Nigeria at 52: Fading Hope, Fading Glory? – CPC


Nigeria at 52

Nigeria at 52

Nigeria at 52: fading hope, fading glory?

The Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), as a Political Party, recognizes the hollow ritual of celebrating or marking another
anniversary of the existence of Nigeria as an independent and sovereign entity. Nigeria’s two most prized literary assets, Wole
Soyinka and Chinua Achebe, have fittingly described the Country as bereft of Nationhood. Indeed, it could not have been in the
contemplation of the founding fathers that the Country, in fifty-two years of existence, would still be adrift due to lack of political identity predicated on strong, ethical leadership.

Barely five years after independence on October 1, 1960, the Country’s political firmament were troubled by a bloody coup d’etat, thereby heralding what would become twenty-nine years of participation of the Military in the governance of the state. But in the last thirteen years, the Nigerian state had witnessed an unbroken civil rule, the longest in the Nation’s chequered history! It is inconceivably true that successive regimes in the last thirteen have unleashed hopelessness on the State with increased severity.

The major malaise besetting the Country has been largely due to the avaricious content of the character of the Leadership at the expense of the Citizenry. Whereas it is entrenched in Section 17(1) of the Constitution that: “the state social order is founded on ideals of freedom, equality and justice.” According to the National Bureau of statistics (NBS), the income inequality index moved from 0.429 in 2004 to 0.447 in 2010. It is also reported by the same body in February, 2012 that out of the Nigeria’s population of 163 million, a whooping 112.519 million (representing 69.03%) is living in abject poverty!

Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Major-General in the Nigerian Army, was Head of State between December 31st, 1983 and August 27th, 1984. As Head of State, he had shunned a neo-capitalist Privatization plan brought for his presidential assent in 1984 and declared with uncompromising finality: “I cannot sell Nigeria’s assets to anybody.”

Indeed, successive regimes have accepted the poisoned chalice and foisted same on the Nigerian people in a manner that had evinced gradual asset-stripping of Nigeria’s vast resources, with the attendant ennobling of negligible few, in the Society, into the super-rich club. The recently concluded Sale of the State’s Electricity infrastructure revealed a noxious desire by the Leadership to perpetuate the policy of pauperization of the preponderant population of the Nigerian people. The Leadership failed to learn how Privatization, as implemented in other climes, had been used for People’s empowerment through ownership of Assets of state. For instance, On 19 July 1982, the British Government formally announced its intention to privatize British Telecom with the sale of up to 51 per cent of the company’s shares to private investors. This intention was confirmed by the passing of the Telecommunications Act, 1984, which received Royal Assent on 12 April that year. The transfer to
British Telecommunications plc of the business of British Telecom, the statutory corporation, took place on 6 August 1984 and, on 20 November 1984, more than 50 per cent of British Telecom shares were sold to the public. At the time, this was the largest share issue in the world!

The anomalous preference of the tribe to the state is often championed by the Leadership which, inexorably, has contributed immensely to the receding hope of nationhood for the Nigerian geographical entity. Over time, the political leadership has perfected, as an art, the constant prosecution of its war in self-interest through the evocation of the primordial fault lines of religion and ethnicity. This is often achieved through the instrumentality of the burgeoning army of ethnic hegemons, wittingly created and sustained, through the deliberate pauperization policy that merely leaves majority of the citizenry to
scrounge for crumbs from the master’s table. For instance, about 70% of the N4 Trillion budget in the 2012 appropriation act is devoted for servicing the bloated machinery of governance; a paltry 30% is devoted for Capital expenditure. As at July 2012, only 10% of the Capital allocation had been utilized. The veiled threat of impeachment by the Federal Legislature that, if by September 2012 the situation is not reversed, excited awful and provocative response from the President’s tribesmen, in communication couched in demagogy of clannish sentiments.

Corruption, despite the plethora of extant anti-graft legislation, has assumed the dimension of national culture in Nigeria. It is the reason that the effect of governance does not percolate to the grassroots.

This hydra-headed monster is often accentuated by the impunity embedded in the political comportment of the Nigerian President. For instance, N240 Billion was allocated to the fuel subsidy in the 2011 appropriation act. As at the last count, over N2.67 Trillion had been expended without any recourse to the Legislature for a review of the allocation! As it is with financial corruption, so is electoral corruption. Though the shenanigans deployed in the conduct of the 2011 general elections had largely hoodwinked the foreign observers, the unwillingness of the electoral umpire to allow unfettered access, to its process and election register had made the electoral exercise worse than any other in Nigerian history. This assertion was reinforced by Nigeria’s Diaspora-based academic and prolific writer, Okey Ndibe, when he declared: “The 2011 election saw the deployment of
new rigging technologies.” There is every reason to believe that the ruling leadership is unwilling to relinquish political power according to the electoral wishes of the Nigerian people. This is more so that a former leader of the ruling party once impudently asserted that People’s Democratic Party (PDP) shall be in power for another 60 years. The hubris embedded in that gibberish was in the fact that future electoral exercises have already been decided in favour of the PDP! When this utterly undemocratic predilection to ‘do or die’ politics is juxtaposed with other African nations that have grown in the entrenchment of democratic values, as seen in the incumbents accepting electoral defeats-as dispensed by the people- it is easy to understand the reason for receding hope in the Nigerian polity.

Whereas it is expressly stated in Section 19(a) of the Nigerian constitution: “the foreign policy objectives shall be promotion and protection of the national interest”. The Executive Leadership of Nigeria, in recent times, has shown more loyalty to foreign interests than the Country’s. Bakassi, an oil-rich peninsula measuring 665 square kilometers and lying on Latitudes: 4degrees 25’ and 5 degrees 10’ Longitudes: 8degrees 20’ and 9 degrees 8’, had been in dispute between Cameroon and Nigeria. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) delivered its judgment on 10 October 2002, finding (based principally on the Anglo-German agreements) that sovereignty over Bakassi did indeed rest with Cameroon. It instructed Nigeria to transfer possession of the peninsula, but did not require the inhabitants to move or to change their nationality. Cameroon was thus given a substantial Nigerian population and was required to protect their rights, infrastructure and welfare. In what later came to be known as
the Green-Tree agreement, President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and President Paul Biya of Cameroon on 13 June 2006, resolved the dispute in talks led by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in New York City. Obasanjo agreed to withdraw Nigerian troops within 60 days and to leave the territory completely in Cameroonian control within the next two years. However, Article 61 of the ICJ statute, which is stated below, allows for a review upon meeting certain conditions:

1. An application for revision of a judgment may be made only when it is based upon the discovery of some fact of such a nature as to be a decisive factor, which fact was, when the judgment was given, unknown to the Court and also to the party claiming revision, always provided that such ignorance was not due to negligence.

2. The proceedings for revision shall be opened by a judgment of the Court expressly recording the existence of the new fact, recognizing that it has such a character as to lay the case open to revision, and declaring the application admissible on this ground.

3. The Court may require previous compliance with the terms of the judgment before it admits proceedings in revision.

4. The application for revision must be made at latest within six months of the discovery of the new fact.

5. No application for revision may be made after the lapse of ten years from the date of the judgment.

From the outset of the pronouncement of the Judgment, there was no doubt that an International conspiracy had firmly brought about the travesty of Justice. The Green-Tree treaty entered into by the former President Olusegun Obasanjo does not have any subsisting Legality in Nigeria because of Section 12(1) of the Nigerian Constitution which states that: “No treaty between the Federation and any other country shall have the force of law to the extent to which any such treaty has been enacted into law by the National Assembly.” Apparently, the former President Obasanjo – owing to his absolutist proclivity to governance – spurned the treaty being given legal vim through an act of Parliament, thus making the legal instrument of the treaty inchoate in the Nigerian state. The allowable 10-year window for review of the Judgment shall run out in a matter of days. Owing to the Pressure by the Nigerian people in Bakassi (who have come under unfair treatment by the Cameroonian authority), coupled with new fact of a document by the British of the ownership of the disputed Peninsula belonging to Nigeria, it thus becomes imperative to appeal the Judgment. Quite disappointing is the fact that the Nigerian Executive Leadership is reticent at exploring this option, despite the Senate’s prodding. The question is: what does Nigeria lose putting together its case for a review of the Judgment?

True, the choice of the Land of our Nativity was not ours to make as Nigerians. But we have the choice of the leadership that is allowed to govern the Land. This explains why, as Citizens, we must draw the line and say to the Principalities in the land: enough is enough. Section 14(2a) states that: “It is hereby, accordingly, declared that: sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority.” It is time to enforce the Sovereignty, envisaged by the Constitution, which rightfully belongs to us as Citizens. In so doing, we shall extirpate the debris of indecency that assault our collective psyche and thus bequeath a livable environment for the next generation.
God bless Nigeria.

Rotimi Fashakin (Engr.)
National Publicity Secretary, CPC.
(Saturday, 29th September, 2012).

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