By UCHENNA NWANKWO
WHY is Nigeria a tottering underdeveloped country-state even after sixty-two years of supposed independence and notwithstanding its vast production of highly educated manpower in all the facets of learning, knowhow and industry? In other words, why is Nigeria degenerating into a failed state that is characterised with mammoth insecurity, corruption and slide into a state of anomie?
Indeed, why has Nigeria been run aground virtually and is now sliding back to the normal state of nature? I think that this has to do with the nature of our politics. Impact of severe inter-ethnic face-offs and the underlying constitutional crisis:It is not only in Nigeria that politics has remained a battle between different ethnic groups each of which aspires to seize the instrument of state power and exclude every other group from influence, patronage and status.
Throughout the African continent, it is precisely this problem that has made the state so fragile and unstable. In Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Niger, Mauritania, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, the Central African Republic, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Mozambique, Angola, South Africa, Mali, Chad, Burkina-Faso and Ethiopia, the ethnic struggle for supremacy has ended in civil wars with the attendant massacres and refugee problem, and the disruption of development initiatives and projects.
To put it succinctly, ethnic pluralism is the ogre standing between Africa and development. Until this problem is solved through dialogue, openness, commensurate power sharing and equity, no other problem can be usefully addressed. Peace is a precondition for prosperity, and it is only in freedom that people fully mobilise their creative powers. In Nigeria, as in the other African countries, programmes of economic reconstruction will continue to fail until we get the politics of national reconstruction right.
In other words, the most important reform Nigeria needs is political. We first need to affect a thorough restructuring of the captive Nigerian state that will in turn reconcile the different Nigerian peoples and hence liberate the suppressed genius and complementary energies of the people for social and economic advancement.
To cap it up, we can say that historically Nigeria’s post-independence constitutional, political and resultant developmental crisis kicked off very early in the day with the manipulations and revisionism that overthrew its better structured 1960 Independence Constitution and replaced it with the so-called 1963 Republican Constitution, and lately the rogue 1999 Constitution – with dire consequences for the country and its peoples.
Those individuals who tell you that economic despoliation and declines in the country are responsible for the social and political disruptions, collapses and instability in Nigeria are telling you a big lie. It is a wrong analysis of the Nigerian condition. The right perception is the other way around; that our bad politics disrupts and destroys our economic and social foundations and inhibits their advance because we are too busy plotting and fighting tribal wars to bother about concentrating our energy and focus on the enhancement of our productivity, socioeconomic wellbeing and growth.
And the most consistent and disruptive aspect of these frictions and tensions in Nigeria is located in the incessant waves of jihad foisted from the Far-North, as is witnessed today under the effective Buhari ‘caliphate’. Indeed, President Muhammadu Buhari has risen to the occasion and has practically reduced Nigeria into a virtual Fulani empire or caliphate in the last seven and half years.
He has handed the commanding heights of Nigeria’s security, military, police, administrative and economic institutions, etc., primarily to the Fulani, and has ipso facto severely diminished the status of Southern Nigerians and Middle-Belters. Our notions of democracy and rule of law seem technically suspended or put in abeyance.
That of course amounts to turning the clock of Nigeria 200- 300 years back; to the formative years of the old Fulani caliphate. And this is what has brought Nigeria back to the austere barbaric life of the said bygone centuries. This in a nutshell is what has polarised Nigerian politics today, created so much inter-ethnic and religious distrust, tensions, enmity and insecurity in the country as well as disrupted social and economic progress and development in Nigeria.
Buhari’s rule presents us with a window into what a full-blown retreat into the outmoded world of the old Fulani Empire offers Nigeria. The Igbo say that the foul-smell of fart gives us an idea of what the taste of faecal matter would be like. Nigerian peoples are now well aware of what the Buhari presidency has fetched despite all the goodwill and hope heaped on it! And those at the receiving end across the country are already weeping in terrible anguish and terror when Buhari’s ‘new caliphate’ is yet to reach its nadir.
What then shall we see when it attains its denouement, with its characteristic feudalism, brigandage, pillage, disdain for democracy and egalitarianism and highhandedness put in place? Certainly, it will prove to be a tragedy of monumental proportions, a return to the normal state of nature where might is right and life is brutish, nasty and short, and of course such that progress will become completely impossible.
The alternative is of course for us to take back our country and return it to a modern state with federal or con-federal structure, as earlier agreed to by our forebears. A peep into Nigeria’s future and the proposed 2023 general elections! We are not sure that Buhari has given up on his ‘caliphate’ agenda. But his term of office as president of Nigeria is gradually coming to an end. And so he has to leave that exalted office. Would he meekly accept that his successor in office should be elected by Nigerians without let or hindrance?
Or would he want to manipulate the process in order to install a surrogate (Fulani) president to continue from where he stops? In other words, are we going to have a credible, free and transparent election in 2023? These might seem the imponderables! In effect, Nigeria is pregnant and we know not what will be birthed come the 2023 presidential election.
In any case, how do we call for or conduct a free, credible and transparent election in the middle of a civil war, or, okay, civil wars, since the fighting is in pockets of territories? In the Northwest hinterlands, the Hausa farmers are at war with the nomadic Fulani. Ditto for the Northeast where the Boko Haram is headquartered and the nomadic Fulani are slugging it out with the indigenous communities in the hinterlands.
- Nwankwo, a political analyst, wrote via [email protected]