By Sola Ebiseni
AT the end of its General Meeting on April 27, 2022, the Afenifere issued a communique which, among several issues of national importance, called for a Government of National Unity. In the exact words of the communique: “The meeting reviewed the various challenges that Nigeria is facing, particularly the chocking insecurity that is threatening the country very seriously.
“The situation is now so precarious that no part of the country is safe at any time. In view of the seriousness of the situation and considering the fact that the present administration under President Muhammadu Buhari has shown that it is incapable and unwilling to tackle the identified problems, Afenifere hereby strongly advocate for a Government of National Unity…Such a Government of National Unity is to tackle the insecurity problems and midwife a new democratic government. Once again, Afenifere is reiterating its position that restructuring of the Nigerian State must take place before the much vaunted elections”.
Since the release of the communique, I have been inundated with questions thereon by media men and several other well-meaning Nigerians, that I am compelled to attempt some definitions or clarifications here.
To start with, it must be appreciated that these are unusual times with patriots making suggestions to stem the slide into failure by the Nigerian State. In this connection, no suggestion or proposal is fool-proof in terms of jurisprudence or any other philosophical analysis and considerations.
Just over a week before the Afenifere meeting, legal icon and elder statesman, Chief Afe Babalola was reported as having told a news conference in Ado-Ekiti canvassing the suspension of the 2023 elections and an interim government put in place for six months after the end of President Buhari’s tenure to chart a new course for Nigeria with “a new-look peoples’ Constitution.
Members of the Interim Government should be drawn from all living former presidents and vice-presidents; some selected ministers and governors and delegates of prominent professional associations such as the Nigeria Medical Association, Nigeria Bar Association, Nigeria Labour Congress, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Academic Staff Union of Universities and civil society organisations.
Expressing frustration with the situation of the country, the Northern Elders Forum, through a statement by its Director of Media and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, had called for the resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Forum expressed disappointment that after nearly seven years of being in office, “the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari does not appear to have answers to the challenges of security to which we are exposed”, adding: “We cannot continue to live and die under the dictates of killers, kidnappers, rapists and sundry criminal groups that have deprived us of our rights to live in peace and security.”
Several notable Nigerians, including religious leaders, joined in the calls for the President to do something about the state of insecurity or as the Yoruba say, if his god could not help us, he better left us the way we are.
Reacting to the horrendous attacks on an Abuja-Kaduna train which occurred on March 28, Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State after a meeting with the President had threatened that he and his colleague governors in the North-West would consider the option of inviting foreign mercenaries to help in flushing out terrorists from their territories, particularly the forests.
The call for the convocation of a Government of National Unity by the Afenifere in our communique of April 28 is, therefore, the aggregate of opinion of several personalities and organisations on the inept Buhari administration and the consequential vote of no confidence. It is also safe to say that the state of fearful apprehension and helplessness led to different suggestions and proposals, made in the heat of passion, to rescue the nation.
These suggestions, as we have seen, range from the calls for the resignation of the President, formation of an Interim Government or Government of National Unity. There are those who are simply holding their lives in their mouth, praying and counting days till May 29, 2023 when the country will be relieved of this miserable administration. To millions of other compatriots, Nigeria is a British contraption which is irredeemable and thus the solution is that each nationality should claim its sovereignty.
According to Wikipedia, A National Unity Government, Government of National Unity, GNU, or National Union Government is a broad coalition government consisting of all parties (or all major parties) in the legislature, usually formed during a time of war or other national emergency.
It listed a total number of 13 countries, some of them old, solid democracies, wherein it has been considered expedient to create GNU, most of them several times, to save their countries in terms of emergencies. These include wobbling states as Afghanistan, Croatia, Zimbabwe and solid stable democracies like Canada, United Kingdom and United States.
One important feature in the GNU arrangement is that the incumbent government may not resign but be humble enough to accept the dire situation the country is in and be patriotic enough to understand the need to pull the country out of the doldrums.
There is no time in the history of this country that the ship of State has been this rudderless. Under the watch of the President, his ministers and heads of parastatals have run the economy aground and are competing among themselves, displaying opulence as they struggled to take over from their boss, abandoning their critical duty posts. It is a vote of no confidence on the President who has effectively been told he is on his own. A GNU may assist his lame duck administration.
Nigeria! We hail thee.
Ebiseni is Secretary General, Afenifere.