23rd May, 2013
The august gathering of eminent Nigerians under the aegis of the Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly, SNPA, recently, in Lagos is welcome. The meeting is laudable as it frankly deliberated on the touchy issues threatening the country’s existence, as well as proffering some solutions, which are in sync with popular agitations by other change-seeking Nigerians.
Chief of their demand is the imperative for convocation of a national dialogue among ethnic nationalities.
The attendance of many of the dignitaries, who are known to favour the preservation of the nation as one, indivisible entity, suggested they have suddenly realised, like others who have always championed the cause of a national conference, the imminent danger facing the country if certain burning issues are not addressed now. More than the SNPA’s conference, it is trite to say that our parochial federalism, rather than be of benefit to the country’s ethnic nationalities, has entrenched divisive competitive interests, as well as prebendalism that are atavistic to modern trends. The country, since independence, has been on the path of retrogression and catastrophe, not by default, but because of a deliberate pretence to nationhood by an inept, self-seeking and visionless military/civilian traditional clique.
The wilful refusal of Nigeria’s cyclical power wielders to admit that the country is a living lie, and no more than a fatally paternalistic Leviathan strung to protect elite minority tyranny, betrays their devil-may-care adventurist inclinations to keep the people powerless, divided and poor. As Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels noted in the Communist Manifesto, the executive branch of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the ruling class, and not the majority of the people! The country is ailed on all fronts –there is cry over marginalisation by ethnic groupings, religious riots, Islamic fundamentalists insurgency, self-determination tensions, mutual distrust and problem of political succession, skewed federalism, stinking corruption, among others. Nigeria, like Canada, is multi-cultural, yet the latter, through a referendum by the people, was able to resolve the tension between break-away seeking, French-speaking Quebec and English dominated Ontario, in favour of an indivisible sovereign state. Unity in diversity negates over-centralisation, as we practice it here. Federalism is better appreciated in a system, which guarantees the existence of a centripetal force, while preserving the autonomy of the centrifugal units. A situation, where the Federal Government, which is a mere abstraction to which the people surrender part of their rights, reduce the states to a beggarly status, is a violation of our social contract. It is important to stress the culpability of the National Assembly in assailing the people’s political sovereignty, as the ultimate decider of how they want to be governed. The piecemeal tinkering of the constitution and their selfish attempts to frustrate the convocation of a national dialogue give them away as conspirators against our collective will. The National Assembly must realise that authority and legitimacy flow from the people, who determine what should be retained, modified or repealed in the constitution through a plebiscite. We join the SNPA and other change-seekers to demand convocation of a national dialogue. More importantly, the conveners of the conference should stretch a hand of brotherhood across the country to bring on board like minds from the north into its subsequent deliberation.
We urge President Goodluck Jonathan to earnestly put in motion machinery for the actualisation of the communique issued by the SNPA at the end of its deliberation. This is the genuine Transformation Agenda the people seek.