A good diagnosis will, invariably, lead to a good prescription. Where the first is faulty, then it will lead to faulty prescription and faulty prognosis.
Putting everything together and weighing the strength and contribution of each, I have come to the inevitable conclusion that Nigeria, in this Presidential system of government is suffering, principally, from,bad, incompetent, inept, and clueless political leadership. If a competent leadership that is opposite of the above were in place, and inspite of the faulty political structure , the good leadership would have corrected all the other ills identified.
It would seem the political leadership is not conscious of history; either past, present or future and so,seem incapable of assessing the verdict of history through time and in the future.
By 1958, our choice of federalism had emerged in a parliamentary system of government, though under colonial rule which by then had granted internal self government to the regions.
By that time complaints by minority groups of discrimination in governance in all the new regions emerged. Where there were none, at least, there were fears of discrimination, by such groups. Sensitive of such fears, real or anticipated, the colonial government set up the Willinks Commission on the fears, actual,or anticipated, by the minorities in Nigeria. It made far reaching recommendations but which were swept under the carpet. Thus, began our first “teething” problems .The worst manifestation of this problem is in the current government. It has gone beyond the minorities and has made it that whoever, finds himself at the top, had no qualms visiting nepotism, not only on the ethnic nationalities, but even on the larger tribes as well. A consideration by the political leadership that Nigeria is a multi-ethnic country with vast diversities , not only in tribe, but in religion and culture and therefore was in need of competent leadership to manage these diversities, by dispensing justice, equity, fair play and holding, tenaciously, to the rule of law in governance.
Nigeria had managed these diversities ,from 1960, to the government before this present one, to various degrees of success. However, it would seem that the present political leadership is, either away, or is sleeping and it is not aware of the country’s position on top of the steep cliff. There had been many wrong diagnosis and wrong prescriptions.
But this public perception of the government’s performance may be wrong. Hardly would you have a government that is both absent, or sleeping, or unconscious of its environment. Afterall, governance is a complex set of interactions of its socio-political and economic environment, while the political leadership keeps a tap on where it wants things to go.
Therefore, what may be unknown to most people is the agenda which has been set by the political leadership, or the oligarchy, situated within it and controlling the affairs of government.
The warning signs, to the discerning minds, had been there, right from the begining of this government in 2015 to date. First, it took more than six months before it constituted the Executive Council in 2015. Yet, here you had a President that had contested three previous elections appearing not to be ready. This inaction took a negative toll on the polity in various ways.
As the Executive President settled down, he began a fight to control the three arms of government, one after the other. He could not succeed bearing in mind, the quality of the leadership of the 8th National Assembly. However, he had lessons to learn from this on how to take control. Taking control of the National Assembly became possible when he could determine those to lead it. As he did this, the new leadership of the 8th National Assembly came effectively under his control. There is now a romance never before experienced between the National Assembly and the Executive. It is so close that most people think the National Assembly has abdicated its roles of making laws for the good governance of this country including acting as checks, counter checks and balances of the Executive arm.
Then came the Judiciary. It is the third arm of government . It is unfortunate that it is unitary in structure in an otherwise federal structure. Once you pocket the leadership of the apex court, then you have pocketed the third arm of government. That is what would seem happened.
Mission,successfully accomplished. To consolidate , appointments to government and other governmental institutions had to be done in a way to ensure effective control. Neutralization began of the Public Service began.Then nepotism set in. Looking at the situation, forensically, there is no diversity shown in the political appointments. One who does not know Nigeria would think this country is mono-cultural, uni-religious, and all the peoples are related in one way, or the other. There has been an attempt to murder our tribal, religious and cultural identities. By force and this is being done crudely by ignoring the diversity. But the disappearance of these diversities would have been good for nation- building. However , for nation building to be successful, there has to be inclusivity in governance, in order to make the diverse interests take possession of governance and government. Emergence of the Nigerian nation would have been a huge achievement for any government. But this has not and can not be achieved under a government that is seen as nepotistic, narcissistic, discriminatory and without the observance of the golden tenets of the rule of law, justice, equity religious nuetrality and fair play.
It is unfortunate that this is happening at a very bad time : if you listen attentively to what some Americans are saying ,there are incursions of the Islamic State in West Africa, then you have the persisting Boko-haram in the north-east and other insurgents from the sahel region of West Africa. It is said that they want to take over Nigeria and make it an Islamic State. Religion had always served incendiary purposes in this country, particularly among the political class. If that “unknown agenda” is in tandem with the goals of the the insurgents, then we are in deep trouble. It is not possible for Nigeria to be taken over by one tribe, or one religion, or even one region. Such attempts would be suicidal and would serve no purpose other than to create blood bathe , stagnation and regression. We have seen it in other smaller African countries, where, inspite of their size, such ambition did not work. We are not in the 18th century. Circumstances have greatly changed, and even the world today is like one village- highly digitised.
The political leadership must therefore come back from where it went to. If it is asleep, it has to wake up.If they are truly overwhelmed they have to confess so. Governance has to be rejiged and made all – inclusive to take care of the the various diversities. This is because whatever decisions that are taken will be seen as one-sided, designed to achieve an “unknown agenda.” All people of good-will must put hands on-deck to steer the ship of state to harbour.
To achieve lasting solutions we must revisit the federal structure which was mutilated by years of military rule. Even the 1999 constitution has not helped to correct the anormally. We are under the unbearable influence and control of the military class of 1966. Imagine them sarmonising on the sanctity of All things they have done and the need to avoid the experiences of the civil war between 1967 to January 1970. But I ask, must All demands for changes be visited with violence and war ? Can’t the samething be achieved through peaceful negotiations ? We are tired of their world-view of unitarism, hierarchy, without dissent . Their world view has not helped Nigeria. So they should hands-off. All the ethnic nationalities would have to negotiate the federal structure and the form of government that will be best suited for all. We do not want ” elite consensus on these issues .” “True federalism” would have to be restored. We started the process at independence, but the military interrupted that natural process. The resources available in each territory of the “true federating units”, would have to be made available to them. All the federating units would be required to make contributions, in form of royalties and taxes, to the centre for common services. Powers would have to be devolved from the centre to the units to make the units more attractive and serve as new development centres. Every unit would be free to practice its religion and not impose theirs on others that are not of the same religion. Those units that can not fend for themselves ,should be allowed to merge, on condition, they are contiguous with those other units they want to merge with, and this should be through referendum.
The judicial hierarchy should not be unitary. The units should exercise independence of their judiciary, and in accordance with local peculiarities, have the kinds of courts they desire. These are my prescriptions from my diagnosis which I see as largely, resulting from bad governance. With these, one can easily make a prognosis of the future.
Joshua .D Ephraim writes from Abuja