Any Nationality inside Nigeria whose existentialism is under threat by Fulani herdsmen terrorism sanctioned by the current leadership of the Nigerian post-colonial State represented by the Muhammadu Buhari Administration is morally and politically bound to resist the escalating threat; more so when the current Administration is bent on blaming the victims for the crimes committed against them as evidenced by the various utterances of the Administration, the latest being that of the Minister of Defense whose defense of herdsmen terrorism was anchored on their assumed opposition to the anti-Open Grazing Laws enacted in some states., even when it is as clear as daylight that these herdsmen did not limit their terrorism to those states. To accept the Minister’s explanation will only confirm the expectation that these herdsmen want to intimidate the entire country into submission.
This being the latest in a series of moves to ensure permanent retention of political power in the North, certain options have been placed on the table. We will now examine these options to enable us to arrive at the only conclusion that will vitiate the existential threat facing us.
The PDP, having spent the better part of the return to civil rule governing Nigeria with nothing to show for it except destruction of Nigeria’s political economy, is bracing itself up as a credible alternative to the Buhari Administration. It will be recalled that the initial promoters of the PDP in Yorubaland, led by Chief Bola Ige, had cause to pull out of the Party during its formation on the valid reason of its being a collage of political opportunists and military apologists who had no vision for a post-colonial, post-military State, especially the necessity for Restructuring of the country which was the foundation for the anti-Abacha movement, led by NADECO and which eventually led to the termination of military rule. The PDP did not disappoint as it went ahead, under the then President Obasanjo, to deepen Nigeria’s Unitarization through various means, notably the creation of a so-called pan-Nigerian economic team through the instrumentality of the State ensuring the dominance of the economy by a few and tying Nigeria’s fortunes to IMF dictates. Within all of these, all manner of corruption festered in such a manner that it became the party’s second nature. The party, being the immediate cause of the country’s political economy crisis, cannot therefore be relied upon as a solution.
Arising from this, and coming from General Obasanjo’s stable, is what he recently offered as “Coalition for Nigeria” whose central aim, according to the general is, “to salvage and redeem, develop and modernize Nigeria anchored on dynamic Nigerian culture, enduring values and an enchanting Nigerian dream.” This will be achieved when members of the Coalition are able to contest and win political power.
The core problematic of this Coalition is what exactly constitutes the “Nigerian Dream”. That such a dream is a non-starter is borne out of the fact that it is a derivative of what is known as the “American Dream”. And this is not fortuitous. It was the same General Obasanjo, who, in 1978 copied the US Constitution almost word for word and imposed it on Nigeria through subterfuge. That was the Constitution which was used to formally Unitarize Nigeria thus creating the fraudulent Federalism that has sent Nigeria down the slopes of human development.
The “American Dream”, with its various transformations within American history, was the result of the White, Anglo-Saxon Protestants enforcing their superiority and dominance on American territory, mainly through the expulsion of British colonialists, expropriation of Native American lands and incorporation of African slave labor as conditions precedent to the development of Capitalism in America, which became its defining moments of freedom offering opportunities for economic and social prosperity circumscribed by segregation, Jim Crow and other laws aimed at curtailing upward mobility of non-white, especially African-American People and which the former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice described as America’s “birth defect”. Flowing from this, and based on current conditions, a Nigerian Dream can only come about by the homogenization of the various cultures and peoples in Nigeria under a dominant culture, which will then be considered the “Nigerian Culture”. Its validity would depend on denying other cultures in favor of one and going by the rate of Fulani hegemony in Nigeria, the only possible “Nigerian Culture” would be Fulani Culture.
But while the Sultan of Sokoto sees no contradiction identifying himself as the leader of the Fulani in Nigeria and West Africa, therefore representing Fulani Culture beyond Nigeria’s borders, and the Yoruba, for example, also extend beyond Nigeria’s borders, a “Nigerian Culture” from these can be arrived at only through a commonality agreed upon by those concerned and which only a Geo- Politically Restructured Nigeria can bring about. This was and still is, the post-Independence message about the artificiality of Africa’s colonial borders and Awo’s insistence on Ethno-National Federalism as the only way out for a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society. The artificiality, already adjudged as the foundational problematic of Africa’s underdevelopment is now the backbone of general Obasanjo’s “Nigerian Culture”.
On the part of the current administration, pandering to herdsmen is its hallmark. Yet, President Buhari and his team are busy reeling out what they regard as their economic “achievements” mainly in terms of infrastructural development. But any determined regime can develop a society’s infrastructure! As part of these infrastructural initiatives, the Administration approved a railway network all the way to Niger Republic, a country dominated by the Hausa-Fulani Ethno-Nationality, while no such provision was made for any other part of non-Fulani West Africa, which goes to show that what is being offered is some form of economic or infrastructural carrot to the stick of Fulani hegemony.
Dictators, authoritarians, fascists and racists like Adolf Hitler and Mussolini provided the needed infrastructural and industrial base for Italy and the Nazi Republic; just as the Stalinist regime did in the former Soviet Union. Yet, these did not prevent the Nationalities in the Soviet Union from advancing their cause for freedom; neither did it prevent the development of different forms of opposition to the Third Reich both inside and outside of Hitler’s Germany.
Meanwhile, combined social, cultural, economic and infrastructural development was a reality in the Western Region. This was possible only because of the level of Autonomy obtained by the region in the run-up to Independence. This was why the Region lived a reality and not simply a dream; the reality being that the Region knew its existential imperatives, which entails the negation of the colonial construct of the African through the development of the culture (language, history, philosophy, performing and visual arts as well as excelling in Western forms of education) all of which combined to make for the total person which we are now proud of as our Golden Era.
This was the context through which the report of the APC Committee on Restructuring must be viewed. After stating what the Committee thinks we want to hear; State Police, State court of Appeal etc it went on to state that it noted the agitation by “states to exercise control over their natural resources within their respective territories and pay royalties to the federal government; and concluded by saying “if this recommendation is taken, then there will be consequential amendment”.
This is the crux of the matter. If States (meaning Federating Units) exercise such control, the wastage in NASS will be curtailed as its composition will be different. There will be a Nigerian bicameral legislature only if the Federating Units agree to it; the emoluments will be determined by their respective Federating Units; Nigeria’s President or head of State will be Collective with a representative from each of the Federating Units, meaning all the fundamental social and economic development will be the prerogative of the Unit and by which the colonial state architecture will be replaced thus creating room for the fullest cultural development of the society and moral values will be restored as Nigeria will no longer be a Feeding Bottle Federalism. Yet, some Units may prefer Parliamentary System while others may go for the emirate and cattle production and reproduction will be left to the prerogatives of the Units.
Since the current National Assembly cannot legislate itself out of existence,(although nothing stops it from doing so) a “consequential amendment” does not arise. As noted in the Introduction to the Draft Yoruba Constitution, “When different Nationalities and Ethnic Groups live in the same country, it is imperative that they each let the others know what their special interests are, to make living with each other worthwhile. If all of them are to live in peace, they must each know what is of paramount concern to each Nationality. Given the fact that the Yoruba Nation also extend beyond Nigeria, she has the obligation to preserve her cultural heritage and way of life within Nigeria and elsewhere where she has a sizeable community. In a situation where the Yoruba Nation share a common country with some other Nationalities either with feudal tendencies or conformity by coercion, this can be stifling to the fullest development of the Yoruba. It is therefore in the interest of the Yoruba Nation to have as much Autonomy in their Region as a Truly Federal arrangement would demand. This means that more power will be with the Nationality, where, with a True Federal set-up, planning and execution of social, economic and other services that meets the aspiration of Yoruba Nationhood will be possible. As we all now know, there is a serious question mark on Nigeria as a Federal State. This has led to current agitations and permutations as to correcting this fundamental defect. In considering current developments, certain areas that need to be thoroughly examined have been identified. Specifically, a Truly Federal Nigeria in which the Constituent Nationalities will possess a reasonable degree of Autonomy will require clear understanding of the impact of the following on the Nigerian Union:(1) The development of social and economic relationship between the various Nationalities within Nigeria and their Diaspora; for the Yoruba Nation, that will be Brazil, Cuba, the U.S, the West Indies and South America without the overriding legislative power of the Nigerian Union.(2) The ability of the Nations to pursue micro and macro-Economic policies (3) Regional Command of the Armed Forces, taking cognizance of the fact that a country’s defense is linked to its foreign policy and vice versa.”
There is therefore no need for any “consequential amendment”. What is needed is a completely new Constitution for the benefit of all the Nationalities in Nigeria. Such Constitution, as also noted in the Introduction, will be endorsed in the following manner: (1) Endorsement of Regional or Nationality Constitutions through Referendums within the various Regions or Nationalities only. (2) Endorsement of the Negotiated Federal Constitution through a country-wide Referendum. This means this must be the only electoral demand for the Yoruba and other Nationalities.