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Jinxed polity and 2014 National Conference

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TO say that Nigeria is apparently not only jinxed but luxuriating in searing and critical socio-economic quagmire is merely stating the obvious. Going by the exacerbating frustration and exasperation that has its source and spring from the pervasive and intractable insecurity in virtually all parts of the country, the ethno-religious cleavages has deepened; thus placing the country on the path of disintegration and failed state status.

The cause of this unflattering state of affairs is the failure of past and present administrations to recognize the searing fact that in a multi-ethnic society, there is need for conscious efforts aimed at inclusiveness in governance, strict adherence to rule of law and good governance. Thus, with the unchecked and progressive erosion of these intrinsic values of governance as obtained in civilized polities in the country’s leadership trajectory, it was not surprising to see ‘The Global Coalition for Security and Democracy in Nigeria’, led by Omoyele Sowore,organise public protest tagged, ‘RevolutionNow’.

It would not be out of place for one to say that the country’s trajectory in leadership is rudderless; and like a storm-tossed boat in sea, is heading to the much-dreaded “Bermuda Triangle”.

The virtual absence of good governance in the country with the attendant privation, suffering, degradation, ballooning unemployment, hunger, kidnapping by the supposed foreign herdsmen who have mastered all the vast forests in the country without being apprehended by the law enforcement agencies, is enough for anybody or group to proceed on peaceful public demonstration without violence.

It is on the light of the searing and overly critical condition in the country that prompted the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria, who rose from a meeting in Ekiti, to advise the federal government to rise to the occasion to arrest the nation’s trajectory to a failed state. Drawing particular attention to the unchecked menace of the Fulani herdsmen, the clerics accused the federal government of treating killings by suspected Fulani herdsmen and other crimes with kid-glove, contending that such government’s approach was creating palpable fear among Nigerians.

The communiqué read in part: “Lack of clear pattern of punishing crimes, and lip-service commitment to the protection of lives and property on the part of the federal government and security agencies, have made many Nigerians to live in fear on daily basis”.

It was somehow understandable that the police foiled the take-off of the nation-wide protest march because with the ferocious anger in the land, enormous harm to lives and property might attend to the protest match. Envisaging the possibility of violent outcome, an over-zealous security operative reportedly contended that “Omoyele Sowole has crossed the line and has threatened the peaceful coexistence and social harmony of Nigeria”.

Peaceful match protest is a common event in Nigeria but going by the overwhelming number of frustrated youths, there is always the apprehension that the planned peaceful protest might turn out something unpalatable; hence government’s foreclosing the public protest or revolutionary match.

Going by the global standard pursuant to the cannons of rule of law and good governance, the right to assemble and protest is guaranteed in every nation’s supreme law of the land, that is, the constitution. It would be presumptuous for the law enforcement agents to prevent the protest match on the pretext that lives and public property will be in jeopardy. The ideal step is for the law enforcement agents to be well equipped and battle ready to quell uprising or deviation from the norms of peaceful protest match.

It is a lame argument that democratic process is the sure way to register repulsion on bad governance and monstrous deviation from the rule of law and exclusion of significant groups of the society from the corridors of power. Since Nigeria is part of the civilized nations of the world or is aspiring to be, peaceful protest should be allowed so as to be a wake-up call to the political leadership of the country to strive its utmost to assuage the deep yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians.

At this juncture, one would assert that there would have been no need for the brand of  Sowore’s revolution if Buhari administration has recognized the fact that government is a continuum. His thoughtless and seemingly off-hand repudiation and scoffing disregard for the 2014 National Conference compounded and exacerbated the multi-dimensional socio-economic and political challenges wrestling the country to the ground.

It is incontrovertible to asseverate that over 70 per cent of the country’s constraints to realistic growth and development were frontally addressed by the delegates of the National Confab. Former President Goodluck Jonathan was hamstrung to implement the recommendations of the conference due to the fast approaching general election.

It would amount to a gratuitous insult on the sensibility of the delegates to the National             Dialogue for the APC-led federal government to continue to discountenance or stall the implementation of the recommendations of the conference. The country would have moved a notch further in civilized values in governance in terms of sacredness of rule of law, progress in national unity, national integration and cohesion and appreciation among the disparate ethno-religious groups in the country.

Many prominent Nigerians have spoken in various fora harping and advising the federal government on the imperative need to implement the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference. The former Senate President, Chief Ken Nnamani, said: “I was part of the 2014 National Conference and very important points were raised at the conference, which had the best and brightest brains in Nigeria in attendance. Their suggestions and contributions were quite amazing. I urge the government to revisit the recommendations because it would benefit them a lot. Many good points that will hasten the development and strengthen the unity of Nigeria are contained in the Report”.

One of the high points of the confab’s recommendations was decentralized security architecture, aka, state police as panacea for maximum security across the country going by the overwhelming threat to Nigerians by the ubiquitous and blood-thirsty herdsmen alleged to have infiltrated the country’s border from the Sahel Region of West Africa.

Extolling the imperative and necessity of decentralization of the security system in the country, the vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, was reported to have contended that: “We cannot realistically police a country the size of Nigeria centrally from Abuja. State police and other community policing methods are clearly the way to go”.

The unflattering scenario in the country today has made well-meaning Nigerians to call for another confab but some objected on the ground that many of such national dialogue ended without the president implementing the recommendations. A cerebral columnist, Femi Orebe, alluding to the need for the country to reinvent the true federal system in the first republic otherwise recognized as restructuring the present unworkable unitary-federal contraption backed with 1999 Constitution, opined: “Progress was made possible by the country’s truly federal structure which was unfortunately terminated by the military coup of January, 1966. Nigeria’s growth subsequently became stunted due to the unitary system of government imposed by the military…The apprehension of a section of the country about restructuring is understandable since Nigeria’s economy depends on crude oil.

“Thus a Sovereign National Conference has become an imperative if Nigeria is to escape the doldrums into which the 1999 Military-imposed constitution plunged it. With Nigeria’s present structure, not even a saint in Aso Villa can make any significant positive impact on Nigeria’s development”.

In its concern for the parlous state of affairs in the country and the categorical imperative of true fiscal federalism to extricate the country from cascading into the abyss of disintegration, the Guardian editorial contended as follows: “We call on the President and the National Assembly to seize the day and restore Nigeria to the path to true federalism. By creating state police, introducing fiscal federalism, placing exploration of mineral resources on the concurrent list, and devolving power to the constituent parts, the federal government would free itself of the excess burdens it currently bears and stimulate the states into unleashing their full potential. This should be the starting point of the change that has been advertised but has become a mirage. Any change model that is not anchored on how to restore true federalism we lost will still not be able to deliver any good to the people”.

The die is cast. President Muhaammadu Buhari should take the bull by the horns, as it were. Having reportedly recognized the essence of true federalism and restructuring, urgency should be accorded to the restructuring of the quasi contraption to reinvent the country tottering on the precipice and dizzying ravine.

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