“WE, The People…” is how the constitution always begins; going forwards to itemise how society is to be organised and governed for the attainment of security of lives and property above all, then freedom and prosperity for all citizens. The most fundamental question in that document is the FORM of that governance structure, and whereas the buck of responsibility stops on the table of the man holding the highest office in land, it is clear that the most essential responsibility lies with the majority of the citizens – WE, THE PEOPLE.
In the case of Nigeria, “we, the people” clearly stated at the very creation of Nigeria that our form of government will be that of Federalism: a voluntary, united federation of autonomous regions, taking into consideration our diversities as African peoples living in the Niger Area. Since the incursion of the military in January 1966, and over the course of their lengthy, destructive stay, and inescapably due to their unitary chain of command, a centralised, unitary system of government has been imposed upon the country. Each constitution supervised by them and written at the beginning of every return to civil rule by their cronies continue to state the truth of the founding ideal, “we, the people… in the Federal Republic of Nigeria” while living a lie as an over-centralised unitary state.
To worsen a very bad status, our unimaginative and indolent ruling elite became completely dependent for their extravagant living on oil money receipt from crude sales, consequently killing all forms of creativity, productivity and industry over a few decades, making politics the most lucrative business from sure access to oil money flowing into the federation accounts. All other professions and sector of life and the economy come under the mercy of politics as poverty and ignorance becomes prevalent.
With the civilian political elites’ refusal to revisit the issue of form of government on account of the benefits they reap from the present unitarised system of oil money control and sharing at national and state levels, the struggle amongst them to be in charge of the accruals from the federation allocation accounts, as presidents and governors (and their hangers-on legislatures) has taken the nastiest turn ever, as the country sinks into its most nightmarish level of insecurity, poverty and alienation, which they care less about. Nothing is spared as tools of political manoeuvre to be in charge of oil money control: banditry, terrorism, religion, bullion vans, ethnicity, thuggery, corruption of the judiciary and justice system, lack of internal party democracy, nepotism, et cetera.
Firstly, when democracy becomes as such perverted and useless as a system of delivering security of lives and property, freedom, justice and prosperity, democracy still remains the most effective and efficient means of seeking remedy; all other means lead to violent conflicts and no guaranteed just end. Secondly, when ignorance, poverty and primordial sentiments like tribe and religion become the dominant realities of society, even the basic assumption of majority rule is undermined when the majority are poor, ignorant, primitively sentimental and consequently disposed to irrationality in their choices.
Accordingly, we are returned to where the founding fathers started, and must work back to “we, the people” in order to achieve our historic destiny. Therefore, it is clearly the time NOW for patriots across all religion, tribe, and political divides, to unite around the founding fathers ideal of a federal republic, and do what needed to be done to return Nigeria to it, outside of but not ignoring current democratic, local and international political realities. That remains Nigeria’s only saving grace.