By John Amoda
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 Goodluck Jonathan 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 1988 address serves an executive summary of the seven and half-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 inter-play 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 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 successor had been more patriotic than 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 destroy the emerging spirit of republican democracy. Right from the beginning, the structure of the polity was hostile to republicanism in Nigeria.
This is why the civilians have been easy victim of coup d’etats and this is why good civilian government cannot be the antidote to military rule; indeed this is why section 2 of the 1979 Constitution was a piteous and normative affirmation of Nigerian republicanism”.
The agenda of laying the foundation of republican democracy in Nigeria would create a new political progressive constituency-the present so called progressives, Awoists, Aminu Kano followership, Labour, ASUU, pro-democracy civil society will be uncomfortable together under any other one umbrella; such an agenda identifies what the military are and what must be changed to transform them into republican democratic Armed Forces of Nigeria.
It provides 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. Stability and security will remain problematic as long as we ignore the fact that since slavery and colonialism all hierarchical arrangements with attached class privileges are intrinsically non-traditional and are therefore products of improvisation of problem-fraught legitimacy.