By Kayode Crown
Nigeria as a nation is overdue for an overhaul. Some people want us to continue “patching and vulcanising” to infinity.
They love the status quo, they have benefitted from it, their children have benefitted from it. They have found themselves in positions of power and they can no longer agitate.
They are cocooned in their offices, have become fat and blinded from the way they need to go.
Each mind their own concern, which are keeping the peace and having a semblance of progress. Everything is about perception rather than progress. Let’s be seen to be doing something, is the mantra. The wound is healed slightly, covered up so that it does not smell; the healing is not the focus.
We have started patching up the constitution. Something that should be thrown away into the dustbin, something that merely gives the illusion of our being a nation.
It is a commonly known falsehood that we jointly decided on the constitution. We did no such thing.
It was drafted hastily and secretly, but we really did not care then.
All we wanted was the military to get off our back and since Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar said he would do that, after the demise of the despicable General Sani Abacha, we were giddy with delight.
The constitution sought to give legitimacy to many of the military legacies. For example, the number of states and the local government arrangement and the other ways in which they have shaped the country in their own image.
Reading between the lines, one can say that the main goal for the establishment of the constitution was stability, rather than trying to shake things up.
The constitution however was like a time bomb. A time bomb looks like the most innocent thing, except for the time it is meant to explode, tumbling things down and destroying them.
The National Assembly has embarked on tinkering with the constitution and it’s making a mess of it. What do you think?
They have further strengthened the concept of unitary system and have further chipped away at the federalism we were even pretending to operate.
They have declared that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should take charge of election at the local government level.
What an aberration in a purported federalism! Their decision seems fine on the surface, but we should remember, according to a Yoruba saying that the solution to headache is not removing the head.
The solution to the perceived injustice at the lower election at the local government level is not to remove who conducts it. But rather to strengthen the law-basis for the establishment of the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC).
What is needed is to increase the level of transparency, make it some form of partnership between the SIEC and INEC rather than an outright takeover. Or what do you think?
For the nation to be re-engineered to a new self, we need new tools, we need new understanding of what the problem is.
When writing an eulogy for the late Attorney General of the federation who recently passed away, late Dr Olu Onagoruwa, Dare Babarinsa noted: “for Afenifere under Papa Ajasin, restructuring meant at least three things:
“To put the Yoruba people of Nigeria, including those in Kogi and Kwara, under new regional government to be elected through regular democratic contests based on universal adult suffrage.
“To restore parliamentary system of government based on the Westminster model.
“To institute fiscal federalism and allow each regional regime to control it’s own natural and human resources for effective social engineering including full employment and access to quality free education.”
What we have now is far different from the lofty goals of our fathers and it seems we are so far gone from those ideals that we are starting to think that we are stuck where we are.
Or what do you think?
But we should not lose hope, there is more in the future of the country that is in the present. We should not throw up our hands and give up, pack things up to count our loses.
We need the tool of a new constitution. Otherwise the solution we seek would only make the problem worse. It will, as they say, be two steps forward and three steps backwards.
It is not too late to start afresh. We are not so old are a country? There is no shame in starting anew.
Babarinsa, quoting what Onogoruwa said when Abacha appointed him Attorney General said: “I have been placed in a position where I can help return Nigeria to constitutional order and create a more stable constitutional polity.”
It was not to be because, as the late legal icon soon found out, Abacha reneged on the promise to organise a constitutional conference.
But we have something like that in the shape of the 2014 national conference. We would continue to shout it ad infinitum. That document is so so perfection, it’s almost unbelievable.
Or what do you think? With all the items in the document agreed to unanimously, it’s almost like a dream.
It is the pure gift of God to the nation, if ever there is one, for people from the numerous tribes, people, ages, background to meet and hammer out such a document with everyone agreeing to every single item. That is nothing short of a miracle.
Or what do you think? Do you know how much everyone had to bend over backwards to accommodate others, who are so different from them in desires, in agenda? Can you imagine the level of give and take that would have to be emplaced?
Enough of dancing around the issue, let’s pick up the document and do something about it. APC has set up a committee to look into what to do with the calls for restructuring. One hopes it is not merely a move to shut up the mouth of the agitators but a genuine response.
If anyone knows anybody on that committee, help me to deliver a message to them. It goes thus: pick up that document and attend to it. The energy, time, even blood of some people were invested in it, because death was recorded in the process of being part of the conference.
Somebody needs to drum it in the ears of those appointed by APC to look into the matter that to run away from the 2014 National Confab and think restructuring will work is like running away from our shadows. We have been given the tool for the re-engineering of the nation but we are not using it. But it can’t use itself. We therefore need to pick it up. We have the tool but we lack the will. The labour has been done already, why exert effort again reinventing the wheel?
Come on, it is not so hard. It may only demand that some people swallow up their pride, eat up their vomit, but that is a small price to pay for the goal of a better nation. We need to continue to beat this drum until the hearer hears and the doer acts. The 2014 national confab report is the big elephant in the room. It cannot be ignored. It stares us all in the face. Or what do you think?