This House Must Not Fall!
By: Idumange John
For me Karl Maier and Fukuyama are living legends. In This House has Fallen: Nigeria in Crisis Karl Maier relates a shocking litany of statistics: “Literacy is below that of the Democratic Republic of Congo… Gross domestic product per person is lower than the 1970s… The navy’s 52 admirals and commodores outnumber serviceable ships by a ratio of six to one. The air force has 10,000 men but fewer than 20 functioning aircraft.” And so on. Maier pauses for breath, and then says: “The facts speak for themselves.” It was on the basis of this damning verdict that the Western Capitalist Countries provided 2015 as a timeline for the disintegration of Nigeria.
Maier submitted that “a non-productive economy addicted to petrodollars, ruled by a coterie of army officers and bureaucrats growing fat on contract kickbacks and siphoning off the oil revenues”. Maier stamped this depressing caricature and liked Nigeria to a bureaucracy in its purest form, where bloated state administrations are there to serve themselves exclusively. The most prized jobs for university graduates are in customs and excise, primarily for the scope for self-enrichment they afford. This scintillating but gloomy analysis appears to be the last prediction of the looming cataclysm.
I have great respect for Francis Fukuyama. His essay on “THE END OF HISTORY”, is a classic because he pungently x-rayed the rise and fall of major ideologies such as absolutism, fascism and communism. He also suggested that human history should be viewed in terms of a battle of ideologies which has reached its end in the universalization of Western liberal democracy. Ultimately, he adumbrated the triumph of Western liberalism. He posited that the main evidence of this triumph is the worldwide growth of Western consumerist culture and the gradual movement towards democratic or liberal reforms in countries that previously embraced alternate ideologies.
He portrayed Hegel, Marx and their disciples as “false prophets whose historiography is a utopian.”Fascism was deflated; Nazism – a self-destruct ideology perished with the fuehrer; communism fell as evidenced in perestroika and glasnost and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Fukuyama’s thesis that those countries still under communism are only an anomaly on the international front, and the important fact is that very few still believe in the ideology. He however failed to explain why the capitalist economies are so turbulent and more importantly, why exploitation of man by man still persists. His emphasis on “common ideological heritage”,
Over the years, the leaders of this geo-political space called Nigeria have tried to formulate policies and programmes designed to forge national unity and integration. The Gowon administration introduced the National Youth Service Commission, NYSC. About 40 years after, the programme has not only achieved its purpose but its continued existence has been called to question.
When the fratricidal war ended in 1970, the Gowon’s regime also instituted the “Federal Character” designed at integrating all ethnic groups affected by the war, particularly the ethnic groups from the South. It was introduced in the spirit of no “victor no vanquished”. Successive administrations also established the National Institute of Cultural Orientation, NICO, the introduction of the Language Policy and now the National Orientation Agencies. All these agencies were established to bring about national unity through value re-orientation, religious tolerance and ethnic accommodation.
In 2002, 40 Nigerians and other experts on the country attended a conference at the Kennedy School at Harvard and they expressed their profound distress at the parlous state of Nigeria’s democracy. Among the critical ingredients of dissension and instability include critical governance deficit; over-centralization of power by the centre, lack of transparency, lack of economic diversification, corruption and the imposition of Islamic law. Others are lack of human and investment security and human rights abuses. The Group recommended a national conference to debate constitutional reform, and leadership. These challenges and inherent contradictions of democratization are not in a hurry to go.
The burden of forced unity after the Lugardian fiat in 1914 is a foundational error that has negatively affected the constitution hence the cry for a Sovereign National Conference (SNC). A sovereign national conference would enable the various ethnic groups to re-negotiate the basic structures and power sharing arrangements in our federalism rather that the trial and error methods we have adopted to balance the structural defect in the foundation of Nigeria. If we acknowledge the contributions of the likes of Harold Dapa Biriye, Anthony Enahoro and other nationalists, then it is high time we re-visited the knotty issue of true federalism in Nigeria. The interminable killings in Jos, insurgency in the Niger Delta, the Boko Haram movement, the Movement of Emancipation for the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) and others mushrooming for purposes of reinforcing the need for local autonomy, has made the call for SNC more urgent and immediate.
When a nation lacks national integration and national unity has resulted to a situation whereby there are no acceptable national ideology and value system underpinning our existence. Rather than use our cultural affinities to intensify devotion and loyalty, discipline, dedication and faith, by our thoughts, words and deeds we work hard to widen the gap existing among the various ethnic nationalities. This is becoming evident as Boko Haram runs rampage, itching for a negotiation with the Federal Government, with the allure and attraction of an Amnesty Programme. My thinking is that the Amnesty Programme was necessary because most Ijaw Communities: Odi, Odioma, Okerenkoko; Agge; Kaiama, Ayakoromor, etc were destroyed. These communities were not only destroyed, the inhabitants were decimated, traumatized and brutalized.
Besides, The Niger Delta Youths were holding the testicles of the nation – the oil rich Region. But the Youths in Boko Haram and their sponsors have forgotten that Islam is a hard sell. In Nigeria, there are Buddhists, Christians, Taoists, Zoroastrians, African Traditional Religionists, Confucians, and colony of free thinkers like me. The sponsors of terror in the land are not true Muslims because Islam abhors the use of violence without a justifiable cause. Besides, all the sponsors are beneficiaries of Western Education – they acquired at the Sandhust Academy.
Nigeria is “republic of quarrels” because the various ethnic nationalities have not been able to coalesce into a single functionally integrated organic community. The plural nature of the Republic and her historiography is harassed by the polemics of centripetal bearings. We therefore have a fundamental controversy as to whether Nigeria is a nation state or a hotchpotch of ethnic nationalities owing primary allegiance to their primordial groups without the desire to coalesce.
Nigeria is indeed a nation united with broken tongues, and the familiar areas of polemics in the mass poverty of the committee syndrome. There is an obvious quarrel on how to solve the economic problems of the country. While some Nigerians advocate the wholesale adoption of market driven, neoliberal paradigms that would ultimately transfer wealth into the pockets of comprador bourgeois, others argue that privatization will only exacerbate mass poverty, while at the same time creating a few billion naira a class that could even topple the political economy. Now there is a major controversy as to whether States can pay minimum wages of N18, 000, which in other lands can pass for welfare package of the unemployed. Another controversy is in the area of removing subsidy from petroleum products. We must deregulate to the point of overkill so we reduce the population by increasing the mortality rate.
At the global and regional levels, economic integration is deepening, with huge comparative disadvantage on the peripheral nations. The unintended consequences are that most “no grow” nations in the LDC enclave cannot fit with rapid liberalization and integration because such nations are not industrializing. The near lack of nexus between politics and the economy has increased the dislocation and alienation indicia; and these have been aggravated by the global economic recession, which has further whittled down the potency of these economies. For the capitalist giants, a reversal of liberalization can trigger negative financial market reactions and reverberations of economic activity.
In Nigeria, successive administrations have not been able to harness their economic potentials hence the over-dependence on crude oil and the resource curse syndrome. Our over-dependence on crude oil since 1960 shows that the Nigerian economy is in the hands of the capitalist hawks who determine the price of crude oil in the international oil market. The implication is that policy-makers are not in full control of the macro-economic variables that can serve as a push factor of the economy. Thus expected goals and targets are either tangentially omitted or never met at all. Nigeria is not set to benefit from globalization because even when Nigeria deregulates her economy, there is nothing tangible the nation is producing to expand her economic space. That is why Nigeria has entered into a plethora of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements but lacks the political will to create an atmosphere to support Foreign Direct Investment. Nigeria is at best an economic “colony” or “appendage” of the US and the European Union (EU), even bourgeois revisionism cannot dispute this fact.
Those who have cash crops in their land cultivate, harvest and sell them to advance their cause. Solid mineral resources are mined and sold by the owners, but the same people support the injustice of sustaining the laws dispossessing the oil bearing communities of their land, resources and heritage. This is a fundamental basis for quarrel and the underpinning factor for the oil style insurgency in the Niger Delta Region. In Nigeria, when it comes to issues like revenue sharing, fiscal federalism and power sharing, such quarrels are not often led by reason, by driven by self – interest and personal aggrandizement.
Perhaps the most controversial area is in the Petroleum Sector. Nigeria is the sixth greatest oil producer and an influential member of OPEC, yet there are only four refineries producing below 40% capacity. Bonuses and royalties paid to the federal government through the NNPC are lodged in mysterious accounts accessible to only political power holders while the refineries decay, huge sums of money is believed to be spent on Turn around Maintenance, yet the same group of undertakers are appointed and re-appointed to do damage to the system.
I perceive the frustration in Nigeria as being mainly caused by poverty rather than religion. Understanding the curious interplay between the variables of politics, economy and a burgeoning comprador class ala native imperialists, underscores the need for Nigerians to be patient with the Jonathan administration. What Nigeria is passing through now is a litmus test for our collective integrity and willingness to live together as one indivisible entity. THIS HOUSE MUST NOT AND WILL NEVER FALL. Contrary to Maier’s thesis I believe and rightly so that President Jonathan’s transformation agenda is on course. I also believe that given the necessary support, Nigeria under this administration will fix the major sectors of the economy. Verily, PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN IS REFORM MINDED AND IS POISED, MORE THAN EVER, TO TAKE NIGERIA TO A SAFE DESTINATION. MR PRESIDENT DESERVES OUR SUPPORT.