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THE CO-EFFICIENT OF FRICTION IN NIGERIAN POLITICS

By: Professor Dr. Emmanuel Omoh Esiemokhai

Published October 25th, 2010

In a Federal Republic, where there is unity of language, culture and common ancestry, it is easier to reconcile opinion, aspirations and goals.

In a Confederal Republic, like Nigeria, where languages are different, cultures are different, goals and aspirations are divergent, the co-efficient of friction and the co-efficient of its expansion is difficult to reconcile.

This is why it is wise to invite all the composite units of the Nigerian Confederation to discuss their yearnings, goals and aspirations. Their thoughts, ambitions and visions (not 20-20-20) can be codified as guiding principles of association between the peoples of the Confederation of Nigeria.

What we have been doing in the last fifty years is putting the cart before the horse, writing constitutions that do not reflect the realities of the Nigerian state and its different nation-states. These have proved counter- productive.

We have based our constitutional development and statecraft on alien political thought, philosophy of life and sociology of existence, through adaptation and adoption.

This eclectic approach to governance has had the result that political wrangling, not based on dialectical reasoning but on group dynamics has been the bane of Nigerian statecraft.

There is always a measure of uncertainty in the policies that are adopted within the closets of the civil service and ministerial fiats, but these do not represent the aspirations nor meet the approval of the people.

Escapist proclamations and shifting shifting visions 2000, 2005, 2010, the Seven- point agenda and now 20-20-20, have served as political deceits, which our gullible populace and the helpless population, naively believe. You can deceive all the people all the time!

The awareness among the population is now relatively higher than when two colonels pushed us into a self-serving civil war, when military officers, NPN and the PDP, ran governments by strongmen for strong men as directed by military arrangements.

These political arrangements excluded academics from governance except in subservient roles as “advisers”.

Lacking in quality, there is evidence that some men and women, who have governed Nigeria since independence, were not prepared for governance.

Frequent changes in cabinets and governments provide the supreme evidence of what I am talking about.

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The systemic failure of governance in Nigeria, often throws up neophytes. As a routine, there is the never-ending re-cycling of tired hands, but who have the questionable means to stage come-backs.

As a result of the mounting demand for good governance and accountability among young and middle-aged Nigerians, there is a discernible dichotomy on the substance of governance between the Epicureans and the Spartans.

This has set both centrifugal and centripetal force at work, which in turn, has heightened the coefficient of friction in Nigerian politics.

Thus, the instability in the Confederal Republic has pushed the co-efficient of expansion of doubt about 2011, inexorably.

The Epicurean logic of the status quo is being vehemently challenged by Deltan militants, whose Spartan disposition has unleashed both centrifugal and centripetal forces within the confederal states.

Nigerians talk too much and do very too little. Everyone is wise in his own eyes.

This is why we could not execute the 7-point agenda, the Vision 2000, 2005, 2010 and now, we are on another romantic mission, perching precariously on the prophecy train to 20-20-29. “You cannot deceive all the people all the time”!

We must empower the Confederal states to generate wealth and not dissipate wealth.

Governors must be held accountable for failures to uplift their people and not rely too much on the Government at the Centre, which should constitutionally play a regulatory role.

The outcome of the Edo, Ondo, Ekiti Anambra gubernatorial overturns has led pundits to speculate that in free and fair elections, the ruling party could receive a political shock. The serpent of illusion may crawl back into its hole.

The question is how mobilized is CAN, the CPC, ACN and the CNPP? Will a party that suffers defeat gracefully concede or will they resort to political chicanery, intrigue and subterfuge?

So far, we have not seen manifestoes, political statements that have depth and meaning. This time around, parties must earn their legitimacy. Crooked, manipulations of the electoral process will be resisted.

So far, we have read lazy snippets of promissory political statements, meaningless public relations jingles, self- portrait advertorials, commissioned speeches and inane postulations that depict some political aspirants as shallow, unprepared, unserious and ill-advised.

The Northern political stormy petrel, Mallam Adamu Ciroma, has been expressing strong views on contemporary Nigerian politics, vibing the co-efficient of friction to A major.

Mallam Adamu Ciroma is a man, who holds and expresses his convictions in unmistakable terms. He is not used to tongue-in-cheek declarations. He could be subjective and wrong, but he speaks with gusto.

Adamu Ciroma, a history graduate of the University College, Ibadan, has pursued the “NORTHERN CAUSE” since the 1970’s. As the post civil war editor and later Managing Director of NEW NIGERIAN newspaper, he defended and propagated the NORTHERN CAUSE, with relish and unmistakable pride.

His editorials were vitriolic.

Accordingly, he was rewarded with the Governorship of the Central Bank, became the Minister of Agriculture, Secretary-General of NPN and I think that Madam Ciroma is also riding high.

In 1972, I came back from West Germany (as it was then) after my studies in Law. I travelled to Kano and became the Editor of New Era Magazine. My publication interviewed the Emir of Daura, Alhaji Muhamadu Bashir, Mallam Aminu Kano, the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Inua Wada, the Emir of Gumel and we ran commentaries on other famous Northern leaders. I had the privilege of studying the Emirate system of administration. I got acquainted with the Nigerian diplomat, politician and nationalist, Alhaji Yesuf Maitama Sule, who was then the Commissioner of Information, in Kano State. I met with him regularly after each edition of New Era Magazine hit the news stand. These Northern leaders were and are still strong believers in the Nigerian project.

Adamu Ciroma seems to be engaged in federal matters, but he does not seem to have uplifted his local people in any remarkable way. Adamu should worry that the numbers of Almajiris in Kaduna and other Northern cities are growing, that flights from Kano to Lagos, Sokoto, and Maiduguri are few and far between, slowing down the movement of Northern business people, that the economic generating power of Northern states is nothing to write to Adamu about. These issues, which my then correspondents, Mr. Eagle Chinagorom and Mr. Emmanuel Paida commented on regularly, in their essays, still need to be addressed.

It is the Northern marginalized group that should constitute Adamu’s worries. Zoning of developmental responsibilities among Northern leaders is more important than who appoints ministers, awards contracts every Wednesday at Federal Executive Council meetings and awards National Honours to both deserving and undeserving people.

In Nigeria, loud-mouthedness surely pays. Remember the famous tailor, Wada Nas, who became somebody, after he joined politics and the rural, strongman of Ibadan politics, Chief Adedibu.

These politicians promoted antiquated rivalries in pursuit of narrow interests.

In a Confederal Republic, some composite units of the Confederation reap where they did not sow and are not keen to sow

Yet, their speakers blab from the roof-tops to orchestrate chaos, whenever they want to catch the headlines from the Nigerian press that does not know how to ignore jokers.

When the two colonels used polemics and dragged us into a bloody civil war, the lie was that they acted in the people’s interest. Let political desperados not sink this country again.

The dialectics of the Sharia imbroglio in Nigeria have been examined and put to rest. There is need to always inform the citizens about contentious issues and not to hide information or sweep things under the carpet.

The language of political dialogue must be refined, expressive and not crude, uncouth diatribe, which tend to inflame passions.

The way we copy and mimic Western political, economic and cultural traits worry me a lot. Lord Lugard once observed that “Institutions and methods, in order to command success and promote the happiness and welfare of the people, must be deep rooted in their traditions and prejudices” ( The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa. London (1925) at page 215.

The level of literacy among the political class is amazingly inadequate, because of their initial low educational standards.

Yet, they aspire to govern by relying on hack speech-writers and failed former ex-this, ex-that, who actually have little or nothing to contribute to the philosophy Nigerian politics.

Each time Government hosts a conference, symposia or other events, the better time of the event is wasted on frivolous recognitions of “dignitaries”. When it is time to discuss serious national issues, the “dignitaries” disappear to watch themselves later on television!

No state makes progress with their leaders never-ending travels, ceremonials, gaieties and social festivities, the cutting of tapes and other frivols.

Apart from being financially wasteful, these social events stoke the jealous hearts of ambitious opposition parties, who criticize their opponents in vociferous manner, which hurt the ego of those criticized.

I was surprised and amazed that the Nigerian Vice President, Namadi Sambo chose to ignore all Nigerian universities and decided to present a speech at Oxford University, England.

Statesmen usually present their policy statements in their own universities for the evaluation of their domestic audience.

I thought that the speech was going to disclose earth-shaking policies resulting in falling star dusts. It did not quite tell our story.

In this political dispensation, debates must be issues-based, relevant and presented in a civil manner.

Nigerians are now ready to vote objectively and hopefully not for ethnic chieftains and political adventurers.

Resorts to primordial sentiments .should have no place in the Nigeria of 2011. We should fight the epidemic of tribalism in Nigeria, which shamelessly displays preference for “sons of the soil.”It makes living outside the confines of ones village drudgery.

How Nigerians treat their fellow compatriots is directly responsible for the high coefficient of friction in Nigeria.

Professor Dr. Emmanuel Omoh Esiemokhai is the President of the proposed Afemai University, Fugar, Edo State, Nigeria.




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