2015: A revisit to the diarchy option

The omen of 2015 is unsettling. As the desperation, scheming, and intrigue unfold, the fate of our nation after 2015 looks uncertain. As if it is a family title, the South-south exuberant youth and octogenarian militants are saying, it is Jonathan or there will be no Nigeria. It is difficult to know where the South-east stands. The North like the ostrich, with its head buried in the sound, while blaming her adversity on unfair sharing of oil revenue, is insisting power must return to its traditional place-the north. The South-west is wary of casting its lot with President Jonathan it helped into

power for marginalizing and uprooting its people from the commanding heights the economy. The rest of the Middle-Belt for fear Islamisation of their area, preach ‘an eye for an eye’ like their Islamic fundamentalist counterparts.

Yet the beneficiaries of the current anarchy have ignored a call to discuss many of our self-induced crises. In the midst of massive corruption and culture of arbitrariness, the guardian of the democratic process has become intolerant of dissent. They insist they must rule for 60 years. Last month, leading lights of the party publicly swore that members would rather die than let go of power. Many of those behind the creation of a mega party to confront the PDP evil have no ideological orientation. As if these are not enough threat to 2015 elections, we are fighting elusive religious fundamentalists that amidst state of emergency, and deployment of soldiers, strolled into secondary school boarding houses and university student living quarters, murder our children and our future in their dozens.

That the political class has failed is perhaps an understatement. Perhaps it is time to revisit the diarchy option which apart from allowing soldiers direct participation in government also make them watchdog over the conduct of politics and public life. This call is not new.

At the beginning of the fourth republic, in September 1998, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), after a meeting in Kaduna  in a communiqué signed by its  Secretary, Senator A. M. Gani and  chairman, Alhaji Aliko Mohammed said “more realistic civilian/military relationship should be considered in order to ensure a stable polity”. Much earlier, precisely in October 1972, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe came under virulent attack when he first mooted the idea.

The argument of anti-diarchy group has been that the military is ill-equipped, ill-educated  and ill-tempered to manage society and that they  are in fact the cause of the decay we have in our society today. But those reasons are in fact why the military in my view should be given responsibility to contribute towards finding solution to the mess they have made of our society since they came as custodians and liberators in 1966 ostensibly to deal with those who had undermined the electoral process during the first republic.

It was true the inheritors of power in 1959, instead of deepening democratic principles, destroyed opposition and followed up with the rigging of the 1964 election. History repeated itself in 1983. The election was massively rigged, and the sea and land slide victory of NPN brought the military in 1984. After eight years of Babangida’s ‘transition without end’, Babangida imposed Ernest Sonekan as a stop-gap for Abacha the maximum ruler. Following Abacha’s death, Abdulsalami Abubakar, the caretaker along with retired military well-heeled officers imposed Obasanjo. Beside those who operated behind the scene, the stars of Obasanjo administration include Aliyu Gusau, Theophilus Danjuma, Bode George, Ahmadu Alli, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, David Mark, Jonah Jang, Abubakar Atiku and Tony Anenih among many others.

  Obasanjo at the end of his second term imposed Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, the younger brother to the late General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua who was the equivalent of a prime minister under him as military Head of State in the in 1979. He publicly admitted imposing President Jonathan when the search for his (Jonathan) replacement took him to Jigawa State recently.

The truth is that the Nigerian military has since 1966 surreptitiously wielded power and influence, controlled the commanding heights of the economy either directly or by proxy. They do all this without being accountable to Nigerians. ‘It has been power without responsibility’. Diarchy will make the military accountable.

We must also not lose sight of the enduring legacies of the military when tamed and managed by visionaries and those trained to manage society such as Obafemi Awolowo, Tony Enahoro, Aminu Kano, Ahmed Joda, Phillip Asiodu and others. We fought a 33 months civil war without borrowing money. We had a viable working federation of 12 states that had been impossible to create due to the selfishness of three dominant ethnic groups; Hausa/Fulani, Igbo and Yoruba before the

collapse of the first republic. They bequeathed on Nigeria pillars of unity such as NYSC, Federal Government Colleges, enduring monuments like Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Third Mainland Bridge, the now collapsed Lagos/ Ibadan, Sagamu/Benin express ways and their equivalents elsewhere in the nation. They presided over a nation with a solid economic base.

If our bureaucracy, the best in Africa , if our university system, highly regarded in the world, if our teaching hospitals that ranked very high among the Commonwealth countries collapsed, blame reckless military adventurers like Murtala Mohammed and Obasanjo who destroyed these institutions out of share ignorance. If our ‘economy started heading for the rocks’ in the early eighties, blame Obasanjo who in 1979 said the best Nigerian manager of man and resources did not necessarily have to emerge as Nigerian president. If the economy finally collapsed, and if corruption became institutionalized, blame Babangida with his ‘army of anything is possible”, who embraced IMF-inspired privatization through which they shared our national patrimony among themselves and their cronies.

I am also aware of the argument of anti-diarchy to the effect that the cure for imperfections of democracy is more democracy. But while it is true that democracy has become the new god worshipped by all nations including those ruled by dictators, we must also define our own variant of democracy. Do we want to pattern hours after the French’s ‘Liberty, equality and fraternity, that has left France economy prostrate, or after those of communist China and Russia that have helped them to move their nations from one that could not feed its citizens a few years back to become the second biggest economy in the world and from one that was a few years back a candidate for aid but now inching back to its former position as a world power? What we have in the last 14 years is not democracy but anarchy.  If diarchy with restricted freedom guarantees “responsiveness of government to the people, justice, and civil liberties of thought, speech writing, and worship”, we will still not be too far away from the initial concept of democracy by the Greeks.

And if the true test of democracy is election, who else but soldiers can cure those who insist Nigeria is doomed if their tribal representative loses  election, that their party must rule for 60 years or that they are ready to die rather than lose power, of their madness? Without a balance of terror, those who have consistently undermined the electoral system since 1964, and have now elevated election to ‘a do or die affair’; those responsible for widespread poverty, illiteracy, injustice, social discontent, all of  which reduce the electorate to easy tools for manipulation; those who under fund and undermined  the institutions needed for safeguarding democracy, like the police, the electoral body, judiciary, and the mass media will continued to be let loose on our nation.

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