‘Only a sustainable constitutional structure can save Nigeria from extinction’

NADECO chieftain, Dr. Amos Akingba

Dr. Amos Arogundade Akingba, one of the chieftains of the old National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) who fought military dictatorship to entrench democracy in Nigeria disclosed in this interview with Kehinde Olatunji that governance system in the country has gone toxic and it is killing the citizens it is meant to protect. Excerpts:

This is not the democracy we envisaged
No, we didn’t fight for this fake and fraudulent one; but unfortunately it happens, it is almost accidental. It started with General Aguiyi-Ironsi and then the Fulani took over and we have been in this mess since 1999.

Mediocrity, injustice, stealing, corruption, kidnapping, murder and rape are bedeviling the country. Nigeria had become extremely toxic; it is very poisonous for all and sundry.

The entire system has messed the younger ones up more than their elders who have seen better periods in our checkered history. I have seen some good times myself but I am also part of the people that is seriously messed up when I reflect on the successes of my contemporaries in other climes.

The problems with Nigeria
The major problems of the country are caused by the fact that the political structure we have adopted and are running is wrong. For instance, we call Nigeria a “Federal Republic” when it is quite clear to all and sundry that it is not federal but unitary; and it is also not a ‘republic’ but monarchical. We are deceiving ourselves by claiming that Nigeria is what it is not.
By the way, our prayers for a fake Nigeria can never be answered by any of the deities because we are praying for what we are not.

Of course, our multi-ethnic and multi-religious diversity makes a federal system of government and governance as the best for the country. But we are practicing unitary constitution and deceiving ourselves that it is federal. That is essentially why nothing works for us in the country. We are putting square pegs in round holes and such efforts, no matter how laudable, cannot work. That is the root cause of our problems. We are in self-deceit. We are liars and so our constitution is producing liars and thieves.

The only way forward to our growth and development is to change the current fake and unsuitable unitary constitution to a truly federal system so that the constituent different nationalities that make up Nigeria will be able to effectively and efficiently govern themselves and have a central/federal system that takes care of all the other things that unite them.

For instance, Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) sometimes in their news broadcasts claim that Nigeria is one people, one nation. That is a lie. We are not one people. We are different peoples and we are not one nation. We are different nations but we can be a nation-state but not one nation.

It is quite clear that a nation-state is a nation of nations. That is what we have been and shall continue to be until kingdom comes for all of us. But there is no doubt that we can be together and be prosperous but we must answer to our different names whereby each tribe brings out the good things in its own system and come together to share the dividends of our democracy. We used to do that before the military struck in 1966 and messed up the country that we now have.

1999 constitution is fake and faulty
There cannot be any progress under the current fake and faulty 1999 Constitution (and its copious amendments). With profound religious humility, even if you bring Jesus Christ and Mohammed together and one is president and the other is vice, our situation will not drastically change for the better since they shall be using this same fake and faulty constitution. It is so because we are different people with different culture, different geographical locations and different histories regardless of the fact that we have already agreed to be together.

Our First Republican Constitution that was shamefully truncated by the reckless military in 1966 duly recognised our diversity and so it was founded squarely on the principles and practices of federalism.

For instance and for emphasis, a husband and wife are not necessarily related but they agreed to be married and form a family; therefore you cannot say that your husband and yourself are from the same family. It is not possible in most human societies. Since 1966, Nigeria has been deceiving herself; and so any leader, whether military or civilian, that came to lead since that 1966 tragedy has come to deceive the people.

The Fulani brought the deceits
We know how it started in 1966. The people who are now holding us down are the Fulani. They are the leaders of our disasters, though they are not alone, but they are the inventors of our fake and faulty system. These people are the latest arrivals to the Nigerian geographic space. They came from Futa Jalon in Senegal.  They are the ones that occupy all the strategic and tactical seats of power and they don’t want to leave or really share them. We even claim to have Nigeria Army, but in reality we don’t. What we have is Caliphate Army that just included the Southerners and Middle Belts citizens to cover their deceit.

Essentially, they are the ones manipulating the fake and faulty system, which does not pay them and the other stakeholders. Nobody benefits in a system that is dysfunctional and degenerating.

More so, when our governors, ministers and other public officials leave office, we find that in four to five years they are already wretched with their artificial lifestyles because they cannot be sick and use the hospital in their state capitals but have to be flown abroad for very expensive management. 

The constitution we are currently operating gives impunity and immunity to thieves. For instance, if a governor kills someone nothing can be done until he leaves office and if he knows he is leaving office next month he will quickly arrange to travel out of the country today.

On Fulani herdsmen menace
These ones are not the Fulani herdsmen that have been living happily with us for several decades. Indeed, they are Fulani militias. If they were truly herdsmen they will only be taking care of their animals and not destroying other people’s lives and properties. We have always had Fulani and their job is to take care of their cattle and that is what they are known for; but these ones are militias who are determined to conquer other ethnic people. They are killing people in order to take over their lands; their aim is to subjugate the other ethnic groups in the country. It is very sad and portends serious and dangerous omen for the country.

Constitutional change as main thrust of restructuring
There are about 77 items in the exclusive legislative list of rights and responsibilities; and the list is exclusive because it is only the federal that can do and undo anything on it. But all we are saying is that in a federation, the Federal Government owns and does the smallest things since its primary purpose is only to coordinate and regulate the other tiers of government.

For instance, if a father and mother have four children they cannot all be expected to remain together with their parents forever. Each one of them must sooner or later become independent and maybe supports their parents, which is relatively the home. The country has become a dead entity that all corrupt people come to take from. 

The way forward
The best thing to do now is to struggle to get this system changed. The youth must join willing elders to mobilise and tell the politicians that enough is enough of their inanities.  If you cannot pay a price you cannot get anything. They won’t be able to kill all of us.

When we were in NADECO, they killed a lot of people amongst us, but some of us survived the tyranny and its genocide. Even now there is no pleasure so the situation has reduced some citizens to be dead while barely alive. So, the best thing to do is to kill the thing that is killing you because if you don’t kill it, it will kill you. The system is killing people. A poisonous system can only kill the people who are poisoned. Poison does not solve a problem rather it creates more problems. The toxicity of Nigeria is creating problem for generations, visitors and indigenes alike.

So, let men and women of good will confront the system by all means necessary. 

Even Buhari said it that if we do not kill corruption it will kill us, but he doesn’t know what he is saying because the first thing that is corrupt is the constitution that produced him as one of our latest systemic victims. If you want to kill corruption, change this constitution then other things like impunity and immunity would go away. The people would now take their lives into their hands. The people that stole the country’s money are victims of this system. Therefore the system that encourages people to steal must be changed.

Teachers don’t teach anymore, they sell question papers, from primary to university levels; the pharmacists and nurses now sell fake drugs; doctors also prescribe without diagnoses; and even people who sell Garri as one of our staple foods now mix it up with other unhealthy things in the market. Everywhere is corrupted. 

Getting the right people to govern
After the country has been restructured, you will be pleasantly surprised that there are good people in Nigeria. Those good ones will not spend one billion to become a senator because they know they are going to serve and not to be served. It is like a beauty pageant, the girls that got the prize are not always the most beautiful – the most beautiful ones are cultured in beautiful ways so that they will not go and display their bodies in public.

We have the good ones in all the various ethnic groups. We must not forget that there is always a fight between good and evil in all human history. In every society we have the good ones and evil ones. In a good society, the good is more than the evil and in a bad society like Nigeria the evil ones are more than the good people. Though the good ones in Nigeria are not always seen because they are in the minority since majority of the people who are ruling us are bad people. As always, economists remind us that bad or fake monies will always drive out the good or genuine ones. It is pervasive in the lives of Nigerians that you hardly see good people come out, they are afraid because the evil might over take them.

For instance, when Dino Melaye was a vibrant positive giant in his first foray into the National Assembly shouting for justice and truth, they picked on him and tore his clothes into pieces but now he is ‘enjoying’ for being a good Comrade. If you go there and you want to tell the truth and seek for justice, they will throw you out. You have to join them to be able to survive; and those who cannot join them will never go near them and we know ourselves.

Fear over maintaining current structure
If we go on like this, we will certainly get to both system implosion and explosion. University education that should take 3-4 years is now taking almost 10 years. Our hospitals are closed because there are no sufficient personnel and drugs. I am afraid it will get to a point where the poor people will have nothing to eat, but the affluent rich ones. We are indeed moving towards negative territories. I don’t like it but it appears as if nobody can stop it. The common people do not have much to do in this, it is we the elite that misled the people, we lied to ourselves we deceived ourselves, we messed up the system.

The rich people who took public money are not paying taxes. It is the poor ones that are on salary that are paying as they earn their pittance; and these rich people will even come and steal your tax money. We have only two sources of revenue in the country, oil money and tax money; and oil money from the South-South and tax money from the Southwest – no other zone contributes anything meaningful. 

On President Buhari’s hard line position
The president said it is not restructuring the country needs but processes. The problem is that the president and his handlers do not, unfortunately, know the difference between ‘structure’ and ‘processes’, though they are interrelated.

The president and his sympathisers said that Nigerians are impatient for progress. But do they want us to be 200-300 years before things are done the right way? What we are saying is, Mr. President, you are putting square pegs in round holes and they do not fit, your valiant efforts cannot work no matter the patience we invest in the critical efforts. We are not federal; we are operating a unitary system and cannot fit a people that are so diverse as we are naturally.

So, for NTA to keep saying that Nigeria is composed of one people and one nation is utterly untrue; they are only lying because we are not one people and we cannot be one nation. But we can, if we organise properly, become a nation-state.

We are different peoples but we can certainly cooperate just like husband and wife if the appropriate terms and conditions of their union are spelt out and agreed. This is just an elementary observation.

So the president, because he is a Fulani person, thinks that his people are enjoying under our fake and fraudulent constitutional arrangements when, in point of facts, they are not and they cannot. Indeed, nobody does.

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