ow and then, those whose actions and inaction created the problems Nigeria is grabbing with make utterances that makes one wonder where they get the audacity for their false righteous indignation. The latest is Obasanjo, who, like Babangida, said that he will spill his blood to keep Nigeria one. Unfortunately, this masked threat meant to those who are paying the blood price of the misrule of Nigeria, may be having the opposite effect. It is not too difficult to see why these men believe in Nigeria. Nigeria has been good to them. They have led the country, looted it, committed crimes against her and have not been brought to justice. Who will not love a country where he can send a parcel bomb to an editor of a national newspaper and send his critics to jail, or dispatches with his Attorney general and opponents without consequences? Who will not want a country where he would plan with jihadist at night and fight for democracy in the day in order to remain unaccountable for his crimes and retain his loot? One wonders what is so good about the Nigeria of today, that Babangida and Obasanjo wants to preserve at all cost. Is it the culture of impunity and injustice which has enables them to flourish or institutionalised corruption which has made them millionaires simply by serving their country as soldiers and leaders?
In the Nigeria they want to keep together, 85% of the oil block is held by northerners through an opaque and corrupt system of allocation. Nigeria is the oil producing country in the world that allocates its oil well in this corrupt and unfair manner. The unity of Nigeria which they believe is non-negotiable accommodates a north which operates under Sharia laws while using secular constitution to appropriate a disproportionate share of the resources and political positions and offices of state to its region. No one sees the injustice of north benefiting for the oil in a manner that impoverishes the south. They do not care that while the indigenes of the oil producing areas live in poverty and experience a short and brutish life, worsened by the ecological consequences of inconsiderate oil exploration, some of the northern owners of the oil block say that they do not know what to do with their money. Why should majority of the oil block be held by northerners when many regions of the country have no one with oil block?
Why should the oil in the south pay for the weapons of Boko Haram and northern legislators have the audacity to complain about meagre 10% of profit from oil exploration going to oil producing area? Is this really the way they feel about the people in the area from which they have benefited most? What good are the owners of the Nigerian oil block doing? How many good causes are they supporting? How many jobs are they creating? What poverty alleviation programs are they involved in? What contribution are they making in the education of less privileged Nigerians? What is their contribution to health for all? What are they doing with the huge amount of money they are making from what belongs to all? What are the evidence that they are alive to the huge moral responsibility which they great wealth they acquired in unfair and corrupt manner places on them? These are the moral questions they and the government who aid and abate this unjust and criminal distribution of wealth must answer.
In the Nigeria Obasanjo and Babangida wants to keep together with the last drop of their blood, Boko Haram has ethnically cleansed Igbos from the north, making it impossible for Jonathan or any non-northerner to get 25% of the votes cast in any election, and they continue to terrorise the whole country. Obasanjo and Babangida together ruled Nigeria for 20 years of its 50 years as independent country. In the same country, Fulani herdsmen are ethnically cleansing villages in Benue-plateau region, creating one of the world’s largest numbers of internally displaced people. In the Nigeria they vow to maintain, Politicians steal the treasury dry and get permanent court injunction to stop their prosecution. In one week: In Enugu, divisional police officer was assassinated by a gang while under the protection of his orderly. In Abia state, a woman is widowed after kidnappers collected ransom and killed her husband. In Lagos, a young man was gunned down by a police man because he would not pay the demanded bribe. In Anambra state bodies of victims of extra judicial killings turned up in a river and the police has made investigation impossible by the way it has handled the evidence. In the Nigeria Obasanjo and Babangida wants to keep together at all cost, Politicians, the rich and powerful send their families abroad, drive armoured cars, have private security guarding them, and live behind high walled, barbed wired and electrified fenced houses. The list of the signs of the disintegration of Nigeria is endless and those who should know better deny the need for change because they want to hide their crimes forever and keep their ill-gotten wealth. The Nigeria, whose unity Obasanjo and Babangida are determined to keep together, spends 80% of recurrent expenditure on government and about 1% of the population control 80% of its wealth. In Their Nigeria, the rich live and the poor die. Legislators and governors live like royalty and drug barons, while the greater majority of the population live on less than a dollar a day. This is the contraption these men want to remain unchanged. They must love Nigeria very much.
Babangida destroyed Nigeria civil service by making its highest offices political appointments. By so doing he destroyed the ability of the civil service to act in the best interest of the country but rather became an instrument in the hands of those in power. It is this singular change in the governance of Nigeria that has enabled corrupt to spread like wild fire and become the inferno it is today. Obasanjo on the other had took the abuse of power to a new height and helped shape our current democratic dictatorship which consolidated the power of the president to offer people oil blocks and makes accountability impossible. This is what makes it possible for Jonathan to allocate 4 billion naira to the office of his wife who is at the same time a permanent secretary in Bayelsa state, something that is unheard of in other secular democracy. Obasanjo made it difficult for the votes of Nigeria to count in elections by rigging elections where he wanted to retain influence. He turned a blind eye to abuses of power and crimes when victims are opponents and perpetrators his allies. He used statutory bodies to pursue his enemies for the same crimes he shields his cronies from. Both have refused to answer questions about the crimes committed during their time but prefer to offer sanctimonious commentary on the affairs of the country they did their best to destroy.
It is impossible for an accountant general, auditor general or permanent secretary or director general appointed by the president or governor, and who knows that the president or governor can sack him any time to do anything to obstruct their path to corruption. In all countries where this is the case, corruption is a big problems. It would seem that the Nigeria system was set up by those whose true intention and motive was to make it easy for them to steal from the state and it is time to correct this anomaly. No honest person who wants to stop the theft of his properties leaves his door open and plans only to chase the thief after he has walked thorough unlocked doors and stolen everything. Nigerian leaders must demonstrate their sincerity and honest commitment to end corruption in Nigeria by rectifying the anomalies in our system that makes it easy for politicians and others in position of authority to steal from the country and abuse their positions and powers.
One would expect that people like Obasanjo and Babangida would be suggesting solutions to these problems, especially as they cannot deny how easy it is to loot the Nigeria treasury and amass wealth. They can help by encouraging the national assembly to enact legislations to reverse these anomalies. This would be a very important, if not the most important step towards bringing corruption under control in Nigeria. These men have kept quiet about the need for Governors and president to lose their immunity from prosecution for corruption while in office, the power to appoint senior civil servants and for all such posts to become depoliticised. Every honest person knows that an important remedy to the Nigerian problem is for chief executives to retain the power to confirm and accept resignation but never to appoint those in position to hold them accountable. All such appointments should revert to independent appointment agency which should be mandated to fill all post through competitive interviews. This is the future, and we shy away from this at our peril. If history has taught mankind anything, it is that no human being, no matter how virtuous or saintly should be invested with unaccountable power. We know that even saints abuse unaccountable given sufficient justification. All that Caiaphas needed to falsely convict Jesus of a crime he did not commit was to accuse him of blasphemy. Indeed, unaccountable power corrupts absolutely.
No one should be so powerful that he cannot be forced to change a bad decision when it is proved to be a bad decision. The Nigeria democracy lacks this very important ingredient of a good and viable democracy, and it is the responsibility of the legislators to add it. We cannot set up a system that enhances abuse of power, and then wonder why politicians abuse power. One cannot keep a yam at the rich of a tethered goat and wonder why the goat eats the yam. At this time in the evolution of the Nigerian democracy, most of its leaders are not coming from amongst its best which is another reason why the system should be fortified to resist the inevitable tendency of the politicians to abuse their position and power. If these checks are put in place, the system would be able to identify and expel a corrupt politician before they do much damage. There is no point investing money on system that is meant to go after politicians after they have stolen. It is better to prevent a politician from stealing than to attempt to recover what he has stolen. Nigerian leaders and politicians must show that they are honest and sincere about their commitment to Nigeria and acting in the way and manner honest and reasonable people would, under similar circumstance; will show that they are.
I also would love Nigeria to survive, but not in its current form. There is enough evidence to show that Nigeria is not viable in its present form. The widening of the gap between the rich and the poor, the increasing of the differences between the north and the south and the implementation of sharia laws in north Nigeria, all are evidence that the unity of Nigeria is seriously undermined. In addition, the emergency of Boko Haram, the silence of the north on the atrocities committed by Boko Haram against southerners in the north, the corrupt judiciary, the focus of northern leaders on amnesty for members of Boko Haram and their silence on the need for justice for the victims of the atrocities or Boko Haram, the attitude of the north to Islam and how the south takes its Christian religion; all go to show that the Nigerian unity which Obasanjo and Babangida wishes to preserve with the last drop of their blood is hollow. Furthermore, the failure of the government to redress the many injustices of the civil war and the overt and covert marginalisation of different sections of the country, and the concerted effort by the north to dominate all aspects of Nigeria without giving a thought to the rights and entitlements of other regions, are among the many reasons why Nigeria cannot survive in its present form and make the case for a renegotiated unity based on the rule of law, equality, tolerance, justice as fairness and one constitution.
What Babangida and Obasanjo may not wish to accept is that once the variables that will lead to the disintegration of any country reaches a critical mass, they takes a life of their own and will bring about the demise of the country, no matter what anybody thinks or does. Obasanjo and Babangida are two Nigerians in a privileged position to help Nigeria avoid a violent disintegrate but instead prefer to play self-serving ethnic and religious politics with the future of Nigeria. They can stand up and speak the truth and then use their position to compel those in position to act, to do the right thing but prefers to protect their personal and sectarian interests. Nigeria can no longer continue with a federal government with extraordinary power of patronage which fuels a do or die struggle for power at the centre. Nigeria needs to decentralise power by devolving power to the regions.
Nigeria needs to revert to three or six regions with greater autonomy. This is of the best ways to save Nigeria. This will immediately reduce the cost of government and release fund for the necessary social investment which the country needs. Nigeria does not need thirty six states, thirty six governors and thirty six houses of assembly. This is simply madness and another example that there is something wrong with the black mind, especially when invested with power. Nigeria needs a political party that is willing to be radical in thinking and offer Nigeria the bitter medicine it needs for its deadly malady. Obasanjo and Babangida can still redeem themselves if they can find the courage to yield to what is in the best interest of all regions of Nigeria and allow truth, equality and justice to guide their thinking. The choice is theirs’. No unity, is non-negotiable. A non-negotiable unity is forced association and a violation of one of the most important fundamental human rights. Nigeria must prepare to renegotiate her unity, if it wants to endure. Nigeria unity is negotiable, it is the only way to preserve it.