E O EkeSaturday, June 23, 2012



his is the second part of a three part article on the roadmap to change in Nigeria. Part (1) was published on 28 March 2012. URL:https://nigeriaworld/features/publications/eke/032712.html Since then, the continued deterioration in all aspects of the Nigerian society, especially in the area of probity and security has made the issues raised in the first article more poignant. Moreover, the recent attempt by the opposition parties to unite against PDP and the persistent inability of Mr Goodluck Jonathan to find the rhythm for his presidency and give Nigerians hope, a sense of direction and belonging has made the issue of what is the right direction for Nigeria more crucial. Not a few sincere Nigerians see the effort by the opposition to unite as anything than an attempt to find a new bottle for old wine. It is easy to see that the future of Nigeria cannot lie in the amalgamation of sectarian political parties, made up of the same type of people who are now wreaking havoc on Nigeria, whose worldviews and ideologies are not different from the ruling party. Nigeria needs a new political organisation and a paradigm shift, not an alliance of the same old corrupt politicians who contributed to this mess. Nigeria will not be saved by a coalition of losers, but by an association of honest and sincere democrats who are in politics for the right reasons, not afraid to think outside the box, prepared to change and do not have any overriding sectarian interests to protect.


Buhari may be a good man. His tears for Nigeria may be genuine. He may honestly and sincerely be feeling sorry for Nigeria and believes like many Nigerians that he would do better than Jonathan. However, he does not seem to have what it takes to further the course of liberty, religious freedom, equality, tolerance transparency and accountability the Nigerian democracy needs. He is undissociated in his religious beliefs and morality and concrete in his attitude to provide the leadership which an emerging secular democracy like Nigeria needs. He is a divisive figure who seems to have overvalued ideas about his convictions. His continued involvement in the politics of Nigeria is one of the clearest evidence that Nigeria is not ready for change, and only serves to prolong the hold of PDP on power. At this time in the history of Nigeria, people like Buhari should take a back seat and reflect on their contributions to Nigeria and the mess and hell the likes of him have created. He was one of the northern elite Military leaders who presided over the destruction of democracy and rule of law in Nigeria, appropriated a disproportionate part of the national resources to the north. During his watch 2.5 billion or so disappeared from NNPC. In spite of years of the same practice by successive northern leaders, Babangida, Abacha etc., the north remains underdeveloped, a culvert of Islamic fundamentalism, intolerance and ethnic prejudice and their elites like Sanusi have the audacity to claim that poverty caused by revenue allocation formula is the cause of Boko Haram.

Those who claim that Poverty contributed to the emergency of Boko Haram are right but only in part, the poverty was caused not by the revenue sharing formula, but by the corruption, unspeakable greed and utter callousness of the northern elite which Buhari is a part and parcel off. Boko Haram should ask Kano state government how many millions it pays the Emir from the state allocation every month and work out how many schools and hospital that could have been built with just 50% of the amount in five years. They should ask all their past governors what they did with their allocations all these years. The northern elites sensed the anger of their disfranchised and disposed youth and decided to sale them Islamic fundamentalism and thought they would only keep themselves busy by driving southerners out of the north and inheriting their properties. Unfortunately, a mad dog does not discriminate. Buhari can do Nigeria a great service by calling those whom he instigated to make Nigeria ungovernable to order. His service is urgently needed in helping his constituency to accept, equality of all, tolerance, due process, education, hard work and the rule of law. His conviction that he is the only person who has what it takes to save Nigeria is rather symptomatic of the irrationality he can be prone to and evidence that he is not the Messiah.

This alliance of ineffective and equally corrupt opposition parties cannot save Nigeria. They are not different from PDP in policies, philosophy and worldview. They were just losers in a game in which only the unscrupulous could play. They have not stated what they would do differently from PDP on political corruption, executive looting of the treasury, Islamic terrorism, escalating rate of armed robbery, kidnaping and deterioration of security all over the country. They seem to be motivated by the same greed, prejudices and contempt for the rule of law and due process which explain the attitude, actions and inactions of the present government. They run their parties in the same autocratic way and manner like PDP. A few money bags in the parties select the candidates. Their governors also misappropriate state funds, channelling a significant percentage into party coffers and acting like little Hitlers. The members of the parties have no role in the selection of their representatives and money has a determinant and corrosive influence in the running of the parties in exactly the same way it does in PDP. They present Nigerians with no real choice. These political parties keep quiet while the PDP government use what it calls political solution to frustrate the prosecution of corrupt politicians and ensure the recycling of criminals in our politics. People whose careers in public life should have ended in ignominy and prison terms, have the audacity to parade the corridors of power because of our corrupt and decadent system and morals. These are some of the problems any political party in Nigeria will have to address before they can represent change and truly embody the hopes and aspirations of the new Nigerian.

Therefore, I continue to argue, that the future of Nigeria, if it has any, lies in a completely new, ideological, none ethnic and none religious truly democratic political organisation where money is not a determining factor for the person who emerges as the party’s candidate and no single individual has the power to impose candidates of his choice, religion, or ethnicity. This is because no country has ever developed which did not build institutions that are stronger than individuals and all countries which failed did so because individuals became stronger than the institutions. Even benevolent dictators who have taken their countries forward needed strong institutions to succeed. We need to build strong democratic institutions, starting with our political parties, electoral commission, and judiciary which would withstand the attempt by rich, powerful and corruption individuals to abuse it. Without this, we would be fighting a losing battle and Nigeria will disintegrate into small hell holes of toxic ethnic nationalisms religious intolerance and prejudices, injustices and tyranny.

I love Nigeria. I benefited from its educational policy that enabled me to attend university tuition free and study medicine which I have put to use in serving humanity without inclination for personal gain, and I know that a good country that treats its citizens well produces true patriots who are willing to serve the people and nation. No country is condemned to fail or destined to succeed. Each nation defines and decides its destiny by the values it embraces and its attitude to her problems. Our only option is to work together and accept the same rules and values that have enabled many developed countries to succeed. There is no reason why the average Nigerian Police man and Civil servant should need bribe to survive or any justification for giving politicians blank cheque and unrestricted access to the country’s resources to take as much as their greed would allow.

I would like to believe that there are millions of Nigerians who will be willing to do any lawful and democratic thing that will bring change to Nigeria to transform it into a country with the right and necessary power and transport infrastructures, where, corruption is not institutionalised, Police do not need to take orders from criminals before arresting one of them, ability to pay is not a barrier to obtaining quality education, access to good health care and security of life and properties. I would like to join such like-minded Nigerians in this new journey. Whether you are living in Nigeria or in Diaspora there is something each one of us can do that would contribute to a better Nigeria. We cannot allow ethnic and religious considerations to stop us from uniting for a better and civil society in Nigeria. The temptation to abandon ship and retreat into our ethnic and religious enclaves is strong, but we cannot afford to give up our dreams and destiny in the face of surmountable problems, and retain any honour amongst the community of enlightened nations. It is time for Nigerians to set aside our artificial, religious and ethnic differences and focus on the universal values that unit us and would enable us to build a just and prosperous nation. We cannot continue to condone criminality and evils in people because we share the same ethnic group or religion with them. This is one reason for our malady and current situation. It is time for Nigerians to join together to bring about the change Nigeria needs.

Tentative Strategy for change in Nigeria

  1. The first step is to galvanize all Nigerians, both at home and in Diaspora as a force for political development, emancipation and change than would enable truly accountable representative democracy based on the rule of law to take root in the country. This will not be easy as many Nigerians at home and in Diaspora are segregated on the basis of religion, ethnicity or tribe and not a few see themselves first as Igbos, Yorubas or Hausas, Tivs, Ijaws, Effiks, Ibibios, Americans, British etc., before as Nigerians. In fact, quiet a number think that Nigeria is not viable and would invariably collapse and therefore does not worth their attention. Many people in Nigeria are drunk on toxic ethnicity and religious fundamentalism which must be addressed to make unity of purpose possible. The majority of the good people of Nigeria are condemned to poverty in a sea of riches by the corruption of the ruling class. In spite of these, apparent truths, I believe that there are millions of Nigerians whose religious beliefs and ethnic loyalty accommodates the principles of human equality, justice as fairness and liberty to all human beings, who will be ready to try anything that gives Nigeria a chance to become a truly viable democratic country where the rule of law reigns supreme. These are the Nigerians I call upon to enlist.

  2. No people have ever built a nation without uniting the people around an ideology and noble values which they value more than their lives. We cannot build Nigeria while paying lip service to the idea of Nigeria as a united country. We cannot build a great nation when our loyalty to our ethnic groups and religion is of a nature and degree that subverts the overriding interest of Nigeria as a country. To develop and build a viable nation, we must be ready to pay the price of development, bring our mono-ethnic nationalistic tendencies and religious beliefs in line with what is in the best interest of Nigeria as a country. Mandala was prepared to give his life for the freedom of his people because he believed in freedom and justice for all men irrespective of ethnicity and or religion. Aung San Suu Kyi, endured nearly 20 years of imprisonment because of her beliefs and hope for her country. Those who love Nigeria and democracy must be ready to pay the price of their convictions and change. There is no other way. This is why I am involved.

  3. The freedom of Nigeria from corruption, bad government, injustice, prejudice, impunity and insecurity is not any different from the struggle to defeat apartheid and colonialism. Our hard won independence from colonial Britain is being threatened by our leaders’ corruption, greed, intolerance, prejudices and contempt for the rule of law and probity. Our Indifference in the face of the current problems is like abandoning a man who was saved in a battle to die from treatable infection. Our problems are human problems which would respond to human solutions. No virgin will get pregnant in Nigeria and deliver another Messiah, and God will not send an Angel from heaven to help us. God has given us all we need to help ourselves, and all we need is the will to act. What could be better than the creation of a better Nigeria, where the rule of law reigns supreme and people free and secure to pursue happiness. The failure of Nigeria is the failure of the whole black race. Anytime I see a black man being mistreated because of the colour of his skin, I wish there was a good Nigeria where he could call home and be treated with dignity.

  4. We need to educate, inculcate, disseminate and train ordinary Nigerians on the principles of true democracy, civil society, tolerance, and good government. In addition, we need to champion the teaching of the principles of civil society, good government, tolerance, and supremacy of the rule of law in our primary and secondary schools. churches and Mosques. Our idea of what constitutes true education and good religion should be broadened to include respect for the views and ways of life of others and the sacredness of human life. We must reject any idea or teaching that seeks to justify, discrimination, inequality, violence, killing and war in the name of God or any other narrowly defined objectives or dogmas. God and religion must be seen in the context of love and respect for others and peace, justice and freedom from oppression.

  5. We have to awaken a sense of national identity in Nigeria that transcends religious beliefs, ethnicity, state of origin and circumstance of birth, and forge a country segregated on the basis of civilized values. Without this, Nigeria has no future. We will continue to segregate along ethnic and religious lines and be consumed in sectarian conflicted fuelled by toxic ethnic nationalism and religious prejudices and intolerance. We will continue to suffer the curse of oil instead of enjoying its riches and the worst of us will continue to gain power to serve their greed, vanity and primitive instincts.

  6. We have to establish mechanisms and institutions to help control, eliminate or contain a culture of violence, aggression or criminality and establish the rule of law and due process, entrench equality of sexes and all people before the law, emphasize complementarity of roles between the sexes and ensure the end of subjugation of women under the pretences of archaic culture that justify inequality and injustice. Our current system makes the attorney general, police and army to act in the interest of the party in power and not in the interest of the nation. We have seen enough examples to know that the future is to separate the two posts and make the attorney general a none-political appointment so that he can have the power to prosecute those who have committed crimes against the state and insulate the army and police from politics so that they can serve the nation. Very few corrupt politicians will be prosecuted in Nigeria and criminals will continue to be guests in our state houses as long as the attorney general remains a political appointee and police takes their orders directly from the politicians.

  7. Enlightened Nigerians must fight for the freedom of all, irrespective of ethnic origin, level of education, social standing, sex, sexual orientation, religion or socio-economic status; and ensure that all Nigerians are treated equally and justly before the law. This will involve the complete separation of religion and politics to prevent any group using political power to enforce religious world view. We have to find a non-corrupting productive role for our traditional rulers in our democracy or bring the institution to the realities of the twenty-first century. Creating a house of chiefs is not the answer. We will have to work for a new criminal justice system that is redemptive and works in the interest of the victims of crimes and justice. We will have to introduce reforms that will enable the people to contribute in the election or selection of all who excise power over them, including judges; in a way that would make the judiciary more independent and accountable.

  8. The new organisation will have to work to expose corruption in all its guises and ensure that anybody involved in corruption is brought to justice. We will have to work for legislations that would make it more difficult for politicians to have access to large sums of money as they currently do, and end the culture of official corruption in form of security votes. It is criminal for public officers to have access to funds they are not supposed to account for. This is official corruption. We must learn from how developed countries conduct their financial affairs. We will have to work to end the abuse of power by politicians and the use of the police to intimidate opponents and critics.

To be continued

E O Eke is qualified in medicine. At various times he has been a General medical practitioner, Medical missionary, Medical Director and senior medical officer of health in Nigeria. He specializes in child, Adolescent and adult psychiatry and lives in England with his family. His interest is in health, religion philosophy and politics. He cares for body and mind.