with Bola A. Akinterinwa Telephone : 0807-688-2846 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
When Psalm 90:12 says that God should ‘teach us to number our days that we may get our heart of wisdom,’ (English Standard Version), has Nigeria or have Nigerians not been taught how to number their days? If they have been so taught, have they acquired any heart of wisdom? Is the yearly celebration of October 1 not an expression of numbering our days? If the purpose of numbering our days on earth is to help in the area of how to plan for the last day on earth, does it really affect Nigeria, especially in terms of whether or not Nigeria’s last day on earth (day of dismantlement or disintegration or last day of national unity, etc)? Can there be a last day for Nigeria?
My first hypothesis, I have argued in the past, is that Nigeria’s greatest problem is that Nigerians are yet to know what their main problem is all about. And if they do, they have consciously neglected it to their own detriment. A second hypothesis is that political governance in Nigeria, particularly from the end of the war of national unity in 1970, has not been predicated on any heart of wisdom.
This is largely because of lack of national strategic interest. The lack of national strategic interest, in itself, is traceable to lack of ‘Nigerianness’ on the minds of Nigerians. The concept of ‘Nigeria’ does not mean much for those elected to administer the country as a united and virile nation. Nigerian leaders have the best policy papers, the best original development strategies, they are toyed with on the altar of ethnic chauvinism, political chicanery and dishonesty of purpose.
Another hypothesis is that the proponents of indivisibility of Nigeria are wrong in their belief that the 1999 Constitution as amended is a de jure foundation and dynamics of national unity. True, but de facto, at the domestic level, it is frequently argued that the same Constitution is a military imposition and not people’s constitution.
It is further argued that no matter how the Constitution is amended, reviewed, modified or revised in all their ramifications, it still remains a military constitution. Consequently, the people of Nigeria want to be allowed to determine the type of political system they want. Many have argued against the high costs of running the presidential system of government, and therefore are asking for a parliamentary system. Some others have suggested the restructuring of Nigeria on the basis of the current six geo-political zones.
Whatever is the case, it is important to note that Nigerians do have the capacity to have a heart of wisdom but, more often than not, they have opted to apply their heart of wisdom to the promotion of dishonesty. Consequently, in seeking redress, the main challenge is far from econometric or macroeconomic suggestions. It cannot be about recommendations from the Breton Woods institutions. The question to address is why is there dishonesty-induced politics in Nigeria? Why is there increased militancy in Nigeria? Why is the call for restructuring becoming a do-or-die matter as at today?
Psalm 90: 17 further says that ‘let the favour of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes establish the work of our hands.’ If God is to establish or judge the work of Nigeria and Nigerians, what type of sanctions will God give? Nigeria at 56 is lucky. Nigerians are specially chosen people of God. They are specially protected against all well known challenges that have ordinarily disintegrated other peoples of the world. In spite of the serious iniquities of Nigeria and its people, God has ignored their sins. One main reason is that God said he will have mercy on whom He chooses to have mercy and bless. He even asked: who can be against anyone he chooses to protect? No one! This is the case of Nigeria which, as predicted, was to disintegrate in 2014 or 2015.
But if Nigeria has not disintegrated, does it really mean that Nigeria can still not break up? This question is necessary because God is only interested in sinners that repent. In fact, Hebrew 10:26 has it that. ‘for if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.’ The truth being talked about here is that of Jesus Christ as saviour of humanity. But the truth in the context of political governance in Nigeria is that of wickedness, dishonesty.
It is about appointing governing councils which do not govern but seek to make money and undermine the progress of the institutions they are meant to guide. It is about sanctioning those who complain against people who engaged in acts of serious misconduct as defined in the Public Service Regulations. It is also about robbing Peter to pay Paul, or collecting financial deposits in 1994 from the public on the basis that depositors would be allocated houses that would not be built or provided as at 2016. It is about fraudulent application of the principle of Federal Character.
As at today, if truth be told for the umpteenth time, it is very risky, it is a serious offence to be patriotic. It can be considered a crime to be honest, because telling the truth in Nigeria does not often attract government interest and attention. The best Government does is simply to allow truth tellers to continue to make noise, even though the same government has declared total war on corruption.
Whenever I share my experience with people, I am told no one can fight for Nigeria. If you cannot beat them you can join them. If you do not want to join them, you should simply sit down and look. This logic should not be so but this is what obtains in practice as distinct from what is put in black and white. For those of us that have only one nationality, and who strongly believe that better days are still coming in a united, viral, strong and great Nigeria, the 56th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence should simply be taken as a special opportunity to re-think on how to nurse, how to re-nourish, how to re-feed and how to re-grow, as well as how to re-structure the current Nigeria into a greater Nigeria that will be a major source of sweet inspirations for the whole world, and particularly for future generations in Nigeria.
Some Neglected Truths
There are pointers to international conspiracy against Nigeria which are hardly talked about. At the external level, they are essentially about the predicted or wanted dismantlement of Nigeria. Government should quickly direct its research institutions to carry out research enquiries into ‘Nigeria in the foreign policy of all the major powers of the world,’ and particularly, in those of the competing Big-5 of the African Union (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, South Africa and Nigeria), which can be used as instruments of hostility against Nigeria.
Such a special study will help in understanding the strategic calculations of relevant partners vis-a-vis Nigeria. The objective of foreign assistance may not be restricted to ensuring solidarity and dependency, it is actually an element of political control. Thus, if Government does not pay good attention to the nature of development aid it is seeking, it can end up being counter-productive.
Indeed, many Nigerians aid and abet anti-Nigerian sentiments ignorantly, especially by way of non-security consciousness. They can easily give accommodation in their houses to enemies of Nigeria, and by so doing threatening national security. Consequently One good way of addressing both the issues of militancy and fostering national unity is to make promotion of national security consciousness a major component part of the War Against Indiscipline.
Besides, if Nigeria remains united the conspiracy is still to prevent her from being the de facto leader of Africa. This factor is even the first rationale for seeking to dismember her. This explains in part why international development policies are made difficult and also why they adversely affect national policies and why Nigeria has little or no control over it. One first approach is to give more emphasis on the domestic over the international.
In this regard, Government should review the consideration of October 1 as National Day. At best, let October 1 be referred to as Independence day and January 12, 1970 or June 12, 1993 be meaningfully considered as the starting point of Nigeria’s National Day. This will, to a great extent, help to foster national unity which has been largely eroded and currently lacking. More importantly it will help to de-emphasize the colonial mentality and dependency to which many Nigerians unhappily refer.
At the domestic level, the conspiracy is to use the pretext of the Chibok Girls, alleged human rights abuse, bad governance, ease of doing business and governance to undermine Government. Without jot of doubt, Nigeria’s main problem is not about bad governance per se, but the use of dishonesty as foundation for political governance in Nigeria. For instance, how do we explain the fact that corruption and indiscipline was recognised in 1987 by Professor J.S. Cookey as being the bane of the Nigerian society since 1967 and since then the problem has not been nipped in the bud?
Secondly, all Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government (MDAs) should be directed to provide an updated list of Government’s policy commitments from January 12, 1970 for policy review.
The main purpose will be to determine the extent to which policy pronouncements have been executed. As noted above, it is very fraudulent on the part of Government to consciously take money from low and medium income earners for the purposes of building houses for them but which will not be provided and the deposits of which will not be refunded. In this regard, as there are other sources of anger which have been serving as anti-Nigeria sentiments, Government should give priority to the resolution of these outstanding problems with the ultimate objective of ensuring fairness and justice, garnering more support for Government’s development agenda, and fostering a new spirit of patriotism.
Thirdly, it has become imperative to establish a National Coordinating Research Village in the Federal Capital Territory. The village should be exclusively reserved for research and development and designed to translate all university dissertations into actionable policies. In this village, all scholars going on sabbatical leave should be encouraged to go there and research on any national question of his or her choice. If a research project cannot be completed within a given sabbatical period, successor scholars in the same area, should be required to continue where the predecessor has stopped. It should be a Research and Development Village (RDV) for all existing disciplines known to mankind.
All records of doctoral dissertations in Nigerian universities since 1960 should be made available there. Every candidate for doctoral research must be given a clearance certificate by the RDV, certifying that the proposed subject title had not been worked upon by any other scholar before. The purpose of the clearance will prevent duplication of efforts, ensure originality of research focus, enable value-addition to existing knowledge, as well as provide a foundation for sustainable knowledge-driven Nigerian society, as well as economic growth and development.
Fourthly, the methodological framework for the old War Against Indiscipline should be completely reviewed. In this regard, the WAI should be institutionalised so that it can be sustained beyond the administration of PMB. Government can recruit, at least, two million unemployed Nigerians to be WAI inspectors in all the 774 Local Government Areas. Their main preoccupation will be to go for any engagement in acts of misbehaviour and ensure prompt sanction. Behavioural attitude, considered as an ailment, does not have cure except by change or replacement. An establishment of an efficient WAI Commission, for instance, cannot but go a long way in moulding a new character, and therefore changing and replacing the old manners.
Fifthly, and most significantly, the containment of deepening threats to national unity can be effectively addressed by holding a plebiscite or asking the National Assembly to make a joint pronouncement on the matter. The choice of National Assembly may not be a good option because of the little trust that the general public has for the National Assembly. In the eyes of the general public, the elected representatives represent their own selfish interests and not those of their constituencies. In fact, the public perception of the legislators is not in any way helped by the trial of the Senate President, allegation and politics of budget padding, and US ambassador’s allegations of indecent behaviour against some legislators.
Consequently, the ideal option is the organisation of a referendum. In other words, Government should fix a date for a referendum to be held in 2018. The basic plebiscite question should be on whether or not to restructure the country. If the majority favours restructuring, the next question will be to address the modality of the restructuring.
Additionally, the choice of 2018 is to give ample room for public sensitisation, as well as persuading majority of Nigerians on the goodness of strengthening national unity. In this regard, this approach has the potential of preventing the use of force by any militant group to seek redress. It is also not likely to enjoy general support of the Nigerian people.
In other words, the militants will not only be compelled to listen and also have a heart of wisdom, but will also be on the same page with their compatriots. The militancy against Nigeria is more of a protest than a quest for separation. Consequently, Nigeria at 56 should be taken advantage of to have a good heart of wisdom, to rethink and do what is necessary, especially in carrying out the current anti-corruption war to its good logical conclusion.
In summary, it cannot but be a faulty strategic miscalculation to think that the issue of self-determination, as being requested for by the MASSOB, IPOB, MEND and a host of others, can be fought and won by use of force. Besides, the Government cannot successfully deal with militancy without popular support. There will be need for public support especially in the area of intelligence gathering, and also always differentiating between winning the battle and winning the war. There is currently a cold war on Nigeria’s national unity.
Containment of Dishonesty
If Nigeria is to survive all its political and socio-economic problems on the basis of the foregoing neglected truths, and particularly build a stronger foundation for national unity, the challenge to address is dishonesty and the required and main vehicle for the fight should also be the institutionalisation of the War Against Indiscipline campaign.
The 75-year old Sunmi Smart-Cole is much worried about Nigeria because ‘there is too much corruption in the country. It is a pity that higher institutions keep giving politicians, fly-by-night pastors, honouree degrees’ (The Nation, September 28, 2016, p.21). Why have the higher institutions become citadels of honorary degrees for the non-qualified? This means that the policy of award of honorary degrees for sale constitutes a serious act of misconduct and should be quickly reviewed.
Alhaji Balarabe Musa, former Governor of Kaduna State, has it that Nigeria has not made progress in the past 56 years because of two evils: the system controlling all development and leadership, coupled with the political leadership produced by the system, both of which are built on self-interest first and secondly, public interest (Daily Sun, September 29, 2016, pp. 30-31). In his thinking, ‘the only way we can be our self and for us to become one of the ten most developed countries in the world, is to change the system and the leadership.’ This requires ‘structural reconstruction of Nigeria, starting with the leading role of the states in the economy to ensure peace, equality, justice, dignity of the human person, and progressive even development of the country.’
The challenge of corruption and the quest for restructuring are therefore two main issues staring the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in the face. We contend here again that, without commitment, first, to honesty of purpose, and second, without acceptance of Nigeria as a common patrimony, especially imbibing a quantum of Nigerianess in the life of everyone, Nigeria cannot have any bright future. Dishonesty must first be defeated.
In dealing with dishonesty, all Nigerians should be made to feel and see the impact of Government’s war against indiscipline to begin with. For instance, there is no reason, nationwide, why work should not begin at 8.01 am on daily basis. There is no reason why Governing Councils should be set up as ‘jobs for the boys.’ There are Councils that are worth their name but many are not. In situations where Council members want money but without direct references to them is another major obstacle to transparency in political governance.
Besides, heavy sanctions should be provided for traffic offences, especially in Lagos and Abuja. Driving against traffic should warrant at least ten years imprisonment with hard labour. Embezzlement of public money should warrant capital punishment. So should kidnappers and human traffickers. There should not be any tenable argument favouring application of human rights for people who ignore the right of others to exist. Why should there be human right arguments seeking the right to live for murderers?
By the time people begin to see the seriousness of purpose of the war against corruption and indiscipline, it is then a meaningful foundation will have been laid for ‘Change Begins with Me Campaign’ and that within three months, attitudinal readjustment can be expected.