Lessons from Amer­ica (2)

Daily Trust - - OPINION -

Hate begets hate. Or worse! Be­fore peo­ple ex­hibit the kind of be­hav­iour that de­hu­man­ises fel­low men and women, it is good that they pause to re­flect ; how would I feel if I was on the re­ceiv­ing end of this raw deal? Of­ten­times, we are dead­ened to the plight of others be­cause we are at ad­van­tage ei­ther in skin pig­men­ta­tion, or so­cioe­co­nomic sta­tus or eth­nic af­fil­i­a­tion.

Nor is Amer­ica stand­ing alone in hate vend­ing. Why hap­pen­ings in Amer­ica at­tract global at­ten­tion is that it is a na­tion of all races and brands it­self the land of lib­erty. The world can­not rec­on­cile that claim with the man­a­cles hold­ing down peo­ple of colour and other mi­nor­ity groups in God’s Own Coun­try.

There are pock­ets of hate and in­jus­tice all over the world. Right here in Nige­ria we have our own pe­cu­liar bag­gage. Even as we con­demn the speck of racism in Europe and Amer­ica, and other such vices all over the globe, we know that our own sight is blink­ered by logs of eth­nic chau­vin­ism oc­clud­ing our vi­sion. You can al­most al­ways guess the re­ac­tion of a per­son to any mat­ter of na­tional sig­nif­i­cance by sim­ply look­ing at his name and what part of the coun­try he comes from. We have deep-seated fix­a­tions. We con­demn in­jus­tice only when we are hold­ing the short end of the stick. No sooner is our tribesman or woman in the sad­dle than we change tune to praise the same things we had con­demned be­fore. The new song is, “This is our chance to make hay!”

What makes the US such a great na­tion in spite of its short­com­ings is the fact that the Amer­i­cans are al­ways work­ing at per­fect­ing their union. No one is un­der any il­lu­sion that there is still a lot of work to do even af­ter all the vic­to­ries won to re­store hu­man dig­nity for ev­ery Amer­i­can.

(In spite of all ob­sta­cles, a black man be­came one of the best two-term pres­i­dents of the most pow­er­ful coun­try in the world.) Even the ra­bid red­necks know this, al­though they won’t ad­mit it in so many words. That is what gives ev­ery­one hope — that there could be a brighter to­mor­row and that racism is a fleet­ing so­cial fever.

But in our own case, we live in de­nial. Our union is per­fect and doesn’t need to be tweaked, say some. When I lis­ten to the ar­gu­ments of those who say our fed­eral struc­ture is okay as it is, I won­der which con­ti­nent they have been liv­ing in. I won­der if they have a sense of his­tory.

We ought to ask our­selves, why was there more de­vel­op­ment, com­par­a­tively speak­ing, in the First Repub­lic when there were no petrodol­lars than now that we are in­tox­i­cated with oil? Why was there a greater sense of na­tion­hood then than now? Why was the word ‘marginal­i­sa­tion’ alien to our lex­i­con un­til the uni­tary sys­tem of gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced by the mil­i­tary?

I am not a blind ro­man­ti­cist. I do not ad­vo­cate that we crawl back to our moth­ers’ wombs to re­live foetal par­adise. But I do say that we ac­knowl­edge that our present sys­tem is not sus­tain­able if we are to build the vir­ile na­tion we all want. Re­mem­ber, one of the car­di­nal ‘sins’ of Gen­eral Ironsi was that he re­placed the ex­ist­ing re­gional ar­range­ment with a uni­tary gov­ern­ment. If ‘uni­tarism’ was wrong in 1966, and if we find that the en­su­ing ‘fed­er­al­ism’ un­der a demo­cratic ar­range­ment is still not meet­ing our as­pi­ra­tions 50 years later, doesn’t it stand to rea­son that we take an­other look at the present sys­tem which has re­duced states to beg­gars and the peo­ple to pawns in the hands of po­lit­i­cal car­pet­bag­gers? A state gov­ern­ment that can­not pay salaries and other bills is not a gov­ern­ment at all; it is a so­cio-eco­nomic ebola or bu­reau­cratic zika virus.

Let us learn from Amer­ica and start work­ing to­wards a more per­fect union.

We don’t have to wait un­til blood starts flow­ing on the streets or un­til sav­agery be­comes the cur­rency of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. We can do it now, one step at a time. And there is no bet­ter time for the nec­es­sary re­design of our gov­er­nance ar­chi­tec­ture than now when we are in the midst of the big­gest anti-cor­rup­tion war since 1960. The de­sign of this house called Nige­ria needs fix­ing and there is no bet­ter per­son to do it than the cur­rent anti-cor­rup­tion Sher­iff in Aso Rock.

Scrap the Se­nate

The rag­ing ar­gu­ment about scrap­ping the Nige­rian ‘up­per’ leg­isla­tive house, the Se­nate, re­sumed with gusto with Sen­a­tor Dino Me­laye’s de­scent into cesspit in his spat with Sen­a­tor Oluremi Tin­ubu. Such gut­ter-snip­ping lingo; such sub-hu­man hint of un­be­liev­ably sav­age lech­ery!

What shall we call its name­less name, this sen­a­to­rial dis­ease that as­sails our col­lec­tive sen­si­bil­i­ties!

The Nige­rian se­nate is peo­pled by ex­gov­er­nors who are draw­ing a cock­tail of pen­sions from past gu­ber­na­to­rial po­si­tions in ad­di­tion to the scan­dalous emol­u­ments and ‘con­stituency loot’ they forcibly in­clude in the na­tional bud­get; then there are acolytes of the po­ten­tates of the two ma­jor par­ties and other strag­glers of in­de­ter­mi­nate pedi­gree in the mi­nor­ity.

Com­par­a­tively, the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, even with its gen­er­ous dose of lowlife mis­fits, is miles ahead in rel­e­vance and per­for­mance.

Com­par­i­son has been drawn be­tween the se­nate and a par­lia­ment of ba­boons, but I am not that lack­ing in gen­eros­ity. I think the cham­ber should sim­ply be de­scribed as “sur­plus to re­quire­ment”. Apart from black­mail­ing the Ex­ec­u­tive for largess and stand­ing in the way of the cur­rent at­tempt to rein in eco­nomic sabo­teurs and cel­e­brated thieves, this Nige­rian Se­nate of the Year 2016 is of no use in our demo­cratic march to self­ac­tu­al­i­sa­tion.

Talk­ing about tweak­ing our gov­er­nance ar­chi­tec­ture, one of the first things we have to do is fac­tor in ar­eas of waste such as the se­nate and scrap them. I wa­ger that if put to a ref­er­en­dum, the re­sound­ing ver­dict of Nige­ri­ans would be, Scrap The Sin-na­to­rial Con­trap­tion!

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