By Olakunle Agboola – If Herbert Macaulay is given an opportunity to look back on earth, what will he say about Nigeria? If Obafemi Awolowo still thinks about Nigeria wherever he may be now, what will be his thought concerning Nigeria? What will be going through Sir Ahmadu Bello’s mind with the crops of leaders we have at the arm of affairs in Nigeria?
The founding fathers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria never for once contemplated the fractious state of incompatible components which Nigeria has become, primarily because the nation has derailed, through military fiat, from its manageable federalism to a destructive unitarism that now threatens the very existence of the nation of their dreams.
Perhaps, the man who must have suffered the greatest pain is Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, who in his life-time had become a helpless witness to the shattering of his own dream of a nation united in diversity. That pet slogan of his ”Unity in Diversity” is almost becoming a bug that seems to be far from attainment.
The founding fathers themselves would have no one to blame for whatever pain they may feel right now. As late Bola Ige said in his book and I quote, ‘if they have laid the foundation of unity in their life-time-if they had managed to work together for the unity of this country, the component nations of the Nigeria state would have been as divided as it is today’. It is that division, which they did not prevent by working together that now threatens the very existence of the nation.
We now have a country in which government has turned into instrument of vengeance, state apparatus is now being deliberately used to destroy perceived political opponents who are determined to exercise their fundamental rights in the country call theirs, but which some other people-fellow citizens-think they have a divine ordinance to rule over. We now have a nation where fellow citizens, fuels tribal and ethnic war not thinking of the consequence of their action as it affects the peace of the nation. Many innocent citizens have been killed while a lot of properties have been destroyed championing a tribal war that they do not know the cause.
We have seen how political issues have degenerated to one of personal vengeance to the extent that state policy is used to attack selective business empire and shattered them without a trace. Also we have witnessed a bizarre situation in which state-sponsored political thugs to hijack ballot boxes ensuring all is to their advantage at the political-pool.
We must think of a new paradigm…The paradigm shift that will fashion an arrangement to which the fractious components of the country would agree on a suitable formula for co-existence, which will make harmonious government possible. All democrats must know that the best polity cannot but be founded on the foundation of justice, fairness, equity, and fundamental human rights, such as freedom of expression, freedom of association and even freedom of choice. A situation, in which development is controlled by the federal government such that it truncates progress in a section of the country simply for other so-called disadvantage area to catch up, can never be the basis for a lasting democratic federation.
The new generation of leaders must wake up to reappraise the situation and work out an arrangement that will resemble that of Scandinavian countries which guarantees separate development at the pace and ability of each unit with relative independence in a united polity. But if the next generation of leaders opt to sustain the status quo, we won’t be far away from the disastrous consequences of such folly.
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