Nigeria: The Journey To Civil Rule

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The destiny of Nigeria as an independent state, certainly is influenced by the manner of its conception and creation. As a product of colonial and imperialistic adventure, Nigeria’s attempt to evolve a definite and enduring pattern of socio-political existence had been wavering and shallow.

The Nation, perhaps, survives on an ethnocentric platform, where the only bond is a false claim to federalism, whereas every ethnic group give their first loyalty to their various ethnic sentiments.

There had however been calls by the stakeholders for a Sovereign National Conference where the various component units that make up the country will discuss the basis of their corporate existence, but such calls had remained a pipe dream.

Proponents of Sovereign National Conference like the Nobel laureate and literary icon, Prof Wole Soyinka and foremost nationalist, Pa Anthony Enahoro, had insisted that only a Sovereign National Conference that can settle the problems of Nigeria.

In their view, those who are anti Sovereign National Conference are the beneficiaries of a skewed political system that will not want to let Nigeria out of the hook of their grand political deception.

Nigeria had, to a large extent, has also been a victim of party politics.

At independence, Nigeria adopted parliamentary system of government, an indigenous version of the westmister model practiced in Britain, its former colonial overlord. But the parliamentary system was truncated by the military through a coup de’ tat.

The aftermath was series of bloody revolutions including a civil war that threatened the very existence and foundation of the country. The military’s contemptuous seizure of power in the country was stamped on the self righteous notion that the politicians are corrupt.

With the prevailing ethos of the ruling military class operating as a tiny cabal from a dominant part of the country, the minority groups where placed permanently at a disadvantaged position as mere spectators in the game of power.

This compounded the knotty problems of complex relationships in the country.

But passing years often take with them the burdens and struggles of a nation, and sometimes providence plays the ultimate role in shaping the ideals of a country.

With the advent of democratic rule in 1999, Nigerians are begging to keep faith with democracy and obviate the pains of yester years.

Some Nigerians who spoke with The Weekend Tide on the strides of the country on certain critical areas of the economy were ambivalent in their assessment.  

Lenu Kpagi, an Assistant Comptroller General of Customs, (retired) thanked God for keeping the country united over the past 50 years.

Kpagi who had a bias for qualitative educational development of the country, decried the high premium placed on paper qualification in the country which had encouraged sharp practices in the education sector in a desperate bid to acquire certificates.

Kpagi recalled that in those days, when students fail exams they worked hard to remedy their deficiencies. Such zeal for hard work, he noted, had disappeared from the educational system as students do not want to learn but want to cut corners to acquire certificates.

He said parents were culpable in the act as some parents go any length to aid and abet their wards to acquire certificates without merit.

“Everybody want to have a certificate so that they can access important positions, especially in government. Some parents bribe teachers to assist their children in getting certificates.  

Kpagi who is an educationist and founder of Zina Academy however stated that their was remarkable improvement in terms of internet facilities and  modern technologies compared to the past.

The weekend Tide also spoke with some civil society groups.

Adebayo Samuel, strategy coordinator of the Development Partnership International, a civil society organisation, expressed concern over the electoral process in the country.

He said Nigerians should stand firm and expressed their franchise without intimidation as that was the only way of whipping the erring system to line.

He regretted that inspite of glaring inconsistencies in the electoral system, the National Assembly was reluctant to institute the needed reforms.

 Rita Kigbara, of the stakeholders Democracy Network, said there was need for a strong civil society presence to put things under check. She said civil society participation in Nigeria was still dismal and need to be re-invigorated.

She hinted that blind materialism had beclouded the reasoning of Nigerian law makers to the extent that they are less concerned about stabilising the polity through practical reform programme.

She called on the president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan to restore the hope of Nigerians by exerting strict supervision of the various agencies and machineries of government  to be proactive and make expectations of Nigerians a reality. 

Dr Chime Onumba, a safety management expert and academic, said there was nothing to celebrate.

According to him, Nigeria’s political system is a mockery of democracy,  as critical issues such as resource control, economic manpower and, electricity are yet to be addressed.

He noted that the tyranny of mere will had blinded the conscience of the political leaders of the country and they are only concerned about what they can milk out of the system.

To him, the violence in various parts of the country which had claimed innocent lives is an epitome of a decadent society.

On political reforms, he said it was totally, wrong and unacceptable for the North to claim exclusive right to governance. He also kicked against the idea of restriction of movements on election days, stating that it was a deliberate plot to cow the electorates to submission of the political whims and caprices of the wielders of power.

 He blamed the numerous problems of the country on politicians whom, he accused of dubiously manipulating the system and exploiting the citizenry.

Dr Onumbu also called for higher remuneration for University lecturers and civil servants, which, according to him, are the highest victim of hyper inflation in the country. 

 

Taneh Beemene