By Yinka Odomakin
IN a season when Nigerian seers and prophets are either not hearing from God or are afraid of maximum rule to declare “thus sayeth the Lord” over the country, the spirit of prophecy came over Alexander the son of Ogomudia who made undiluted pronouncement over a country driving carelessly to the edge of the precipice on the first day of December.
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The former chief of defence staff who was the keynote speaker at the Good Governance Lecture organised by the Catholic Church of Warri’s Justice Development and Peace Commission, JDPC, warned that the continued suppression of agitations for the restructuring of the country could lead to a violent break up of the country.
He implored those opposed to restructuring to borrow a leaf from the break up of Yugoslavia and Sudan saying that even in Spain the Catalonians want to break away and that in Britain, Scotland seeks autonomy. He added that restructuring was a global trend which every right-thinking government should embrace for national integration and development especially in a country like Nigeria, where he said we practice “a fake federal system.”
Ogomudia equally criticised the barbaric death penalty for the hate speech bill before the rubber stamp Senate. He was reported to have created a mild drama in the hall when he paused to ask anyone who can define hate speech to come forward. When no one came out, Ogomudia said “something that no one can truly define, they want to impose death penalty for? Where is this country headed?”
He described the type of politics practised in Nigeria today as toxic and detrimental to national development, saying “we have a fractured politics and everyone is doing things that will hurt the country.” He said Nigeria needed true federalism to advance like other nations, stressing that Nigeria is the only country where states share money coming from only one source monthly.
He argued that Nigeria was overdue for change saying that restructuring the country would guarantee ethnic harmony, accountability, freedom of speech, independence of the judiciary and a fair electoral process.
Ogomudia expressed his fear for the future of the country and the present security situation saying “a country where a former chief of defence staff, Air Chief Marshall Alex Badeh, was killed in the streets like an urchin, and nothing happened, is a sign that the nation is not moving in the right direction”
But Mallam Garba Shehu, a few hours after the words of Ogomudia came out with the usual trite of those living in denial and declared the soul-searching declarations of Ogomudia as “vituperations of someone who is yet to accept democracy as a form of government.” Shehu said: “It is very important to stress that we as a nation, are a constitutional democracy and changes to the country in structure, its systems, policy and politics must abide by the norms of democracy otherwise they would be extrajudicial and, therefore, unconstitutional.”
Can we move on to serious things please? Any country that is not destined for perdition should reflect seriously on the warnings of Ogomudia as he stands on the side of history. Leaders who stopped teaching of history in schools are not likely to have a sense of it anyway. The truth, however, is that from time immemorial, any constitution that does not bend is bound to break!
So it was that Israel came and pleaded with King Rehoboam to restructure the heavy yoke his father had placed on them. He asked them to return on the third day during which time he consulted the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, and their anti-reforms likes. When Israel returned, King Rehoboam did not ask Deacon Femi Adesina or Mallam Garba Shehu to issue a statement on his behalf. He spoke in his own words: my father chastised you with whips my own next level is scorpion. When the people listened to his foolish declaration ,they chorused in unison: to your tents o Israel.
USSR was one of the mightiest empires in modern history forged after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. It soon fell into the grip of bureaucrats who ran a unitary and totalitarian regime that was deaf to restructuring calls.
The dissolution of the Soviet Union was the process of internal disintegration within the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, USSR, also referred to as the Soviet Union, which began in the second half of the 1980s with growing unrest in the national republics and ended on December 26, 1991, when the USSR itself was voted out of existence by the Supreme Soviet, following the Belavezha Accords. Declaration number 142-H by the Supreme Soviet resulted in self-governing independence to the Republics of the USSR, formally dissolving the USSR.
The declaration acknowledged the independence of the former Soviet republics and created the Commonwealth of Independent States, CIS, although five of the signatories ratified it much later or did not do so at all. On the previous day, December 25, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, the eighth and final leader of the USSR, resigned, declared his office extinct and handed over its powers – including control of the Soviet nuclear missile launching codes – to Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
That evening at 7:32 p.m., the Soviet flag was lowered from the Kremlin for the last time and replaced with the pre-revolutionary Russian flag. If they still read in the Villa, I will supply a few copies of Brian Hall’s The Imposable Country: A Journey Through The Last Days of Yugoslavia. It was a book by American freelance journalist who was the last permitted on official tour of the country that has now disappeared from the map of the world.
This is a privileged glimpse of the former Yugoslavia from within, one that gets behind journalistic accounts to present the intimate hatreds, prejudices, aspirations, and fears of its citizens. Hall spent the spring and summer of 1991 traveling through Yugoslavia, even as the nation was crumbling in his footsteps. Having arrived a week after the catalytic May 2 massacre at Borovo Selo, he watched as political solutions were abandoned with dizzying speed, and as Yugoslavia ‘s various ethnicities, which had managed to reach a point of tolerant coexistence went for the daggers. The country collapsed while the book was still in the press.
From the years 1938 to 1945, Nazi Germany occupied Czechoslovakia. Hitler claimed that the invasion was necessary in order to protect the ethnic German populations that were living in Czechoslovakia. In what was widely considered an act of appeasement, the Munich Agreement was signed, which allowed Nazi Germany to annex parts of Czechoslovakia known as the Sudetenland.
The Sudetenland was known for its ethnic German residents. Although the Munich Agreement was created by Germany, France, the United States, and Italy, as a way of maintaining peace, looked back on it as a great failure. German troops completely took over Bohemia, and forced a protectorate state over Slovakia. The occupation only ended in 1945 with the end of the World War II.
On January 1,1993, Czechoslovakia split into the nations of Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The separation was peaceful and came as a result of nationalist sentiment in the country. The decision to split was decided by the Federal Assembly who voted on the matter.
There was a deep disconnect between those living in Czech territories and the Slovaks. The Slovaks, notably, did not fully embrace the idea of Czechslovakianism. The act of tying the country together was considered to be too expensive a burden.
Sudan is close to us in Africa for the story of its split not to be known to us like the reasons Nigeria fought a civil war in from 1967-70.
Let the defenders of Nigeria give just one example of a contraption with the unresolved contradictions that we face that has survived and we will ask Ogomudia to take back his words. If they cannot, a Brian Hall may just be on tour.
Bailout crises:No solution
THOSE of us who have deep insight into the Nigerian crises are often pained when we are proved right. The latest is the new crisis states have been thrown into with the recent deductions from their bailout allocations (a fraction of the resources Federal Government appropriated from their land) that they were granted in 2015.
Writing under “Minister Lai: How now, bailout?” on February 6, 2016; I made the following submissions: “However if you are made of steel you go on expressing your conviction knowing that whosoever wants to lead the orchestra must be ready to back the crowd. A few months ago, the company of simpletons were all over the place hailing the ill-thought out bail out for the states as a great feat. The then spokesman of APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed now Information and Culture minister was pounding the ground over the package.
Said he: “Also, the President has approved a debt relief programme that will help states restructure their commercial loans currently put at over N660 billion. The implication is that the life span of such loans will be extended, while reducing the states’ debt-servicing expenditures, thus leaving the states with enough resources – which otherwise would have been removed at source by the banks – to meet their monthly salary obligations, among others.”
History is repeating itself before our very eyes. Some 31 years ago, Buhari, then as a military head of state, also inherited a huge national rot similar to what has been bequeathed to it by the PDP, and had to approve N480 million for the payment of arrears of workers’ salaries. Truly, the President is a man of destiny.”
This column was not scared to call the bail out exactly what it was – fiscal irresponsibility. I particularly don’t like quoting myself but I have to do it often now in our season of peculiar mess in Nigeria.
Writing under “Fiscal Irresponsibility as bailout” on September 8, 2015, this column submitted as follows: “There was no legislative approval for these loans which were packaged under the table in the most brazen violation of fiscal responsibility. Shorn of all pretenses, the states drawing these loans are technically under receivership!”
It is a terminal crisis unless we embrace federalism.