By Tony Momoh
I spoke on Celebrating Nigeria at 50: The Way Forward a few days ago, and I called
on Nigerians to execute what has come to be known in history as the Jubilee Plot. You know, in a few days we will be celebrating 50 years of our independence during which, depending on where you are on the ladder of prosperity or despondency, you would be popping champagne or drinking palm wine or burukutu or ogogoro.
Some may not even afford any of the above, but they should be happy that at 50, we are in one piece as a physically undivided country, though we cannot deny that most of us are emotionally shattered.
When there is life, there is said to be hope. So as we start the next 50 years after October 1, I believe we should execute the Jubilee Plot. It is because we lacked the political will to address issues that would have changed the face of Nigeria that I herein propose execution of the Jubilee Plot.
What is the Jubilee Plot? A Golden Jubilee is a celebration held to mark a 50th anniversary.
On June 20, 1887, the United Kingdom and the British Empire celebrated Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, says Wikipedia. Fifty European kings and princes were invited to the banquet to mark the occasion. Although she could not have been aware of it, there was a plan by Irish Republicans to blow up Westminster Abbey while the Queen attended a service of thanksgiving.
This assassination attempt, when it was discovered, became known as The Jubilee Plot. At the time, Victoria was an extremely popular monarch, but among her subjects were deprived citizens in the Irish Republic.
Nigerians are a deliberately deprived people because those who should ensure their welfare and security have failed to do so. In a classic analysis of the situation, Chinua Achebe put the trouble of Nigeria at the doorstep of leadership. Leadership, both political and economic, is needed to grow a country.
We have stubbornly refused to accept that the failings we experience on the path to now have been our failings. We inherited the parliamentary system of the practice of democracy from Britain and claim that it failed us, then opted for the American presidential type.
But the democracy Britain gave us is not one we have been ruining our lives with, is it? It is not enough for democracy to be just a paper thing, like the Constitution of the United States of America; or the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, both written; or like the unwritten constitution of the British.
Theirs, the British, is the best example, the closest to us, of why democracy works there. For in spite of the fact that there is no document you point to, there is history you point to, the past that is your witness, their witness. Fifty years after our political freedom from Britain, I doubt that we have that past to celebrate.
That past is anchored in structures you see and behold and respect – schools, libraries, museums, monuments, national parks and sites, halls of fame and light and sound shows; political parties, wars and living lessons from wars. From birth to death, the established values of the people are infused into the blood streams of every citizen, high or low, male or female, young or old, so that no other way of life derails them.
In everything they do, they do with the eyes tutored through the upbringing they had. Their children growing up are not sent to foreign schools where they would imbibe cultures alien to Britain.
No, that would undermine what the people want to grow their country, and the way it must be governed. So their democracy is not democracy because of the Labour Party or the Conservative Party or the Queen of England or the House of Commons or the Pound Sterling.
Their democracy is democracy because of the way, over time, the British people, in whatever capacity, representative or represented, have practised and practicalized and popularized how to ensure the welfare and security of their citizens.
This concern is the concern of everyone, wherever they may be. The welfare and security is not just economic. It is more than that. It is also social, political, educational, cultural, environmental. But the anchor is cultural, yes, cultural.
In 50 years, what is it that had been infused into us through the school system or any other organised form but the deliberate promotion of dissension – ethnic, religious and political. In our country we have given the democracy dog a bad name and we have hanged it.
We cannot afford this way of life by starting another 50 years of perfecting ways to continue to entrench compromise as an art form. We know what the rules say. We go into the field to conduct elections. We know that our manipulations will distort the results.
We continue with the manipulations – at the time of registration of voters; when voting takes place, at counting and collations centres and when the results are announced.
Enough is enough and that is why we must execute the Jubilee Plot to restore order in the polity beginning from October 1, 2010. Good enough the climate is being created to ensure that the voices of our people are heard. President Goodluck Jonathan has promised to ensure that every citizen who is entitled to vote is given an opportunity to do so in the 2011 Elections; that their votes are counted and that their votes count.
To reassure us, he appointed Attahiru Jega, a no-nonsense revolutionary, to man the goal posts. The ball is in the court of Nigerians, therefore, to execute a Nigerian Golden Jubilee Plot. We must reclaim our sovereignty. Our young ones must start an unstoppable movement to register to vote, to have their country back. They must reject any attempt to compromise them in any way.
They must look the issues in the face and make a choice by voting massively for the leaders they want, waiting patiently to ensure that their votes are counted, and accompanying the ballot boxes to where votes are collated and then ensuring that the outcome is what is announced for the world to know. Then the robbers in our midst would have been shown the way out of our lives.
The sun shall then start to shine and we will say, Oh God, we thank Thee for this time and we beg of Thee, let Your Bounties flow from Your Domain to us who have suffered over the years.