Nigeria has been a very bad copycat right from its onset as a nation. History is replete with instances of wrong application of adopted systems politically, socially and economically. In government, there has been muddled up attempts at the parliamentarian and the presidential or federal systems.
Torn between the two systems of government and in attempting to recreate them as homegrown model the “unitary Federalism” system of government emerged. This has turned out to be a misnomer like all other ideas, philosophies, legislative systems at al., that has ever been adopted without due diligence. The unitary federal system of government, where so much powers rest at the centre rather than within constituent states, lacks the trappings of sanity and originality in all its ramification and as evident from the failure of the Nigeria nation, the system itself is an embodiment of inadequacies coupled together to suit the whims and caprices of the rapacious elites. It is only a matter of mention that the presidential albeit federal system of government in its concept was copied from the United States of America where it has been reasonably and successfully applied, but its precepts imported to Nigeria, were taken to the junkyard and mangled beyond recognition even for the original practitioners of federal democracy.
The fact of democracy in unitary federalism in itself is antithetical, yearning to be properly readdressed. The problem with Nigeria pre and post civil war has remained that of “Political entrepreneurism”. Prof. Wole Soyinka (my spiritual and temporal mentor) would remind us in his notable chronicle of his prison experiences “The Man Died,” that the bond of the regions federating Nigeria before 1966 was brought about by Military Decree No. 34, the Unification Decree”. And against the expectation of gains, it became the root of an impervious and distraught disarmament. The unification decree was to abolish the semi-autonomous regions, reducing them thereby, to a group of provinces that later transmuted into 12 states created by the government of Gen. Yakubu Gowon, the originator of the mantra ‘No victor No vanquished’ at the end of the ill-fated Nigeria civil war. The original intention of the decree was to strangulate a corrupt and profligate bureaucracy, to destroy tribalism and establish a uniform sense of nationhood.
With benefit of hindsight one can almost surmise that the thinking behind the decree was as parochial as it was jaundiced, self-serving and an attempt at propagating and promoting one section of the country against the other, having been contrived without wide consultation and engagement of every concerned nations that make up Nigeria. Subsequent creation of additional states by various military heads of state have followed the same trend, thereby, leaving a yawning gap between states in the Northern part of the country and their local government areas in comparison to their counterparts in the South. The decree itself became unacceptable to the Northern Mafia aided by their Southern allies, all, profiteers of the intractable confusion of the nation state. Consequently, the call for ‘ARABA’ that is secession in the far North then, should not be undermined even as we try to curb the resonation of such at this period in the East and West.
It is germane to mention that towards the institutionalization of a corrupted contraption of a nation, the Northern Mafia and others from the West contributed to the necessary investment geared towards self-preservation at the expense of the Easterners who were forced to abdicate their place in the unwholesome union. The consequence was the cold-blooded pogrom that decimated the country at heart between 1966 and 1970, in favour of profit motivated cabals both in the military and among civilians many of whom are still recycling themselves in the corridors of power. To this end, the call for restructuring among the truly progressive and the underdogs of the society is a strange symphony in the ears of the Elitist profiteers of the strange union in unitary federalism.
According to Soyinka, “the ramifications of the alliance of a corrupt militarism and a rapacious Mafia in society are endless and are nearly incurable…in the distorting mist of national euphoria the moral dereliction and ideological barrenness which led to the conflict…has undergone no revolutionary purge either in its guts or at the head”. This is where we stand today with a moribund and ineffectual statism, a stratified legislature vitiated more by inertia, a corrupted and malevolent judiciary; all adding up to a prurient nationhood that calls out loudly for a re-jigging if the centre must continue to hold.
The time for an elitist cabal to approbate and reprobate is far gone. It is evident from all insurgencies so far that a denial of the yearnings for restructuring can only end up in the eventual balkanization of an unwholesome contraption called Nigeria. Maligning the aspirations of the different constituent regions is a venture tantamount to seating on a dry keg of gunpowder. Its explosion is certain and cataclysmic. The only question left to answer is “when”.
Those who make peaceful change impossible, make violent change imperative and inevitable. For further peaceful and harmonious co-existence of the regions of the nation, re-construction, re-configuration or re-structuring of the basis of the union is a sine qua non.