* A case of Constitution versus Constitutionalism
By Prince Justice Faloye
Until the recent VAT wars, I was a strong proponent of fiscal federalism. However the recent healthy debate revealed that contrary to the claim that the North was the only one surviving on federal allocations, practically most of the South, with the exception of Lagos and Rivers state, can’t survive true fiscal federalism without federal allocations unless structure of their economy is changed.
While we can’t deny that we need to restructure or create a new constitution that devolves power from the center, it doesn’t appear to be the panacea to our problem of economic development and social justice.
Eurocentric African scholars that overlook the racist fallacious foundations of liberal democracy, modernism and universalism often overlook the difference between constitutions, a set of rules and laws that dictates the political structure and Constitutionalism, the adherence to the spirit of the constitution by the government.
The interpretation and adherence to the constitution is dictated by the source of power used to bring the specific government into office, which is why Nigeria has a problem since it operates on a one legged powerbase of the minority Northern Afroasiatic civilization.
Eurocentric neocolonial elite proclaim the virtues of liberal democracy without taking into consideration that the US constitution was framed by mega slave owners like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, with over 200 slaves, whose main preoccupation as a class was how to rob African-Americans of their inalienable rights.
This manifested in the 1787 Three Fifths Compromise that regarded Black votes as only two thirds of that of a White man despite the slave owners false proclamations that they believed all men to be equal. In over 200yrs of the US constitution and amendments, institutional racism has continued to show the negative Constitutionalism of the White majority and their powerbase.
Within the constitution, the empowering White powerbase found ways to disenfranchise Blacks through gerrymandering that unfairly divides electoral districts, criminalization of young Black voters to make them ineligible to vote, and outright propaganda to miseducate them..
To make matters worse in Nigeria, in addition to blindly following the mirage of liberal democracy, which is more aptly known as totalitarian democracy, Eurocentric Southern scholars can’t see below the surface that universalism and modernism are disguised Western Christian civilizational values.
This prevents them from articulating their own Original Indigenous African civilization values and linkages, and puts them at a disadvantage against the Northern scholars and politicians that adopt, unite and operate on Afroasiatic civilizational values.
In practice, this results in the Northern Afroasiatic civilization being able to unite the Northeast and Northwest regions and override the Middlebelt, while Eurocentric Southerners can’t unite any two Southern regions since they are Pan Tribalistic modernists.
So, unfortunately the Northern Afroasiatic civilization that only account for about 30% of the population have been able to create a powerbase that can divide and rule the disunited Southern and Middlebelt Indigenous civilization, to become the sole powerbase and hegemony.
As a result, the Afroasiatic civilization that is naturally predatory and exploitative, chooses leaders that will exploit the resources of the South to the advantage of the Northern elite. Even when Southerners get into power, since they are often backed by Western Powers they fulfill the agenda of the Western imperialists especially in economics, instead of their people. .
It must be noted that General Obasanjo and General Buhari operated on the same constitution but with vastly different results on our economic and political development. Yes, maybe Obasanjo could have operated much better with a better constitution, the fact remains presidents with different power based agendas will operate the same constitution differently.
People commonly agree that we have a leadership problem and we always produce mediocre leaders, but fail to address the powerbase that push through such leaders, who fulfill the agenda of the powerbase that brought them to power, either Western Powers or Northern hegemons, and not the peoples collective aspirations.
It has been said that if the Northern Afroasiatic hegemons give the sole responsibility to produce a new constitution to the South, probably to Afenifere or Ohaneaze, the South will still be at a disadvantage in the long run if there is no corresponding South and Middlebelt powerbase to bring people that will effect the laws into power. Laws are made and those that effect them, the regime, are products of a specific powerbase.
A good example was that though it was Black Britons that pushed for the anti racist laws of 1966, the first person to be convicted for racism in England was a Black man. Which shows why many ideas that originate from the South and Middlebelt, even when initially resisted by the North, often favors the North better.
It is better for Southerners and Middlebelters to concentrated on crystallizing an Original African powerbase for positive constutionalism than just mere constitution tinkering. A constitution is the legal representation of the aspirations of the majority manifested through their powerbase.
As a matter of fact, without South and Middlebelt coming together to form a powerbase to get people into office on their own agenda, it is doubtful that they can change the constitution. In frustration of poor results from the 1999 constitution, some have called for outright breakup of Nigeria, wanting to throw away the baby with bathwater, but which can’t be achieved without a powerbase representing the 66% majority.
Their option is neither achievable, because they don’t have the institutional power, nor desirable because it reduces our economic and political potentials for another ill-defined European concept of nationstates.
Nothing can be achieved without power. Unfortunately due to 500yrs of slavery and colonization, we don’t understand how to crystalize real power since the unity of slaves for their own agenda was regarded subversive. So we are used to proclamations, decrees and constitutions made for us by others which we then fight to have a few concessions like the Civil Rights movements.
This should normally be obvious but because our Eurocentric scholars and politicians have been misguided by liberal democracy theories, universalism and modernism, they fail to notice the obvious that Western democracies were built on the mid 1800s civilizational foundation of Queen Victoria White Conservatism, which evolved and spread across Europe and Americas after slavery to sociopolitically and economically segregated the new freed Africans in their systems.
We fail to recognize that there can be no sustainable populist political movement without a cultural, civilizational, foundation. Unfortunately when you propose a civilizational powerbase, the Eurocentric neocolonial Vanguards accuse you of being parochial and primitive, based on their misguided cultural derailment caused by modernism and universalism inspired by Western Christian civilizational values.
Just as the colonially indoctrinated psuedo elites pushed aside the real power of the people invested in their monarchs and cultural leadership, their modern day counterparts in the South won’t warm up to a civilizational approach that could only be put in place by the cultural leadership.
Ooni of Ife Oba Ogunwusi, the co-chairman of the Nigeria Traditional Council, representing the Original African civilization, faced a huge backlash by the Pan Tribalistic neocolonial elite when he revealed both genetic and cultural information about the linkages between Yorubas and Igbos, which is unlike the Northern Afroasiatic scholars and politicians that still regard the Sultan of Sokoto as their pinnacle. Charity, they say begins at home, which is the reason why the North beats the South politically.
Peoples power resides in the local governments, the closest arm of governance to the people and the realm of their traditional institutions. However the European colonists broke and restricted the traditional power bases with the creation of states and regions as second tier, the intermediary, that had the power to choose, remove or starve the traditional institutions, which also promoted a myopic Pan Tribalistic instead of a wider civilizational perspective.
The North powerbase was able to survive because it had forcefully taken over a wider territory that became most of the Northern protectorate, while the Southern Protectorate was divided, and even when it came to states the north was able to resist the breakup up of states like Niger, Kaduna and others to exercise control on the Middlebelters of a different civilizational identity.
Basically, the federal government belonged to civilizational powers of the West and North, the states and regions belong to the neocolonial guards that controlled and aggregated the traditional local government to the benefit of externally controlled federal government. Therefore if we really want to return power to the people, we must return power to the local governments that are in charge of 70 percent of all roads, education, health, security, water, electricity and other social services.
However Southern political elite want to devolve power from the center since their colonially inspired Pan Tribalistic perspective can not build a powerbase to take over power at the center federal level. Yet, they don’t want to give the power to the people by devolving to local governments and traditional insitutions to foster participative democracy, so they want to amalgamate their Pan Tribalistic power into regions or states. At the end of it all, the decision making is still faraway from the local level that they effect regardless of the constitution.
Rather than trying to unite the South and Middlebelt on political aspirations alone, what is required is a complete narrative from our common genetic and cultural origins to our collective aspirations of the Indigenous peoples of South and Middlebelt Original African civilization to crystallize a powerbase. This would emotionally and politically tie the masses and their representatives in government to the constitution to bring about positive constitutionalism.
Failure to take a civilizational approach to the power structure and powerbase, regardless of the constitution there would be negative Constitutionalism that will continue to alienate the masses along Pan Tribalistic lines, which will result in separatist insurgencies, class wars and anarchy that would all fail but will eventually lead to the crystallization of a civilization movement from the bottoms up. This would unnecessarily cost millions of lives and displaced over a long period as seen in Germany and China until Bismarck and Chairman Mao eventually evolved.
The Eurocentric Southern political class are living on borrowed time to effect the neccesary changes or be consumed by the organic civilizational movement that will evolve after the Pan Tribalistic separatists have been defeated and their remnants unite from the local level to challenge the two upper political and socioeconomic classes.
Prince Justice Faloye is the President, ASHE foundation