WE THE PEOPLE of the Federal Republic of Nigeria:
HAVING firmly and solemnly resolved:
TO LIVE in unity and harmony as one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign Nation under God dedicated to the promotion of inter-African solidarity, world peace, international co-operation and understanding:
AND TO PROVIDE for a constitution for the purpose of promoting the good government and welfare of all persons in our country on the principles of freedom, equality and justice, and for the purpose of consolidating the unity of our people:
DO HEREBY MAKE AND GIVE TO OURSELVES the following constitution:-
PREAMBLE TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERRIA 1999.
Equally laughable is the assumption that Nigeria is a “Republic”; a supposition that sounds as hollow as a clanging cymbal. Like federalism, it is simply an idea without a firm practical base. A republican system of government in actual sense is based on the idea that the people, through their elected representatives, are supreme. At the head of a republican system is a popularly elected president who is expected to work for the common good of all members of the polity. The legislature is supposed to ensure that the president does not become tyrannical, and that the original articles establishing the republic are adhered to. These principles of popular rule are based on the ideas that spurred the American and French Revolutions, and which subsequently formed the foundations of the new republics; principles that have since been borrowed by other states.
Truly speaking, can the circus show currently being played out in Nigeria, where elections are brazenly rigged and candidates standing for political offices handpicked and forced on the people, be said to be based on republican principles? Can Nigerians be said to be truly supreme under the current cosmetic political arrangement where, despite being Nigerians, they debar the rights of Nigerians? How representative are representatives who hardly consult their various constituencies – made up of people who supposedly elected them to protect and project their interests – before contributing to the law-making process? Can legislators who hardly visit their constituencies to ascertain the wellbeing of their electors be called true representatives of their people? Can a lawmaker who collects constituency allowances running into billions of naira over a period of four (4) calendar years without executing a single, laudable project be called a representative of his people? Can a legislator whose preoccupation is fighting for committee portfolios, furniture and other beggarly allowances be termed a representative of his people?
Legislative bodies at the various levels of government in Nigeria qualify as assemblies of fowls; they are simply cocoons of caterpillars, where the grandest schemes against the people are concocted and executed. The parliament should naturally be the protector of the people’s liberty in a true republican sense. A virile parliament checks executive excesses and is the only hope of the common man. It is the closest arm of government to the people, and is the only forum through which they can participate in governance.
The American and French republics are founded on the ideals of popular representation. This is in recognition of the novel role played by the people in the independence struggles of both countries. These ideals have continued to drive citizen-state relations in these countries. That is why the security of the lives of Americans is treasured above those of other nationals. That is why America is ready to go to war to protect the common interests of its people globally. That is why American leaders listen to the opinions of their people before hashing out policies – domestic and foreign – that will affect them in the long run. But the truth of the matter is that Nigeria represents a poor copy of these original models. Parliaments in Nigeria have generally been speech-making forums where passing references are made to the supposed needs of the people. This is very unfortunate considering the significant input of Nigerians to the achievement of the country’s independence.
But what am I even jabbering about? Why should we expect anything productive from a pack of Wolfhounds who get into office through the back door? We all know how floored the processes of political succession in this country are. We know how skewed the conduct of elections from the primaries to actual voting are. So, why should we expect manna from those who ceaselessly defraud and circumvent the system at will to become our rulers? We have politicians who become arrogant once they are in office, forgetting all their post-election promises (empty slogans they impudently call manifestos), and assuming the garbs of demigods. They transform themselves into emperors, who develop egos as large as cathedrals and become encapsulated in self-love: that all-natural poison. To worsen issues some of us aid and abet these malpractices either by omission or commission. When you help a politician to rig himself into office, and get paid for your indiscretions, how can you expect anything from him once he consolidates on his position? Has he not paid his dues to you already? Have you any moral grounds to ask anything from him in return once he is in office? No wonder the culture of impunity has continued to fester in this country. No wonder those who ultimately succeed to political offices become impassive to the demands of the people to deliver the much-vaunted dividends of democracy. Why not? Have they not paid the pipers? Why shouldn’t they dictate the tune?
The federal republic of Nigeria is in reality an oligarchy that operates in the full mode of an absolute monarchy; a system of government run by a few people with practically unlimited powers. At all the three cadres of government – federal, state and local – you have principalities aping republican federalism. At the head of this hierarchical structure is the president who acts as the potentate, ably assisted by an advisory council of elders made up of “selected” members of both the legislature and “appointed” top members of the bar. At the state level, you have a similar formation with the governor, together with an advisory council of Satraps performing the same functions as its counterpart at the centre. The local government, at a lower level, replicates the scenarios at the top of the ladder.
Our political system is simply a kingdom arrangement that is based on hereditary succession, where parents build political structures and live them to their children and children’s children; an establishment that is closed to the ordinary Nigerian without financial or any clout whatsoever; a political Cosa-nostra in which important decisions of public importance are deliberated upon and the innocent citizens are compelled to swallow the quack prescriptions of these physicians of death. Forget all the doctored consultative sessions that are held from time to time by government and its agencies before policies are pronounced: they are mere public show-offs. Most decisions are taken before they are brought to the public realm. Have you ever wondered why most government policies are decreed into existence whether the public likes it not? Flash back to the adoption of various economic policies prescribed by Breton wood institutions – International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank et al – such as the asseverating Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) of the Ibrahim Babangida years, the belt-tightening Austerity Measures of the Shehu Shagari era, etc. The most annoying part of the whole mess is that ordinary citizens are forced to bear the brunt of the careless actions of the blind bats misleading this country whenever these policies fail; which they always do. From poorly conceived economic policies, profitless foreign policy initiatives, to visionless development plans, the princes of this country have continued to act with daring effrontery; they have continued to test the will of Nigerians, pushing them closer daily to the wall. What they have created is “their” republic, not “our” republic. The ricochet effect of this impunity is better not imagined.
Our oppressors have no legitimate authority whatsoever to rule over us because what they claim as authority was invented and foisted on us by the precedent set by the first generation of spoilers that ever set foot on our soil. This precedent assumes the right to rule forever, which has been firmly embedded in our politics; a precedent that has been copied to perfection by succeeding generations of hitch-hikers who have bestrode this country’s political landscape like colossuses. That is why the “kings” of Nigeria see their positions as divinely ordained and their children – political and biological – as the rightful heirs to their imperial positions. When you hear of political godfathers “anointing” their protégés for political positions, they are simply expression their assumed king-making powers which should not be challenged by mere mortals, for challenging them is said to be the same thing as challenging God.
Talking of kings, the Nigerian president is reputed to be the most powerful president in the world. He is the Zeus to whom other lesser divinities must bow – the boss of all bosses whose decisions must never be questioned. Ironically not even the American president, the natural claimant to that exalted position possesses the degree of powers exercised by his Nigerian counterpart. Our president has maximum powers at his disposal. Despite the sterile attempts in recent times – especially since the return of civil rule in 1999 – to check this ugly trend through constitutional reviews, judicial proclamations, and other feeble moves, not much has changed. Our president has powers comparable to that of an absolute Monarch. He literally controls the flow and exercise of power among the three arms – executive, legislature and judiciary – and levels of government – federal, state and local government. He virtually does no wrong. We are well aware of how the presidency controls the ruling party, consistently influences elections into the national assembly (Senate and House Of Representatives), determines who becomes governor in all the states controlled by the ruling party, appoints, controls and removes principal judicial officers at the national level at will, controls all other significant agencies (public and private) outside its core jurisdiction, appoints and – covertly – controls all principal electoral officers at both the national and sub-national levels, and influences the whole political process – both during and after elections – using the currency of corruption, subterfuge, and naked force at its disposal. This coupled with the dependency toga foisted on its constituents and other related bodies through a sickly federal structure, results almost in complete fusion – or concentration of powers – in just one man and his gang of courtiers. These overbearing attitudes are replicated at all levels of government by the chief executives in office. Only almighty kings exercise such omnipotent authority.
In the Nigerian republic there are two classes of citizens: the “real citizens”- that is those who control the machinery for the authoritative allocation of values – and the “associate citizens”- the larger population. The real citizens control all aspects of national life. They decide those that are qualified – or not qualified – to hold public office; decide the kind of policies that best suits the state; and own, control and distribute the resources of the state. The real citizens are the only ones who enjoy full human rights, for the republic is theirs. For the associate citizens, their membership of the state is a privilege and not a right. They are supposed to follow the orders of the real citizens and to refrain from complaining. The few privileges they enjoy are premised on how obediently they kowtow to the whimsical dispositions of their betters. That is why our laws are discriminatory in their application. That is why when a poor man commits a crime he is made to feel the full brunt of the law either through jungle justice or by other damnably punitive measures deemed necessary by our apostles of moral correctness. Compare this scenario to the case of the rich, who are treated with kid’s gloves even when they commit more grievous offences. In very serious cases, they are kept under house arrest where they have access to all their previous luxuries; when they are convicted – which is very rare – they are given very light terms to serve compared to the magnitude of their crimes; and when they are released, some of us sow uniforms to celebrate them. Nigeria is simply a country made up of two separate and unequal classes. That is the painful truth.
Ours is a closed caste system in which on one hand you have a class of the “superiors”, and on the other hand, you have a class of the “untouchables”. It is an immobile, hierarchical system in which those at the lowest rungs of the ladder have no chance of ever advancing beyond their sub-human conditions; they are supposedly born into squalor and are expected to die in it. That is why I cringe any time the word “equality” is mentioned as being one of the basic cornerstones of governance in this country. How can there really be equality in a society where an ever widening gulf separates the super-rich from the deplorably poor? This brand of Apartheid hurts to the very marrow. This aggressive order of segregation is as unacceptable as it is preposterous. This invented system of inequality must not be allowed to stand. This archaic monstrosity must be overcome, for no human being created by the almighty is in any way inferior to his fellow man. No man imbued with all the natural rights required to pursue the greatest happiness on earth to the zenith, and mandated by His awesome grace to become the best that he can possibly be, should in any manner be deprived of these freely given rights, by his fellow man. We are all equal in the sight of the almighty creator who decides the fate of all men ultimately; for “the true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen”, according to Thomas Jefferson.
About The Federal Republic Of Nigeria
WE THE PEOPLE of the Federal Republic of Nigeria: