By Sunny .A. Dada
May 29, 2015, saw the birth of a new axiom into the Nigerian political lexicon. The maxim “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody” was birthed by Nigeria’s oldest President, Muhammadu Buhari. The axiom which has generated commentaries from various political strata has since been put to test with the president’s implicit actions in his sixty nine days in office.
In civilized Democracies, appointment of public officers and policies of government are guided by strict merit and standards of developmental principles that have the ability to deliver democratic dividends to the citizenry. The region of where public officers come from matters little or none while the economic policies of government are weighed on the greater benefit to the citizenry.
The reverse is however the case in Nigeria as appointments into public offices and economic policies are viewed from the perspective of sectionalism and ethnic chauvinism. This is irrespective of the potential of such policies or the qualification of the individual.
According to the Nigerian Constitution as amended, “The composition 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 the need 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 from a few ethnic or sectional groups in that Government or any of its agencies.” Chapter II, Section 14, subsection (3).
The bane of the above Federal Character Principle is that certain individuals no matter how highly qualified will never aspire to occupy certain public offices. It is more so as the nation is in ominous need of highly qualified professionals to midwife our comatose economy and redundant public sector, to life again.
This is however not a thumbs-up to the president who in line with the principle of the federal character has severely betrayed his political aphorism that his administration will be fair to all concerned in terms of his economic policies and appointment of competent personnel from every sections of the country.
The realism of the Nigerian democracy is that it is pillowed on the three vile of religion, ethnicity and sectionalism. These contemptible ills that have become acceptable national ignominy, have their foundations in the fraught amalgamation of the North and Southern Protectorate of Nigeria which didn’t take into cognizance, the ethnocentric demands of the over two hundred and fifty ethnic nationalities that constitutes the two regions. In all the errors that trail the amalgamation were the colonial misjudgement of the highly egocentric Hausa/Fulani nationality and the underestimation of the Southern resolve to resist their domination as deliberately planned by the colonialist.
Today, Nigeria seemed to be moving ahead even though according to international conventions it has become an entity of illegality, having existed as a country for 100 years. But the current posture of the President who by his body language is already treating the south as conquered territories, has further fractured whatever was left of the thin cord binding the nationalities together.
It is therefore not too late to counsel that President Buhari explore the opportunities of the National Conference Report before him to bring on board ethnic nationalities to re-appraise and re-negotiate the terms of our national co-existence as, its an international norm after a nation has clocked one hundred years of nationhood.