Very recently, I was in London for my granddaughter’s graduation and it was so memorable to meet up with my regular co-writer and contributor to this column Mr Akin Olukiran. Akin had written a few articles for me in the past and has contributed to today’s unique article written in two parts. As always, our discussions and reviews centred on the Nigerian project and the complicated road to 2023. There is a blurring of ideology between all the main political parties since the main players keep jumping from one party to the other without any ideological leaning. Their mission and individual ambitions are back to the same orchestra, the same music, and the same dancers except for the little bit of fresh air coming from Peter Obi’s Camp and Movement, which, quite fortuitously seems to have found a home for Nigeria’s teeming youth. Unfortunately for our nation, there is no mechanism available with which an opinion poll can determine the direction the country is going as it is done in developing countries. Any attempt to establish such will be corrupted by the buying and selling mentality among our voting population because if money can now buy delegates and also buy aspirants in a party’s political convention, it makes me wonder about the political philosophy that is now enshrined and accepted to be the norm.
But before I continue with our conversation, let me first take my readers down memory lane. During the last few cycles of elections in our nation Nigeria, the language amongst most politicians and the slogan was mostly restructuring, restructuring, restructuring. It was like the country was going nowhere without restructuring. There was also a talk on the creation of more states before the “CHANGE” slogan. Somehow, we have moved on without the change that is honorably desired without the state creation, albeit, many of the current states are not viable as they are. But I must first remind the nation that the 36 states from four regions were all created by decree and by the military. Also, the military gave us the unworkable 1999 constitution, making it impossible for any civilian administration to create states. So how can we forget so easily and have refused to look backwards since there is so much to gain from looking back? Since there’s been no talk on state creation and restructuring in the recent past.
I recall vividly that during the ban on political activities by the military, my very good friend, Senator Iyorcha Ayu, the present national Chairman of PDP approached me and requested that I provide them (some political groups) with an underground location where they can commence some political activities without breaking the law. I then asked him why me and his response was that I was being seen as a father of all, non-political and non-partisan and that a location from me would ruffle no feathers. So,I provided them with my underground wine cellar where they met several times over a few years without my participation but my stock of vintage wine was completely depleted! I found out later that the group finally became PDP or part of it. I was also told at a later date that some former military leaders also infiltrated and became part of the team. To that effect, the subsequent civilian government that was elected was endorsed by the military including what was to be a continuation of MKO’s movement. The MOVEMENT was well received in the whole nation up to the far North but as they moved closer to the finish line, their language was perceived by the military class to have changed away from the message they started with and as such the group found themselves realigning and compromising on their principles, the rest is history.
The same was the case with EndSars movement, their manifesto captured most of MKO’s ideas of change but those of us who are students of history did not know how the EndSars movement started and who started it. The change they wanted was well received and was spontaneous in a matter of days and even reached Abuja but was truncated on Abuja-Kaduna road and we all know that you do not mess up with that road.
The same also goes with the prediction that I made in a conversation with some friends soon after the intervention of 1966 by the military. I did predict then that the military was going to stay in power for another fifty years; some of them thought I was crazy though I was wrong in some ways but was right in many ways.
Therefore come 2023, the Youth movement that has now found its home and voice in Peter Obi’s movement must look back and study the voting pattern of Nigerians, those that are controlled by the military, those that are controlled by their religion, those that are controlled by their ethnicity, and those that are controlled by the highest bidder syndrome.
Over a decade ago, Akin was visiting Lagos from London and I invited him to my Victoria Island Office to receive some very bright political aspirants for advice and counselling. The language of the aspirants was very similar to what Peter Obi is trying to propagate today but our advice was to give themselves some time, say eight to twelve years to enable them to take their message around the country and build the necessary political structures. We also told them that since they were all in their Forties (40s) and Fifties (50s), there was plenty of time for them to become president in their fifties and sixties. This was so because the hold of the military on our political structure will take a few decades to be attenuated, especially if they are not ready to go into partnership with the military class.
Some months ago, in this same column I wrote under the heading, Parliamentary system of Government: The Government of the People, for the People and by the People, that the political structure we have today between the military and the politicians is not working and will never work because the partnership is rooted on a master-servant platform making it very difficult for new political groups to flourish as the entry barriers are almost unscalable. Those that tried in the past or the last twenty years have not been able to get a distant third because the supreme leaders (retired generals and politicians) have ensured the death of such bodies on arrival. Does it mean that they are aware of the outcome of events when such bodies spring up and unite together? Akin will attempt to answer this question in the second part of this article which he will publish next week.
We have failed to follow the British system of government that colonized us to pursue another course which is tearing down the country. The ongoing partnership between the military and the politicians has worked well only for the politicians and the military. The result is the mismanagement of our resources, hypocrisy, corruption, nepotism, favouritism, and crisis everywhere resulting in banditry, kidnappings, acts of terrorism and general insecurity. Their partnership seems to be working and may stay with the country for the next few decades.
From all of us at Fight against Desert Encroachment (FADE) Africa, we wish you a Happy Weekend.