…Says Nigeria needs 30 years to transit from democratic sustenance to consolidation
By Adeola Badru
IBADAN-A political scientist, Dr. ‘Gbade Ojo has disclosed that it would take the county a minimum of thirty years before it could transit from democratic sustenance to democratic consolidation, just as he highlighted defect in the country’s federalism.
He made this assertion during a chat with Vanguard yesterday, while speaking on the intra party crisis rocking some major political parties in the country in which the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC) was not left out.
While noting that the country’s democracy was still very young, the don observed that: “Sixteen years is still very young. It will take a minimum of thirty years before we can transit from the level of democratic sustenance to democratic consolidation. The fact that our politicians and public officeholders are wobbling and fumbling does not mean we are not getting it right,” adding that, that was why political scientists used the world nascent.
“The fact that we are able to keep the military at bay is a major achievement of our democracy. If the military is kept at the barracks, we keep on conducting elections without flaws. Over time, we shall get over it. Let me give you a very good example. PDP was in power and in government for some 16 years. When Nigerians were fed up, they were voted out. The beauty of it is that the sitting president conceded defeat and Federal Government caved in and the opposition party formed government that is what we call democracy,” he added.
The don from the University of Ilorin further said that if the electorate were fed up even with the APC, they have the right at another election to vote it out, adding that: “I can say our democracy is on course because nothing has disturbed regular election in four years interval and where there are rigging, the contending forces resort to the judiciary rather than violence and the court adjudicates.”
“When talking about opposition party or party in government, in the text book definition of political party, none of the political parties in Nigeria fits in. That is the truth. For instance, how do you define political parties? People of like minds with the ultimate goal of capturing power via the ballot box, but where you have unlike minds, in an attempt to capture power at the federal level, the so called progressive party APC opened all its doors wide and all characters came in, do you call that a progressive party?”
“Today, the opposition party is like an irreverent critique of the government. They are just abusive. What you call opposition is that you tell the sitting government that in this area, you are fumbling, why don’t you do it this way, if we were the one in government, we would have done it this way, but the opposition doesn’t have idea, they just criticize for criticism sake and that is why I described them as irreverent critique. Opposition does not mean you are being abusive. If you are just being abusive, talking for talking sake, you will be eating up the polity, rather than providing alternative to how the ruling party is doing.”
He pointed out that: “So many things are fundamentally wrong with federalism in Nigeria and as student of federalism, let me just mention few ones which I have discussed openly in the media because of my sporadic intervention to guide our leaders. The first thing is the fact that the federal arrangement was imposed by the British colonialists and when it was imposed, it was an arrangement that negated no theory of federalism.”
“When you look at the map of Nigeria, you can notice the disaster, that the Northern region is big enough, large enough, to be able to swallow both the West and the East and it has actually swallowed other regions. That is the fundamental problem; structural defect. In that kind of a federal arrangement, it is only principle of justice and equity, not equality but equity that can correct that kind of anomaly. That is number one.”
“Number two, we run a federal system where we rob Peter to pay Paul and you expect stability. How? You are getting mineral resource in the Niger Delta at least as high as 80 percent of Nigeria’s foreign earning are from crude oil and you are returning pitans to that region despite the accompanying environmental degradation that they suffer. In other parts of the world, wherever mineral deposit is discovered, it belongs to that locality, you pay royalty to the Federal Government and that is why in the U.S today, Texas is very rich because of oil deposit. Look at the operation of Value Added Tax (VAT), you are generating a lot of revenue from VAT from all the states, and when you want to distribute, you are giving more to a state that contributed little or nothing, that is not equity.”
“Perhaps the third one is abuse of federal character principle which started as a quota system and now federal character principle. Today, it is observed in abeyance, strict application of federal character principle could have given us a sense of equity in the federal arrangement, but a situation whereby the system operates in a way that you are holding certain sect of the country down to assist another is not the best.”
“Application of federal character principle is promoting mediocrity instead of meritocracy and you expect that kind of a federal arrangement to be stable, no. That is deceit,” pointing out that Federalism could not give Nigerians what they call seamless unit,” Ojo stressed.