Uncertainty pervades the democratic atmosphere of Nigeria at the moment. There are numerous debates on which region that should produce the president. The rotational method of producing a presidential candidate in Nigeria is about to be jettisoned. While the South East is insisting on producing a presidential candidate, others on self -determination movements are persistently pushing on and asking questions whether to forget anything to do with the presidential ambitions of their zones and leave Nigeria or stay to realize their dreams of producing a President. The fear that devastates the Nigerian political equation is numerous. This fear needs to be conquered in order to know the direction Nigeria should go. Otherwise Nigeria would be living on speculations, limbo of uncertainty, political gimmicks and drags without knowing where to head to.
Nigeria went through war and the wounds of the war have not healed holistically. Many Nigerians are not humble enough to understand the politics of war and how it unites positively and not negatively in the minds of people. War should not create permanent enmity as the aftermath brings better understanding for a lasting friendship. It is to make each other understand their rights and know a better way to tolerate each other. Nigerians should not rehash the effects of the war but make use of its lessons. After the war, it was said “No Victor No vanquished” The debates on restructuring have been on for a long time and it has been a great fear to certain regions. There would be a long way for acceptability to restructure except the North comes to an agreement with other Nigerians. There are many un-agreeable matters that create fear if not discussed.
The only thing we should strive to do is to conquer the political phobia of Igbo presidency and restructuring. The politics that should be echoing now is the politics of unity of purpose and not the tribal jingoisms that are penetrating all the sectors. Ban on open grazing has been debated for long following the numerous atrocities committed by the Fulani herdsmen. There had been several manipulations from above to cover them up. The recent meeting of the South-East governors brought about a strong agreement on this issue; to ban open grazing. This didn’t go down well with many triggering a shameful outburst and lame comparisons of the killer herdsmen with Igbo spare parts dealers from a supposedly Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Attorney General of the Federation. His widely criticized statement has further revealed the tribalism stench in our system. Imagine the Attorney General shelving professionalism aside to openly align with his tribe.
Many are asking about the fate of the common man in the Nigerian Judicial system when the heads are ethnically and religiously inclined! Nigeria should not promote ethnic phobia and other things that do not make us think and act together. We should agree on what favours all of us not on only what favours some at the expense of others. Nigeria has said many “yes” that is still haunting her and now afraid to say a NO. In other climes the legislative arms speak with one voice and speak boldly on only the things that would benefit the masses but in Nigeria the Legislature are there for selfish reasons. Nigeria has compromised so much trying to foist unity that seems to be in futility. These things are still going on and nobody has tapped at each other to say “wait a minute, how is grazing done in America or Britain? Can open grazing be done in any of the American states” Somebody must raise an objection and say it is an idea of a stone age that mimics today’s man.
This is what we forgot to say or debate if we are to follow parliamentary procedures and political protocols. Nigerian legal system should not lie dormant but should be reactivated for the purpose of solving this menace. If late Gani Fawehinmi were alive, he could have spoken against many kangaroo judgments hitting our backs. Our law should influence sound judgments and leave the individual to feel the sound judgment and not make the individuals feel like they are not part of the society. We are no longer in a society of one-man show, a society of one cock that crows. Nigeria has several legal luminaries that are relegated to the backgrounds due to quota systems and biased appointments. They should be allowed to shine and fix the rot in the system. Democracy is said to be the government of the people, by the people and for the people. Countries where democracy is enthroned are usually envied because it is widely believed that the citizens of such countries would enjoy the dividends of democracy which is usually visible on a very high standard of living, exercise of fundamental human rights and low cost of living.
Democratic dividends are easily felt around every street of the nation they are practiced with smiles on the faces of the locals; smiles of great assurance that their governments got their backs and plans for them in all they do. They are happy that their representatives at the legislative houses are representing them well to bring development to the grassroots. Can we say the same thing about those we elected to represent us at all levels in our own socalled “Democracy” when we are not sure of what to eat or electricity tomorrow? Do the citizens even feel there is government thinking about them? With the situations of things on ground now, many Nigerians are confused about the system of government in practice. Some call it Mili-democracy; some call it autocracy while after past analysis it became glaring that we are in Kleptocratic-democracy or Thievocracy; a government whose corrupt leaders (Kleptocrats) use political power to appropriate the wealth of their nation through embezzlement.
Is our “democracy” worth celebrating or simply a “demonstration of craze” as Fela Anikulapo Kuti once sang? The following are the questions on the lips of an average Nigerian: Can we boldly say we are celebrating democracy with various tramples on the fundamental human rights, no balanced representations of regions in political appointments and no clear free and fair elections? Can we be happy to celebrate democracy in a high state of insecurity? Can we be bold to talk about celebration of democracy amidst falling Naira value, wobbling economy, hunger and high costs of living? This is a critical time in our Nation that calls for a deep sober reflection by all. A nation whose citizen cannot be proud to celebrate is heading to doom. Our leaders should preach unity and prove it through inclusiveness and policies that would turn the economy around to restore smiles on the faces of the citizens not policies that trigger frowns and agitations for self- determinations due to leadership failures and untold hardships on the entire citizenry. • Very Rev. Msgr. Livinus Ukah is a Catholic Priest, author of many books and a Social Justice and Peace Advocate.