What is choking Nigeria’s democracy?

By Olisa Enebeli Imegwu

Wherever and whenever a people or a society consciously acquiesces in the denial of justice in a representative democracy, the following are bound to occur. Corruption of the institutions of Governance, Nepotism/Tribalism, Politicization of the Traditional Institution of Governance. The aberration of patriotism which culminates to the waning of the quest for nationhood. It calls into question the unity of Nigeria and makes its existence negotiable. Note that the separation arising from a right to self determination, as an option, is one to be negotiated through dialogue for a peaceful result and not by war or violence.

History, for example, is replete with peaceful separations exemplified in those of the USA from UK (1776), Belgium from Netherlands (1830), Singapore from Malaysia (1965), East Timor from Indonesia (2002), Ireland from UK (1921), Eritrea from Ethiopia, South Sudan from Sudan, USSR broken into Russia and several countries etc. Since their separations, these countries have gone on to develop with their paces along their Historical, Ethnic or Religious inclinations. Nigeria, on the other hand, has since Independence to-date, progressively gone the path of a failed state. If the trend and the current events to be analysed in subsequent paragraphs are not checked, separation becomes inevitable.

It is no longer a fable that Nigeria’s Legislative, Executive, Judicial branches and our traditional institutions of monarchy, have legalized corruption, abused their powers and turned themselves into centres of mercantilism. The legislature and the Judiciary are on the driving seat of this dangerous trend in our march to nationhood. On the part of the legislature, their guilt can be summarized in its output in the following areas: (a) the egregious insertion of a self-serving Section 84(12) in the Electoral Act, 2022 and their passage of the Indigenisation Bill in the on-going proposed 1999 constitutional amendment. It left undone Justice and Equity which are matters of utmost importance to Nigerians; matters that are currently pulling down the country at the seams. It is amazing and puzzling that the creation of states to achieve a balance in the regions, particularly in the South east Region; expunging from the constitution Pension, Immunity Clauses, inserting the establishment of State Police, devolution of Powers/True Federalism and True Financial Autonomy for the Legislature and the Judiciary et c, were jettisoned.

On the part of the Executive Branch, the crippling grave allegation of corruption against its officials in the (1) the On-going trial to overturn the fraudulently procured London P & ID $10 billion Judgement against Nigeria (2) Attorney General of the Federation(AGF) and Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) $418 million Paris Club refund (3) the alleged Millions of dollars discovered in a Flat in Ikoyi (4) the over 3 weeks of Fuel/diesel/Electricity scarcity blamed on racketeering and incompetence by government officials, have remained largely unaddressed. As is the case with these unresolved issues by the executive branch, the Judiciary has not fared better.

The series of technical decisions the Courts have given legalizing corruption, places its legitimacy under a question mark. Examples abound in cases such as Kalejaiye (SAN)/NJC/LPDC, Judges Nganjiwa, Mohammed Yinusa, Ofili Ajumogobia. Worst still, are its feeble, fickle disciplinary actions against Judges of courts with coordinate jurisdictions who gave conflicting judgements/Rulings. The perceived erosion of the Courts’ norms which, of a particular concern, is the inconsistent application of judicial precedent up to its top hierarchy. Disregarding the ground rules that govern the entire operation of the legal system is a disaster for the rule of law and the cause of justice.

The courts have done a disservice not only to the average oppressed Nigerian who are on a daily basis shut out of the judicial system, but also to our own appellate processes. These cases effectively sealed the courts’ reputation as a venue to seek justice and hold public officeholders accountable.

In the area of traditional institutions of governance, to achieve their political ambition and objectives, the State actors, particularly those in the Executive branch, have turned our Traditional Institutions of Monarchy into an arm of the Executive branch of government. They have abandoned their constitutional duties under Section 7 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, which beholds them to establish a democratically elected Local Government and provide funding for them to pass laws to supervise, manage, control and direct the affairs of organs of clan-based governance at the Rural/Community level. By the principle of Customary Law and Case Law rendered by the Supreme Court, they are barred from venturing into. Even within the community themselves, Kingship is now a matter of how much money, that is, cash and carry, succession to the throne is no longer by the age long custom and tradition bequeathed to us by our ancestors. In some states, particularly Imo state, a multiplicity of autonomous communities, each with its own King, has been created by politicians, making nonsense of our customary and traditional institution of monarchy.

The arrogant and condescending statements by northern leaders on zoning or rotation of offices to the South come 2023 is an evidence of the death of statesmen and the glorification of opportunistic hegemonic politicians. It is very troubling when these leaders, in a convenient way, describe their rejection of the concept of zoning with uncompromising condescending terms as “impossible”, “primordial” or “Sentimental”. Governor Aminu Tambuwal, for example, boasts of certain Fundamental Indices, one of which is the voting strength of the regions, a veil threat that only a PDP candidate sponsored by the North will retain power come 2023. These Neo-Northern Political Leaders have done away with the noble spirit of patriotism and statesmanship of our pre-Independent founding fathers, between 1914 to 1963 when we became a Republic. The values of active citizenship which they displayed heeded the cries of a perceived oppression and marginalization, particularly against the minorities. The result was that progressively from the Constitutions of 1954, 1960, the 1963 Lyttleton and the report of the Willinks Commission of Inquiry, justice, fairness and equity were their Hallmark. Their output gave rise to an institutionalized Regional Autonomy, Fundamental Human Rights and the creation of the Midwestern Region. These were done by our founding fathers to achieve Justice and Equity for the minority ethnic groups.

Just as the cry during the Pre-Independence period gave rise to the report of the Willinks’ Commission of Inquiry to assuaged the aggrieved minorities, so it is today in some parts of the regions, yet these neo-Northern hegemonic opportunistic political leaders are paying no heed.

Even though that the North’s claim to higher population figure has been found to be based on inflated voter registration, in most cases, stacked with illegal immigrants from the neighbouring Moslem countries and fraudulent registration practices, its leaders persist in using it to intimidate and blackmail Nigerians, particularly the South east into a reluctant union, called Nigeria. Out of this frustration, some critical stakeholders like Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, demand that the one-sided marriage or union be dissolved peacefully. Buhari, during an interview on the Arise TV Today, rejected the calls for the division of the country.

President Buhari posed the following questions: How do we share what belongs to us and what we have done together? That is a fundamental question and it is at the root of the problem. Our neo-Northern opportunistic and hegemonic Leaders have refused to treat the other members of the Union as co-owners. They flaunt their alleged false claims of superior voting strength to intimidate, blackmail and inflict injustice on the South, particularly, the South east. It is a historical fact that in a multi-ethnic State where one ethnic group persists in dominating the others, breakup is usually the natural logical outcome as no ethnic group will accept to continuously live in oppression in perpetuity. Looking back to history, where is the Roman Empire; Czechoslovakia is divided into Czech and Slovakia; Yugoslavia divided into Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia; and the United Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) now broken into 24 Ethnic groups identified by their languages. On the other hand, the USA, UK, Canada, Switzerland, though not divided in the real sense of it, adopted a system of power sharing or rotation, as is the case in Switzerland where their presidency is rotated amongst the 4 ethnic groups that make up the country etc. It is only Nigeria, after the founding fathers who saw a need to build the foundation of a new Nation on the principle of Regional Autonomy and the Protection of Minorities’ Rights, the latter day neo-revisionist-opportunistic politicians in the North, with their narcoleptic and demi-gods counterparts in the South, lacking Statesmanship and patriotism, persist in undoing what they had agreed to and made part of the 1999 Federal Constitution and the Constitutions of their respective communities, particularly that of the APC and PDP.

All that is prevalent today across the spectrum of the Nigerian system of Representative democracy and the governance under our Traditional governance at the clan/community level, is the denial of justice, corruption and naked disregard for the rule of law, custom and tradition. It is a great disservice to the oppressed, impoverished and hopeless Nigerians who hunger and thirst for a prosperous Nation, where justice, equity and brotherhood would be the ethos. If our elected officials, the courts, the bureaucracy and Traditional Institutions are not going to any longer abide by the laws/Rules, Custom and Tradition, then there are no rules, custom and tradition. The consequence is that we have lost the Rule of Law, we have lost our great heritage as a race, and maybe, the stigma of blacks as shitholes becomes meaningful and a self-fulfilling prophecy of the white/Aryan racist powers.

Echoing Bishop Hassan Kukah “…I have never been unsure of Nigeria’s future as I am now…its time to end Nigeria so that the people who want development can go ahead…” Or, I join Chief Dele Momodu to appeal to Nigerians “…to no longer sell their souls for 20 pieces of silver and dent their conscience, to join the movement…” to exorcise the demons of democracy and rid ourselves of the manacles and shackles of the depressive state and oppressive nature…” lorded over us “…by the much vaunted…” occultic “…demi-gods and warlord politicians…”

Wherever and whenever a people or a society consciously acquiesces in the denial of justice in a representative democracy, the following are bound to occur. Corruption of the institutions of Governance, Nepotism/Tribalism, Politicization of the Traditional Institution of Governance. The aberration of patriotism which culminates to the waning of the quest for nationhood. It calls into question the unity of Nigeria and makes its existence negotiable. Note that the separation arising from a right to self determination, as an option, is one to be negotiated through dialogue for a peaceful result and not by war or violence.

History, for example, is replete with peaceful separations exemplified in those of the USA from UK (1776), Belgium from Netherlands (1830), Singapore from Malaysia (1965), East Timor from Indonesia (2002), Ireland from UK (1921), Eritrea from Ethiopia, South Sudan from Sudan, USSR broken into Russia and several countries etc. Since their separations, these countries have gone on to develop with their paces along their Historical, Ethnic or Religious inclinations. Nigeria, on the other hand, has since Independence to-date, progressively gone the path of a failed state. If the trend and the current events to be analysed in subsequent paragraphs are not checked, separation becomes inevitable.

It is no longer a fable that Nigeria’s Legislative, Executive, Judicial branches and our traditional institutions of monarchy, have legalized corruption, abused their powers and turned themselves into centres of mercantilism. The legislature and the Judiciary are on the driving seat of this dangerous trend in our march to nationhood. On the part of the legislature, their guilt can be summarized in its output in the following areas: (a) the egregious insertion of a self-serving Section 84(12) in the Electoral Act, 2022 and their passage of the Indigenisation Bill in the on-going proposed 1999 constitutional amendment. It left undone Justice and Equity which are matters of utmost importance to Nigerians; matters that are currently pulling down the country at the seams. It is amazing and puzzling that the creation of states to achieve a balance in the regions, particularly in the South east Region; expunging from the constitution Pension, Immunity Clauses, inserting the establishment of State Police, devolution of Powers/True Federalism and True Financial Autonomy for the Legislature and the Judiciary et c, were jettisoned.

On the part of the Executive Branch, the crippling grave allegation of corruption against its officials in the (1) the On-going trial to overturn the fraudulently procured London P & ID $10 billion Judgement against Nigeria (2) Attorney General of the Federation(AGF) and Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) $418 million Paris Club refund (3) the alleged Millions of dollars discovered in a Flat in Ikoyi (4) the over 3 weeks of Fuel/diesel/Electricity scarcity blamed on racketeering and incompetence by government officials, have remained largely unaddressed. As is the case with these unresolved issues by the executive branch, the Judiciary has not fared better.

The series of technical decisions the Courts have given legalizing corruption, places its legitimacy under a question mark. Examples abound in cases such as Kalejaiye (SAN)/NJC/LPDC, Judges Nganjiwa, Mohammed Yinusa, Ofili Ajumogobia. Worst still, are its feeble, fickle disciplinary actions against Judges of courts with coordinate jurisdictions who gave conflicting judgements/Rulings. The perceived erosion of the Courts’ norms which, of a particular concern, is the inconsistent application of judicial precedent up to its top hierarchy. Disregarding the ground rules that govern the entire operation of the legal system is a disaster for the rule of law and the cause of justice.

The courts have done a disservice not only to the average oppressed Nigerian who are on a daily basis shut out of the judicial system, but also to our own appellate processes. These cases effectively sealed the courts’ reputation as a venue to seek justice and hold public officeholders accountable.

In the area of traditional institutions of governance, to achieve their political ambition and objectives, the State actors, particularly those in the Executive branch, have turned our Traditional Institutions of Monarchy into an arm of the Executive branch of government. They have abandoned their constitutional duties under Section 7 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, which beholds them to establish a democratically elected Local Government and provide funding for them to pass laws to supervise, manage, control and direct the affairs of organs of clan-based governance at the Rural/Community level. By the principle of Customary Law and Case Law rendered by the Supreme Court, they are barred from venturing into. Even within the community themselves, Kingship is now a matter of how much money, that is, cash and carry, succession to the throne is no longer by the age long custom and tradition bequeathed to us by our ancestors. In some states, particularly Imo state, a multiplicity of autonomous communities, each with its own King, has been created by politicians, making nonsense of our customary and traditional institution of monarchy.

The arrogant and condescending statements by northern leaders on zoning or rotation of offices to the South come 2023 is an evidence of the death of statesmen and the glorification of opportunistic hegemonic politicians. It is very troubling when these leaders, in a convenient way, describe their rejection of the concept of zoning with uncompromising condescending terms as “impossible”, “primordial” or “Sentimental”. Governor Aminu Tambuwal, for example, boasts of certain Fundamental Indices, one of which is the voting strength of the regions, a veil threat that only a PDP candidate sponsored by the North will retain power come 2023. These Neo-Northern Political Leaders have done away with the noble spirit of patriotism and statesmanship of our pre-Independent founding fathers, between 1914 to 1963 when we became a Republic. The values of active citizenship which they displayed heeded the cries of a perceived oppression and marginalization, particularly against the minorities. The result was that progressively from the Constitutions of 1954, 1960, the 1963 Lyttleton and the report of the Willinks Commission of Inquiry, justice, fairness and equity were their Hallmark. Their output gave rise to an institutionalized Regional Autonomy, Fundamental Human Rights and the creation of the Midwestern Region. These were done by our founding fathers to achieve Justice and Equity for the minority ethnic groups.

Just as the cry during the Pre-Independence period gave rise to the report of the Willinks’ Commission of Inquiry to assuaged the aggrieved minorities, so it is today in some parts of the regions, yet these neo-Northern hegemonic opportunistic political leaders are paying no heed.

Even though that the North’s claim to higher population figure has been found to be based on inflated voter registration, in most cases, stacked with illegal immigrants from the neighbouring Moslem countries and fraudulent registration practices, its leaders persist in using it to intimidate and blackmail Nigerians, particularly the South east into a reluctant union, called Nigeria. Out of this frustration, some critical stakeholders like Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, demand that the one-sided marriage or union be dissolved peacefully. Buhari, during an interview on the Arise TV Today, rejected the calls for the division of the country.

President Buhari posed the following questions: How do we share what belongs to us and what we have done together? That is a fundamental question and it is at the root of the problem. Our neo-Northern opportunistic and hegemonic Leaders have refused to treat the other members of the Union as co-owners. They flaunt their alleged false claims of superior voting strength to intimidate, blackmail and inflict injustice on the South, particularly, the South east. It is a historical fact that in a multi-ethnic State where one ethnic group persists in dominating the others, breakup is usually the natural logical outcome as no ethnic group will accept to continuously live in oppression in perpetuity. Looking back to history, where is the Roman Empire; Czechoslovakia is divided into Czech and Slovakia; Yugoslavia divided into Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia; and the United Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) now broken into 24 Ethnic groups identified by their languages. On the other hand, the USA, UK, Canada, Switzerland, though not divided in the real sense of it, adopted a system of power sharing or rotation, as is the case in Switzerland where their presidency is rotated amongst the 4 ethnic groups that make up the country etc. It is only Nigeria, after the founding fathers who saw a need to build the foundation of a new Nation on the principle of Regional Autonomy and the Protection of Minorities’ Rights, the latter day neo-revisionist-opportunistic politicians in the North, with their narcoleptic and demi-gods counterparts in the South, lacking Statesmanship and patriotism, persist in undoing what they had agreed to and made part of the 1999 Federal Constitution and the Constitutions of their respective communities, particularly that of the APC and PDP.

All that is prevalent today across the spectrum of the Nigerian system of Representative democracy and the governance under our Traditional governance at the clan/community level, is the denial of justice, corruption and naked disregard for the rule of law, custom and tradition. It is a great disservice to the oppressed, impoverished

 and hopeless Nigerians who hunger and thirst for a prosperous Nation, where justice, equity and brotherhood would be the ethos. If our elected officials, the courts, the bureaucracy and Traditional Institutions are not going to any longer abide by the laws/Rules, Custom and Tradition, then there are no rules, custom and tradition. The consequence is that we have lost the Rule of Law, we have lost our great heritage as a race, and maybe, the stigma of blacks as shitholes becomes meaningful and a self-fulfilling prophecy of the white/Aryan racist powers.

Echoing Bishop Hassan Kukah “…I have never been unsure of Nigeria’s future as I am now…its time to end Nigeria so that the people who want development can go ahead…” Or, I join Chief Dele Momodu to appeal to Nigerians “…to no longer sell their souls for 20 pieces of silver and dent their conscience, to join the movement…” to exorcise the demons of democracy and rid ourselves of the manacles and shackles of the depressive state and oppressive nature…” lorded over us “…by the much vaunted…” occultic “…demi-gods and warlord politicians…”

*Imegwu is former Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly and also  ex-member of the National Assembly.

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