The authors of the iconic book “Why Nations Fail,” Daren Acemoglu and James Robinson, stated that it is the parasitic political and economic classes that are the primary cause of why nations fail. What counts to them is what they get out of the system, not what they put into it. Nigeria has not only the worst breeds of them but has also added to the mixt ethnic jingoism.
Nigeria has fallen into the abyss. History frequently repeats itself. Muhammadu Buhari, who left Nigeria like a lawless state, presided over some of the worst periods for the country. It may take decades to recover from the calamity that he brought upon Nigeria during his term as president. The greater sadness however is that his successor Bola Ahmed Tinubu is continuing and even escalating the abnormalities that have rendered the nation prostrate rather than making amends.
Impunity, which manifests in reckless abuse of power and the complete absence of political will needed to administer the country for the common good, and national growth to command national loyalty, lies at the root of these misrules. Evidence abounds showing that Tinubu is still following the same course, refusing to combat corruption except for a few person hunts that seem more like personal vendettas. Notable are the cases of Abdulrasheed Bawa of the EFCC who has been held without charge for three months and the suspended CBN governor Godwin Emefiele.
The primary areas where corruption has been causing the economy to hemorrhage are ignored. As Tinubu put it, “We met an empty well,” referring to the economic situation he was confronted with on assumption of office. But he disregarded the areas where the stolen trillions can be found by following the paper trails that can be found all over the place. For instance, the NNPC, limited or unlimited, is yet to be made to explain the extraordinary corruption in the oil industry.
Recently, Nuhu Ribadu, the national security adviser, warned the populace that the country continues to lose more than 400,000 barrels of crude oil each day to theft. The country’s waterways are under the jurisdiction of some persons. Nevertheless, vessels illegally carry crude from the nation’s waters and depart unchallenged. Something doesn’t seem to add up.
The ‘Yorubanization’ of the economy, which is replacing Buhari’s ‘Fulanisation’, a term coined by the nation’s former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, to describe the desecration of the nation’s 1999 Constitution in Buhari’s federal appointments, is another troubling legacy that the former president left and Tinubu is now escalating.
At one point, the Muslim North manned up to 70% of the country’s important MDAs. With a similar number of the nation’s top MDAs, particularly in the fields of the economy and security, now in the hands of the Yoruba ethnic group, Tinubu’s appointments have followed the same trend. That is what the Arewa Economic Forum (AEF) and many patriotic Nigerians are now pointing out.
President Bola Tinubu is now replicating and perfecting this trend, which is a very dangerous precedent that Buhari set. The breach of the country’s constitution and other existing laws governing the inclusive principle of Federal Character is very damaging, and its intended and unintended effects will soon show, as they did under Buhari.
In a federation with more than 250 different ethnic groups, it is wrong to give one ethnic group control over the economic and security infrastructure even if the constitution does not forbid it. That is why the military governments introduced the federal character principle as a measure to restrain dominance and promote a sense of belonging and balance in Nigeria’s political and administrative structure. If the military could be committed to maintaining Nigeria’s unity and fairness their civilian counterparts ought to sustain the policy.
”The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and to promote national unity and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or a few ethnic or other sectional groups,” states Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended. This express provision is what makes the lopsided appointments by Buhari and now Tinubu illegal and an affront to the nation’s constitution.
It is obvious why the Constitution forbids the concentration of federal appointments in one ethnic group: a president will be compromising national unity and national loyalty in his promotion of ethnic jingoism when he disregards this federal character principle while appeasing his ethnic group.
Without compromising the federal character concept or jeopardising the integrity of the country, a responsive president can easily care for his people. Obasanjo managed to lead the entire nation effectively while providing for his Yoruba ethnic group fairly adequately. Even if one may not have liked Obasanjo for his abrasiveness, the reality remains that he led the country as a whole, and as a result, he recorded high economic growth and a great deal of unity under his watch.
The nation is now experiencing the opposite result for the reason of what Buhari did and what Tinubu is doing. Under Buhari, Nigeria was at its most polarised state, and under Tinubu, nothing much has changed and no one should anticipate any notable changes under Tinubu unless he changes Buhari’s approach.
For his ‘Renewed Hope’ quest, Tinubu needs all hands on deck — the best of the best. Apart from disrespecting the constitution, his Yoruba ethnic group, as smart as they are, cannot alone provide all that Nigeria needs to recover its lost economy, deal with insecurity, and ensure the happiness of Nigerians and national development. Exceptional Nigerian minds must be tapped both at home and abroad, and Tinubu demonstrated this ability when he served as governor of Lagos State 20 years ago. One is left to question what happened to his acclaimed reputation for fairness.
More importantly, it is crucial to recognise that Nigeria was created by law and government policies that offend the nation’s fundamental values, threaten its survival, and violate the constitution will end up attacking the foundation of the Nigerian nation-state. Nigeria has been gliding into the rule of men rather than the rule of law since the time of Buhari. If Tinubu wants to leave his mark on the positive side of history, he must abandon that posturing of state capture while administering the multiethnic Nigeria.
The nation’s current abhorrent situation, in which non-state actors have wreaked havoc on the nation with herdsmen massacres, banditry, and terrorism, is the result of the reign of men. The ungoverned spaces are expanding, questioning, and sharing the sovereignty of the country through their risk-taking operations.
Nigeria should be a democratic country because democracies are based on the rule of law, a powerful opposition, a thriving civil society, and organised labour. A government that disregards the rule of law is inviting instability, insecurity, and divisiveness as unintended consequences, setting an example of bad behaviour that the population can mimic.
Let it be said as it is: a nation can’t develop where peace has shown a clean pair of heels.
· Dr. Law Mefor, an Abuja-based forensic and social psychologist, is a fellow of The Abuja School of Social and Political Thoughts; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @Drlawsonmefor.