arliament is the living and breathing instrument of democracy’. King Charles III
The beauty of parliamentary democracy was in full display last Monday at the London Westminster Hall during the presentation of addresses to His Majesty, King Charles III by speakers of the House of Commons and the Upper House, populated by their Right Honourable Lords Spiritual and Temporal. Adding the event to the seamless transition, from Boris Johnson to Liz Truss, some days earlier, only brought the past to pain. But for the conspiracy of our governing political elite, our nation at independence had the potential to achieve such a smooth transition.
Since it is unlikely many of our angry youths who hardly read anything would to take time off watching ‘Big Brother’ – (one more of evidence of collapsed of values we once held dear as a people), they will probably not be able to appreciate how British politicians and their informed youths exhibit their ownership of their nation despite lack of consensus on many issues, including the monarchy and Scotland’s quest for divorce from a union dating back to the 17th century.
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I sympathise with our largely uninformed angry youths who have been programmed by human rights promoters of lawlessness and anarchy, the media owned by those who pretend not to know the distinction between rights and obligations to community, and politicians like Senator Dino Melaye who once said he was “in politics to ensure Nigerian youths get their fair share of the national resources” to believe government is the enemy when in truth government is their only dependable ally in the battle against private owners of resources whose only interest is presiding over an empire of slaves.
For our angry youths who are currently being fed with falsehood by politicians and a segment of the media operating below the level of society, that they could take over their country on the social media and on the street, I think a brief journey through memory will help them to see themselves in the mirror.
But let us start by assuring our dear angry youths that the fault is not in our stars. Indeed a solid foundation for our democratization process was laid by the departing colonial power just as she did in most of her 54 commonwealth nations that emerged from the ashes of her collapsed empire. If what today defines our parliamentarians is a culture of sharing looted resources of conquered territories as against service, commitment patriotism as we saw in Westminster last Monday, the fault is in our greed-driven political elite.
First, our new inheritors of power had no abiding faith in the democratization process. They saw it only as an avenue to take power. It therefore did not take time for them to unleash a coordinated assault on institutions of democracy starting with leader of opposition and his Action Group party, the supreme court, the parliament, the office of head of state occupied by the queen and finally the federal arrangement.
Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe’s NCNC and Ahmadu Bello’s Northern People’s Congress , as coalition partners with majority in the parliament, started by compromising the integrity of the judiciary. And when the Nigerian supreme court ruling was overturned by the Privy Council of London, instead of showing remorse for their betrayal of the nation, driven by hatred for the opposition leader, they coerced the parliament into passing a retroactive law to upstage the Privy Council.
The next victim was the office of the head of state occupied by the Queen. The 1963 Republican Constitution, the first to be presided over by Nigerians without colonial masters’ supervision replaced the Queen as Head of state with Dr Azikiwe who became titular president and commander in chief of armed forces even when the real power to mobilise the army resided in the Prime Minister Balewa, with the dissolution of the Judicial Service Commission took over control of judiciary. With the emasculation of the parliament and the judiciary, the coalition partners came up with an emergency constitutional provision. Awolowo was framed up for treasonable felony under the new emergency law, his British defence lawyer, a member of Nigerian Bar Association was barred by Shehu Shagari, the interior minister from entry into Nigeria and subsequently jailed for 10 years.
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The duo used their new positions to serve self rather than serve Nigeria. Unlike what was witnessed in the combined sittings of House of Commons and House of Lords where accomplished members of the House of the Lords deployed their past experiences to serve the British society and where the Queen managed the diversity of the four nations making up the United Kingdom by respecting the values of all men of faith and even men of no faith, the president and the prime minister betrayed the nation.
With the opposition out of the way, the battle for the soul of Nigerian between Igbo and Hausa/Fulani became vicious. In the disputed 1962/63 census results, settled in favour of the north by a compromised Nigerian judiciary, Zik could not resist taking side with his people. It was the same with the massively rigged 1964 federal election which led to constitutional crisis after Zik, pandering to the demands of his people, refused to call on the winner to form the government.
The zero-sum struggle for power by the head of state and his prime minister was what brought the military in to politics in January and July 1966 and eventually plunged the nation into 33 months civil war.
It is on record that when Ironsi emerged head of state in January 1966, he was manipulated by Igbo political leaders to replace our federal system with a unitary system through Decree 34 of 1966. The control of power by the military of northern extraction after the July 1966 coup, through other successive military coups from 1975 to 1999 is responsible for our current constitution which with 68 items on the exclusive list is only federal in name.
What we have today under Buhari where the north controls every important public office is a sad reminder of 1959 to 1966 and 2011 to 2015 when Igbo also controlled most of the important positions in government.
From the above, it is hoped our angry youths will come to understand that governments including the Buhari administration overwhelmed by the mess left behind by their fathers, is not necessarily the enemy of youths. An interrogation of the past will also allow our angry youths threatening to take back their country come to terms with the truth about who in fact sold their country for a pot of porridge and decide whether to return to our golden period of parliamentary bliss or stick to this unworkable structure put together by hypocrites who claim to be Nigerians first before the representatives of their people.
And finally, it is hoped that after seeing themselves in the mirror, our angry youths as leaders of tomorrow will take a cue from the youths of Western Region of the 50s by returning to the library, to plan a pathway for tomorrow.