February 23 and March 9, 2019, were supposed to be dates for the general elections. If things were properly done everything about the elections ought to have ended on March 9, 2019, and then post-election issues would ensue. But as you read, technically the elections are assumed to be over, but in reality the exercise has remained embarrassingly inconclusive in more than ten states of the federation. For the various states the issues differ, some about suspension of the exercise arising from unwarranted military intrusion, others about inability to conduct elections following hoodlums’ actions and threats and incomplete collation sequel to hostile political behaviour from key players.
The electoral body which should be ashamed of the consequences of her manifest incompetence at the time of putting this write up together, had served notice of her intention to straighten crooked paths and make things good again, but it would seem that those efforts may again end in futility. As it has been with the character of our average politician, they have disingenuously taken a resort to the regular courts instead of election tribunals to stop the electoral body from concluding the process, and to gain remedies on the superficial basis of anticipatory outcome. This is part of the madness we talk about and clear evidence of crass ambition.
Our politicians don’t mind if the society is destroyed and lives lost, so long they are able to achieve their inordinate ambitions. If they were running for public office for service sake, the kind of mayhem and disorder that characterize the general elections wouldn’t have been. Rather, elections would have been a game between friendly competing groups and ideologies. But since it is not about service but business interests, the players have resorted to creating their own ways, which have only succeeded in widening existing fault lines of our society. This election has succeeded in doing one thing: to prove that we don’t have a country and we cannot talk of a nation when we don’t have a country. Nationhood flows from or is buried inside the concept of ‘country-hood’.
The pre-election atmosphere was not right; so much focus was on religion and ethnicity, to the detriment of greater ideals that could shape us into a country and subsequently into a nation state. None of the candidates for instance addressed the citizens on a vital issue like the sovereign national conference, knowing that the recourse to religion and ethnicity is largely because what we call a country was a mere accidental discharge by the mischievous colonial powers, who in conceptualizing Nigeria did not think in terms of harmonious marriage but rather about administrative convenience. Nigeria as they had it then was large, the North was poor in terms of natural resources and the South was rich, and by their view it made more sense to achieve a forced unification. It has been said severally that if the different empires that came to be fused into Nigeria were consulted, the chances are that many of them would never have accepted it.
The question after independence would have been to sit down and undertake the necessary consultations the colonialists failed to hold before their departure, and if that was done some of the harms the political class and indeed everybody inflict on this society would not have been, because it would have been clear to all, including successive generations, that this is our country and we owe it a responsibility to grow it into a nation state, where life is abundant and opportunities abound for all. Our inability to answer that question is partly responsible for why politics especially election has become a war rather than a veritable tool for choosing quality leadership. Even today supposed citizens substitute service to the society for struggle for ethnic, religious and personal gains. Until this foundational poor structure is corrected, all we would continue to have is infighting and bloody conflicts. A sovereign national conference has become an imperative. It is important we sit down and discuss about our country, and agree that this union is worth it, and after that decide the terms. It is the terms that will become our constitution.
Those who say Nigeria’s unity can never be negotiated, know they are not serious about that position. It doesn’t make sense in a political union of heterogeneous people to insist that the basis of unity cannot be negotiated. It is more so when no such negotiations have taken place for once and very provocative when it is known that a section of this plural population has taken advantage of this historical dislocation to take undue advantage of the rest. Those who hold advantage in a disorderly and chaotic society, we know do not always want to relinquish advantage, but the truth of history is wherever injustice exists to that extent is the society susceptible to unending internal social tensions, bloody conflicts and ultimately disintegration. Holders of advantage in our society may pretend that all is well and that expected revolution could be quelled or put in check by the use of force, but the truth again is that when the jungle matures everyone including the security forces would be looking for safety.
This nation needs a new constitution; we need a vision. The vision should be a picture of what we want. In a society without vision, people behave the way they choose and that has been one of the troubles with our society. Vision restricts and then propels positive actions. If we had a clear picture of what this nation should be in terms of education, productive economy, food security, general security and the dignity of the human person, decent transportation system, affordable health care, social infrastructure (road and electricity), international trade just to mention but a few our political leaders and the government they form will behave differently. If we agree that Nigeria is a necessity, like we are likely to agree and fashion out a vision, some of the negative behaviour we think only laws and sanctions can remedy may not happen or happen at tolerable levels.
If we created a sane society governed by strong convention and precepts, any leader instigating acts likely to provoke unease among any class of Nigerians in any part of the country, would not need to be told that he is fighting against the nation, the circumstances would be such that the stupidity of his acts would be greatly manifested to him before he sets out to attempt implementation; this would be because the vogue would be citizenship and not indigene-ship. Since we want to build a nation state our laws will speak straight to the matter, it would not be like the provision that politicians that win elections on a particular platform are barred from defecting and yet are allowed to defect with their offices if there is crisis in their party. If we are serious and you want to defect for whatever reason, drop your mandate and go ahead, and then it would become clear it is an action based on principle.
We need to reduce the political parties to five, maxima. There should be regular all-politicians summit and regular political enlightenment conferences. Then it is time we run a nation based on programmes and general ideas. Let the emphasis be on health, education, housing, science and technology, international trade and the like. By now we ought to be ashamed that nations are planning to relocate to space and small nations like Rwanda have concluded plans to float a satellite and link all their educational institutions to it, we in Nigeria, giant of Africa cannot organize a routine exercise like credible elections, and on top of it have given every focus to the establishment of cattle grazing routes and colonies. Nation states do not come by these routes.