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By this weekend, most Nigerians have concluded plans to troop out en-masse to endorse the flawed system that has held down their country for over six decades. By voting in the elections on the 25th of February with Nigeria as presently constituted, Nigerians will simply be renewing their contracts with the slave master which is the 1999 constitution. This article is not to cast aspersions on these Nigerians who have chosen that path to redemption but to remind them that their decision is apparently not the best on the cards.
For a vast majority of Nigerians, the past seven and half years have been traumatic and depressing. They have seen their lives go from bad to worse under the clueless supervision of the grossly inept President Muhammadu Buhari who remained aloof, while the country tanked and tilted to the precipice.
Under Buhari as President, Nigerians moved from frying pan to fire and from the mountain top to the valley, and for most of them, Buhari was solely the problem and not the shambolic system and structure. However, some critical evaluation will reveal that although Buhari was empty, the structure he ran the country on was even more debilitating than his gross ineptitude.
The painful truth that will be deciphered only by deep-thinking Nigerians at this point is that voting in a ‘Messiah’ this weekend will not save Nigeria. Granted that there could be some positive signs, which in this case can pass for first aid treatment, however, the problems will never go for any reason. All the front-running Presidential candidates know this and they clearly understand the problems but sadly, the lust for power has kept them mute and seen them remain consistent in their chase for the top seat.
What Nigeria needs right now is to be renegotiating its unity, and not an election. The system is not working, has never worked, and would not work! The country needs to have three things before another President is allowed entry into Aso Rock, namely, a brand new constitution, political restructuring, heartfelt apologies, and restitution for the crimes against humanity committed in the past. Without any of these, any act of voting on the 25th of February 2023 is tantamount to a waste of time and the renewal of the pains and agony of the people of Nigeria.
What many Nigerians who have continued to clamour for a new President as the solution to the enormity of problems the country has been facing have failed to understand is that no president would willingly give up his or her powers by discarding or disparaging the evil 1999 constitution which he or her will swear to protect on his or her assumption of office. It is no longer secret that the 1979 and the 1999 Constitutions (founded on Unification Decree 34) actually concentrated powers, responsibilities, and authorities to the centre which effectively makes the President a philanthropist. No sitting President will willingly want to lose this status for nothing. It is even more worrisome that this center has been given more responsibilities by that constitution than it can successfully handle under a democratic system, especially in a multiethnic, multicultural, and multilingual country like Nigeria. This explains why Nigeria has always remained chaotic and in some situations, confused.
Nigeria as presently constituted thrives on a very fat exclusive list that is constantly being sabotaged from North to South, from East to West, most times deploying blackmail and outright violence in the process. The powers at the centre are so enormous that Nigeria is seen by most politicians as a giant cake, not a common project that should have everybody on board. Changing the occupant of the office of the President without effecting serious changes on the structure of the country will be outrightly dangerous.
The fragmentation of the old Regions into crawling states has made the Federating Units unable to properly handle the lean concurrent and residual lists given to them. The States which are headed by the State Governors who are largely not checkmate by their State assemblies have rendered the Local Councils at the grassroots totally useless. The states simply run local governments by handpicked stooges. It saves them money and time and makes it easy for them to usurp Local Government Funds. Nigerians must demand that these confusions should be clarified before the go into fresh elections.
The consistent clarion call for the holistic restructuring of the current contraption called Nigeria, before the attention-grabbing 2023 general elections, by die-hard patriots, including the leader of the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, and other socio-cultural groups should ring a loud bell to the ears of the powers that be. Sadly, it didn’t or rather failed to generate enough traction. That is unfortunate, given the rising tides of economic crisis, debt burden, insecurity, and inter-ethnic disharmony worsened by the clamour by top politicians from each of the six geo-political zones angling for the plum post of the presidency. Perhaps, they should understand that it makes no sense to put the cart before in any leadership drive or race.
Alarming too is that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party that used it as an oily bait; with the promise to restructure the country once voted into power back in 2015 has blatantly refused to honour its pledge to the people. This is 2022, some seven good years after! Talk about the critical element of trust in the leadership-led majority relationship and you can understand exactly why Nigeria has found itself stewing in the present socio-political abyss.
This ugly situation that the country is confronted with, when analysed deeply throws up some fundamental questions. Does democracy even have any meaningful meaning if the parochial and personal interests and wishes of a few political leaders override the good wishes of the large majority of the people? How can an over-bloated federal centre galvanise the competitive spirit inherent in the federating units controlling their resources? How can the crude oil and gas resources, which are most abundant in the South-Southern part of the country but that of Zamfara gold does not? In which other country do we have state governors going cap-in-hand to the federal centre every month-end for peanuts called the federal allocation? This brings even more questions.
In conclusion, going to the polls whilst this confusion subsists will not do Nigerians any favour. The best route to take for national redemption at this point is to demand that the madness be cured before another President is elected. This is the best time to rediscuss Nigeria and its prospects. Nigerians clearly have a choice on Saturday. They have an opportunity to refuse to validate the election by boycotting it. If this is not done and they insist on behaving like the ostrich while burying their heads in the sands of self-deceit, the fears of Adebanjo could become a reality. Nigerians have an opportunity to save their country on Saturday. The best option is clearly to boycott the election which will not enthrone any messiah.