A professor of political science and former Minister of External Affairs, Bolaji Akinyemi, speaks with BAYO AKINLOYE on Nnamdi Kanu’s agitation, how Buhari can save Nigeria from collapse and why corruption persists
Do you suppose Nnamdi Kanu and the Indigenous People of Biafra are asking for an excessive amount of that the Igbo ought to choose out of Nigeria?
There are totally different peculiarities below which there may be peaceable separation. An instance is what occurred in the previous Czechoslovakia, when the Czech and the Slovak went their separate methods, as a result of it was doable to attract clear strains of separation. But in most circumstances, separation had really been by civil wars that carried heavy prices in phrases of lack of lives and destruction of property, leaving a legacy of an enduring bitterness
instance is India and Pakistan. Seventy years after, the strains of demarcation are nonetheless being hotly contested by militarily engagements. In reality, India and Pakistan fought many wars in these 70 years. Achieving a peaceable, non-violent separation, by all means, is debatable alongside theoretical and sensible strains.
For occasion, what does Kanu imply by ‘Biafra’? There are states he included in Biafra and the folks in these states have stated they would don’t have anything to do together with his proposed nation. Already, there’s a competition over the place the strains of demarcation might be. I believe that we will nonetheless peacefully resolve the difficulty of the Nigerian query at this stage, offered we handle the dual concern of fears of domination and marginalisation. We should handle that. We should admit that there’s something improper with the Nigerian federal system as it’s. We should have a look at the system that we operated, utilizing the 1960 and 1963 constitutions with the mandatory amendments. There needs to be much less vanity and intolerance proven in the direction of constituent components of the Nigerian nation. You can not use the momentary acquisition of energy to impose a system on others, pondering everyone might be blissful about it. Most of the issues in the world have come about by miscalculations – not deliberate (actions). Many wars fought in the world have been on account of miscalculations with varied events, underestimating how far-reaching their actions could be.
All I’m saying is that, I hope those that are in management of the Federal Government won’t develop into complacent by ignoring the truth that different persons are feeling harm and are dissatisfied with the system that we’ve now. We shouldn’t as a result of doing so might be a calamitous mistake. Who will win the confrontation, I don’t know. But what I do know is that each one events can pay a heavy worth – it won’t be just like the 1966/1967 (coup) once more. It won’t be just like the 1967 to 1970 civil battle once more. Right now, there’s a proliferation of weapons all around the nation and the diffusion of grievances will create battle fronts. The Nigerian navy is stretched skinny with all of the challenges it’s at the moment dealing with internally. I don’t suppose you wish to put extra stress on it. We should search a non-violent means. We should have interaction in dialogue. There should be, on the a part of the Federal Government, the readiness to undertake a extra subtle method in selling the dialogue and a preparedness to alter the nation.
In his handle to the nation after his return from the United Kingdom, President Muhammadu Buhari stated the restructuring of the nation might be dealt with by the National Assembly. How will you react to that?
Which president are we speaking about? Is it the president who gave that speech or is it the president who launched into consultative engagements with totally different stakeholders in the nation the next week? Obviously, I’d have most popular that we’re confronted with a president who engaged in consultations and in addition in all probability introduced in extra stakeholders. In a means, the presidency of any nation is a crucial agent for change. The Americans name it the bully pulpit syndrome. The buck stops with the president. The physique language of the president can decide the result of an engagement. I maintain the idea that President Buhari has a crucial function to play in shifting the nation ahead in averting the oncoming tragedy and in heading the nation away from collision to a cooperative vacation spot in arriving on the form of federalism that might be acceptable to all of us. He has a duty to try this.
Apart from being the president, he (Buhari) in all probability proper now, is the one Nigerian that may be certain that we don’t find yourself in a ditch; in spite of what he says at instances, he’s the one Nigerian. Not that he stands the prospect; he’s the one individual. Whether he’ll do it or not, is a unique kettle of fish. Now, why do I say that? The current system that we’ve is skewed in favour of the North and the way in which ahead must be the give up of points from the 1999 Constitution managed by the Federal Government to the states. Some points on the unique record must be moved to the concurrent record and probably, there must be a creation of the reserved record. So, it’s the North that should make the concession. But when you’re going to be rational in your method, the North needs to be persuaded that it isn’t being requested to commit political or financial suicide and the one individual proper now that the North really trusts and believes won’t play politics with their pursuits is Muhammadu Buhari. He stands now in the form of place that the (late) Sardauna stood in the sixties. An common individual on the northern streets believes in Buhari in the way in which that they don’t believe in (former Vice President) Atiku (Abubakar) or my former boss, IBB, as a result of these are the individuals who have spoken out forcefully calling for restructuring. The northern streets will conclude that these individuals are taking part in with their pursuits.
But Buhari stands in that place of trust in the estimation of the northern streets that ‘if he ought to say that we have to hand over these points, he’s not promoting us.’ What we have to do is to search out folks in the North that Buhari trusts – individuals who can focus on with him, that he believes are usually not setting a lure for him. The Yoruba leaders’ assembly in Ibadan and this interview won’t get by to Buhari. But there are folks in the North who can communicate with him. There should be mutual trust between Buhari and people talking with him.
Should Buhari reshuffle his cupboard?
For what cause or for what objective ought to he reshuffle the cupboard? It seems to be the pastime of the general public to wish to see folks disgraced and humbled. But once more if you have a look at the individuals who have been appointed in the primary place, what was the idea for his or her appointment? I don’t embrace cupboard reshuffle only for reshuffling’s sake.
Buhari and the All Progressives Congress have been voted into energy with their promise to deal decisively with corruption in the nation. Is that promise being fulfilled?
Do you believe every little thing a political get together says? When you have a look at the individuals who fund events – not simply the current ruling get together, I’m speaking about any of the political events in Nigeria – the place does the cash come from? Look on the financiers, are they clear? Are their fingers clear? Do you count on any political get together to commit suicide? Until the inspiration of your politics is clear, you can not count on a clear authorities and you can not count on it to get into energy and go after the financiers. You can’t try this.
We need the nation to be united first. We need the nation to resolve its drawback of stability earlier than tackling corruption. Part of the issue of coping with corruption is that a authorities needs to be in energy first and be steady. But if you now rely on corrupt folks to win your election and to stay in energy, how are you going to take care of corruption? Is the federal government steady? Is Nigeria steady?
What do you concentrate on the current gathering of some Yoruba leaders in Ibadan to take a proper place on the restructuring of Nigeria?
What’s known as the Yoruba Agenda is one thing that’s about 20 years previous. Various teams and ethnic nationalities in Nigeria have come to the conclusion, particularly after the debacle of the June 12 (presidential election in 1993) that we’ve a system that’s not working. The Yoruba agenda has been fixed. The constituents of the agenda have been re-confirmed on the convention held in Ibadan just lately; which is regionalism and states inside it and different constituent components in phrases of financial devolution. So, I’m not shocked by the result of the assembly in Ibadan. There was the necessity for such a gathering as a result of it reconfirms what the place of the Yoruba has at all times been. Two, it offers a ready-made reply to anybody who might wish to ask: ‘What do you folks need? What’s your individual contribution to the controversy on restructuring?’
Are you bothered that the South-West governors weren’t on the gathering?
What I usually discover humorous however on the similar time disruptive, is the proverb that claims, ‘we can not all sleep and preserve the identical place.’ As Wole Soyinka as soon as stated, you’ll be able to provide you with different proverbs that you could all sleep and preserve the identical place. If you’re preventing a battle, there may be the necessity to have a unity of objective; there should be a unified focus. Therefore, to that extent, it’s worrisome that the (South-West) governors weren’t there. But this is a matter which has confronted the Yoruba nation from time immemorial. Several makes an attempt have been made to deal with that concern unsuccessfully.
The most disastrous prevalence in the Yoruba nation was the Kiriji battle which lasted for years between Ekiti Parapo and the Ibadan Alliance, (and) virtually turned the Yoruba nation upside-down. If you have a look at the Yoruba historical past, both to say from then on or perhaps even earlier than then, it has at all times been a case of a divided nation. Even when the Action Group, headed by Baba (Chief Obafemi) Awolowo, was in energy, the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons gave the Action Group a run for its cash electorally. We by no means had a scenario the place the Action Group gained 80 or 90 per cent of the votes – it was at all times profitable just a bit over 50 per cent with the NCNC very shut behind it. At instances, whereas the AG gained the regional election, in the West, the NCNC really gained the federal election. The comfort then was that such actuality didn’t cease the Action Group below the late Chief Awolowo from recording super successes in the operating of the Western Region such that, to this point, these achievements are nonetheless considered the benchmark in the event of Nigeria – as a result of in a means, that was what led to what I’d name cooperative however aggressive federalism. If one area was doing one thing, the opposite area would wish to do it as nicely. But you wanted any individual with a imaginative and prescient to start out it. So, that’s the comfort whether or not the governors have been there or not, – it’ll sluggish it down – there may be nothing that can cease the march of the Yoruba nation in the direction of having the form of political system which its folks need.
But – I hope I can’t be misunderstood as a result of I don’t want to be misunderstood – the Yoruba nation won’t get what it desires as a result of in a federation, whether or not that federation is in phrases of a village group, a state group, a nationwide group or perhaps a international group, one constituent component by no means will get every little thing that it desires. You’ve acquired to barter with the others and hopefully, you arrive at a consensus that each one of you’ll be able to reside with. In the 1960 Constitution, the Northern People’s Congress led by the late Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello, didn’t get every little thing it wished for the North. (Dr. Nnamdi) Azikiwe, main the NCNC, didn’t get every little thing he wished for the East. And, Chief Awolowo, main the AG, didn’t get every little thing he wished for the West. But there was adequate consensus on crucial points that allowed them to say, ‘This is a structure we will promote to our folks and this can be a structure we will reside with.’
Do you agree with the Yoruba leaders that the nation ought to return to the 1960 and 1963 constitutions?
I do. But it’s good to spell out what you imply by that. We want to deal with our language of engagement, which is, we discuss in generality. Demands are made (by all sides) in generality. So, the solutions are given in generality as a result of either side is studying its fears into the controversy. When you say ‘we wish to restructure’, these towards restructuring are questioning, ‘what do they imply precisely?’. They wish to take energy away from us. They wish to deny us what we’re benefitting from the system. It’s all a plot to allow them to dominate us – that’s what they imply by restructuring.’ But, when you say, by restructuring, ‘we imply political devolution and consequently, financial devolution.’ After all, you can not switch govt obligations to the states over some points and never give them the means to hold that out.
I say this as a result of when they (Yoruba leaders) stated we have to return to the 1960 and 1963 constitutions, what they meant was, when you have a look at the reserved record and the concurrent record; you have a look at the topics which might be on the lists that had been transferred to the federal authority, you’ve turned Nigeria from being a federal system to a unitary system. So, we wish to return; allow us to have a look at these topics once more and return what must be the ‘returnable’ to the states. Why do I say the ‘returnable’? The capability to execute what a area had in the sixties is just not the identical factor because the capability to execute by a state – the state is smaller. It’s not a query of the financial functionality. So, it must be in an amended model. We’re speaking about what the West – the Yoruba nation – desires. But preserve it in thoughts that what you need might not be perceived as being helpful to others who’re even your allies.
Let me offer you an illustration: one of many issues folks have discovered baffling is the choice reached on the 2014 National Conference. It is the decision, calling for the creation of 54 states. Many couldn’t perceive it as they argued that the present 36 states are struggling resulting from insufficient funds. People appear to have forgotten that in a constitutional convention – which the nationwide convention actually was – you deliver to the desk your individual calls for, a regional system and also you go to others to ask them for his or her help. I do know undoubtedly that the Middle Belt and the South-South don’t believe in the regional system. But since those that need regional system are their allies, they can say, ‘all proper, however what we wish, to guard our pursuits as states, is the creation of extra states. So, when you conform to our state creation, we’ll conform to your regional system.’ Since you can not drive your demand on them and they can not drive their demand on you, you negotiate – you cut price – and that was how that proposal (of 54 states) happened.
The Yoruba nation should perceive the necessity to negotiate with others who’ve their very own agenda because it pushes ahead its regional authorities agenda. We’ve acquired to point out cleverness, knowledge, and acumen in the negotiation that can observe to ensure that we don’t lose the core of our personal calls for and pursuits. The essential factor is for us to take care of the query of domination; to make sure a system the place there isn’t any computerized domination of any group by one other group. The different concern is what the European Union known as the difficulty of subsidiarity, which is that what’s finest dealt with on the native degree. They must be reserved for the native authorities degree. That signifies that there are issues which the native governments must be allowed to deal with; similar factor on the state and federal ranges.
Part of the pronouncement made by the Yoruba leaders is that Nigeria won’t know peace until it’s run as a federal state. Do you agree with that?
I do. We are too giant and our pursuits are various, not essentially antagonistic that it makes quite a lot of sense for us to present this respiratory house to every constituent models of the nation and that may solely be achieved below the system of federalism. Fortunately, federalism is such an elastic idea that we don’t have to lose sleep over the form of federalism that’s achievable for Nigeria. But one of many issues that we might want to jettison in our thoughts is the idea of true federalism. There’s nothing known as ‘true federalism’. Each federal state adopts a system that addresses the core points which that nation wants to deal with. The Canadian idea of federalism is totally different from both the German or the American federal system. It doesn’t actually matter what identify it’s known as. What’s in a reputation? A rose by another identify continues to be a rose. Like the Americans will say, ‘It appears like a federal state. It smells like a federal state. It works like a federal state. Damn it, it’s a federal state!’ What we must be in search of is a Nigerian federalism that’s distinctive to Nigeria (and) that enables us to reside collectively with out the worry of dominance and marginalisation. It’s those that are dominated who speak about marginalisation; it’s these which might be doing the domineering which have the worry that until they have powers in their fingers, they’re going to lose out. They worry being marginalised.
The spate of crime and insecurity has continued to extend. What do you suppose is liable for this?
These are laborious instances however the manifestations are international not simply native. I doubt if there may be any nation in the world that claims it feels safer now than it did 10 or 15 years in the past since you’re coping with phenomena which might be international in nature. Trans-continental, non-governmental alliance and actions that aren’t below the management of a authorities and subsequently, the sorts of constraints and restraints that usually govern inter-governmental behaviours are completely absent and Nigeria is just not resistant to that. Another cause is the dearth of an elite consensus in our politics – it’s detrimental to nationwide improvement.
Perhaps the one time we had elite consensus was between 1953 and 1963. The second a state of emergency was declared in the South-West in 1962, it destroyed the post-independence elite consensus. It additionally destroyed the political values by which we maintained stability in the nation. I’m not saying that period was excellent; we had a system that was predictable. Predictable in the way in which it was run, predictable in its final result, and predictable in the goals by which the nation was run – that was what I meant by a aggressive federalism. It was destroyed in 1962 as a result of it meant a seizure of energy in the West by the Federal Government, by the North and the East. In an try to destroy the West, they triggered off forces that ended up destroying Nigeria itself and we’ve by no means recognized peace since then.
Do you suppose Nigeria is a failing state?
Yes, I do. I feel we’re driving down the highway to turning into a failed state. But I don’t suppose we’re a failed state. There will at all times be contestations and a few of them may very well be violent however they’re not adequate to time period a rustic a failed state, in any other case, nations just like the United States of America and Spain might fall in that class. We’re in such an unstable place than we’re in the 1960s.
What now’s the way in which out of it?
It has to do with the creation of an elite consensus. Imagine if the elite can get their acts collectively and we run an trustworthy political system – a political system of governance that delivers dividends. I’m not speaking about dividends of democracy. I’m speaking about dividends of governance the place roads are correctly constructed, the challenges in the academic system being successfully addressed, amongst others. The political gerrymandering that goes on as an alternative of governance the place bridges are constructed the place there aren’t any rivers or construct river below the bridge.
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