True Federalism, Basic Problem Of Nigeria.
The basis of agitation for true federalism is that Nigeria, which has over 500 ethnic nationalities with over 200 million people, is one of the most culturally pluralistic states, besides China and India which top all in ethnic nationalities in the world.
The poser is: Is the claim a basic or secondary problem in Nigeria? This article will briefly attempt to unravel the implications of the question! It was Baba Obafemi Awolowo and his most formidable and uniquely organised political party, the Action Group, who recognised the diverse and complex ethnic structures of Nigeria; hence, they opted for federalism. But our brethren from the East settled for unitarism with the connivance of their surrogates!
However, the 15 to 19 May, 1953 Kano riots taught the British and our brethren the unforgettable lessons of their lives. Thus, the call for the London Constitutional Conference by Sir Oliver Lyttleton, the Secretary for Colonies, in 1953; the conference was concluded in Lagos in 1954.
Nonetheless, one of the most unique aftermaths of the conference was declaration of Nigeria as federation. Most Nigerians were jubilating to their heart's content, but unknown to them, the federalism foisted on Nigeria was, and still is, a Trojan horse.
One of the principles or tenets of federalism is that no part of the federating units must be too large as to super-impose itself on others. Thus, the whole of the North was left intact; and by the grace of its representation, it could hold both the West and the East to ransom in their deliberations, decisions and policies in the central parliament.
The 18 states proposed for Nigeria by Baba Awolowo in his book, Path to Nigeria's Freedom, authored in 1947, was foolishly ignored. And even the Yakubu Gowon-led administration's rescue operation - creation of 12 states - did not help matter. The subsequent breaking of Nigeria into 36 states has also left the country perpetually in cold war till date.
Three administrations, those led by Ibrahim Babangida (IBB), Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan, put in place national conferences to no avail! The few voices from the North calling for restructure of Nigeria are Alhaji Balarabe Musa and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
Notwithstanding, a cursory review and study of leadership, constitutionalism, our socio-economic and political instability and un-wellness in Nigeria, from 1914 to date, show that our basic problem is not in federalism, but in both the leadership and the followership. Hence, the fundamental problems are Nigerians devoid of coherent, formidable, ordered and functional holistic system education. In other words, Nigerians, from 1914 to date, are denied holistic education. This explains why Nigeria always begins again at every bus stop, all to no avail!
This observation does not totally depict Nigeria as a rudderless ship, which sets to sail but which destination is nowhere. There are leaders, but too few for a nation like Nigeria which nationalities are not only strangers unto themselves, but also to others. Some of these leaders are Awolowo, Aminu Kano, Nnamdi Azikwe, Anthony Enahoro, Bola Ige, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Pa Adekunle Ajasin, Bode Thomas, Lateef Jakande, Michael Okpara, Ambose Alli, Young Sidi, Colonel Abubakar Umar, among others dead or living. These eminent Nigerians are singled out because they, by assessment and legacies, are the products of the schools of man and nature.
However, the one who tops them all is Baba Awolwo, Hermes Trismegistus of our time. In a word, while their counterparts in Nigeria are classed as conditioned souls, these eminent leaders are liberated souls, for they took/take messages and solutions to problems not from books but from the heart - the region where the master within dwells.
Conversely, the products of the schools of man take message and solutions to problems from the books and the head (brain). In another parlance, while the liberated souls are uniquely educated, their counterparts - conditioned souls - are only literate; that is, they can only read and write, no matter the level or degree of their educational height! They cannot go beyond the physics! Reason: 'Only the deep can call to the deep!'
From the above analysis, it may be construed that federalism or constitution is not our fundamental headache; thus, this is secondary. The basic headache is the absence of education in its holistic dimension.
The next question is what is education and how can it help in the culture and grooming of Nigerians so that its citizen can become fully and holistic developed personalities? Education, like many humanities, has diverse definitions. Thus, for this article, education may be defined as a process of nurturing and grooming a person to enable him become a totally and fully developed human; that is, a man with mental magnitude. Hence, not everybody may be regarded as an educated man. In most cases, a man may be seen as educated when actually we mean he is literate. That is to say, he is able to read and write. Therefore, it is not everyone who is able to read and write can be so regarded as educated. An educated man is he who is holistically cultured and nurtured to become a fully developed personality. In a word, a man, whose three elements - the body, brain and mind - are cultivated to the full and so known as a citizen of the world, such as Hermes Trismegistus, Socrates, Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Mandela, Obafemi Awolowo or Thomas Paine, is qualified to be so addressed as educated man.
Although literacy is bedrock for human holistic development in any society, the fact is that literacy is ambivalent, for it has both a positive and negative dimension.
While it can be used to build up a man to greater heights in knowledge, understanding and wisdom for service to God and humanity, it can also be used in the hands of fanatics via beliefs and indoctrinations to produce humans who will be thorns in the flesh of societies and humanity.
Such literacy education is peculiar to many religious organisations, dictators and human types in politics and the inverse gangster societies in theology and politics, wrongly termed 'secret' societies.
What Nigeria needs today is to forge her journey for socio-economic and political development and to exercise and maintain her national freedoms, at all costs, no matter the incidental inconveniences, is to setup a formidable national committee composed of Arcane philosophers, psychologists, Christified minds in all religions known in Nigeria - African, Christianity and Islam, criminologists, political scientists - who will be mandated to review our current perennially calamitous educational system which has been the fundamental source of our disunity, unwarranted and destructive antagonism, retrogression and leadership and followership which relish in narrow-mindedness, worldliness and dangerous bliss at its apogee.
The committee may break into subcommittees for the onerous assignments for the eternal good of Nigeria. They should study and search the books of Awolowo - People's Republic (1968) and Awoism by Omoboriowo (1985) - as well as visit societies in the world - United States of America, Canada, France, China, Japan, Ghana, Germany, etc. - to study and research into their educational system, probe into factors which prevent religious fanaticism and why these states put in place in their national ethos, the invaluable adherence to the principles of public morality, justice, patriotism, service, rule of law, etc. These are virtues little known in our society.
Moreover, the Federal Government, under the Presidency of His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), whose unalloyed mandate to rescue Nigeria from our self-induced chronic ailments of all manners, should be kind enough to provide funds for the rescue operations for our nation-state, Nigeria.
After their deliberations, decisions and recommendations, the report should be submitted to the Buhari-led administration, and after a close study of it, it should be reviewed and published for reactions and contributions from the Nigerian populace.
The final product of the exercise should be forwarded to the Federal Ministry of Education for implementation at all levels of our educational system - pre-primary, primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. Besides, all the religious organisations should be mandated to fall in line with our eternal directives (Subject to review from time to time) to save ourselves and posterity from self-induced and irremediable destruction via calamitous and hide-bounded system of education.
This suggested proposal may take time, but the ardent law is 'where there is will, there is way.' No God, the heavenly hosts or our ancestors will come down to save us Nigerians. We have to beg ourselves, not God, to work and uplift ourselves from the morass and depth of ignorance in which we are flourishing. Thus, heaven helps those who help themselves.
From this exercise and its eventual implementation, God, our ancestors and the comity of nations will joyfully clap, praise and treat us all as, indeed, born again.
We will now know, for sure, that our problem is not in our star, but in ourselves. Hence, the call for restructuring of Nigeria as true federalism is not the basic headache; it is a secondary one.
Our kingdom of God is restructuring Nigerians via the holistic and constructive educational system - our basic problem. When this is accomplished, all other things will be added. Nigerians would be living and cherishing the golden rule. We will become our brother's keepers. We will now come to grip with one of the unique definitions of politics which says: Politics is an art of gaining and using power over one's fellowman; that a politician is dealing with the stubborn facts of human nature, and that a well designed constitution will mean less, unless there are just and wise men to work it.' (Ward, 1976).
With the production of these men - liberated souls - in our new educational system, Nigeria will, thus, begin her journey to unique harmony, stability and greater tomorrow.
Odekanyin writes from Isokun Titun, Oyo, Oyo State