Babatunde Raji Fasola claimed he was speaking as a member of Island Club and not as an APC or Federal Executive Council member at the 76th anniversary of the Island Club where he was the guest speaker. Nevertheless, his speech, as reported, was made up of political falsehoods, an attempt at justifying the Administration’s opposition to Restructuring.
Babatunde Fasola’s FALSE statements and their rebuttals are as follows:
- He was quoted to have concluded that the evolution of the United Kingdom was similar to Nigeria’s 1914 amalgamation that merged the Northern and Southern Protectorates.
The 1707 Act of Union between the two crowns of Scotland and England followed a historical trajectory of the emergence of England and Scotland and modern Europe itself. Unlike the forced amalgamation of the North and South Nigeria by colonial forces, the Act of Union was a choice, albeit surreptitiously carried out by both parties and which is still a subject of conflict today, wherein Scotland is demanding her Independence from the UK. There is no and can be no similarity between a voluntary and forced union, more so when such coercion is carried out by an external force, as was the case with Nigeria in 1914.
- It is FALSE to create a connection between Brexit/EU and the quest for Restructuring in Nigeria, or “that young people, who were not aware of the history of the emergence and evolution of Britain voted in favor of leaving the EU without understanding or weighing its implications, resulting in the current logjam.”
The European Union is a union of sovereign entities, countries, who can decide their interrelationships. Therefore, the question is NOT Brexit, but the United Kingdom itself.
The United Kingdom is made up of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, where Great Britain is England, Scotland, Wales. At the present time, Scotland, as part of the Kingdom, is pushing for a Second Referendum in her efforts to be an independent country, having lost the first Independence Referendum in 2014. Wales is also on course in pursuing the same objective while both Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are looking for ways to re-unite, leaving England to try to pursue its own way.
Brexit, on the other hand, is a function of interrelationships between sovereign entities, where within Britain itself, England voted to leave the European Union while Scotland voted to remain. Within Britain therefore, two different and opposing camps emerged based on their different social, cultural and political imperatives.
The Lesson here is that the UK colonized Nigeria and amalgamated the various components without their consent. Despite spirited efforts to keep “UK one”, the Peoples demanding Independence are also able to make their agitations clear and a process for a Referendum was created for that purpose; unlike Nigeria, where every effort is made to criminalize the demand for self-determination and/or Independence thus fulfilling the racist notion of the African as lacking in reason and acting more on emotions. Otherwise, why would the creators of Nigeria allow themselves the freedom to dissociate while Nigeria, the created, is insisting on its own artificiality by violence? That is the core of Fasola’s FALSEHOODS.
- It is FALSE, for Fasola to say that “there had been confusion in the restructuring agitation with people clamoring variously for confederation, secession, constitutional amendment and state police, among others, adding that restructuring in whatever guise must be made clear to youths” and that we should “decompose that word and let everybody be specific. There is so much confusion. Don’t hide restructuring under one word. Bring it out, so that we know what to choose.”
- That there are various destinations and definitions of Restructuring implies that everyone knows what they want. The confusion comes when these definitions are being denied and substituted with what they are not. The only way to decide on these definitions is through a Referendum where all of these would be placed on the ballot and the people, old and young, will be able to make a final determination. The Referendum will allow a coalescing of suggestions into simple and definitive categories; (b) the fact that there are various conclusions as to what people mean by Restructuring already implies that the word had already been decomposed.
- It is FALSE for Fasola to claim that “Some people are calling for parliamentary system of government. The new generation must be told that it was the parliamentary system that caused crisis which was difficult to resolve, and which led us into civil war.”
It was NOT the parliamentary system of government that caused the crisis, which “was difficult to resolve, and which led to us into civil war”
The TRUTH is, the crisis occurred under the Parliamentary system as it could have occurred under any system. But, it was under the Parliamentary System that was regarded as the “Golden Era” of the Western Region. Other Regions also point to that era as development-oriented, such that it became the standard with which further developments in Nigeria are measured. The dislocation and underdevelopment of the Era started when the Presidential System was introduced, first by the military and subsequently by its political offspring, to wit, the NPN, PDP and now APC.
The systematic underdevelopment started with de-industrialization, deliberate decay in education and its infrastructure leading to the “brain drain” and welcomed by the political and military forces of the day, topped with cultural and moral decadence all of which were anchored on lassez-faire political economy characterized by the Structural Adjustment Program which became Nigeria’s new economic foundation.
When Babatunde Fasola was governor of Lagos State, under the Presidential System, he championed the study of Chinese Language as the “language of the future” to the detriment of Yoruba Language despite various studies showing the necessity of indigenous Language as the medium for production and reproduction of knowledge to usher in the developmental paradigm just as Prof Babatunde Fafunwa demonstrated his experiment on mother-tongue education as beneficial to development.
If the Chinese of which Babatunde Fasola was so enamored had ignored their Language in favor of a foreign Language, it is doubtful if they would be the world power they are today.
The crisis referenced by Fasola was therefore not because of the Parliamentary System but in spite of it; for the crisis was a result of a power grab embedded in the nature of the Post-Colonial State which the Parliamentary System sought to ameliorate hence the resort to Illegal and Unconstitutional methodology to ensure the realization of the power grab.
Such Illegal and Unconstitutional methodologies were and still are the only route towards power grabs and this is possible only because the Post-Colonial State is anchored on the non-recognition of Nigeria as a territory of different Nationalities and Peoples, which eventually led to the civil war.
The question therefore should be how these Illegalities and Unconstitutional means are to be challenged and addressed.
- Fasola also says, “A Good Document not backed by the right attitude does not take people far. If anything really needs restructuring, it must start with us as people, with our attitude and with our mindset” and that “Where people are diverse, a federation is better. There is a great deal of work to be done by the protagonists.’’
If by this, Fasola wants a Restructuring that starts with our attitude and mindset, this should start from the basis of our political and cultural morality, that is, our Grundnorm, the fundamental Law of our society and this cannot be based on a false foundation.
The question then is: what makes a Good Document, that is, the Grundnorm?
A document with a false preamble is not and cannot be a Good Document. So, the various military-induced Constitutions, especially the current one in use, the 1999 Constitution, with a FALSE Preamble that states, “We, the People” is NOT a good document.
A Good Document recognizes the Peoples of Nigeria as the Constituent Units. Therefore, when Fasola says a “federation is better”, the question of the Federating Component must be answered; for, by definition, a Federation is a union of two or more entities, and in a geo-political sense, reflects a relationship between the “national” (center) and the “sub-national” (Regional) entities.
Indeed, every Union or Federation in the world is based on a Union of Peoples which may now be administered either as states (as in the US), Regions as in Germany or Emirates as in UAE. For a Federation or Union to exist, therefore, the Peoples inhabiting a geographical space must make that decision.
To arrive at a Good Document means the Peoples must be consulted and become the driver of their own Constitutions, which is why a demand is now being made for the various Peoples in Nigeria to make their own Constitutions through a Referendum and from which a “Good Document” will emerge.
This is all the more important when it is recognized that, at various times, the protagonists have made their cases known when they were asked to: the various “National” Conferences and Summits, the IMF debates, Political Bureau, Niki Tobi’s Constitutional review, Abubakar’s consultations, Obasanjo’s “Technical Review Committee”, Yar Adua’s Constitutional Review, Jonathan’s “Confab”, APC’s Committee on Restructuring. Each ended up legitimizing doubtful socio-political legacies.
- It is FALSE for Fasola to claim that “countries that broke up without being able to resolve the issues of separation to include Yugoslavia, Sudan, the Soviet Union, North and South Korea, warning against agitations to split Nigeria”.
Fasola did not tell us what “issues of separation” these countries failed to resolve by breaking up. In all the cases, the nature of the State Apparatus as it affected the Peoples were called into question and the solution was found in breaking up. Did this translate into development of the society? Yes, for some (South Korea, Russia, parts of former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia). Sudan’s case is like the rest of Africa where the National Question, despite the Independence of South Sudan is yet to reach a conclusion.
Africa’s post-colonial experience had been one of perpetual conflict between the post-colonial State and the various Peoples anchored on the separation between the People and the State, with control and dominance of the State being dependent on the hegemony of one Nationality over the other even as this is couched in “national” terms, and this taking precedence over all other existential matters; social and cultural existentialism of the Peoples play no part in the Architecture of the State, thus making the State a “foreign” entity.
A Yoruba aphorism says one’s head cannot be shaved in his/her absence; therefore if Restructuring is not placed before the Peoples of Nigeria to decide upon in a Referendum within themselves such that a determination made by the People becomes the foundation for Restructuring, any other outcome would be a manifestation of the aphorism. And such cannot stand.