BY Muhammed Abba-Gana
The heading or caption of this letter is chosen for the purpose of reminding ourselves that our lives, our health and well being and our fortunes and future are all in the Mighty Hands of Allah our Creator and Sustainers. We can neither know nor control what happens tomorrow and the rest of the days, months and years ahead. So our own future is in the domain of Allah the Creator and Sustainers of the whole universe.
If we always take note of this reality of our limitations, inadequacies and imperfections we will act with caution and moderation. This is particularly true to those in leadership positions, it is in their best interest to constantly remember that they will certainly be called upon to account to Allah for everything they have done in their various positions – and there is no appeal for Allah has all the evidences of our actions in this world.
Now to the unending crises and difficulties in this our country. These are due largely to our attitude and character in matters relating to government, politics, religion, ethnicity and business. It’s like having many good cars and handing them over to bad drivers, the result is many accidents on the roads, because of the bad attitude of the drivers.
Both India and Nigeria got their independence from the British and started self-governing with parliamentary system of government. India made success of the parliamentary system. In our own case we were unable to continue with parliamentary system because of the pain, the disruption and turmoil caused to the political system and process by the really unfortunate military coup of 15th January 1966. The killings, the civil war and the long period of military rule pushed the country out of the political learning curve.
Again the military in Nigeria decided to create the next political dispensation in their own image and decided on the Presidential system along with the constitution and handed over in October 1979. The American Presidential system is very expensive because all the processes – from primaries, to campaigns, to lobbying, to colonies of staff of all categories that run the system. Also the Presidential system depends on the strict adherence to the division of authority among the three arms of government the executive, legislature, and judiciary. Once these checks and balances are not properly observed the result is particularly, dictatorship, either of the executive arm, or the legislative arm.
The problems, difficulties and crises we are now having in the operation of the Presidential system of government arose because of our attitude to politics and government. It’s a fact that the Nigerian economy depends to the extent of 70% – 80% on government activities and expenditure at all levels of government. This means that unless those who are running the government reduce extreme partisanship, millions of people can be denied their livelihood on account of their political affiliation.
So our attitude to politics and government of winner takes all, revenge, all sorts of vendetta, vengeance, exclusion and even sadism always leaves millions of people behind with nothing to do and nowhere to go. Businesses are run down because of the political affiliation of their owners. Right now millions of people are hungry, angry, bitter, desperate and hopeless because of our attitude to politics and government, business, religion and ethnicity. So attitude is very important.
Again the fundamental objectives and directive principles stated in our constitution are to be actualised by the three arms of government. This means that the three arms must necessarily work together. Democracy must produce progress and prosperity to the people, must ensure safety and security of lives and property, must ensure accountability, transparency and rule of law, must guarantee individual and press freedom, human and people rights.
Therefore the three arms of government must realise that time is of the essence. As the saying goes, time and tide wait for nobody. Technicalities, hairsplitting, vendetta and other distractions should not be allowed to take precedence over the substance of the matters at hand. Otherwise about 80% of the legislative, executive and judicial time will be taken away from substantive issues and matters.
The present trend we are witnessing between the three arms of government gives room for a lot of improvement. So there is urgent need to halt this trend and a well moderated and collaborative system with sanity and synergy created and used by all concerned.
I want to now draw the attention of all our people to the fact that no human society can survive and progress and prosper without some form of moral or ethical code of conduct. Within this moral code what is good is obvious and what is bad is also obvious – like killing somebody, stealing, cheating, telling a lie, breaking established laws, rules and regulations, oppressing people and all acts of transgression and intrusion. Most of these moral codes are observed in our daily lives as part of our common sense. Chaos and moral corruption result when things happen contrary to common sense and established ways of doing things regularly. Therefore it’s advisable to use our common sense whenever we are confused in our daily lives.
Now the way forward. Since 1960 we have had or tried world-class systems of government, constitutions, policies, laws and rules & regulations without achieving our lofty aspirations and objectives as a country with so many natural resources with large talented and industrious human resource.
Certainly we have world-class technocrats, experts and professional class, human and natural resources. What we seem to be missing is getting nation builders in really sufficient numbers. Since our founding leaders like Sir Ahmadu Bello Sarduana of Sokoto, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Belawa, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and the great Zik of Africa Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe left the scene, nation building has not progressed with required momentum, focus, vision and even sincerity of purpose. The process has since been retarded by individual and ethnic materialism, religious bigotry, mal-administration/bad governance, severe poverty, massive unemployment, absence of real middle class and increasing income inequality and shortage of sufficient numbers of political elite to depend and promote national interest and public good in all their ramifications.
Therefore we should all pray to Allah, our Creator and Sustainer, the Almighty and All-Knowing to give us nation builders through reliable and comprehensive leadership recruitment process in sufficient numbers, people with right attitude and character to nurture this our unfortunate country through the political, economic and social stages/processes we are now and have been passing through.
We urgently need in the political and management class sufficient number of people who sincerely believe in this country and are prepared to work for the progress and prosperity of its people. We have wasted so much time, energy and resources and opportunities arguing about who is right and who is wrong. From now on let us ask and know what is right and go ahead and do it, and let us ask and know what is wrong and avoid it or prevent it.
Long live the good people of Nigeria
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
– Abba-Gana, CON, is former FCT minister.