By Kola Animashaun
On Wednesday (28/03/12) I heard it for the umpteenth time. It was the 4th Bola Tinubu Colloquium on the eve of the 60th birthday. Chief Emeka Anyaoku , a seasoned diplomat, said what some other Nigerians have said and what Nigerians are still saying. Even he put a fiat, and that is not also new: that to break up the country will not be entertained. And that is not to say that yours truly have not said that a number of times.
The question of National Conference occupied Tony Enahoro at the Yoruba Tennis Club in December of 1991. I headlined it:Baba Ku, baba Ku “The gentlemen of the Yoruba Tennis Club will be deceiving themselves if they think we could not read their minds on the invitation they sent to the Uromi chief to come and address them.
Being men versed in world affairs, and that includes politics, they probably wanted someone who has the stature to give forceful articulation to what they and thousands of other Nigerians are saying in their various ways.
Chief Anthony Enahoro, Nigeria’s youngest national editor, nationalist jail-bird; the fugitive offender; and the polished parliamentarian was but a deliberate choice for an after dinner lecture. If we can be floored on the basis of choice, surely we cannot be floored on the basis of expediency.
The gentlemen of the Yoruba Tennis Club thought these are political and political commentaries are called for if they were not to behave like the proverbial ostrich. Their own fates are intricately bound by the fortunes of this nation. And if the truth must be told, our fortunes have suffered degradation and they are in the unenviable state of suffering further.
Tony Enahoro, who has as much right to claim of fighting for the emancipation of this country, as the other greats, is eminently qualified to offer observation and solution. And he did so in no mistakable terms in that eloquent address.
Tony made sure the fine meal did not settle well in the stomachs of the gentlemen who asked him to dinner. Wise a thing he was not allowed to give the lecture before the sumptuous meal. He would have tampered with their appetite a little.
In the lecture he headed: Nigeria in Ferment, he noted as follows: that the creation of two military parties was undemocratic. And like I said a few years back when IBB asked us to debate on democracy, there is no indigenous democracy. There is, therefore, nothing brilliant in the exercise.
He observed that the power-sharing formula in this nation is lopsided. I had also said this before in this column.
The creation of more states has weakened the country and it is clear now that this country is a federation only in name. I also said this before in this column. Of course, Chief Enahoro tied that up with the consequence that the constituent states of the federation now have or enjoy less self-government. And he lamented that the voluntary basis of our coming together originally as a nation has been eroded-unconstitutionally.
What pained Chief Enahoro particularly is the central part that religion is playing in public affairs in a supposedly non-secular state. Without being immodest, I can say that no columnist has made more contribution to religious peace and tolerances as much as yours truly.
And Chief Enahoro is not amused by the utter stupidity displayed by actions pretending that a nation may have a future without a past.
That lecture is still reverberating through the length and breadth of this nation because of the stature of the speaker. And I implored Chief Enahoro and those others whose voice are respected or listened to, to do so more often. Many have argued that with the demise of Awolowo and Mike Okpara, the southern voice has been stilled. I say no. We have TONY for a father. Jakande can chip in.
The Ikemba does have a followership that can make not listening to him unwise. With them I know BABA KU, BABA KU. (The king is dead, long live the king).
Like Chief Anthony Enahoro, I foresee we shall do a few things about Nigeria as soon as we see the back of the military. Namely, we shall go for more parties – patently our own.
We shall review SAP, most probably downward and we shall strengthen the federation – a situation where the biggest part of the national cake ends with a particular part of the federation is not good enough. It explains why people scheme to occupy the presidency by hook or crook. I have often listened to the garbage that the south controls the national economy.
The evidence on the ground shows the contrary. It shows that those who control the presidency control everything including the economy. For the avoidance of doubt, let anybody who cares do a staff disposition of federal government ministries and parastatal and report. Let him find out who takes what licence; who buys overtime cargo at the ports etc.
The people of this country will review the position of its armed forces and will unambiguously indicate that they shall not tolerate anymore – military take-overs. Nigerians will fight against any such imposition. We still advocate the inclusion in an amended or brand new constitution.
I foresee a full-blown National Conference that will address all outstanding national question taking off not many months after 1992.
The national question shall include installing a police force that will serve the people’s will and NOT the government’s wants and desires.”
A few things might have changed but the question still remain.