With Nigeria’s milestone of 21 uninterrupted years of successive civil democratic rule [the longest in its history], Nigerians are divided about the very relevance of politics in the economic lives of citizens. All sides of the debate are unanimous in their conviction that democratic rule has not lived up to its promise of individual and collective prosperity. Some have blamed this disappointment on certain individual politicians and parties, while others have put the blame on the very structure of the Nigerian federation. With some appreciable advancement in Nigeria’s electoral processes that resulted in the triumph of people power over an incumbent President in 2015, Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief in anticipation of a break for the better from the misrule of the first 16 years of democratic rule. This anticipation became apprehension a few months into the new era of the “Change” of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) administration.
The inability of the APC’s Buhari to navigate the ship of state away from the wrong direction of previous Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administrations unto the right direction has left many Nigerians with the impression that both parties are the same, hence, “Change” remains elusive. The frustration of Nigerians with the system is quite palpable, to the extent of widespread apathy and lack of confidence in institutions of government leading to a resort to self-help mechanisms in their everyday lives. Today, the very essence of democratic rule is being challenged with some going as far as positing that democracy does not work for African countries.
There is nothing wrong with democratic governance because the very nature and form of mankind is inherently democratic. This intricate consistency between democracy and the nature of mankind is evidenced in the desire for freedom and liberty by all of mankind. While there are valid arguments on all sides as to the inability of the drivers of democratic rule to satisfy the yearnings and aspirations of the people, it is important to understand that all issues militating against democratic good governance are symptomatic of some deep-seated issues at the very foundation of the Nigerian state.
There has to be a Nigerian nation before democracy can work. There is the urgency for Nigeria to evolve from a geographic expression of conflicting ethnic nationalities to a united egalitarian nation state as the condition preceding democratic good governance. In the current socio-political configuration, Nigeria has given democracy the new meaning of a government elected, dominated and coveted by ethno-geographic groups with numerical superiority. This system of democracy has further deepened fault lines, with the people now elevating their indigene status over their citizenship of Nigeria. A democracy that is premised on a political process that is heavily dependent on ethnic and religious sentiments is not likely to lead to sustainable socio-economic development such as the kind desired by Nigerians. Democracy thrives better in a united egalitarian nation where there is an existence of a clearly defined national consensus around the ideals of good governance. No such consensus exists in Nigeria today, as all ethnic groups are in conflict of sectional interests to the detriment of national interest.
The entrenched narrative of modern Nigeria being a forced amalgam of diverse ethno-geographic entities without anything in common before 1914 is a false alibi used by interest groups to perpetuate the helplessness and hopelessness of the Nigerian situation for their selfish ends. In the contemporary world where united egalitarian nation states are in fierce competition for global resources, Nigeria must outgrow its current state of deep divisions along ethnic fault lines that have pitted the various groups against one another in mortal combat over its meagre oil mineral resources.
However, the evolution of Nigeria into a truly united nation can neither be decreed by military fiat nor legislated by an act of parliament. It can only be achieved by a widespread self-enlightenment among the people about the need and benefits of a united Nigeria where citizenship is supreme over ethno-geographic nationalism.
The people must realise that a mono racial Negro country like Nigeria does not qualify to be described as a diverse country any more than Mono racial Mongoloid China and mono racial Caucasoid United Kingdom. Contrary to entrenched but false narratives, Nigerians from the four cardinal points have more in common socio-culturally as a result of several centuries of interactions predating 1914, through trade, diplomacy, intermarriage and even warfare. Like Nigeria, China’s broad Mongoloid racial classification is further broken into about 51 ethnic groups. These include the majority Han and minority Uygur, Hui, Buyei, Manchu, etc. Similarly, the mono racial Caucasoid majority that populates the British Isle are classified into different ethnic identifications. For example, Sir Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister [1940-1945], was of Huguenot [French protestant] origin, while Sir Philip Green, British business mogul, is of Jewish ancestry. Queen Elizabeth II of England, as a great-granddaughter of Prince Albert of Germany, consort of Queen Victoria, is of Germanic ethnicity. The current Queen consort is Prince Philip of Greece, classifying her heir designate and future King of England Prince Charles as an ethnic Greek.
Discernably, the difference between the British and Chinese on one hand and the Nigerian country on the other hand is the ability to discountenance their minor differences of ethnicity and appreciate their oneness under a broad racial similarity. The British and Chinese have been able to elevate the citizenship of their geographical realities over their indigenous status of micro-ethno geographic origin and evolve a national consensus about good governance structure in their respective nations. This realization of the oneness of Nigerians is essential to an organic evolution towards a united egalitarian nation state wherein the ideals of democracy can translate into a good governance structure that will usher in a period of peace, prosperity and progress.