TWO elders, Professor Ben Nwabueze vastly acknowledged as one of Africaâ€™s best brains in constitutional law and Lt. General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, a member of the group that has decided Nigeriaâ€™s fate since 1966, weeks back disagreed on how to save Nigeria from further decline.
Corruption was at the centre of the discourse. The occasion was the launching of Nwabuezeâ€™s latest book – Colonialism in Africa: Ancient and Modern (Volumes 1 & 2).
â€œOur society today is thoroughly rotten. To make it a better society, it must be transformed into a new one. It is a duty to ourselves and to our children to transform it and clear all the rotten mess.
â€œBringing changes with all the proposed methods and reforms here and there cannot work. We have passed that stage of transformation. What we need is a surgical transformation because this country can only be changed by bloody revolution so that whoever survives would gather the piece, that is how France was saved,â€ Nwabueze said.
â€œI want a wholesome transformation. This is where I disagree with T.Y Danjuma. I want a bloody revolution. Corruption has eaten deep and everyone is involved.
â€œWe have had cause to invite some members of the National Assembly to furnish us with some information, a situation which gave insight to fraud going on there. What is going on there is terribly incredible. The National Assembly is the â€œHouse of Thievesâ€ and the level of docility displayed by Nigerians has worsened the situation leading to arrogant display of power by those entrusted with governance.â€
Frustration rings through Nwabuezeâ€™s presentation. He is right about the depth of corruption, he has been around long enough to know that is not exclusive to the National Assembly. Only last week the Chief Justice of Nigeria Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu said corruption pervades every segment of the country.
Danjuma disagrees with a revolution.
â€œRevolution devours it sons. It knows no enemies and does not know how it will end. Revolution is exceedingly costly, it is a very costly means of transformation. I am an optimist as far as our country is concerned,â€ Danjuma said. â€œAs an optimist, I believe that one right man in position of leadership can transform our society. We shall have such a man very soon Insha Allah. We shall overcome and we shall muddle through.â€
Nwabueze serves as a member of Presidential Advisory Council, PAC. Danjuma, chairman at the book launch also chairs the PAC. The French Revolution of 1789 was the culmination of the frustrations of French peasants over oppressive and uncaring monarchic governments. It was bloody and made drastic changes in France, Europe and on governance and individual liberties.
Danjuma and Nwabueze are close enough to government to push for changes without a public exhibition of their commitment to Nigeria. They know how government works, they are well equipped to achieve the results they want.
Corruption and poor governance in Nigeria are systemic and endemic. The solution lies in leaders striving for the common good. If our leaders are ashamed of their conduct, if they want to improve the country, they would act differently.
Nigerians want a better country, grandiloquence and revolution would not get us there, nor pliant optimism. Leadership is key to change. The two elders can use PAC to facilitate better leadership â€“ it would be a revolution, yet bloodless.