By Adewale kupoluyi
Last week, during the independence anniversary broadcast of President Muhammadu Buhari, a number of issues were raised on the state of the nation. A lot can be achieved when all actors in the state are playing the role expected of them under a democratic arrangement.
This line of thought crossed my mind after a review of the inaugural lecture recently delivered by Professor Ayandiji Aina. The lecture, which was titled, “Factionalism, Rampaging Economic Vampires and the Fragile State”, was presented from the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Veronica Adeleke School of Social Sciences, Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo, Ogun State.
Professor Aina reminded us that his paper provided an opportunity to ponder over salient and current issues that are relevant to his/her expertise and serving as a platform, where facts that “are almost forgotten or unknown about the lecturer are brought to public attention, especially, as such facts modify or channel the energies of the lecturer towards greater accomplishment and timely rendition of service”, saying he was delivering the lecture based on two ‘forgotten facts’; his ‘very inquisitive nature’ that largely influenced his actions and by learning to carefully hear the divine voice ‘speak to me before embarking on any project’.
He further revealed the three perspectives that formed his choice of topic, namely: his experience in the study of political behaviour, party politics and factionalism, which had brought about disunity, insecurity and corruption in many African countries. The Professor clarified some basic operational concepts that were used in his presentation, such as faction, factionalism, economic vampires, weak/failed states, sovereignty, hermeneutics of the state, pseudo-transformation leaders, corruption, rule of law, centralisation of power and social inequality, citing countries undergoing varying degrees of factionalism that had negatively affected their fortunes. Such nations include South Korea, Sudan, Senegal, Islamic Republic of The Gambia, Rwanda, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria, among others.
He said, “Factions are outcomes of rebellious acts and are often created via subtle persuasion to upturn natural order of events”, adding that it is through mutual cooperation, rather than degenerative spirit, which results in factions and its attendant consequences of conflict and violence. He further traced the genesis of factionalism in Nigeria to conflicts arising from the struggle for oil resources, quota system, creation of states and expensive cost of governance/public bureaucracy, noting that “it was not until the advent of crude oil as a major, national income-earning source that the personal lust over state resources became so evident”, warning that “Nigeria is evidently at crossroads” such that the factions manifesting in the country have greatly multiplied by becoming more malignant and inimical to national progress, as manifested in the 1967 – 1970 Civil War, the ongoing Niger Delta insurgency and Boko Haram menace, noting that all the political parties formed in the nation since when the current democratic experience had shown that they lack “distinctive ideological posturing and commitment to any known, sound philosophy”.
President Buhari also raised similar alarm, saying “Recent calls on re-structuring, quite proper in a legitimate debate, has let in highly irresponsible groups to call for dismemberment of the country. We cannot and we will not allow such advocacy. As a young Army Officer, I took part from the beginning to the end in our tragic civil war costing about two million lives, resulting in fearful destruction and untold suffering. Those who are agitating for a re-run were not born by 1967 and have no idea of the horrendous consequences of the civil conflict which we went through. I am very disappointed that responsible leaders of these communities do not warn their hot-headed youths what the country went through”.
Giving the biblical contexts of factionalism and experience as an Adventist Educator, Professor Aina stated that factionalism was the outward manifestation of the sinful or a rebellious heart, covetousness and of fallen humanity. Recalling his contributions to the discipline of Political Science and community service efforts, he reiterated his ardent belief in the unity of purpose through the articulation, aggregation, promotion of group politics and collective bargaining that are based on superiority of ideas and strategies, with deep sense for humanity and godliness as his underlining reasons at the several local and international fora, where he had served.
Professor Aina concluded his inaugural lecture by admitting that the African political space was “suffocated with arrays of factional interests”, which hide under the rubics of tribe, religion, class struggle and gender impartiality, charging all to embrace cooperative and competitive engagements that would always guarantee that things are done rightly, while making far-reaching recommendations on the subject-matter. Firstly, there is the need for political society to adopt deliberate efforts geared towards minimising crass materialism in the national psyche of the citizenry, using the East Asian ‘tigers’ and the Scandinavian countries’ experiences as benchmarks; enhancing church-mosque-state relations, to foster positive synergy that ultimately bring about illicit wealth accumulation; the imperative for African states to rekindle their competitive advantage in the global markets by moving away from patrimonial and rentier by avoiding to becoming weak states.
The Don further called for education rebirth and civic engineering of the citizens in the practice of true federalism; he suggested that political parties and civil groups should be up-and-doing by serving as veritable avenues for achieving good governance; wants voting to be for only committed and ethical leaders; need to fight corruption; and make adequate social and infrastructural facilities available for the people, among others.
“Government is keeping up the momentum of dialogue with stakeholders in the Niger Delta to keep the peace. We intend to address genuine grievances of the communities. Government is grateful to the responsible leadership of those communities and will pursue lasting peace in the Niger Delta. Government will continue to support the Armed Forces and other security agencies to fight not only terrorism, but kidnapping, armed robberies, herdsmen/farmers violence and to ensure peace, stability and security in our country”, the President equally mentioned in his address.
How do we move forward as a nation? From both reflections, even though not completely exhausted, there is the need to urgently fix the economy, security, fight corruption and engage in sincere dialogue that is above sentimental and parochial considerations, among others. No doubt, the 54-page text of the inaugural lecture titled, “Factionalism, Rampaging Economic Vampires and the Fragile State”, remains a well-researched and rich material that is a must-read for students, researchers, administrators, academics, scholars and those in charge of public policy making process in Nigeria.