NIGERIA IN SEARCH OF A NATION:
EXCERPTS FROM AUTHORS ADDRESS TO YORUBA SUMMIT (2)
“It is one thing to create the façade of a country and give it a name as happened in the case of Nigeria, Gold Coast, Dahomey and the like. However, the concept of nationhood cannot be created by the fiat of men however powerful. In short you do not create or make a nation by only words of mouth”.
NIGERIA – A COUNTRY OR A NATION
Nigeria was admitted to the comity of United Nations in 1960. By virtue of Article 4(1) and (2), Nigeria is a State. Our fathers who fought for independence meant well and acted well. They bequeathed to us the 1960 and 1963 Constitutions that with time would make the different nations in Nigeria to eschew tribalism and permit the evolution of unity among all nations and tribes in the country as well as the emergence of one nation from many.
THE MAKING OF A NATION
A nation must evolve from some tortuous natural process of evolution. But for such evolution to have an appreciable basis, there must be an inter play of conscious natural factors like peoples willingness to be so identified which would of course be fuelled or impelled by a realisation of the intrinsic strength of numbers.
An aggregation of peoples of easily identifiable diversities of history, tradition and culture as in our case can only metamorphose into a nation properly so described after the Rulers have shelved politics of ethnicity, politics of systematic promotion or imposition of a particular Region or religion over the others, politics of repression and subjugation and have embraced a belief in the over bearing concept of conscientious justice, fairness and equity without which true peace as opposed to phony or graveyard peace may continue to be our lot.
It is one thing to create the façade of a country and give it a name as happened in the case of Nigeria, Gold Coast, Dahomey and the like. However, the concept of nationhood cannot be created by the fiat of men however powerful. In short you do not create or make a nation by only words of mouth.
As I said on numerous occasions, the 1999 Constitution was handed over by the military. It is not the people’s constitution. Of course the legislators who are benefiting from the military constitution are not interested in substituting the people’s constitution for the military constitution. Consequently, they have been making amendments to the military constitution. They have deliberately omitted that part of the report of 2014 Constitution and Conference which would affect them. The recommendation is that Legislators should earn only sitting allowance. I am of the firm view that it is not the duty of these lawmakers to make a new constitution. Even the military in Section 14(2) of 1999 Constitution acknowledges that sovereignty remains with the people.
See Section 14(2) provides as follow:
(2) It is hereby, accordingly, declared that:-
(a) sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority;
(b) the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government; and
(c) the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.
AGITATION FOR SECESSION
The agitation for secession is an ill wind that does no good. No matter the motive of the Conveners of Berlin Conference, we have lived together for over 100 years having been married together by fiat of the Europeans. It is better to dialogue and restructure the country. Neither the husband or wife would want a dissolution of a marriage if the parties live in comfort and are prosperous. It is incumbent on the leaders to make the country so prosperous that nobody would agitate for secession.
SOVEREIGN NATIONAL CONFERENCE
What we need today is Sovereign National Conference the outcome of which shall be the people’s constitution and shall not be subject to any amendment by any of the organs of the existing Senate or House or Representatives. If necessary, it may be referred to a referendum. It is also my view that the people’s constitution should be in place before we attain 60 years after independence. It is no longer news that many ethnic groups in the country desire a Sovereign National Conference.
RESTRUCTURING – THE WIND OF CHANGE
On the 4th of November, 2011 (about 18 years ago) the descendants of His Majesty, King Abbi Amachree IV, the Amanyanbo of Kalabari gathered together in Port-Harcourt to celebrate the first Memorial Lecture. The Board of Trustees including the talented Prof. Tam David-West brought together a large crowd including the Deputy Governor and the Vice President. I was honoured to deliver the 1st Memorial Lecture titled “Nigeria in Search of a Nation”.
I was then and I am still an advocate of restructuring Nigeria. In my articles in this newspaper and Tribune Newspapers on Thursdays, I have published many articles on the restructuring of the country. As a member of Constitutional Conferences, I have also argued in favour of true federal structure. The truth is that today there is a strong wind of restructuring blowing over the country. It is not just strong a wind, it is a hurricane restructure. The loud voice of those who desire a united and strong country which would deo volenti metamorphose into a nation is that the country should be restructured.
I pay tribute to General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB), former Military Head of State, Emir of Kano, Sardauna of Sokoto, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, their Royal Highnesses, Chief Edwin Clark, Professor Ben Nwabueze, Professor Nwaokobia, numerous members of the Inner Bar, different organizations throughout the country on their proposals for keeping the country together by restructuring it.
I respectfully disagree with the few Nigerians who are opposed to restructuring. They are entitled to their opinion. Afterall opinion is the cheapest commodity in a democratic society. There are as many opinions as there are people on the planet. Some suggested that what we need is change of mind. I disagree. It is the constitution that created the environment under which the operators find it easy to derail the economy of the states and renders the local governments impotent. It is the constitution that enables the operators to steal the wealth of the country. It is the constitution that enables legislators to earn huge salary and allowances including constituency allowances.
It is the constitution that enables the Senate to turn down the recommendations of Constitutional Assemblies and engage in amendments to a military constitution, a constitution that lies against itself.
The only change that can change the country and pave way for nationhood is the change that changes the structure of project Nigeria. No amount of sermon from the pulpit can change the country. It is that change that will bring about the necessary interest and determination to succeed. That change is the restructuring of the country
Restructuring would bring about that change that would make citizens to be proud of what they earn from their sweat as against the wealth acquired from stealing public fund. It is restructuring that would enable the component parts of the country to develop their resources, provide employment, eradicate poverty and make one proud of being a Nigerian. It is restructuring that would enable each state to control it population, set internationally acceptable standard for admission to tertiary institutions and bring back the glory of quality education from our university. Above all, it is restructuring that would curb overconcentration of power in the centre and reduce corruption, promote harmony and unity and make the country metamorphose into a nation.
AARE AFE BABALOLA, OFR, CON, SAN, LL.D (Lond.), D.Litt, FNAILS, FCIArb