identity Card. I am on record as making a case for the use of the National Identification Card in the forthcoming election. I supported the use of the National ID as a way of guaranteeing the number of voters in the country. It is cost effective and would raise the level of faith of the voter and the candidate in the process.(36) That seems to be dying with the recent action of the National Assembly, which finally killed the matter, because the northern politicians found that an accurate voters figure would amount to a diminution of the power of the north. This was why the northern-dominated National Assembly simply outvoted the ID card provision in the Electoral Bill. There was no Presidential input into the deliberations in the National Assembly and this tends to give the impression that the President was yielding to the pressure of the Arewa Consultative Forum that from beginning vowed to oppose the issue.


We need about three elections, 2003, 2007 and 2011 before we can begin to talk of how to sustain a democratic order in Nigeria. The broad suggestion I would make is to impress on the President and the political class in Nigeria that they should realize that President Obasanjo and President Obasanjo alone, is not the democratic order. The prospect of democracy would depend on how Nigerians resolve the two HOWS, which I identify as how the various ethnic nationalities can live together and how Nigeria can and should be governed. Grafting elections on the unresolved HOWS would be counterproductive. For democracy to take root in Nigeria we would have to wait for after two or three elections.


Nigeria needs to start a new set of political parties. I am proposing that the existing political parties should be dissolved and a system of two names should be approved for the Nigerians to use as their new political parties as was done in 1989. Alternative, a new sprawling political organization would have to be developed as the competitor along with the PDP for political offices in 2003 and beyond. The formation of new parties would only lead to a one party-dominance and would further erode the Nigerians faith in election. One can see it coming/




May I call your attention to the third manifestation of the deep-seated uncertainty. My content analysis of the reports from Nigeria since May 1999 shows that Nigerians in their various corners are unwittingly made to see themselves as either ‘winners’ or ‘losers’ under the current dispensation. What is making this categorization dangerous is that it is seen in ethnic/religious/regional group’s term. Consequently they are jockeying to be in the ‘winners’ column at all cost and if they are not succeeding they raise alarm about ‘marginalization’.


My initial conclusion is that this fight to get on the ‘winners' column is going to increase with the growing realization that the President’s one-term is undergoing revision with no possibility of a free, fair and credible election in 2003.


I have been trying to summarize the various complaints from many Nigerian political leaders, opinion leaders, and ethnic/religious/regional groups and from the Nigerian media.


The Nigerian politics has been reduced to a simple two-dimensional character of 'winner' and 'loser'. This has to be so as there is (a) no ideological debate in Nigeria any more, (b) no new ideas and (c) no civil society that cut across the ethnic groups in Nigeria.


My summary of the various complaints leads me to the following tentative conclusions as to who is a 'winner' or 'loser' in Nigeria today since 1999.




The first ‘winners’ from my review are the ‘northern leaders, the core north and their satellite groups in the north and in the country.


I make a distinction between the leaders and the people of the north. The people of the north, the masses gained nothing in the past from their political and military leaders who assumed power in their name since 1966 and made enemies for the north. I am aware of the debate about or agitation for a middle-belt identity as distinct from the north. The situation has not changed under President Obasanjo.


Nigerians know that the north has a claim to the ownership of the two political parties, the PDP and the APP.

They claim a major chunk of the Presidency and the Legislature.

The claim the monopoly of the Judiciary.

They claim the monopoly of the armed forces.

They claim a major share of the oil industry.

They have a highly articulate leadership that spans the whole north.

They have a leadership that has power of command over others in the southeast and the south-south and to some extent in the southwest.

They have an agenda dating back to the colonial period, which is known to all segments of the north and capable of intimidating the rest of the country, especially the southeast and the south-south.



The second winners can be found in the southwest, the Yoruba.

They have an integrative political party (AD),.

They have an agenda.

They have leadership in and out of government at all levels.

They have the leader of the Presidency and

They have a highly articulate civil society.




The first set of ‘losers’ from my review comes from the ‘southeast’, the Ndi Igbo.

They have no political party they could call their own.

They have no special share in the Presidency.

They have no position in the security agencies.

They have no agenda like in the southwest and in the core north and

They have no leadership that the zone can buy and respect

They have no discernible leadership that could speak with authority for them or that could be marketed and bought.


The second set of losers come from the ‘south-south’ also called the ‘southern minorities’ or the ‘atomized states’ in the south and the ‘oil producing areas’. This area suffers identical disabilities as the southeast.

They have no party.

They have no place in the security services.

They have no agenda ethnic or zone or national.

They have no leadership. and

They are victims of the majority groups in the country.




I once called on the President to revisit what I called his ‘SERMON ON OLUMO ROCK. I was referring to what Mr. President when he was just General Olusegun Obasanjo before he became the President proffered as an answer to the issues in June 12.(37) Until I raised this matter no one in the media or among the members of the political class has ever called the President’s attention to this sermon and no one has ever asked him why and when did he decide to change his mind? General Obasanjo was very clear that the source of Nigerian political problem had to do with the armed forces, which he characterized in the following words:


Our military personnel have generally

been inured in corruption, lying,

selfishness, lack of patriotism,

avarice, and character and

behaviour unbecoming of a good military’.(38)

What has the President done to turn the military around is a subject, which I had reasons to comment upon in other forum. I am also on record as proffering the two Ds’ (Demobilization and Depoliticization as the only empirically sound panacea for the problems of the highly ethnicized, regionalized, politicized and morally depraved armed forces. Unfortunately the President farmed the problem of the armed forces, which are environmental and attitudinal to the US. I am on record that this would fail.(39)


The President in the same sermon of June 1998 proffered the mode of resolving the lingering political problems, to which the depraved armed forces form a part. Let me at the risk of repeating myself remind Nigerians of what the President, as General Obasanjo said after he was released from the Abacha’s gulag in 1998 emphasized above. If in June 1998 he said that "that Nigeria’s future as a democratic, united, and stable country was dependent on the resolution of the issues of June 12", why does he think that the situation has changed today? This was prophetic. Chief Obasanjo was right then. Those of us who had the opportunity to read what he as Chief Obasanjo said in June 1998 are at a loss today and are asking the pertinent question if anything had changed since then, other than that he was made the President, a year later? What one would want to know is if the President saw his election of 1999 as a solution to the event of June 12 or as an opportunity to raise, discuss and resolve the issues in the annulment? If I were President’s adviser, I would have made it clear to him that his election only offers him and the country an opportunity to do the former, i.e. raise, discuss and resolve the issues in the annulment and that it did not constitute a solution to the annulment saga. This would have been in furtherance of the position he canvassed in the sermon of June 1998 after he was released from prison. It is sad that Nigerians are not reminding him of this. The question is why?


Let me still go back to the prophetic confession in that sermon in the following words, which he said arose from the "opportunity" given him by his years of isolation in the Abacha's gulag that "the non-resolution of the issues of June 12 will remain an indelible blot on our body politic and a bad and dangerous precedence for the political development in the country".


Does the President know this today? Does he not know that the Arewa’s fears are part of the issues in the annulment, that an autonomous Southerner (someone loved by his people and reciprocate that love for his people) cannot be the President of Nigeria. My trilogy on the ethnic agenda in the various parts of the country and what the President should do to overcome them still remains there for the President’s handlers to use.


Mr. President does not seem to know the way of thinking of the leaders of the ethnic nationalities. All the known ethnic agenda tends to be exclusive and an exclusive ethnic agenda could be a threat to the democratic order. The solution short of surrendering to the demands of the ethnic organization is for the President to call off their bluff and run the country in the national interest. Capitulation to the ethnic group will be a recipe for disaster.

It should have been obvious to the President and the political class by now that it is the non-resolution of the issues in the June 12 that makes the ‘bridge’ erected in 1999 rickety today. Will Mr. President be willing to go back to the solution he proffered in 1998? May I again remind Mr. President of what he said then, also in June 1998 at that Church service? You knew the feeling of the geo-ethno-military-clique that engineered the annulment and sustained the annulment and tried to silence all voices of opposition. What is sad in the action of the clique that all peoples of Nigeria are bearing the brunt of the narrow-minded action of the clique. We do not know which came first? Is it their generosity in setting him free or his prophecy at the Baptist Church? It would appear that your prophecy was counterrevolutionary. Maybe one could still remind the President, of what he said that "It is never too late for patriotic men and women of goodwill to get together and dialogue to find generally acceptable solution to the unnecessary problems’.


It is not late today. But the President seems to be running away from his God’s inspired injunction. The question is why?


The foregoing statement was weighty enough. Would Mr. President be willing to go back to what he was divinely inspired to tell Nigerians in 1998? If not why not!


What the President should realize is that Mr. President’s solution and the words Mr. President used to convey that solution were no different from the words used by those who are calling for a Sovereign National Conference. Whatever Mr. President may want to call his ‘get together of men and women of goodwill’, the end of such 'a get-together’, is what is important. According to President Obasanjo, there should be ‘a get-together’ of Nigerians consisting of ‘men and women of good will’. Why is the President finding it difficult to set the process in motion?


These persons are available in all communities, if the President would allow them to throw them up. Another condition set by the President is that they should ‘assemble’ for the purpose of (a) ‘dialogue’ and (b) ‘finding generally acceptable solution’ to the lingering political problems afflicting the country maybe since 1914.


Mr. President, this was what you as General Olusegun Obasanjo proffered in 1998. Mr. President, that is still valid today if only you would want to go back to that position. Chief FRA Williams and even the traditional rulers you consulted came to the same conclusion that a National Conference would be only feasible way. They are concerned about your legacy. Why is he not concerned about your legacy?


Another four years with out resolving the lingering political problems would only magnify the manifestations of the DEEP-SEATED UNCERTAINTY, which Nigerians from all walks of life have been complaining about in various ways loud and clear since 1999.

I am referring to

the lingering political problems,;

the declining faith in the political order; and

the division of the country into winners and losers.

The way out is a return to the President’s Sermon on Olumo Rock, which is like the word of the Aristotle of the Nigerian Justice System, Justice Chukwudifu Oputa.

There is a simmering

discontent across the country,

which should not be allowed to boil over.(40)


Finally Nigerians should be free to fashion the Constitutional arrangement spelling out the conditions under which the various ethnic nationalities would have to work with one another in a common or general or federal government. There is a need for a system that would provide for the common/general/federal government and other unit governments. There is no question that all these would have to emerge from amicable agreement arrived at, at a National Conference. The agreement would have to be reflective of the agreed conception of the past, which would form part of the Preamble to the Constitution.


It should be noted that the 1999 Constitution came after the political parties and the political class came to the political scene. The present administration was sworn in on May 29, 1999 under a Constitution that was not an issue at the time of the election on the understanding that it would be revised with input of the people after May 29, 1999. The Constitution is fraught with many fraudulent provisions beginning with the Preamble, which associated the people of Nigerian with the origin of the Constitution. Beside, the Preamble to the 1999 Constitution is uninspiring and it bears no relationship with the past, the present and the future. The framers did not now what the Preamble to a Constitution was meant to serve. The Preamble to a Constitution in the word of Ivo Duchacek


Should record with pride as well as

the glory of great deeds in the past and

the pledge to do more in the future'. (41)


The review of the Constitution should take into account the history of the country taking into account all the errors or mistakes or frauds, the sources of the grievances and what and how the issues were resolved as a way of moving forward. It should emphasize how the need for all the ethnic groups to live under one umbrella in justice as the basis of the new structure of government, which the new Constitution is to deliver.


In effect, the review of the 1999 Constitution should start with a debate on the lingering problems itemized above. The process and outcome should rekindle faith in the political order and should make all groups feel that they 'winners' and not 'losers'.


This was a paper done for a panel on NIGERIA: The Quality and Character of Politics in Nigeria's Fourth Republic (IX-F7) at the 44th Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association, HOUSTON TX November 15-18, 2001


My attendance and participation at the 44th Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association benefited from the kind hospitality of Dr. Patrick and Esther Osayande and their lovely children, (Patrick and Marian) at Houston. THIS PAPER IS DEDICATED TO OSAYANDE FAMILY..





1. See Herbert Simon, "Comments on the Theory of Organizations", American Political Science Review XLVI No. 4, 1962, p 1130.


2. See Joseph LaPalombara and Myron Weiner, "The Origin and Development of Political Parties" in Joseph LaPalombara and Myron Weiner eds., Political Parties and Political Development (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1966) p 7.


3. I studied under Richard Sklar; he exposed me to the method of studying political parties. He made me read the unabridged version of the two volumes of Mosei Ostrogorski study of the political parties in the US and in Britain.

See Mosei Ostrogorski, Democracy and the Organization of Political Parties (New York; Macmillan 1902); also see the edited and abridged version by Seymour Martin Lipset, Democracy and the Organization of Political Parties (Garden City, NY; Anchor Books, 1964);

Maurice Duverger, Political Parties, (London; Methuen 1962);

Thomas Hodgkin, Nationalism in Colonial Africa (London; Mullen 1956); and of course his seminar work, which still remains the best known on the political dynamics in Nigeria see

Richard L. Sklar, Nigerian Political Parties, (Princeton; Princeton University Press, 1963)


4. I took advantage of my membership of the Constituent Assembly in 1977/78 to apply some of the things I learnt about political parties to the formation of a political club, Club 19, which later became the Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP). I was a witness to how other political parties started hence I was able to reduce my notes into some manuscript. See

a Chapter in a book, Omo Omoruyi, 'Federal Character and Party System in the Second Republic' in PP Ekeh and EE Osaghae, Eds. Federal Character and Federalism in Nigeria (Ibadan; Heinemann, 1989). and

now a full-length book, Beyond the Tripod in Nigerian Politics: Lessons from the Past Experiment with NPP (1977-79) (Benin City/Boston, ADA, 2001).

Some of these issues are addressed in the forthcoming account of my political life 1959-99.


5. The things I did here were in my role as the Director General, Centre for Democratic Studies (CDS) from 1989 to 1995.


6. See Sam Eldersveld, Political Parties: A Behavioral Analysis (Chicago, Rand McNally Company, 1964).


7. LaPalombara and Weiner fn. 2.


8. See the case for intergeneration transfer of political affiliation as basis for determining whether an organization could rightly be called a political party. See Joseph LaPalombara, Politics Within Nations (Englewood Cliff, NJ., Prentice-Hall, 1974) p. 510.


9. Sir James Robertson was the last colonial Governor General who handled the last phase of decolonilization 1955-60. This was in response to what he thought Britain should have done, which she did not do that would have averted the civil war and ethnic violence in Nigeria after independence. See his memoir, Transition in Africa (London; 1974)


10. The Guardian Lecture, August 1989. There were two questions, which General Babangida asked me when I was taking notes from him on what he would want to raise with the Nigerian political class. One 'Why is it that political parties in Nigeria constitute the only organization where anything goes? Two, 'Why is it only in our political parties that appear to be the natural breeding ground for the idle, and the illiterate who over the years failed to qualify for any reputable profession'.


11. This was a follow up of the Guardian Lecture. As This Week, a weekly magazine of October put it, the Abuja Declaration grew out of Dr. Omo Omoruyi's memo. That actually was why the report on my study trip to the US, which discussed the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions was used in the Policy Statement. But it was later changed to the Centre for Democratic Studies (CDS)


12. See fn. 3.


13. This is from the address delivered by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. See Hon Umar Ghali'Abba, "PDP in the Eyes of the Insider" in Guardian, April 6, 2001.


14. Admiral Mike Akhigbe, Chief of General Staff confessed to this in an interview he granted at Akure after leaving office.


15. See Omo Omoruyi, "Teaching the ABC of Democracy" in The Nigerian Economist January 24, 1994.


16. Chief Michael Ibru of Delta State and Dr. Sam Ogbemudia of Edo State were approached to make themselves available by President Babangida in 1988 and 1993 respectively to be sold to the north. I handled these two cases for him. This is reported in my book, Tale of June 12: The Betrayal of the Democratic Rights of Nigerians (1993) (London/Lagos Press Network Alliance 1999).


17. It was Alhaji Abba Dabo who said that Dr. Alex Ekwueme lost the support of the north and hence the nomination the day he advocated the regional structure of the Nigerian federation. For the regional structure of the Ndi Igbo, see Professor Ben Nwabueze, Nigeria'93: The Political Crisis and Solutions (Ibadan; Spectrum Books 1995)


18. This was the subject my Independence Essay commissioned by Vanguard for October 1, 2001.


19. For the account of the Baptist Church Service after his release from prison see Vanguard June 21, 1998. It was the subject of a two-part essay titled "President Obasanjo: Go Back to the Sermon on Olumo Rock", which was published in many Nigerian newspapers. Olumo Rock


20. From Independence in October 1, 1960, the position of elected Prime Minister or President or military Head of State was forbidden to the southerner. So too is such position as the Minister of Defense, which since Independence has remained in the hands of the north.


21. What God did for General Obasanjo in Abacha's gulag was like what happened to Saul, which changed him to Paul. To the crowded Church service, they genuinely thought he would be the one who would fight for the mandate and justice for the Yoruba people after the sermon. One of the disappointment of the Yoruba people was that he adopted a benign neglect to what June 12 means in the political history when he started calling the May 29 as Democracy Day.


22. See Olusegun Obasanjo, Constitution for National Integration and Development, (Lagos; Friends Foundation, 1989). He attributed the political crisis in the country to the nature of political brigand in the First and Second Republics.


23. From Dr. Alex Ekwueme's Report on the feud between the Presidency and the national Assembly. See Ekwueme, "How PDP went to the Dogs" in Vanguard, December 22, 2000.


24. SB Awoniyi and others now left the party and formed a political association seeking registration to challenge President Obasanjo in 2001.


25. This organization has resurrected the old division in Yorubaland between followers of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief SL Akintola in 1960s, which led to the breakdown of law and order in the Western Region. This was to continue under the Second Republic and also led to the break down of law and order in 1983. Is that what we going to have with the position taken by the two wings of the Yoruba leadership, the Afenifere and the YCE.


26. This except was from the memorandum used by the members of the House of Representatives to buttress their case that the Presidency had virtually marginalized the National Assembly. This case was made to the Ekwueme Committee set up by the National Chairman of the PDP to investigate the source of discord between the Presidency and the National Assembly.

For the full report, see Alex Ekwueme, "How PDP Went to the Dogs" in Vanguard December 22, 2000.

Also see, "Our Findings" in Vanguard, December 22, 2000.


27. For the report of the episode, see Olawale Idris, "Danjuma Warns National Assembly" in Tribune April 5, 2001.


28. It was obvious that Justice Oputa was disappointed that the three political generals (Buhari, Babangida and Abubakar) refused to respond to the summons to appear before his Commission. He thought they should have appeared to respond to various accusations of killings, arbitrary jailing and the disappearance of millions of dollars of government funds' and to reconcile with their fellow Nigerians. See Guardian, October 19, 2001.

In the account as reported by the BBC, Justice Oputa told the political generals that history would be violent with them. According to Justice Oputa, 'History, not the Commission, will pass judgment on the leaders who ignored summonses to appear'. He concluded, 'By the time people begin to ask questions, they will have themselves to blame'. See BBC News October 19, 2001.


29. This was President Obasanjo's reply to newsmen who wanted to know from him his achievement so far in the wake of the mounting crisis in Nigeria and the plan of his sponsor, General Babangida to upstage him in 2003. This was in Blair House in Washington DC as Guest of the President of the US.


30. See fn. 9.


31. There was actually 'a one-term pact' or an 'understanding' between candidate Obasanjo and his sponsors. I first called the nation's attention to it in March 1999 before the President was sworn in but it was ignored until Chief Sonny Okogwu said something about it in 2001. See


32. See fn. 28.


33. This is a case worth studying; this is a retired police officer with long association with the late General Shehu Yar'Adua. His unprecedented and in fact, meteoric rise in political profile astounds political professionals and political scientists. He was first known in a regional politics when he became the State Chairman of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in 1983 in the Second Republic. In the Third Republic, he became the National Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the party that fielded Chief MKO Abiola in June 1993.

After the annulment of that election, he became a close political confidant of the Military Head of State, General Sani Abacha and was active in his self-succession project until General Abacha died in June 1998. How he became a close confidant of General Abacha despite the fact that General Abacha was after the life of his mentor, General Yar'Adua still remains unexplained.

How he became a close political confidant of General Obasanjo and successfully managed his Presidential election is still a mystery. Candidate Obasanjo could not open his campaign headquarters in any Yoruba town even in his hometown for fear that it could be burnt down. It was Chief Anenih who took him to his State (Edo State) and manned his Presidential Campaign Headquarters in Benin City. He is routinely called 'Mr. Fix It' for President Obasanjo and officially He is the Minister of Works and Housing. He is also regarded as party leader, whatever that means.

For the way his pronouncement on 20015 was analyzed see 'Ndi Igbo and 2015' in Comet, April 6, 2001.


34. This was the subject of two lectures delivered at two universities after the election. I tried to argue then that President Obasanjo's election was just to serve as a 'bridge' between the past military misrule and the future, which was unknown and not to bring about democracy. I gave many definitions of 'bridge' and its implications.


35. This is a delicate issue that touches on the sovereign power of a country as Nigeria with a reputation of helping other countries meet their domestic peace. There are FIVE conditions under which the UN would take over the entire electoral process of any country. The five conditions are

That the election must have a clear international dimension;

That the monitoring should cover the entire electoral process;

That there should be broad public support for the mission;

That the government should seek the UN action; and

That there should be the approval of a competent UN organ.


See Enhancing the Effectiveness of the Principles of Periodic and Genuine Elections: Report of the Secretary General, UN GAOR, 46th Session Agenda item 98(b) at 25-26. UN Doc. A46/609 (1991).

From the deep-seated uncertainty in Nigeria it should be clear that there is a need for internationalizing the 'succession election' in Nigeria, which would involve the UN to take over the entire 'electoral process'. It involves:

Observation and verification of the elections

covering the entire electoral process,

particularly, registration of voters

on the electoral polls, registration of candidates

freedom of expression, parties

to mobilize, respect for the equality of candidates

in the electoral campaign, and independent

verification of the outcome of the vote.


See UN GAOR 44th Session Agenda Item from Draft Resolution on Assistance to Haiti UN Doc. A/44965 (1990).


36. For the case I made for the national ID see Omo Omoruyi "Omoruyi Backs National ID For Elections" in the Vanguard, September 8, 2000.


37. See fn. 19 above.




39.See Omo Omoruyi, "Nigeria-US Military Pact: A Recipe For Danger", in News October 2, 2000. A variant of this was reproduced as Omo Omoruyi, "Nigeria/US Defense Pact: In Whose Interest?" in Sunday This Day August 27, 2001.


40. Oputa fn. 26. I find the advice of my good friend, Chief Sam Mbakwe, the former elected civilian Governor of Imo State intriguing. Reacting to the wave of crisis over the Sharia in the north and the violence that followed it in Kaduna, he exclaimed, "Let Us Part Peacefully", in Sunday Vanguard, March 19, 2001.


41. See Ivo Duchacek, "National Constitutions: A Functional Approach" Comparative Politics, Vol. 1 No. 1. (1968) pp. 91-102.



December 2001



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