Re-imagining Nigeria: The imperatives of Democracy, Values, Peace and National Development in the New Nigeria

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By Professor Anya O. Anya

 

  1. Preamble:

When the invitation from His Excellency the Governor came I was thrilled with the opportunity to renew contact with the Garden City. Some of my younger days were spent in 11 Bende Street and later at 45 Aggrey Road. So I am a child of this industrious garden city. I went further down memory lane remembering my old friends, great men of this state and of this country. I remembered Professor Claude Ake NNOM who if he had been alive today would have been the proper person to give this lecture. Claude and I with two other compatriots were decorated with the N.N.O.M. the same day. I remembered Frank Ellah, Ignatius Kogbara, Garrick Leton, Edward Kobani, Albert Badey and Obi Wali, after whom this magnificent building is named. These were my pals and we dreamt of the great future that awaited us all in the public affairs of our dear nation Nigeria: then the shining hope of Africa. With Kobani and Obi Wali one can revel in our days in student politics in the University College, Ibadan. The high point being our joint activism which procured the abrogation of the Anglo-Nigerian Defence Pact in 1961. What visions we had of a great Nigerian Nation, what hopes we shared of Nigeria’s Leadership of Africa and the Black World. To the memory of these illustrious sons of Rivers State and of Nigeria I dedicate this Lecture.

Your Excellency when I received your letter I looked forward to paying you a personal tribute. Our country Nigeria evinces in some ways the atmosphere of a besieged nation. You have been loud and articulate as you have given a voice to the many voiceless amongst your compatriots. Some have attempted to compare our situation to the early days of Nazism in Germany in the early thirties of the last century when many professors and politicians in Germany lost their voices. When the inexorable drift into authoritarianism and dictatorship took place, history has left us the record of the plaintive cry of one of the elite, Niemoller who cried out that when the dreaded Gestapo came for the socialists he was mute as he was not a socialist; when they came for the trade unionists, he was silent as he was not a trade unionist; when they came for the lawyers and judges he remained silent as he was neither a lawyer nor a judge. Alas, finally they came for him, there was total silence as there was no one left to speak on his behalf. It is our hope and prayer that this fate will not befall our dear country. As our people in Abia state, your neighbours and brothers would say: Jide ka iji!

 

 

  1. The Idea of Nigeria

The idea of Nigeria is a foreign construct. The peoples of the area called Nigeria – the Niger Area of Lord Lugard – were a mosaic of peoples collected in kingdoms, republican enclaves, putative empires and budding nationalities. Each maintained its sovereignty while many co-existed in relative peace with their neighbours even as others experienced intermittent conflicts as inter-clan wars, not usually encompassing large swaths of territory prevailed. This was the general state of affairs in much of the area around the majestic flow of the Niger through the Sahel territories and beyond until the first decade of the 19th Century when Othman Dan Fodio’s horsemen swept into the Hausa Territory of Northern Nigeria, subdued the societies he could, converted some to their new faith of Islam and generally dominated their environment. New and emerging forces were foraging further south.

The situation in the south was different. Hordes of traders from Europe particularly Britain established their presence along the Gulf of Guinea. So this was predominantly a search for alternative trade after the abolition of slave trade. It was particularly a private sector led mission pioneered by adventurers. There was hardly any involvement of the governments of the European Countries. In this matter Sir George Dashwood Taubman Goldie was pre-eminent. He formed the Royal Niger Company which through a series of treaties in the Lower Niger and the Niger Delta areas established beach-heads over which he had suzerainty.

His influence was to extend later from the lower Niger to Northern Nigeria. In 1899, he was convinced to “sell” the territories under the control of the Royal Niger Company to the British Government for the “princely” sum of eight hundred and sixty five thousand pounds sterling. So what became Nigeria was controlled by a company under the direct control of an individual who ultimately sold his interests to the British Government. By the time of the consummation of the transaction the territories of the Niger Area consisted of the protectorate of Southern Nigeria, the Protectorate and colony of Lagos and Northern Nigeria protectorate.

All these territories were transferred to British government control on the 1st of January 1900. Sir Ralph Moore was appointed Administrator of the Southern Nigeria Protectorate with the capital in Asaba. As a result of the hostilities of the Ekumeku local insurrection in the area the seat of government was transferred to Calabar. Sir Frederick Lugard was appointed the Administrator of the Northern Protectorate with headquarters in Lokoja now capital of Kogi State. As a result of this foreign inspired transaction, the indigenous population never exercised the right to determine the nature of their relationship with one another. Hence the governance systems that emerged had no foundation in the socio-political and economic experience of the people.

The transactional basis of the relationship in governance system in the Niger Area was cemented in 1914 when Lugard amalgamated the Northern Protectorate with the Southern Protectorate. The driving force of the amalgamation was the fact that the Northern Protectorate was perpetually in deficit while the Southern protectorate was usually in surplus. Thus, it was not the welfare and needs of the people that propelled the motivation of amalgamation but the economic interest of the British administration to balance the books.

When in the 1920s the first stirrings of political consciousness became evident amongst the people it was mainly among the educated elite of the Lagos colony. It also led to the first attempt at a constitution, The Clifford Constitution of 1922. This consciousness grew to the point where the Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM) was formed as the vanguard for the advocacy for the end of colonialism although it betrayed the ethnic dimension to the advocacy as articles in the newspaper Daily Express underlined. The fact that Awolowo supported Ernest Ikoli (ijaw) and Azikiwe supported Adesanya (yoruba) did not succeed in hiding the first indications of ethnic prejudice in Nigerian politics. The subsequent efforts at constitution making from Richards, Macpherson and later Lyttelton implanted regionalism as a directive principle which was to give way to the acceptance of the Federal Principle that was enshrined in the constitution that ushered in flag independence on 1st October 1960. What needs to be emphasized is that the impetus for a Nigerian nation had always been extraneous to the needs, wishes and demand of the people. It did not grow organically and endogenously from the thoughts, emotion, experience and vision of the people founded on their socio-political, economic and philosophical interests. When in the 1959 elections the two regional parties the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) and the Action Group (AG) displayed strong regional support and in spite of the fact that the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) had a substantial number of the seats with a national spread, the foundations for the factors that stultified the emergence of a nation with a shared vision, ideals and values was laid. When Azikiwe scampered to the east instead of nurturing his pan-Nigerian credentials in Lagos the stage was set for the abandonment of the search for a Nigerian nation. Consequently, the foundation for a nation that can make the black people proud has been lacking since there was no pan-Nigerian leadership elite with patriotic zeal, shared values and vision for a nation anchored on the loyalty, welfare and yearnings of the people. The situation was not helped when the post-colonial indigenous leadership proceeded to build on the foundations established by the colonial overlords which was programmed to fail. None of the liberating fathers evinced an all-encompassing vision nor asked the question as to the desirable features of a nation that best serves the people and can best fulfill the needs, aspirations, welfare and loyalty of the Nigerian people across ethnicities. Hence the need now for a new Nigeria with a new foundation that can meet the yearnings of our People with an enduring vision for posterity and for the future.

 

 

  • The Current State of Nigeria and the World

Nigeria is currently a country under siege and its leaders and people are in denial. This is coming at a point in global history when the world is in a flux: new technological forces often disruptive are emerging even as the old forces are either in retreat or vanishing. Who can decipher the future in Nigeria or the world? We are at the stage where most nations are in dynamic equilibrium: where change is the order of the day. The rules of linear progression in social and economic evolution have given way to a situation where interactive forces act as interconnected matrices and technology has amplified all interactive tendencies.

A new world order is emerging in which China is on the ascendancy despite issues as to how the emerging new forces in their political system will implode or explode. In all this where is Africa and where is Nigeria? If Nigeria had raised its game to the point of global recognition in 2010 or 2020 it would have been expected that Nigeria would aggregate the salient and relevant forces in Africa to fit Africa into the emerging Global template. What is clear however is that the World has gone from the bipolar world of the period soon after the Second World War involving Russia and the United States. The illusory unipolar world dominated now by America is giving way to a new multipolar world in which Nigeria should have shaped and dominated the African Pole. Alas the auguries are not favourable that the capacity for this exists in the current Nigerian situation.

On the economic front which is now the measure of a nation’s capacity instead of the old military power matrix as the index of measurement we have regressed on all fronts. We are now globally the poorest nation. We have to borrow to fund our recurrent budget: indeed our debts are at an all-time high (over 24 trillion) according to the latest figures from the debt office. Indeed, it is claimed that the records show that we have borrowed in the last three years more than we borrowed in the preceding thirty years! What is more the Gini Coefficient which is a measure of the gap between the lowest earners and the highest earners is at an all-time high. In other words, the poor are getting poorer as the rich are getting richer. The level of inequality portends a social upheaval of such magnitude that can only be unprecedented. Additionally unemployment has continued to grow even as inflation has started to rise once again. It is an open question whether we are sliding into another recession. The situation could be depressing.

All current indications suggest that we are well into the new age of recurring violence. When the Maitasine group came we quashed it under the carpet. When the Boko haram came we dilly dallied until it morphed into the dangerous cancer that it has become and now it has linked up with the Islamic State of West Africa thus locking us into the new global infrastructure of violence. Add to the brew the new phenomenon of rampaging Fulani Herdsmen who it is alleged are now ensconced into all the isolated and remote forests of all the states of Southern Nigeria and the Middle Belt. Thus the instruments of violence are primed ready to swing into action any moment at their convenience. As if that is not enough we now have banditry and unrestrained armed robbery, kidnapping and cultists who constitute an ever present danger in all states of this nation. It is now difficult to differentiate between friends and foes. In all these our capacity to fight back has been constrained by the division in the Fulani Camp between those who are committed to their vision since the 19th century of a virtual Fulani empire spanning West and Central Africa and those committed to build with other Nigerian compatriots a new Nigerian nation that is capable of leading Africa and the world of the 21st Century. Which way will the pendulum swing? Two factors constrain us in any effort to judge accurately the future: the unabashed nothernisation of the security services and the confusion and incoherence of the political leadership across party lines. We are truly in the jaws of a dilemma laced with the trimmings of a double jeopardy!

 

 

 

  1. The Democratic Ideal and Democratic Models

I had earlier drawn attention to the fact that our liberating fathers – Azikiwe, Ahmadu Bello and Awolowo jumped into building Nigeria on the faulty foundations they inherited from the colonial authorities and proceeded to build a modern Nigerian nation on the shaky foundation which was programmed to fail. There was no examination or inspection of the social, political, cultural and economic foundation of the nation on which they proceeded to build. They experimented with the parliamentary democratic model which came to grief a few years later after independence, first on the issue of census and soon after on the 1964 parliamentary elections. This was despite the tweaking of the founding document as a republican constitution.

Then the military came calling. They had no blue print and had little understanding of the interplay of political forces in a democracy especially in a plural society. Their importation of the unitary command system as an instrument of governance introduced new problems especially through the factionalisation of the polity even as the proliferation of unviable states compounded the problem. To crown it all their introduction of the Presidential System with scant regards to the spirit of the new system, the checks and balances that gives it stability and the fire wall that protects the philosophical and value system that undergirds its operational validity. All these multiplied the contradictions and imbalances within the system in an alien environment where the ethical assumptions and the consensual approach to inter-party relations implicit in the operational integrity of the polity was lacking.

Since the 1999 Nigerian Constitution which is currently the grundnorm, warts and all, it becomes necessary to look at the Presidential Democratic System a bit more closely, particularly the United States model which we have gone to great lengths to copy. The American Model is often regarded as an archetype of the liberal democratic system. It is founded on four principles;

  • The republican principle
  • The democratic principle
  • Constitutionalism and
  • Liberalism

The republican principle presumes that the people are the only source of legitimacy for a government – it is the people who authorize governments hence democratic elections are critical. On that basis, the American System avers that

“Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed….”

The democratic principle assumes the equality of all citizens, inclusive citizenship and majority rule. Majority rule is limited only by the need to preserve the liberties and powers of the citizen, namely, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and the presence of a free press.

Constitutionalism presumes the existence of a basic and enduring document which formalizes institutional power as the basis for the conduct of public life, namely a constitution. The constitution is expected to organize the boundaries of power.

Liberalism presumes tenets that recognize and protect a sphere beyond the rightful reach of governments. In other words there are certain inalienable rights of the citizen that governments do not create and the individual may not surrender, hence individuals can enjoy independence and privacy.

In the practice of liberal democracy the concept “we the people” is critical and is presumed to encompass ALL citizens, regardless of religion, culture and length of citizenship. It is to be noted that the rising tide of populism is a threat to liberal democracies anchored on the concept of “we the people” for it is the enemy of pluralism. People need to live as free, equal and unavoidably diverse citizens. The protection of pluralism is vital because people are not uniformly virtuous hence political systems anchored on the virtues of the people soon comes to grief such that populists in their disappointment often embark on a fruitless search for the enemies of the people: such search is always couched in moralistic terms – the enemies of the people are corrupt, self-seeking and often embarking on conspiracies against the people. This often leads to authoritarianism and when in full bloom breeds dictatorship. There are several models of democratic and federal systems but each nation works out the details to suit its peculiar history and environment as we see in Switzerland, Canada, Australia, South Korea and India. That is a job still to be done in Nigeria.

 

  1. The Social and Cultural Environment

The social and cultural environment that encourages and sustains the pursuit of the democratic ideal and hence conduce to the building of a democratic society is critical. Currently, 63% of the countries of the world are democracies according to the Pew Centre. These countries provide the empirical evidence that democracy is desirable as a governance system since democratic societies are richer than non-democratic societies; in addition,

  • On the average, democratic societies are less likely to go to war but would deliberately pursue peace building initiatives;
  • Generally they have a better record of fighting corruption
  • On the average people are more likely to speak their minds and are more likely to take charge of their affairs, especially the welfare of their children.

In democratic societies issues of ethics and values are often pursued with relentless zeal hence promoting transparency and accountability. In this regard ethics refer to the set of rules that govern the behaviour of an individual while values are beliefs for which a person has an enduring preference and may be prepared to die for. While ethics determine what is right, values determine what is important. The question may then be raised why liberal democracies have not thrived in Africa? The reality it has been claimed is that liberal democracy has not taken root in Africa for want of the institutions that drive and sustain the ethos of the liberal spirit. In this regard, let us digress a little to look at the Chinese model. I had earlier implied that political systems are validated by their contribution to the welfare of the people and the building of a prosperous future for the individual and for the people. In this the Chinese model has done better in some ways than the liberal democratic societies.

China emerged from communism into a market driven collegiate autocracy. This involved tight control by the communist party anchored on a relentless effort to recruit talented people to the upper ranks of its leadership. In economic and social terms it has produced greater dividends for its people than the liberal democratic model. The political leadership changes every ten years with a younger and more talented cadre of leadership taking over. While the United States during its period of ascendency to global leadership doubled the indices of its living standards every thirty years, China has achieved the same landmark every ten years. We must note also that China is an extremely disciplined society.

The global financial crisis of 2007 – 2008 enabled China to concretise her emergence into global leadership. While the combination of globalization and the digital revolution has made some of democracies’ most cherished institutions of the Western Model to look outdated, the Chinese model appears to have an in-built regenerative principle. They seem to revel in innovation which of course depends on the initiative of individuals. China seems to anchor their national drive for growth on the individual’s initiative harvested in a collective framework which acts as the engine of growth by amplifying the individual’s productivity which transmutes to a high national productivity paradigm that seems to be on overdrive. It would seem that the leadership is presently exploring strategies to transform their brand of democracy into a technocracy.

The question could be raised as to the lesson that the Chinese can teach Nigeria. The most important lesson is that which I hinted at earlier: governance systems that shape the economic system must emerge organically from the historical and environmental experience of a given people, garnished by global lessons and anchored on the vision of its leadership. The emphasis must always rest on the individual within a framework of relentless drive for education nurtured by productivity. As the liberal democratic model also taught us we must institute as an imperative checks and balances and the necessary firewalls to constrain tyranny and authoritarianism especially in a fledgling democracy as in Nigeria.

 

  1. The Practice Of Democracy In Nigeria: Paradox and Contradictions

Ever since the colonial days, the practice of democracy has been a sad tale of manipulation and other shenanigans. This year 2019 the international observers of our recent elections have documented the electoral infractions in their reports. It would seem that in 2019 we reached a new low in undermining the electoral process which is the hallmark for democracy. The core idea of democracy as we saw earlier is the sovereignty of the people. Representative democracy is to capture the will of the people through their representatives. Unfortunately the aspect of democracy that we have accepted and pursue zealously is to ambush the electoral process in order to capture power which of course implies that one has the ability to wield force, authority or influence without let or hindrance. The question which naturally arises is for what purpose? In a representative democracy, the people’s surrender of their sovereign power to their representative presumes that it is for the good of the people. In other words, service of the people must be the primary motivation for seeking power and ultimately for governance. It also presumes that the representative is the embodiment of the confidence and trust of the people. Hence it is expected that those who are the beneficiaries of the people’s mandate, trust and confidence will possess a track record of credibility and hence integrity. As it has been said truth is the foundation of trust and trust is the capstone of integrity. There is therefore a moral dimension to the covenant that governs the relationship of the people and their representatives founded on the society’s value system and the ethical principles that sustains the value system. When the motivation for the relationship is transactional rather than covenantal the moral basis for the authority and power of the representative is irredeemably undermined.

There is then the paradox that roles are reversed between the people and their representative: the representative, the servant of the people now wields the whip hand. He is now the master – leader instead of the servant – leader. Thus we observe the outward show of the process of democracy but not the spirit.

This fundamental breach in the people – representative relationship creates the climate of brazen impunity in the management of the democratic process – in the party, in the legislative chambers and in the executive that we see. This sets the stage for the corruption and intimidation of the judicial system. We now have at all levels people who know the cost of everything but do not know the value of anything. This is the state of affairs that ushers the final stage of debauchery: the militarization of the electoral process as we saw recently. Ultimately this is the road to Afghanistan and Somalia: utter chaos. Unfortunately, democracy is not only about elections but the entire panoply of institutional checks and balances founded on a willing and cooperative interplay of institutional monitors, referees and a free press playing by the rules derived from the society’s code of values and ethical framework. In this as in other areas of national life there are things that are just not done and will always be unacceptable in a viable and serious society. There are times that a society is given relevance, sustainability and moral strength by the consecration of appropriate myths and symbols with definable red lines – this far and no more. Where are the boundaries of power in present day Nigeria?

 

  • Cultures and Development: Paradigms, Mental Models and Mindset

As indicated earlier, democratic societies are generally more prosperous. This is so because:

“Cultural values matter as they form the principles around which economic activity is organized and without economic activity progress is not possible…..economic progress depends on changing the way people think about wealth creation. This means changing the underlying attitudes, beliefs and assumptions that have informed the decisions made by leaders that result in poor economic performance….”

The way people think about business, economics or competition, conciliation and cooperation influences the quality of the strategic choices they make. A more highly educated work force stimulates a higher rate of innovation and higher rate of innovation yields the ability to sell increasingly complex goods, services and ideas. Hence the aggregation of individual beliefs along new dimensions can generate new mental models with new features. Thus differences in societies can be a function of the mental models of the leaders. Consequently to foster economic growth or create new social capital it is often necessary to alter fundamental mental models that the leaders operate with which can shape the way individuals think about risk, trust, competition, authority and other critical variables in national development. Changing mental models may cause dramatic shifts in the culture of a nation. Thus leadership matters because individuals can change the trajectory of a nation’s development. We saw this in China as between Mao Tsetung’s mental model and Deng Xiaping’s model which transformed China and provided the foundation for what we see today.

In Nigeria today we have diverse cultures at different stages of development: some are stuck in the 19th century, some in the 20th century and some are primed to leapfrog to the 21st century. As China has illustrated it is possible to leapfrog into the present 21st century if the appropriate visionary leadership is on call. The fundamental transformative changes that define present day China took only eleven short years. Western Europe and North America went through the same transformative experience when Calvinism, a Christian ideology was transmuted into a secular code of behaviour anchored in hard work, honesty, seriousness, thrift and time management. A new man arose from the ashes of the new code of behaviour- rational, diligent, orderly, productive, clean and humourless – the puritans. When the religion encouraged the appearance in numbers of this human archetype, a new personality type emerged, exceptional and adventurous which proceeded to create a new mode of industrial capitalism. In China the tenets of Confucianism gave the encouragement to the adherents to aim for Ren, the highest virtue in Confucianism. This encouraged the highest development of man’s distinctive nature typified by benevolence and a higher morality which cultivates compassion and love in the individual. The superior man that emerges is quiet, calm, always waiting for the “appointment of heaven”. Ren approximates to the enlightened spirit emanating from the confluence of the human, rational, ethical and moral dimensions of the new man. Thus the Confucian principles form a framework of ideals which when secularized allows the individual to become a being of pure limitless virtue – authentic in the pursuit of the virtuous life, in word and in deed. What the European and Chinese models teach us is that transformation is not possible unless a paradigm shift in the cultural domain which facilitates changes in mental models and a transformed mindset emerges. In all these examples education and continuous re-education is the key.

 

  • The Challenges Of A New Nigeria

Against the background of all that has been said it is clear that Nigeria is not working. It was not originally designed to be a democratic nation but rather a colonial contraption that is the product of failure engineering. Tafawa Balewa at the United Nations on the 7th of October 1960 drew attention to what he referred to as intractable problems. Both Azikiwe in 1964 and Awolowo in 1967 all agreed that the dynamics of colonial interference did not permit them to lay a solid foundation for the development of democracy amenable to nation building. Additional constraints to the effort include the prolonged military interregnum which paralysed the deployment of creative individual initiative to solve the socio-political problems of the period in a civilized manner: they introduced elements of terrorism into the polity and legitimized violence and brutality in the psyche of Nigerians as acceptable enforcement mechanisms. A new Nigeria must therefore be built on a new foundation and redesigned to accommodate pluralism and diversity in the conduct of national business. It should now be evident that peace and progress cannot flow from a setting that was designed to produce disorder. Hence the only rational approach is reprogramming in such a manner that can resolve systemic discord in the pursuit of peace, development and progress. We may start by embracing the African concept of Non-violent communication which can stem the rising tide of rancorous, violent and vitriolic exchanges that has often stoked the fire of violence leading to avoidable shedding of blood.

H.H. Shiekh Mohammed bin Rashidal Maktoun, the visionary who turned Dubai, a desolate desert into the thriving centre of the world within a generation has observed that

“……when you face a challenge that demands a solution or decision you have two choices: you can either emulate the example set by others or use your own creativity and intelligence to formulate a new idea…”

We have emulated the Americans by adopting the American-style Presidential system without embracing the spirit that energises it, the checks and balances that stabilizes or the firewalls that protect it from generation to generation. A firewall, if I may explain, is designed to prevent unauthorized access and to protect a system from abuse. The first firewall is to recognize that the operators of the new American system will not all be virtous. So Jefferson, one of the founding fathers admonished as follows “let no man be seized by confidence in man but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution…” Benjamin Franklin, another member of the founding fathers at the constitutional conference in 1887, reminded his compatriots that: “…there are two passions which have a powerful influence in the affairs of men. These are ambitions and avarice – the love of power and the love of money. Each of these have great force in prompting men to action but when united in view of the same object, they have in many minds the most violent effects. Place before the eyes of such men a post of honour that shall at the same time be a place of profit and they will move heaven and earth to obtain it…”

It was left to John Adams to sound a note of warning on the limitations that attend the most democratic of systems. He advised his compatriots to “… remember democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There never was a democracy that did not commit suicide. It is vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy…” The upshot of all these exchanges was American founding fathers sent themselves to school to study the works of the Greek Philosopher-Statesman Polybius to learn that monarchies, aristocracies when combined with majority rule could give rise to a unique democratic republic where monarchs were prevented from turning into tyrants, aristocrats into oligarchs and democratic citizens will not degenerate to mob rule. They created a system of checks and balances with a presidency, the legislature and the judiciary as three separate arms of government which are separate but co-equal in an environment where the rule of law and a free press thrived.

It should be noted that a thriving democracy cannot flourish in the absence of educated citizens. This is why Jefferson admonished his compatriots “…if a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be…” Indeed, our own Awolowo in 1980 emphasized the same point when he advised as follows

“….indeed unless the Federal Government actively promotes the introduction of free education at all levels throughout the country, the gap (between the south and the North) which stood at 50 years in 1960 and widened to more than 75 years in 1980, it may widen to more than a hundred years in the next ten years(1990). If we take serious steps to end that now (the gap in education) we would certainly succeed in reducing the gap considerably in say 25 years. The consequences of inaction in this matter is too gruesome for mention…”

We are reaping the gruesome dividends that Awolowo predicted which has borne fruit in Boko haram, Fulani herdsmen and the hordes of kidnappers, bandits, and sundry other malcontents and criminals. Despite this frightening scenario, the almajiri schools which were established by the Jonathan administration in response to this dire situation have either been abandoned, closed or neglected. The lack of political will in this matter can enforce on us all unaffordable costs in social order and perhaps even a revolution. At that time it will no longer be a Northern problem but a Nigeria wide or even a West Africa Region wide problem beyond our imagination. Despite the recent meeting of the Northern governors, it is possible that the initiative has already slipped out of the hands of these leaders and there is doubt whether the executive capacity to deal with the situation exists or is adequate given what has been the situation in Zamfara state as an example. The disturbing signal is that it is difficult to know who to believe including official spokesmen. When we add to the mix the information that has not been denied by official sources of payments to Boko haram and more recently to the promoters of Miyetti Allah, there is cause for worry whether there is a workable strategy to deal with what we have on our national plate.

Your Excellency the Governor, Your Excellency Our Chairman and Past President of this nation let me affirm that a New Nigeria of our responsible expectation and dreams is still possible despite the frightening omens in the presently dark atmosphere. My confidence is founded on four grounds

  • Since evil cannot overcome the good, the days of the merchants of violence will soon end;
  • Despite the occupation of sundry remote locations all over the nation, the capacity to sustain such a vast police activity by the herdsmen is not sustainable: ultimately the forces of peace and the good will overcome;
  • Nigeria is in the hands of God: the time is near when our God will show that He is truly the sovereign Lord of Nigeria over all its people.
  • The international environment has changed; impunity and violence enjoy scant tolerance especially with various international institutions that monitor the levels of world order including the International Criminal court at The Hague.

 

Finally, your Excellencies may you continue to tread confidently in the path of peace and service to the land of our fathers. We shall overcome. Your leadership will be vindicated. I am done. I thank you all for your attention. God bless us all and our nation Nigeria.

 

*Re-imagining Nigeria: The imperatives of Democracy, Values, Peace and National Development in the New Nigeria was delivered by Professor Anya O. Anya, Ph.D. (Cambridge), D.Sc. (Hon) D.Litt. (Hon) FAS, OFR, NNOM at the Lecture to Mark the Democracy Day in Port Harcourt on May 27, 2019.

– June 18, 2019 @ 10:29 GMT |

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