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The Nigerian Nation: How Truly United?

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The Federal Republic of Nigeria is in deep crisis.  The Nation and its people have become the innocent victims of the financial meltdown following the collapse of Global Capitalism arising from the financial crisis experienced by banks in the United States of America.

The story as told in different voices in different countries illustrates how integrated the World is today, and how intertwined our fates have become.

The situation in many countries is that poor and less educated members suffer the most and have the least ability to resist economic downturn.

The globally evident social cost of this crisis is unemployment and a reduction in economic productivity. The corporate existence of countries affected (of which Nigeria is one) will be difficult to sustain.  There is need for political and economic leaders to learn from experiences and build a system of governance and financial management to settle the issues of productivity and unemployment.

The Nigerian economy is solely dependent on oil revenues.  Much of the debate in respect of the use of these revenue centres on its classification as capital or recurrent revenues.  Should non-recurrent revenues be spent on expenses such as travelling and salaries or on capital projects, which leads to long-term economic advantage?

Any analysis of a typical national budget would indicate that 82.6% of the recurrent expenditure in any budget year is spent on travelling and salaries.  A significant part of this expenditure is from non-recurrent revenues.

NIGER-DELTA CRISIS: GENESIS, THE EXODUS AND THE SOLUTION

THE NATION:

Nigeria is a federation and should be run as such.  Why for instance, do we claim to be practicing federalism when the federating units are mere administrative arms of a central government?  Why is the exclusive federal jurisdiction over natural resources applied only to oil? Why should the debts of the states or even the federal debts find a place in the country’s constitution?  Why should the federal government shed its own monopoly and substitute it with a monopoly managed by the states as illustrated so often in our pursuit of the issues of privatisation?

The Niger Delta has suffered gross neglect and deprivation over the years despite its enormous contribution to the economic prosperity of this Country.  As a result of this utter neglect, there is widespread poverty, complete lack of social and economic infrastructures and also utilities.  There is high rate of unemployment and crime.  This state of affairs has in turn bred a frustrated population, ethnic polarization, communal suspicion, anti-establishment agitation and hostility, all of which create instability and further impede development.

An extensive deliberation on these issues took place at the Niger-Delta Conference in Abuja on November 8, 2007 in which I was the Chairman.  The gathering consisted of members of MEND, the traditional rulers, ex-Generals of Nigerian Navy and Army and distinguished professors who have excelled in their various fields of endeavours.

The Conference therefore resolved as follows:

(i)         Armed struggle has led to a further break down of law and order in the region and a continued armed struggle could lead to anarchy within the Niger Delta.  This does not present an option in the pursuit of peace and justice in the Region. Indeed, military solution is not the answer to the problems of the region.

(ii) The Conference called for greater involvement of all stakeholders through the establishment of a Development Board to address the issues of the Niger Delta.  This Board should consist of the following Agencies to ensure the development of Manpower, Infrastructure and Social Services.

· Manpower Evaluation Assessment and Training;

· Agricultural Development Board;

· Housing;

· Education;

· Health;

· Employment;

· Water supply;

· Power and Energy;

· Infrastructure (road, rail,           sea and air);

· Security.

(iii) In particular, the Conference called on the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to put in place appropriate machinery for ensuring equity participation of host communities in oil and gas ventures located within their domain.

(iv) The Conference demanded that the issue of onshore/offshore dichotomy be resolved.  In the place of the Isobaths of “200 metres”, the “Continental Shelf” should be substituted.  This will extend the Derivation Principle in the Mining Act of 1999 throughout the 200 nautical mile breath of the continental shelf or to any greater width that may be approved by the UN for Nigeria.

(v) The Conference demanded that the rights and privileges, which the Mineral and Mining Act of 1999 confers on States, Local Government, Communities and Land owners, should now equally be extended to the case of Petroleum Resources.  In particular, royalties derived from oil and gas production should properly accrue to the host communities.

(vi) The Conference demanded the amendment of the Land Use Act Cap 202 (LFN 1990) to ensure the rights of the owners to their lands.

(vii) The Conference called for the amendment of the Petroleum Act 1969 by the addition of provisions that will involve the State and Local Governments and Communities in whose territory the resources to be mined at the negotiation stage, before the grant of any licence.

(viii) The Conference demanded that Oil and Gas companies operating within the Niger Delta should be compelled to comply with international environmental best practice, to ensure the protection of the natural habitat.

(ix) The Conference called for the implementation of a policy on gas flaring within the Niger Delta.

(x) The Conference called for the establishment of the Niger Delta Reconstruction and Development Bank to act as the custodian of the funds accruing to the communities from royalties.

(xi) The Conference called for the enshrinement of good governance practice by the amendment of Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution to exclude immunity for public office holders from being prosecuted for fraud and embezzlement of public funds.

(xii) The Conference affirmed its commitment to the principles of justice, equity, fairness and the rule of law.

In view of the conclusions of the 2007 Conference, the current amendment styled the Petroleum Act 2010 vesting the rights in Oil and Gas in the Federal Government of Nigeria is unacceptable to the people of Niger Delta ab-initio for the following reasons:

(i) The proposed Petroleum Act 2010 is discriminatory against the people of Niger Delta;

(ii) Mutata Mutandi – the same applies to the Land Use Act

(iii) The Federal Republic of Nigeria is a creation of the States and not vice-versa;

(iv) There is no justice in the treatment of the people of Niger Delta as environmental abuse and degradation, oil spillage, corrosion and leakages from pipelines, flooding, erosion, salt water incursion, gas flaring etc, have taken their ugly tolls on the social and economic lives of the people;

(v)        Equally, the exploration and exploitation methods adopted by the oil companies in the region have resulted in a pandemic loss of biodiversity, ecological destabilisation and substantial reduction in aquatic lives.  In particular, the agricultural lands have been rendered unproductive while the fishing industry has been destroyed.

C. COMMUNAL CRISIS AND THE PROBLEM OF TRIBALISM IN NIGERIA

The Nigerian society is fast losing her national cohesion due to ethnic and tribal rivalries.  Some ethnic groups lay claim to superiority over others.  Ethnic values and norms are being eroded.  Due to these developments, several societies now associate ethnicity and religion with negative characteristics such as parochialism, fanaticism, and backwardness.  Nigerians lack any consensus on major national issues.  We need to imbibe the philosophy that there is strength in diversity.  We also want to see a country that works as a team to forge consensus and balanced sectional, religious and ethnic needs with the national interest in order to build a strong and virile nation, where everyone has equal rights and opportunities.  Nigeria should be transformed to a country where individuals and groups maintain close relationships with other Nigerians, who may not share the same political and religious convictions or do not have the same ethnic background.

THE CRISIS IN JOS, PLATEAU STATE

The records in the archives in 1946 when I was in the Secretariat in Kaduna indicate that a conglomerate of people inhabits the Jos Plateau

(a) Tarok, Jukun, Berom, Ron, Mushere and Jarawa;

(b) The European Traders and Miners;

(c) The Nigerians who are clerks, drivers and workers in the mine fields;

(d)       The Hausa-Fulanis who came from the Hausa States as a result of the 19th Century Jihad.

This was about 60 years ago and with exception of the Europeans, the composition of the population is still the same. 

The first Administrative Officer of Plateau in the name of Mallam Abdul-Rahman Okene further confirmed this narration during the North-South dialogue between the people of Niger-Delta and the people of Middle-Belt between 1990 and 2000.

These people lived in peace and in love with one another without a distinction of where you were born or where you came from during the era of Sir Ahmadu Bello until his death in 1966.

THE CONFLICT

Historical evidence in 1994 indicates that there was a conflict in Jos when Jos Central Market was destroyed.  Another conflict took place in 2004 between the Tarok from Langtang and the Hausa-Fulani in which 54,000 people were killed or missing.

Needless to say that the crisis which took place in 2009 between the Hausa-Fulani and Berom people resulted in 5,000 Hausa-Fulani losing their lives and in that of 2010, between the Hausa-Fulani and the Berom indigenes, 215 Hausa-Fulani died and over 22,000 heads of cattle were missing or destroyed.

 

David Dafinone

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Nigeria: Salvaging A Nation At 59

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Even as Nigerians marked 59 years of self-rule on Tuesday, October 1, 2019 only a few will disagree that, amidst the myriad of unnerving socio-economic and security challenges bedeviling the country, Nigeria remains a great nation waiting to happen. October 1, therefore, signals another opportunity to ponder on the state of the nation and the failure of leadership which has largely defined her misfortune.
To that extent, no patriotic Nigerian can pretend to be satisfied with the development and progress of this country, 59 years after Independence. Yet, it is not a misguided optimism to argue that the nation’s best days are still ahead. Nigeria remains a country of diverse nationalities, cultures, regions and values and has defied all doomsday predictions to remain a united nation. This is enough reason for self-congratulation and hope of a better future. On the balance, however, there is little to celebrate about Nigeria at 59.
As the depressing indices show in areas such as security of lives and property, food production, industrial output, quality of education and health-care, economic diversification and productivity, there is indeed cause for worry. Not only do Nigerians eat the bread they do not produce, wear clothes they do not manufacture and drink wine imported from other countries, they now import almost everything, including toothpicks. Nigerians today read books, quote facts and figures about their country from foreign sources and copy models of development designed by outsiders with vested interests.
Fifty-nine years after Independence, many are even wont to blame the present parlous state of the country on British colonialists who left six decades ago.
At 59, Nigeria still has much catch-up to do. And let no one be deluded that 59 years is a short time in the life of a country. The Nigerian economy is in dire straits with the potential to get worse if sound political and economic judgement is not brought to bear on the affairs of state.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed a raft of official data on Gross Domestic Product (GDP), inflation, unemployment and capital formation which, along with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN’s) manufacturing performance index, show a terrible economic downturn- with foreign reserve depleted significantly, and oil prices crashing daily, the impact can only be better imagined if all the fundamentals are not mustered to manage the situation. This is why President Muhammadu Buhari must now articulate a grand vision for the nation and re-direct Nigerians towards actualizing that vision.
Given the terrible scenario playing out in the country, manifested in mass poverty, high corruption in government, gross official recklessness and near-zero governance, it is no surprise that the Nigerian ship of state is rudderless and adrift. There is hardly any aspect of governance that cannot be faulted for corruption and incompetence.
As the nation marks 59 years of self government, it is too late for Nigerian leaders to change and make democracy work for the people. Too much pain has been inflicted and now is the time for Nigerian leaders to focus more on the Nigerian promise.
At Independence in 1960, there was a groundswell of euphoria and hope in the Nigerian project. It is sobering that, 59 years later, the anticipated gains of nationhood envisaged by the founding fathers are still being awaited.
Not a few have marveled at the exemplary character of Nigeria’s founding fathers; the simplicity of Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the selflessness of Sir Ahmadu Bello, the nationalism of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and the enduring vision of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, all of which tower above their personal ambitions. Apart from the sense of foreboding that the new multi-ethnic nation was unworkable, Nigerians envisioned a great and bountiful nation.
Today, Nigeria is so greatly afflicted that some wonder at her prospects. The trouble with Nigeria, noted famous author and intellectual icon of blessed memory, Prof. Chinua Achebe, is a failure that has resulted in shattered hopes, broken promises, missed opportunities, and unfulfilled aspirations. A country, it has been said, rises or falls on the quality of its leadership. Nigeria is a terrible victim of the poverty of good leadership, but most destructively, political leadership. Good leaders must show strength of conviction and character. What poor leadership in Nigeria has done is to create over 150 million passive citizens who have no voice. Every citizen must, therefore, share the blame, one way or the other, for the Nigerian condition.
There has never been a shortage of speeches by Nigerian leaders in favour of good intentions to govern in the best interest of the country and its people.
Over the years, Nigerians have heard, to the point of being deafened, that government is committed to promoting good governance. The inaugural addresses of elected leaders and military coup plotters reveal uncanny similarities in promises.
Yet, as the quality of successive leadership deteriorated, Nigeria regressed in terms of the truly important yardsticks for measuring the progress of a nation. All these notwithstanding, it is pointless to look back with regret and anger at lost opportunities. If Nigeria gets her acts together, she can be as great and liveable a country as any on earth.
There is, of course, a time for everything. So, a change was inevitable. The election of President Muhammadu Buhari, largely on the strength of his perceived integrity, indicated a yearning by the people for a good leader they could trust to serve in the best interest of Nigeria. But over four years after taking office, Nigerians are still waiting for the change promised by the All Progressives Congress (APC).
From his appointments into high public office Buhari has demonstrated an uncanny addiction to primordial sentiments. This, indeed, is unfortunate for a man who promised in his inaugural, that he belonged to no one.
Buhari needs to understand that leadership is not about ethnic domination or selfish power equation; it is rather a disposition of moral strength and sacrifices to genuinely carry out a mission for the common good.
Since the return to democracy in 1999 the political class has shown impetuous and irresponsible behaviour at the expense of the people. The looting and the wastages going on in Nigeria in the name of governance has no parallel anywhere else and is responsible for breeding an angry and alienated citizenry which sees no dividend in this so-called democracy.
On all accounts, Nigeria, at 59, is yet on the path to fulfilling her destiny. The current structure of the country today, which is anything but federal, holds it down, stunts its growth, truncates its progress and actually threatens its unity. This must be corrected as soon as possible to liberate the nation’s full potentials.
The starting point towards the actualization of a Nigeria of our dreams is the implementation of the 2014 National Conference report, though not in any way a perfect document, but certainly one good enough to take off from. These proposals for a new Nigeria are daunting.
To chart a course of progress, Nigeria needs big dreamers and even bigger dreams, leaders who would do things the unusual way. It is not too late to rescue Nigeria from the brink of collapse.
Exemplary leadership is imperative at all levels to realize the dreams of the founding fathers who toiled for Nigeria’s statehood. Nigeria must demonstrate its coveted state of independence by beginning a new chapter, and the time to do so, especially for the sake of posterity, is now.

 

Bethel Toby

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And Here Comes Spirulina

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Nutrition is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle. Combined with physical activity, your diet can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic diseases (like heart disease and cancer), and promote your overall health.
Good health and well-being is the focal point for sustainable development and a prosperous society. In Nigeria, there has been a major progress in the improvement of health since 1950. Although, lower respiratory infections, neonatal disorders and HIV/AIDS have ranked the topmost causes of death. In the case of other diseases such as polio, malaria and tuberculosis, progress has been achieved. Among other threats to health is malnutrition.
Proteins are the major structural components of all cells of the body and amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Proteins can function as enzymes, membrane-carriers and hormones. As far as the human body is concerned there are two different types of amino acids: Nonessential amino acids are acids that the body can create out of other chemicals found in the body. Essential amino acids cannot be created and, therefore, the only way to get them is through food. Protein contains approximately 22 amino acids, eight of which are essential because the body cannot produce them. Therefore, they must be obtained from our food.
It has been estimated that the daily minimum crude protein requirement of an adult in Nigeria varies between 65 and 85 grams per person. However, it is recommended that 35 grams of this minimum requirement should be obtained from animal products (Oloyede, 2005; Britton, 2003). A review of the data of food supplies available for consumption in different countries shows that the per capita protein intakes in developing countries, Nigeria inclusive, is comparatively low. Not only is the total protein supply deficient but the quality of dietary protein available is inferior to that consumed in developed countries. Most of the foods consumed in Nigeria are carbohydrates which are obtained mainly in the form of starch.
In Nigeria, food supply is not distributed equally throughout the country and sometimes within the households. A large proportion of the populace, including children, do not receive balanced diet to ensure physical health and development. Most people consume the minimum level of calorie but fail to get the necessary protein and essential vitamins and minerals required for leading a healthy life.
Spirulina is a blue-green algae offering exceptionally high protein content and a remarkably complete composition of vitamins and minerals essential for healthy living. Unlike other potent sources of nutrients and protein, Spirulina is low in calories and cholesterol. Spirulina has gained considerable popularity in the health food industry and increasingly as a protein and vitamin supplement to acquaculture diets.
It grows in water, can be harvested and processed easily and has very high macro-and micro-nutrient contents. It has long been used as a dietary supplement by people living close to the alkaline lakes where it is naturally found; for instance those living adjacent to Lake Chad in the Kanem region have very low levels of malnutrition, despite living on a Spartan millet-based diet. This traditional food, known as dihe’, was rediscovered in Chad by a European scientific mission, and is now widely cultured throughout the world. In many countries of Africa, it is still used as human food as a major source of protein and is collected from natural water, dried and eaten.
The extraordinary nutritional value of Spirulina was rediscovered in 1940 by the botanist, Pierre Dan-geard. Dangeard’s rediscovery went unnoticed for 25 years until Jean Leonard furthered the work. In 1967, two years after Leonard’s observations, the International Association of Applied Microbiology declared Spirulina “a wonderful future food source”.
Since Spirulina’s rediscovery, a better understanding of its immense nutritional benefits and the potential applications as a food source has been realized. Today, companies focus on producing Spirulina on a commercial scale for human consumption as well as animal and fish feed. Governments and NGOs are working with lesser developed communities to combat malnutrition by introducing Spirulina farms for local consumption.
The nutritional profile is so complete that NASA and the European Space Agency are exploring the use of Spirulina as a primary food source for astronauts and sustaining long-term life in space. Below are a few of the highlights for why Spirulina is such an excellent source of your daily nutrition needs:
Dried Spirulina as a potent source of protein
Dried Spirulina is 59 – 65 per cent protein which is especially impressive when compared with dried soybean at 40 per cent, lentils at 26 percent and peanuts at 25 percent. Perhaps more surprising is that raw beef only contains 23 percent protein. With only 36 kcal calories per 10 grams of dried powder, Spirulina is an excellent source of protein without empty calories. Additionally, the protein is far more accessible by the human digestive system than most other plant and animal proteins. This means the body can absorb and utilize much more of the available protein with far less energy and stress on the digestive sysem. (source: USDA, FAO p.10)
Complete Source of Amino Acids and Omega-3
In addition to containing Omega-3 fatty acid, and being highly concentrated with protein, Spirulina is dense with all eight essential amino acids that the body does not naturally synthesize. Here is a list of the different amino acids and how the body utilizes them:
Isoleucine-required for optimal growth; Lysine- needed for producing antibodies, enzymes and hormones; Methionine – antioxidant properties; Phenylalanine – required for thyroid function; Threonine – improves intestinal and digestive function; Tryptophan – regulates serotonin, and Valine – stimulates mental and physical capacity.
Protein without cholesterol
An undesirable by-product of many sources of animal protein in cholesterol, doctors recommend that healthy adults consume less than 300mg or 200mg if you have diabetes or suffer from heart disease. Consider this, 10 grams of dried Spirulina (approximately a large spoonful) carries 5.75-gram protein and 1.3 mg of cholesterol, compared to an equivalent quantity of egg protein containing 300mg of cholesterols.
High Concentrations of Essential Minerals
Remember of expression that eating green is good, well you had no idea just how good it can be. Below is a list of some of the essential minerals you receive in 10 grams of dried Spirulina compared with more traditional sources:
Iron: 2.9 mg more iron than beef (recommended daily iron consumption) M 8mg W 18mg; Potassium: 114 mg more potassium than bananas (recommended potassium intake) 4700mg; Calcium: 10mg more calcium than whole milk (recommended calcium intake) 1100mg; Magnesium: 20mg more magnesium than walnuts (recommended magnesium) M 400 mg W 350 mg; and Zinc: 0.2mg more zinc than spinach (zinc) M11mg W 8mg.
Spirulina does not replace a healthy diet, but helps to balance out deficiencies and gives a great boost of energy. As an example, to achieve a recommended daily allowance of many minerals, an adult would need to consume a very large quantity of Spirulina.
Iron: Men need 2.8 tbsp Women need 6.2 tbsp (Spirulina) – comparable to approximately 450 grams for men and 1000 grams for women of grass-fed beef; Potassium: 33 tbsp- comparable to 1300 grams of bananas; Calcium: 110 tbsp – comparable to 1000 grams of whole milk); Magnesium: 18 tbsp – comparable to 250 grams of walnuts; Zinc M 55 tbsp 40 tbsp – comparable to 2000 grams for men and 1,500 grams for women of spinach.
* Note: An average tablespoon of dried Spirulina is approximately 10 grams (Source: USDA).
Vitamins And More Vitamins
Here is a shortlist of the alphabet of vitamins in Spirulina: A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B8, B9,C, D, E and K. It would take too long to list all the benefits from this list of vitamins, so we decided to highlight just one:
B carotene (beta-carotene) is best known for its red-orange pigment found in carrots. The National Cancer Institute of the United States of America has recommended consumption of 6mg of beta-carotene daily to reduce the risk of cancer. In 4 grams, half a tablespoon of dried Spirulina, you will consume 6mg, or your daily recommended amount of beta-carotene. (Source FAO p.7).
Some inhabitants around Lake Chad, where Spirulina grows naturally, have been reported to have survived in times of famine on diets consisting purely of Spirulina. Some sources advocate replacing a single meal with Spirulina but no one recommends a diet consisting entirely of the substance. Doctors and nutritionists recommend a daily consumption of between 5 and 40 grams of fresh Spirulina to support an otherwise healthy diet. Larger serving sizes can certainly be eaten to increase protein and nutrient intake.
Other Facts About Spirulina
Spirulina Has Been Found to fight cancer
Yes, it’s powerful; studies have linked spirulina to boosting the immune system enough to fight off oral cancer cells in particular. In one study, people who took Spirulina every day had 45 percent fewer lesions the following year than those who didn’t.
Spirulina regulates body fat and helps in weight loss
Green foods like Spirulina supplement may be beneficial for keeping the appetite in check. Obtaining protein and fiber content Spirulina may improve weight loss and increase energy levels.
Spirulina boosts digestive system
By increasing the absorption of nutrients from the foods, Spirulina capsules may be useful for helping the digestive function, as well as promote healthy bacteria in the digestive system, and help to improve the absorption of dietary nutrients.
Summarily, Spirulina is trending for a reason, it really can do a lot of good for the body, from being a powerhouse of nutrients to assisting the body in flushing out toxins, including heavy metals, boosting the immune system, lower blood pressure, support weight loss, increase muscle strength and increase endurance for athletes.
Oleru is a post-graduate student at the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.

 

Grace Oleru

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Operational Mechanism Of Fascism In Nigeria

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Nothing can seem foul to those that win – Shakespeare’s King Henry V Part I.

Although fascism, as a system of government, is associated with totalitarianism, dictatorship and high-handedness in which political opposition is not allowed, there are variations in the application of that system in many clever ways.
Students of political science would refer to fascism as Right Wing political system, characterised by strong governmental control of business and industry under national dictatorship. Historically, Germany and Italy in the 1930s and 40s practiced fascism in a raw variation, whose result culminated in the alliance of world powers to defeat Germany and the Axis Powers in the 2nd World War.
A principal aim of fascism as a political practice is the establishment of a strong control of the activities of individuals, groups and corporate organizations and institutions in a country. It goes along with militarism under a dictator, or the use of a country’s security and intelligence agencies to set up an awesome administration in a purportedly democratic system of governance. What is known as “Gestapo” was a secret police used by the Nazi regime in Germany for the purpose of keeping watch or surveillance on activities of individuals, groups and organizations. There were also hired agents who served as private eyes and ears of government.
Another feature of an emergence of fascism is the role of some powerful interest groups, commonly known as “cabal”, who bring serious pressures on an existing government, to serve the agenda or implement some policy in favour of the interest group. In the case of Germany under Adolf Hitler, the powerful interest groups united under the umbrella of the National Socialist Party, some of whose members were money-bags, retired top military and security officers and generals.
Thus, money, influence peddling, intimidation and other antics of power become handy tools of installing a fascist political regime even in an existing democracy. The aspect of high-handedness takes the form of law enforcement agencies going against groups and unions planning or going into peaceful protests, in demand for some change or rights. Even when groups of people who express genuine concerns about events in the society ask for police permit to make a protest, such legitimate means are often blocked or suppressed. Fascism goes with suppression.
There is usually the fear that legitimate and peaceful protests could be taken over by some ill-disposed groups of miscreants and consequently result in serious security problem. Political parties in control of power can become jittery wherever there is any attempt to call attention to legitimate grievances of the masses. For example, persistent scarcity of fuel which can be a precursor of possible increase in the price of petroleum products can result in protests, with the police ready to prevent them from taking place.
Variations in application of Fascism in a Democracy
There can hardly be a full-scale fascism in the modern times, but a number of factors can result in its tactical use even in a democracy. Developing countries sometimes use the services of consultants known in technical terms as spin-doctors, whose roles involve fixing up difficult situations confronting a government. Many of such spin doctors are drawn from serving and retired security and intelligence experts, especially those loyal to the political party in power. Like Machiavelli, establishment’s spin doctors map out strategies fit for definite situations, but also warn about possible consequences that could fallow, and what to do next.
When late President Umaru Yar’ Adua was hospitalized outside Nigeria, a number of intrigues played out, especially with regards to succession. When a similar situation arose during the first tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari, there were definite utterances, actions and maneuvers which pointed towards features associated with fascism in a clever variation. In a situation where there are rules of engagement in a democracy there can be no situation that constitutional provisions would not cover or take care of.
Injection of fascist strategy can take the form of ensuring that “never again can what happened in the case of Yar’Adua happen again!..” It was obvious that desperate spin doctors were at work and, where fascism meets obstructions, legality can be thrown to the winds! Since fascism is one aspect of the game of power, those who use it, as a specific situation would demand, can always follow up their actions by other paraphernalia of power. Intimidation is a handy tool.
Professor Wole Soyinka would remind us that power is “the horse on which fanaticism and fascism ride to fulfillment”. To grab or retain power, it is obvious that treachery and deceit can be ready instruments for the purpose. Therefore, fascist strategy can be applied when convenient for the purpose of holding on to power even in a democratic system of government. Since human beings have the tendency to avoid costs, pains and penalties, an ultimate goal in the application of fascist strategy is to create fear of possible reprisals. This can be formidable!
In a democracy characterized by high stakes and huge monetary investments, fascism is a ready tool of political control. Even though several political parties may exist, for the ruling and dominant party, fascist strategies can be used for purposes of defection and consolidation. In a situation where, in the words of Dr Samuel Uche, “you are the vilest offender in one party and cross over to a certain party, you become a saint over night”, it is fascism at work.
The operational mechanism of fascism lies mainly in the application of the paraphernalia of power to force compliance to the whims of the holders of a power. In order to enforce such compliance, intolerance and high-handedness can become ready instruments, where other measures fail. Ranging from party disciplinary measures, to sponsored harassment by security agencies or some miscreants, persons trying to oppose or challenge those who hold power can suffer some reprisals if they remain recalcitrant.
In developing countries, a common variation in the practice of fascism is the creation of a cryptocracy. A cryptocracy may be understood to mean a secret government within an existing government, whose members are drawn from the inner circle of a cabal or controllers of the person officially in power. Such arrangement usually comes into existence when there are internal suspicious, conflicts or power tussles within the party in power.
There can also be factions even among members of the cryptocracy, especially when loyalty to the principal power-holder becomes a family affair. In such cases, religion or ethnicity plays a game of mobilizing support and loyalty, in such a way that old friends begin to part ways. Unfortunately there are politicians who are experts in playing the religions or ethic trump card to bend the rules of a democracy, with a combination of fascist strategies. The stake of loyalty via the means of religion and ethnicity becomes high where politics is tied to the means of wealth accumulation.
Fascism can also be a state of mind or the peculiar temperament and life-style of an individual leader in a democracy. In this case we find that there are individuals who are dictatorial and tyrannical in nature, even to the extent that their wives remain miserable and unhappy. When such persons get to power in a democratic system, they go into offices with that peculiar life style. It would happen that they are usually surrounded by persons of similar temperament, whereby those who disagree with such leadership style would be miserable in the party, or defect to another party. There would also be frequent squabbles.
Another operational mechanism of fascism is when big multi-national conglomerates such as foreign oil and gas companies become partners’ with governments. Through the mechanism of staff employments and promotions, location of headquarters and other strategies, rewards and penalties can be applied as means of expressing the fascist temperament. From the award of contracts to scholarship benefits, multinational companies operating in Nigeria can promote or maneuver a number of things in ways similar to what a fascist regime can do. The experiences of the Ogoni people can serve as an example. Let it be noted here that top management cadre of multi-national companies are occupied by experts in various power and security issues.
Role of the military in fostering fascist temperament.
Fascist temperament or life-style was facilitated in Nigeria via the military during the period of its intervention in the nations’ politics. The military is associated with authoritarianism and high-handedness; and what happened in the years after the civil war would most likely influence and infect the psyche and temperament of Nigerians, especially the young generations. Just as “the young shall grow”, so also would the influences imbibed by youths grow as they get old. Many of the politicians today were participants in military activities of youths during the era of military intervention in Nigerian politics.
Political development goes with increasing awareness of the populace, especially with a wider expansion of access to higher education. Political development would involve a continuing programme of sensitization of the citizens in various areas of attitudinal change to foster appropriate awareness fit for a democracy. But gross abuses and institutional imbalances that needed to be addressed were left to continue, which made the masses lukewarm towards politics. Survival of democracy demands the institution of social justice and the elimination of vestiges of military authoritarianism.
Therefore, what had evolved in Nigeria after the era of military intervention in politics is a combination of fascism and democracy which should have borne a proper name of diarchy.
Despite the possibility of human rights abuses and curtailments, people, individually and collectively, need some external stimulus and impetus to force them to fulfill their responsibilities and duties. Not to apply such measures, when necessary, would be to foster evil and indulgence. Nigeria as a developing nation is still held back by some deficiencies which would require some fascist strategies to remedy. They include lethargy and indolence.
Dr. Amirize is a retired lecturer from the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.

 

Bright Amirize

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