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It’s still darkness at noon: Six decades after independence

By John Moyibi Amoda
THE  title of this essay is, “It is still
Darkness at Noon: six decades after Independence”.  The title calls for clarification.  And this is the purpose of this work.  I am addressing the implications of military rule in Nigeria.

Could it be said that the unconstitutional incursions of the military into civilian electoral politics derailed the thought out plans of the First Republic founding fathers as this led to adventurist exploitation of power in the place constitutional electoral mandates premised on support of party manifestos at the polls?  Could founding father parties and their first generation leaderships be blamed for the subsequent development failures of the military governments?

In this context can there be a basis of comprehensive appreciation of our independence founding fathers when their anti-colonial nationalist development manifestos were subverted and rendered unimplementable by successive military governments that have monopolished control of government in Nigeria’s post-colonial era?

There are two approaches that can be taken towards answering these questions.  The first is the “if there has been no interruptions of civil rule in Nigeria, the first generation civilian founding fathers might have been able to deliver on the promises made to their anti-colonial supporters.

This is the historical conjectural approach.  The result of adopting this method of analysis would be an explanation of development failures blamed on the military.

There are, however, problems with this approach.  The first is that military rule depended on the civil service, the judiciary, the private sector and civilian ministers who enabled the military to govern.

The second is that the “interregna” between military rule were periods of the rule of civilian parties brought into being by the military.  These parties are equally culpable for the development failures of the Nigerian polity.  This is particularly pertinent in the evaluation of the development praxes of the Second Republic in which the leaders of the civilian parties were the same first generation Independence leaders.

Blaming the failures of development governance on the military alone is therefore not sufficient.  Indeed the politics of Nigeria suggest the existence of what Edwin Madunagu calls a ruling bloc, a structure of leadership which is defined by the competition and collaboration between its two dominant factions, the military-rule faction and the civilian-rule faction.  The second approach favoured by this analyst is the change of order approach.

It is preferred because it provides a basis for evaluating the capacity of the ruling bloc to implement a change of order plan.  Basic to this approach is the postulation that politics in Africa from the era of Prince Henry The Navigator of Portugal to the present has been a change of order politics.

European empire building on centuries of European Transatlantic slave trade was a change of order politics – the precolonial orders were replaced by provinces of European global empires, exemplified by the British global capitalist empire.  Decolonisation politics should therefore be a change of order politics, resulting in the replacement of the colonial order with a post-colonial order.

This change of order politics is sovereignty politics.  From this perspective an appreciation of Africa’s anti-colonial politics can be carried out and policies of the nationalist politicians can be effectively evaluated.

It is within this context of change of order politics that comparisons and contrasts between Africa’s 53 countries and within each of these countries can be undertaken.  This is most particularly the case in the course of the centenary appreciation of the contributions of Pa Obafemi Awolowo to the national founding politics in Nigeria.

A structural as opposed to biographical methodology should be adopted to establish objective parameters for research, interpretation and appreciation of first generation anti-colonial nationalist politics.  The challenges of Africa’s post colonial governance call for no less.

Were Nigeria unique in this respect, a case study biographical method may perhaps be adequate.  But Nigeria’s experience of post-colonial politics is not unique.  It is indeed typical of Africa and can serve as a window of analysis of Africa’s development and democracy problematique.

Nigeria has not fallen: She Is yet to be built

Karl Maier’s title to his book, This house has fallen – Nigeria in crisis, occasioned this essay.  The interpretations of events in Nigeria are often informed by what is now a common perspective characterised by the assumption that Nigeria is finished; that it is a failed state; its architects have built on faulty foundations and “this house has fallen”.  Hence the title – Nigeria in crisis. Karl Maier’s borrowed his title from Chinua Achebe who apparently has performed the autopsy of the national project.  His verdict:

“This is an example of a country that has fallen down; it has collapsed.  This house has fallen”.

However, in his dispatch from Akure published on the front page of the National Concord, Saturday, June 25, 1983, Dare Babarinsa described a rivalry between the NPN and UPN in Ondo that reveals a fact that is still relevant, namely the fact that all politics in Africa is of a “do or die” variety and this most true even of its electoral politics.

Societies that are characterised by such politics are not those who have begun, let alone completed their state or country building projects.

State projects are begun in societies in the condition of Hobbes’ state of nature and the interest of state builders is to replace the anarchic condition characteristics of state-yet-to-be-made societies with state ordered societies.  Africa is a region of state-yet-to-be-made societies.

These are different from state-organised societies, typical of Euro-American developed regions.  Governments are to be found in both categories of societies.  Their politics are, however, different.  State-organised societies are structured by the relations between the sovereign class and the subject class.

And the politics in state-organized societies revolves around maintaining, modifying or changing the class character of society.  Not so the politics of state-yet-to-be-made societies.  We prefer this description of such societies to the notion popularized by colonial sponsored anthropology viz, stateless societies.  Such notions imply a civilization categorizations.

State societies are civilized; stateless societies are primitive and are only fit to be governed by the more civilized – hence Rudyard Kipling’s White Man’s Burden.  State-yet-to-be-made societies in Africa are societies existing in the transition between the colonial and yet-to-be-constituted post-colonial order.

Continues next week


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