By Ladi Ayodeji
This is an election season, and everyone seems to be looking forward to the 2023 Presidential election after the primaries.
The fundamental challenges facing our country, like crippling domestic and foreign debts, high-interest payments for the over 40 trillion dollars loan; terrorism, criminality, infrastructure deficit, unemployment, religious bigotry, agitations by separatist movements, and many others have now taken a back seat.
Those seeking election into the highest office in the land think the problem with Nigeria is all about getting the right president who can come up with better policies.
But Rev Chris Okotie came up recently with a proposition on the inauguration of an interim government as the only way forward for Nigeria to create the right governance structure that could solve all the endemic problems facing the nation.
Okotie began his campaign before the last Presidential election but has recently embarked on strong advocacy in his bid to convince Nigerian power brokers, especially the nominated Presidential candidates, that going ahead with the 2023 general election without first restructuring the country and dealing with all our perennial challenges, would not bode well for the country.
Okotie has been speaking to the major television networks and mainline newspapers, on the need for Nigerians to join the conversation to give our country a viable and realistic government.
The Reverend has anchored his proposition on the adoption of Aboriginal Democracy, which would be driven by a new constitution that reflects our cultural realities and the genuine needs of our people.
According to Okotie, Aboriginal Democracy would redefine our federalism, political system, and a structure of government that is all-inclusive and relevant to the yearnings of the people.
In his proposition, Okotie argued for the adoption of the concept of aboriginal democracy, which is a government from the people, for the people, and with the people, which is distinct from the current experience of the political parties which is the government of the party, by the party, and for the party .
Many have asked how this new government would run. Okotie said that in his proposition, there would be no legislature, political parties, state governments and ministers. ‘The state would be administered by volunteer tetrarchs’, he added.
But the empowering of professional associations like the Nigerian Medical Association, the Nigeria Bar Association, and the other major organisations to enact laws in place of the traditional lawmakers has been a revolutionary idea that Okotie’s proposition threw up. In his argument, he made the point that the lawmakers who currently enact most of our legislations are not competent to do so because they are not as qualified as members of the professional associations who know exactly what the people’s needs are, and therefore able to make relevant laws that deal effectively with issues at stake at any given time.
It’s easy to dismiss Okotie’s propositions without deep reflection on their merit. In our political space, any departure from convention is often ignored. But looking at Nigerian political history, we would discover that under the various military regimes which governed this country for close to 30 years, we had no legislature.
The Army-led polity ran a type of structure Okotie has proposed, viz government in which the Supreme Military Council carried out legislative functions and service delivery was effective.
We may call it dictatorship but government bureaucracy was reduced to the barest minimum, recurrent expenditures and government spending on overhead were very low and things were done faster.
A government without a legislature, an essential component of Aboriginal Democracy, would circumvent all the legislative and bureaucratic expenses that presently account for our country’s financial predicament. That alone would dramatically free up a huge amount of money for development. Any system that makes resources available for development is worth adopting for our country.
Moreover, one of the biggest constraints of our development is resource allocation and control. This is often the main reason for the frequent contentions between centrifugal and centripetal forces that Okotie has pointed out in most of his recent interviews. If the allocation of resources is equitable and based on the genuine needs of each component unit of the federation, as Okotie has rightly pointed out, agitations for resource control and secession would disappear. Therefore, if we are to get it right in 2023, our political stakeholders should heed Okotie’s counsel and proposition.
To conclude the 2023 transition without changing the current Presidential system with all its obvious aberrations is an illusion our nation can ill afford at this period.
None of the three presidential standard bearers of the APC, PDP, and the Labour party has made a definite commitment to the restructuring of Nigeria, which is the core issue at the centre of our political discourse since the days of military rule. All the candidates seem to think that once in power they would be able to muster enough capacity to successfully run Nigeria to the satisfaction of all the stakeholders and silent majority who are traumatised by the age-old socio-political and economic crisis that all the previous leaders were not able to solve.
The truth of the matter is that it’s going to be impossible to fix all the fault -lines with our faulty structure, regardless of who is elected.
Therefore, a sensible thing to do is to embrace restructuring of our polity and inaugurate an interim government before any meaningful transition could be achieved, otherwise what we’re going to have is still another motion without movement.
•Ayodeji, a veteran journalist, writes from Lagos.