Every Community has a socio-political system. The system creates the attitude of the people, and the interaction of the people’s attitudes shapes the national character.
The system can be positive or negative. A positive system fosters endearment among the people and of the people to the state. It engenders communality and patriotism. A negative system creates a culture of anomy, and it is inimical to progress It foments selfism, that is, oneself only. Where there is no truth there is no trust, and where there is no trust there cannot be cooperation, and in extension there cannot be progress.
The sum and substance of greatness of a community lies with the citizens: their temperaments and attitudes; creativity and skill; beliefs, myths, and illusions; their energy, ambition and enterprises, initiative and originality; discoveries, inventions and innovation; their morale and discipline. This put in a nutshell; the national character. Imported expertise even where reliable is expensive. It may make for development but not greatness, There may be minerals and natural resources but these will lie beneath the earth surface or scattered on the earth surface and remain untapped unless someone finds a use for them and exploits them. A nation needs a bank of talented people to draw on for development. It is the preponderance of such talented and skilful people that determines the greatness of a nation. What gave England the industrial revolution, but the discoveries and inventions of its citizens. What of the spectacular rise of Germany and Japan from the rubble of World War II to be the industrial and economic giants of the world? The massive aids from the Marshall Plan were mere catalysts for the skill, energy and discipline of the people. Even from prehistoric times it was men of talents who discovered fire, the fashioning of various implements from stone, bronze, iron, etc. from these forms we have the giant and sophisticated iron and steel industries, of alloy steel of various types, instruments, equipment, machinery; different types of fuel from the gigantic petroleum, refinery; all the synthetic products in imitation of natural products. See the magic electricity has wrought in life! Improvements in quality of life have followed a successive even if gradual development. All these have been the outcome of the effort of talented people. These creative individuals are independent of the political system just as politically gifted people are independent of the level of scientific and technological advancement. However, political stability provides a favourable atmosphere for these inventions and discoveries to flourish. People do not succeed by chance but by diligent application of their wits and resources. The same principle applies to nations. Nations rise to the top by dint of harnessing the talents of their people and directing them to a given goal. There is no shortcut to greatness but by unflinching self-application and exertion.
The primary concern of government should be the commitment to constructing “an immensely strong and stable bedrock” on which to build a state ready to take its place among the first nations of the world. The first step is to build up the people themselves as a capital of development. Their character, skill, and attitude need to be moulded to cope with the demands of modernity and competition inherent between nations. The next step is the consolidation of one nation-state where every citizen will feel the full paternity of the state. The other personal attributes of the people are (1) national consciousness, (2) value system – morality and ethic truthfulness and good sense, (3) education – an intensely competitive educational system to strongly groom the people in mathematics, science, technology, administration and management, (4) diligence and thoroughness, hard-work, and mind for high quality, (5) entrepreneurial attitude, (6) developed domestic market, (7) high level of savings, (8) pursuit of sustained economic growth and an aggressive drive into export market (adapted from Paul Kennedy) Development of the people should take precedence over the provision of infrastructures. When the people would have been built they can then of their own skill construct the infrastructure needed for industrial and technological takeoff.
Politics ought to be an engagement at the service to the people. However, it has been perverted and turned into a goldmine. The people are thus swayed by the motive of self-gratification rather than public welfare, and they are therefore intent on maximizing their fortunes by an opportunity given them to occupy any political office. This perversion of motive is responsible for many of the economic, political and social problems prevalent in these communities where political depravity is pandemic.
Let’s take a look at the legislature. Of significant in democracy is the stratification of government into executive arm and legislative arm. The executive arm is the power. Power can never be shared. It lies either with one or the other. Constitutionally, power lies with the executive but the aim of the legislature is to aggrandize its own importance and reduce the executive effete. For whatever purpose the legislature is supposed to serve it should not constitute a hindrance to the free operation of the executive arm. From the Nigerian experience the working of the legislature seems mockery of the institution. They sit for two or three days of the week and do what but scheming, intrigue, impeachment, fisticuffs, and hurling of chairs and missiles at one another. They never make laws or discuss issues of real politick. What comes to mind is that suppose there is no legislature whether the government cannot function. In the eighty-six years of the corporate existence of Nigeria the colonial dominion for forty-six years and the military junta for thirty years, a total of seventy-six years, were without legislature. The civil rule has been for only ten years and the performance of the legislature at the Federal, State and even LGA levels has been a farce. Taken the legislature as a necessary stratum of a democratic government could not a single arm legislature serve the purpose of a bicameral legislature and the number of elected officials drastically pruned and effort made to elect the best of the people to make for efficiency It is sheer redundancy to have three thousand people for a job of five hundred people. Each of the federal legislators earns from + – + a million naira as monthly salary and adding other benefits and graft the monthly emoluments could come to an average of two million naira. Colossal amount for little or no work done. The cost could also be largely reduce for a fragile economy. If it is out of sheer imitation of America or Britain that Nigeria opted for a bicameral legislature and not out of special need it is nothing else but delusions of grandeur. Generally speaking I believe that in making for a plethora of political offices. It was a devise of the political class who drafted the constitution to make enough provisions for themselves to partake in government.
The function of the legislators is not so critical for the well-being of the community to justify government’s huge investment on their comfort — accommodation, vehicles, personal staff, and emoluments. If the executive is profligate the legislators are justified to ask for a chunk of the spoils. It rests squarely on the Head of State [the President] to pamper the executives — cabinet, legislators, and bureaucrats or control them.
If the conditions of service are so fabulous people will seek public offices for the assured comfort. Such offices will be for the highest bidders or for grabs by the most unscrupulous. If the conditions of service are austere and calls for sacrifice only heroes and patriots will come out to serve the community.
Remuneration for political office holders should be in line with the standard of the public service. Consideration for service to the fatherland or the nation should not be out of the perks associated with office but the power to direct the affairs of the State. The people should be elected not out of sentiment but from the view of their learning, patriotism and ethical standing.
Once the people agreed to be one nation or by whatever means have come together as one nation they should cede to the elected government the unrestrained power to lay out and implement comprehensive and strong national policies. No government at any tier should by constitution be made weak. Each government should exert itself within the limits of its constitutional provisions, which should indeed be very broad. The constitution, in reality, cannot make any government strong or weak. It is the consciousness and personality of the leader that sets the trend, which if followed Consecutively and persistently by successive leaders crystallizes into a norm. What is constitution but a human contrivance to promote commonweal. Strong central government is best. It is the centre that binds the whole. Political power gravitates towards the point of greatest responsibility. Any well-meaning leader who is a nationalist at heart and who has a vision for the community will break down any and every barrier to reach the people. His policies Will be national by design and will affect, positively, the entire nation, states, LGAs and down to the individuals. It is only a leader who is a hedonist that abnegates his responsibility to the lower levels of government.
The latitude of Federation makes enough Provisions for the component parts to decide their own domestic affairs. A state can enact its own policies for development, education, and industries, establish its own educational institutions, research and development agencies, and industries; draw up its own peculiar laws and judiciary. The state can have anything except military, Foreign Affairs, currency and a few other areas. A state in a Federation can aspire to any height of development and attain such if its leadership is responsible and fecund of ideas. Federation does not hamper the creativity of any states or individuals. The strength of the central government does not remove from the initiative and creativity of the people at the helms of affairs in other tiers of government. It is not the strength of the regions above that of the centre that created Michael Faraday or Otto Von Bismarck. The combined best performance of the local governments, the State governments and the Federal government will bring about the greatness of the Community and lift the nation to world super class. Any town or Local Government Area could have such gifted people and fashion out workable novel laws that it could be the modern Rome and first enchant the neiahbouring towns and LGAs and finally influence the whole nation. Any state could be so strong and determined as to be the modem Prussia of the nation. Nothing holds any body or community down in a Federation. A Federation is an opportunity for national aggrandizement Americans brandish “my country” all over the world. America boasts a large landmass with vast mineral resources and a large population of diverse talents.
Unification means bringing the various groups within contiguity together under one law, one ruler, one system whether democracy, totalitarianism or Colonialism With time the divers will blend and everyone will feel as one. I would like to cite the examples of Scotland and Germany. Scotland was by the middle of the Sixth Century the home of four distinct peoples differing in race and language. These peoples were the Picts, Scot, Briton, an English. They were joined in time to form the Kingdom of Scotland by circumstance and the effort of some of their Kings. In 1034 King Duncan united these diverse groups under one ruler, though the entire structure remained a loose confederacy, it was his son, King Malcolm, who reigned in 1054 — 1093 who welded this loose. Confederacy into the Scottish nation. Scotland has remained one to this day. The Germans for long had been a non-political people.
The French Revolution made them to be acutely conscious of the state In the light of the freedom by which the French had raised themselves to the dignity of citizenship the Germans became filled with indignation to the point of shame. National awakening in Germany become strongly set at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Thereon the Germans became fascinated with the idea of political unity and national greatness. The German States had previously been at variance with one another but Bismarck by his strong leadership eventually unified them. This was what Machiavelli wanted for the Italian states of his time. The integration of Germany was one of a stunning success story. In our time we see how World War II split Germany into two. Now that Germany is back again as one nation the world is going to witness a marvel of integrated enterprises that will give her a mastery of the world; however, I dare add the proviso that it does not pursue a policy of belligerency and that it curbs the xenophobia tendency of its citizens (as widely alleged).
All over the world significant nations are emphasizing their political unity. Those that had split are raring to come together again and are doing everything possible toward ensemble. There is power in being a large Community. Its extensive landmass with the possibility of vast and diverse economic resources, and also as a source of security against being easily over run by an invader, its large population that can boast of high manpower with its potential for military, technical, scientific, administrative and managerial capacity are advantages over smaller Communities. A Community cannot be great if it is not strong; and to be strong a community cannot afford to disintegrate or allow its component parts to come to be or remain at variance with one another. A Community should not even contemplate a break-up because it could become a reality and Irreversible. As in a marriage if whenever there is a slight misunderstanding and one partner starts to threaten the other with separation, a time comes when the threatened partner gets fed up, calls the other’s bluff, and eventually leaves for good. So it can be a nation state where one section or the other unleashes its dissatisfaction with the state of national affairs and starts calling for national restructuring or outright dissolution.
If the advanced nations of Europe are working toward an ensemble of European Union with all the advantages of peace, security, economic boom, and the well-being of the people can the developing nations afford to tear themselves apart? They should rather be committed to strengthening the bond of the union heritage. In modern Communities there is no homogeneity Everywhere – Britain, USA, Switzerland, China etc diversity is the rule rather than the exception. There is strength in diversity. The people, however should work towards unity. Unity can be sustained in diversity Harmony will bring out the best in the multiformity It should none-the-less, be noted that integration does not imply fusion, which in itself is not desirable, even if it were attainable, but it does mean that the various segments agree to a contract to bind them together rather than pursue their divergent impulses. Differences do exist but they should not invoke superiority/inferiority equation with its attendant ethnic rivalry, sectionalism, and feuding. People fear domination and they are sensitive to any policy that might exclude them from the main stream. Harmonization policy is necessary to have the parts represented in the whole to prevent lopsidedness, and yet it should not infiltrate mediocrity into the system. Never hold people down. Exclusion by whatever reason can cause disaffection. Opportunity should be opened equally to all. If people take advantage of the opportunities provided and improve themselves, in no time the gap between the disparate groups will be closed. Place of birth or domicile is enough data for recognition for full rights of citizenship. The people in turn should take their place of birth and domicile as home and give their best to such a place. America, Britain, Germany etc. readily grant citizenship to foreigners but these people in parts of their own country other than their ancestral clans or villages of origin are treated as aliens and are socially restricted. The new perspective of social contract should make it possible for a person to take up citizenship of another part of the Community as he or she wishes. If the Community can remain intact for about five hundred years, especially if there are no ineffaceable physical features or segregation into quarters there is the possibility of its spontaneous integration.
Development, Affirmative Action, Justice
Maintaining the heritage of one nation calls for a great effort and sustained commitment. The good that is perceived in any society is the result of the collective effort of the people, each person contribute according to his or her talent, and each ethnic group deferring to the centre.
There is no homogeneity anywhere. Communities stay together by tolerance. It is a give and take relationship. The government must need to guarantee social justice. Some sections of the community may so lag behind as to retard the rate of progress of the entire community. For the interest of over all development it may become peremptory to permit some sort of diminished injustice by applying a modified affirmative action just to jolt the disadvantaged sections into action that will integrate them into the mainstream of the community within the shortest time. In this dispensation rather than deny some people their chances a greater effort should be applied to prop up the stragglers. Standards should not be lowered. The people must pass through competitive tests to distil out the best of them. The first is best. The best sets the pace. The fastest determines the rate of completion. This is as far as competitive tests and quest for excellence are concerned. Life is characterized by contradictions. In the bid to forge a united, harmonious and progressive society man needs to take cognizance of two scientific principles, which operate, though imperceptibly, to keep even in the mineral world in harmony. These principles are hereby cited to invoke the need of supportive action to bind the nation as one. The first of the principles is the principle of limiting factors. It states that the level of crop production can be no greater than that allowed by the most limiting of the essential plant growth factors, Applied to the human society it follows that the level of civilization or development of a community can be no greater than that allowed by the most backward of the component ethnic groups. This principle is in line with the law of average or mean. Since all must go along the most backward will drag down the community. The second is the principle of rate – limiting step. This states that in a chemical reaction involving consecutive steps the rate of the whole sequence is determined by the speed of the slowest step. This Principle is manifested in a relay race. A community is like a relay team. Though it is set for a competition but there is no competition between the members of the team. The slowest runner limits the overall speed or performance of the team. They all put in their best effort and the shortcoming of a member is offset by the supreme Performance of another member for the team to win the race. In the human Community the ethnic components should bolster one another for the community to excel and be a force to reckon with in the world. If the object of the Community is to rise to the top the authority will do well for the community and for the mankind to pay special attention to the gifted of its citizens even if they have to be preponderantly from one particular section. Let the best not be weighed down by the obtuse. Come to think of it, which ethnic groups in Nigeria can boast of excellent natural endowment of its people, sublime culture, learning and technology? In academic field one section or the other may have the advantage of head start but not in innate intelligence. Time is a leveler with equal opportunity.
As man is plagued by temptation in the way the society is not spared the evil. When a nation is poised for greatness temptation comes its way to derail it. The evil enters some People and puts them under the delusion that if they break up the union their component section going on its own way will attain greatness over-night. This is temptation of diversion; the community is being diverted from its path to greatness. Talent, skill, and energy that have not existed cannot be brought forth in the people over-night If the people are endowed with these qualities there will always be a way for them to develop their talents in the federal community
Sovereign National Conference, Confederacy, Restructuring
In Nigeria, for some years now, there has been a call note from the Yoruba group for a sovereign national conference and from the Ibo group for confederacy. Across the nation some individual voices call for or Support a call for national restructuring. These propositions are a mere cosmetic phrase for dissolution of the Federation, as it exists today. If it does come about it may either come through clean or precipitate a crisis which could spill beyond the scope the agitators can cope with or it could even bring about a war that will be so ravaging and devastating and plunge millions of innocent and helpless people into unwarranted misery.
Another dimension to the crisis is that there may be the temptation for the hen to gather its chicks under one brood. This will be the beginning of a drive for Anschluss. The Yoruba nation of Nigeria would want to reach out to the Yoruba section of the Republic of Benin to incorporate it into the greater Yoruba nation state. This will be an affront on the territorial integrity of another sovereign state and which that country will resist by all means at its disposal. An act of aggression on either side will be an invitation to international conflagration .The crisis of restructuring Nigeria can also spell doom for Niger Republic, which has a significantly large population of Hausa/Fulani stock. Lurking within this development is the ominous unfolding of a domino effect that could sweep violently across West Africa. These agitators may not now realize that this era does not allow for an arbitrary redefinition or delineation of international boundaries.
Viewed from another perspective the call for a sovereign national conference may not altogether be a calculated attempt to ferment crisis; and so it should not be condemned root and branch people cannot be forced to stay together. After all the state law allows dissolution of marriage, and no relationship can be more intimate. Hobbe, Locke, and Rousseau severally spoke of the theory. Of Social Contract by which communities agreed to be one community under one leadership. The reverse is also true that the component ethnic groups of a unified community have the inalienable rights when they perceive unrelenting injustice in the sunning of the nation to have a second thought at their decisions to come together or of remaining together and therefore, to ask for a conference to review the conditions of being together or otherwise. If being together is such a crushing load it should rather be shed.
If a Sovereign Conference is imperative it cannot be wished away. The Sovereign National Conference can be likened to the General Church Council. In the century before Martin Luther the excesses in the church had prompted concerned faithfuls to suggest, several times, a General Council to deliberate on the state of the Church and carry out reforms where necessary. By the time the Council of Trent was convened (1545 — 1563) which addressed the issues at stake and effected a thorough reform the Church had been torn apart and it was too late to bring the protestant splinters back to the one-fold of Western Christendom. If the church had heeded the call for a General Council about twenty-five years earlier it might have been saved from the fragmentary bomb detonated by the “rash and presumptuous” Martin Luther.
The nation must be prepared to face the unpalatable Conference of sitting together to count the score of being one, but the peril must be appreciated before hand. If Moses had succumbed to the pressure of the restive elements among the multitude and as a Way out called for a plebiscite, in all probability, the miscreants would have swayed the naïve masses to vote for a return to Egypt.
It should be noted that when Rehoboam acceded to what might be likened to the people’s demand for a sovereign national conference he had the nation split in his hand. Israel could be to have been a fragile state and passing through a turbulent period. A slight indiscretion was just enough to quake the structure when Rehoboam goofed though he meant well and was a good man to “ your tents O Israel” which had sounded generations earlier Sounded again and this time it was for real; the nation sundered. It became too late even for a war to bring the northern kingdom back for a united country. “United we stand” is an age-long aphorism. Most probably if Israel had not split it might not have been vanquished and banished into exile. First, the Northern Kingdom was conquered and bundled into slavery in Assyria. Finally the South Kingdom was over-run and deported to Babylon. Permit me to dwell a little more on Rehoboam. He meant well, but he was not altogether wise in his response to the request of the people. From the severity of the rule of Solomon, his father, the people needed some respite. It is true that it was the hard rule of Solomon that brought glory to the kingdom but it was also at a very heavy toll on the people; what could therefore be described as pyrrhic achievement since the glory did not make for the greater happiness or well being of the people. Rehoboam’s definitive answer to the people portrayed his insensitivity to their feeling. He spoke as if he was an alien or conqueror ruler. A leader, especially at a point of transition should be a source of inspiration, encouragement, and hope for better times ahead; he should empathize with the people and make them feel that he is one of them. Ideally, the leader should do his utmost best to have the people willingly support his programme, though in reality” the will of the entire people is impossible to win over for any serious matter. What Rehoboam should have done was to express sympathy for the people, apologize for the “excesses” of his father’s regime, subtly exonerate his father and put all the blame on the over zealous officials. Then, he should have set about, by every word he said, every move he made and every step he took to gain the confidence of the people. Thereafter, he could have gradually increase the tempo of exaction on the people that would far have exceeded the scale of his father while all the time re-assuring the them that the effort was for them and their offspring for all generations. Some people may sneer at this as antediluvian. Some other people may point to the dissolution of the Soviet Union into the component Republics without precipitating any crisis. It must be appreciated that these Republics had existed as Sovereign entities before being pulled into the Union. Even then no greater progress or
more peace has been attained in the separate Republics now than revailed when they were in the Union. When the chips are down an ethnic group will find to its chagrin that it is, after all, not homogeneous and it needs a measure of force, appeal and compromise to carry its people along. Injustice is a social virus that plagues the human society whether large or small. In a composite community the diversity within an ethnic group is screened by the common competitor effect occasioned by the other ethnic groups perceived as competitors in the union.
Practically in any Community there is dissatisfaction between the component groups. The leadership should not pander to the whims and caprices of the disgruntled elements to cause disaffection among the people; otherwise, giving the chance of a sovereign conference to the hot heads seething with fury for restructuring the nation, for a cheap political score anyway, will be like putting I’NT in the hand of a pyromaniac.
A nation, in fact, any relationship for that matter can only survive by tolerance of the partners for one another. For any nation until the binding mortar has calcified into a compact stony mass the structure should not be disturbed. Rather than waste resources and human effort debating issues that will evoke acrimony and dissension the people should harness their talents to strengthen the ties that bind. The common man has all to gain from national unity. It is the self-seeking politicians that whip up ethnic sentiments for their personal aggrandizement. To them people are mere expendable materials and as such these political demagogues have no feelings or qualms pitting the common people against one another.
Ethnic groups that have had the good fortune to be formed into a state should strive to remain as one community. They should eschew rivalry and pursue attitude of tolerance just as one is wont to do in the family. They must at the same time strive for equity. Unity must not be taken for granted. To build a truly united nation from diverse ethnic groups that have existed separately for millennia is an enterprise that cannot be achieved in a matter of a few years. It requires an arduous work over a long time, and not mere wishful thinking to strengthen the conglomerate ethnic groups into one nation. The basis of one nation is the will to be together as one.
Still, there is a cost, an immense one. The cost must be borne magnanimously by whichever section has the better fortune. It is the cost of allowing national interest to override sectional interest. Anyone’s talent is to the national course. Unity demands a give and take attitude, that is, every section should be willing to concede so that every other section can benefit from the system without a feeling of being cheated or sidelined. What is good for the goose is good also for the gander. There should be no domination by wealth size, population or elitism. Unity is sustained by the application, the principles of equity and social justice. The people should has a sense of belonging to the state.
It is good to be one, large nation, but it must not be at all costs. Being together is desirable to attain a certain goal — greatness, which is a cause for national pride. There is enhanced strength. There is enough landmass to manoeuvre. But if being together is inimical to attaining this goal then the groups had better go their separate ways. If the various groups are so incongruous that it becomes inherently disadvantageous to remain as one they can through legislation agree to dissolve the union and make a clean cleavage to allow the parts to go as they choose.
The Great Ensemble
If humans were to encounter life in outer space they would be regarded as one stock — earthlings. On this point of view humanity can lay equal claims to any part of the world. It is a possibility that the world can be filly integrated. The success of the European Union will lead the way. Communities should leave their doors wide open for well-meaning people from any other part of the world to come in, and settle and acquire citizenship as they wish. Look at America! See its greatness! This has been accomplished by its magnanimity of opening its door to people from all over the world.