By John Amoda
WE run an executive driven government and this is why unconstitutional change of the executive government is followed by constitutional retooling of the political system. In this process, the legislative and judicial branches offer no barrier to unconstitutional change of government.
The Legislators are disbanded and the judicial branch reduced to crafting decrees. The 1999 return to civilian rule encouraged the thought of bottom-up reform of the political system and order, a ferment that the transition from President Yar’Adua’s Administration to President Jonathan Goodluck’s encouraged. Now it is being noised in the media that the President may seek a second elected term in 2015.
The question is why? What will he do differently in 2015? Have polls be conducted to measure his popularity? And in the midst of near universal consensus for a conference on the State of the Country, it is necessary that strategic thinking on the future of Government be led by the Executive Branch.
It is in this context that I go back to 2010 to look at what I thought President Jonathan should do and why? For in doing those things I argued he could contribute to the building of the New Nigeria. The following is the 2010 Discussion Note that was written to promote critical engagement of the polity by the President.
Changing the Terms of Discourse of Nigerian Reform Agenda
1.Incumbency is not enough: it is necessary but not sufficient to drive the Reform Discourse. For Visibility, Viability and Relevance the C-In-C must change the terms of discourse of the Nigerian Reform Agenda.
-He cannot be led by the Justice Uwais Committee- they can only make recommendations;
-He cannot be led by Prof. Atahiru Jega- He is a facilitator in the process;
-The President must think strategically:
“Strategy is merely the word we give to the thought that goes into determining how we will prevail. However, strategies can be formulated that maximise the chance of delivering “good” New principles are required to change our path onto this “good path”. Ketan J. Patel. The Master Strategies: Power, Purpose and Principle.
2.Time is an obvious constraint. Exclusive attention to administration on the part of the President will detract from his roles as Head of State and Head of the Ruling Party.
There is need for the C-In-C to strategically preside over the affairs of the Nigerian state and to do this the President must effect change of the framework of the current political discourse in order to effect a change in how he President is perceived both nationally and internationally. The theme for the Transformation Agenda simply stated is- Now Is The Moment To Lay The Foundations of Nigerian Republican Democracy.
An aide memoire to jump start this change is the Presidential Address of Professor J.M. Amoda at the 15th Annual Conference of the Nigerian Political Science Association held at the University of Ibadan from June 25th to July 1st 1988 titled: General Danjuma and the Nigerian Republic. General T. Y. Danjuma’s observation that there is yet to be a government in Nigeria that the people can defend is the thesis addressed in that Presidential Address.
We propose that President Jonathan Goodluck make as his Agenda for the present and the future the laying of the foundation on which can be instituted The Government That Can Be Defended By The People of Nigeria- A Democratic Republican Government.
The following quote from the 1998 address serves an Executive Summary of the 7 ½ Page Address:
“If we are to truthfully confront the history of our existence as an independent national society, we cannot escape the implications of the fact that under the present conjunction of forces and interests that a planning of alternate futures for Nigeria must begin with an acknowledgement of the place of the Nigerian Military in our political process.
This is all the more important because we have presented ourselves to the world and its comity of nations as a Republic. The preponderance of the Military in our politics therefore brings to the fore its relationship to the Republic. We often forget that the opposite of the Military in any Republic is not the Civilians or Politicians; that Military Rule in a Republic is not the opposite of Civilian Rule by politicians.
The dominance of the Military in a Republic implies the collapse and or underdevelopment of Republican institutions. The interplay of military and civilian forces in this sense describes the collapse or underdevelopment of Republican institutions.
The interplay of military and civilian forces in this sense describes the collapse or underdevelopment of republicanism in Nigeria. It is therefore not surprising where our political history and discourse have been structured and articulated in terms of military-civilian incumbency of Government, that we have been unable to build solidly the foundation of Republicanism in Nigeria and to comprehend fully the character of Nigerian Government itself.
The result has been an unfortunate, if not tragic dichotomy, of Government versus The People. Government has been severed from its base and exists on presumptions. This is why General Danjuma arrived by a wrong path of reasoning to a correct conclusion.
Yes General Danjuma is correct (when he opines) that we may never enjoy Democracy in our life time. Yes he is correct that we are yet to have a civilian Government we can defend. He is correct because no civilian Government can be defended by the people because civilians, even where the elections are not sheer exercise in fraudulent practices operate an Anti-Republican Government. He is correct beyond his own calculation.
Government so long as it is anti-Republican, whether it is Good Military Government or Excellent Civilian Government, cannot be defended by the people. The reasons for this is because Government as it is instituted is animated by the spirit of Colonial Rule and Authority. Government as it is instituted in Nigeria is Colonial and not Republican.
This is the true contrast. The contrast of military versus civilians, good military versus bad civilian governments are false contrast with real implications. What was papered over through the euphoria of independence was the takeover of the powers of the Colonial Government; the State, Economy and Society as instituted under colonialism were not changed. What changed was the Administration and Administrators of these structures.
Thus ,whether the first Republic Civilians had been more or less democratically selected, whether or not they and their successors had been more patriotic that they were judged to be, so long as independence was administered as change of incumbents of a colonial structure of economy and governance in time the spirit of Colonial Autocracy would have destroyed the emerging spirit of Republican Democracy. Right from the beginning the structure of the polity was therefore hostile to Republicanism in Nigeria. This is why the civilians have been easy victim of coup d’etas and this is why Good Civilian Government cannot be the antidote to Military Rule; indeed this is why Chapter 2 of the 1979 Constitution was a piteous and normative affirmation of Nigerian Republicanism”
The implementation of an Agenda of Republican Democracy in Nigeria would create a New Political Progressive Constituency providing a wholesome umbrella for the present so called Progressives, Awoists, Aminu Kano followership, labour, ASUU, Pro-Democracy Civil Society Organizations e.t.c.
Such an agenda identifies what the military are and what must be changed to transform them into Republican Democratic Armed Forces of Nigeria. It will provide the new INEC their Mission Statement and Strategic Objective. Right now all they have as an aim is to deliver a fair and free election under the present structure of government, economy society and the state.