Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa The All Progressive Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have been trading blame over the violence on defection controversy that broke out, on Monday, in Twon Brass, the headquarters of Brass Local Government Council of Bayelsa State. The PDP leadership, led by the Brass Local Government Chairman, Mr. Victor Isaiah,…
The matter with religious leaders is that they begin their logic and sentiments with a sense of their own self-righteousness and certainty. It is this sense of self-righteousness that makes the religions a force for social discord. Simply put, the religionists are fixedly certain about a world that is still in a flux. So, next time you sight your pastor, imam or babalawo, never let him tell you who your father in heaven, or on earth, is. Nobody really knows.
But if this bogus certainty were the only sins of religious leaders, then it is feasible, man would have been able to cut some paradise out of our earth. The greater danger of religionists is that they won’t keep to themselves. They have a restlessness in evangelising their viewpoints as deterministic.
However, in spite of the testiness of religions, they all have dual personalities. Religions are both theatre and faculty, that is, aso ebi style ceremonies and a serious search for knowledge. That is, religions are in part, at least, like mathematics, history, etc. Religions like maths, history are ways a man may go to know himself and his environment more. It is just that being a professor of religion often comes with being an imam or a priest. A self-contradicting proposal? In summary, religions are belief, not logical systems. That is, being both is a source of their fault and their strength.
Now, the country is in a dilemma. There are the issues of IPOB and Arewa youths and, of course, the acting president whose boss, who is away on medical leave. And the acting president, who is a professor is also a priest, besides his 9-5 work as a politician. In his words:
“… There has been agitation from some of our youths in the South-East, urging secession, the creation of Biafra. In apparent response, young people in the North states, under the aegis of Arewa youths have purportedly issued an ultimatum… for the eviction of persons from the South-East…’’
“Our constitution says in Section 2 that Nigeria is one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign state… That is, the law of our country… And that anyone, who violates the law… will be met with the full force of the law.’’ 19-06-17 The Nation.
Well, we are not certain if the vice president is not importing his training as a pastor and professorial lawyer into matters that are political. [Politics by the way is a more fundamental issue than law. Law is one of several the handmaidens of politics, of the running a polity]. And the acting president was talking politics, not in the era of Napoleon, but politics in our modern era, in the year 2017.
If as it appears, he said all that was attributed to him, then we did reply that his thesis is riddled with unsustainable assumptions and concrete disdain for history and the longsuffering peoples of Nigeria. We will take them one by one.
Number one, religions are faith-based, that is, are master to pupil, belief systems. On the other hand, politics is by design and practice is a rancorous system of equals. By definition, all politics is a contest. It is just that civilised politics, especially modern politics, is conducted over mutually agreed rules. Repeat mutually argued and agreed to rules.
Now, the vice president unadvisedly mentions the constitution. Great. But the question is, was there ever a time, Nigerians or their representatives ever argued and agreed on the rule of business for politics, for living together? That is, was there ever a time Nigerians debated and penned an operating manual for their polity, aka constitution? The answer is no.
The present document, which the acting president self-styles a constitution, the Nigerian constitution, is an alien document to a multitude of Nigerians. It is not only alien because some self-appointed Hammurabi forged the document. It is the more alien because they did so by falsely charging and accusing the Nigerian peoples, as their fellow confederates and accomplices.
When a constitution says ‘‘we the people’’ and ‘‘we the people’,’’ did not, then that constitution to the extent of the forgery is null and void. That is, technically, Nigeria has no constitution and that fact must be deemed sacred. The document is forged, and is alleged to be forged by perpetrators in confederation with a non-existent reality, that is the ‘‘we the people’’. Thus the whole enterprise of inking the Nigerian constitution is a complete fraud. And to that extent, dear professor, we can say the matter is beyond law. It is a matter of civilisation and politics and these are the ‘‘senior or guardian brothers’’ of the law.
If for any reasons any party discounts the fact of Nigeria existing without a constitution, then the fellow has lost the thread. And by the way, countries can actually exist without constitutions. And this is not in the guise of unwritten constitutions, but as in their actual absence. A country that is so blessed, such as the Acting President’s country, Nigeria, may be said to be a self-organising chaos. And that is justice, save you return to a running civilisation, not dry laws. The letters of the laws are dead. It is the spirit – the civilisation – that moves them. And it is uncivilised to forge constitutions in our modern era. Boy, this is 2017, not 1017.
Secondly, the danger in falsely claiming that Nigeria has a constitution, which was inked by an adventurer and his goons is morbid. Those who so claim, we hope innocently, are thus approving and calling for more coups. It is irrelevant if they are seized of this fact or not. The fact is that if an Abdulsalami can hijack, steal and or receive stolen state powers, and authors his imagination as a national constitution, and constitutional heist is deemed ok, then the heist is so good it must be admired and forever re-enacted.
That is, we can each in earnest, become coup makers and author our own constitutions and impose same on Nigerians? And it makes sense. After all, each good act deserves a sequel. That is, it is in our own self-interest, acting president and all, that we abrogate not just the constitution, but also the idea of an act of a coup maker in modern times, as a fait accompli. And we can confess, it is the anti-civilisational ‘‘fait accomplisms’’ that have turned Nigeria into a complete jungle or zoo, if you liked. It is what makes for Evans the notorious kidnapper in league with criminal elements of the police, as a Punch editorial put it, it is what makes it righteous for citizens to take and eat bribes, and it is what makes it right for every Nigerian to know that Nigeria is a game to quarry. And why not when the first document, your constitution, is the first fraud and game.
Anyway, it may be we are writing just words. So, here are some questions to the acting president. Is he aware of any Yoruba man or woman, who was there when the so-called constitution was allegedly signed into law? Certainly, we are aware that not one single Igbo or South-South, etc. man knew of the so called constitution he and his people are asked to live by. His Excellency, the Honourable Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, we are in the 21st century. We must not allow ourselves to live like animals. To have acquiesced to an alleged constitution is to have lost modernity. To now proclaim we have a constitution is to consign ourselves permanently to underdevelopment. So, if Nigeria has a constitution now, it must be one that General Abubarka wrote for himself, his heirs, his region and those he represents. That constitution is not and cannot be for any Nigerian, who is a modern man.
Next, the idea of co-joining the Arewa ultimatum with the IPOB, etc. demand is too clever by half. IPOB and confederates are behaving to the best of our knowledge, as citizens of the 21st century. They have not called for a resort to self-help by asking to get out. And they have complete human rights guaranteed by the United Nations, to so do. That is what modernity grants and Nigerians must affirm that to be a modern people.
The point is that you cannot quote a gunslinger’s forgery, forged constitution, as a basis to exclude modernity, to exclude citizen’s right to self-determination. No man, however, powerful can abrogate logic by guns or by being in office. So, the fact that a gunslinger wrote that Nigeria is indivisible, is completely meaningless. What has meaning is, what Nigerians agree to. That, we repeat, is modernity; that alone is sustainable. Yet, even if the present constitution wasn’t a forgery, a people’s right to quit is a modernity right, is a human right. And is it not absurd that while we fly jet planes, visit tony hospices in London, and consume other produce of modernity, we still plot to cling to the ways the primate man lived?
I maintain that the Arewa can campaign or proposition for the Igbo or even their emirs to leave their region. That is a democratic right. Where they got it wrong, unlike IPOB, is to give ultimatums. By so doing, it implies they are about to resort to self-help. But if it is all talk, we must let it be. It is a democracy and its health is on the volume of talks, some insane, some reasonable. And you don’t cure headache, the Yoruba say, by cutting off the head. And lest we forget, Mr. Vice President, in all thy doing, in all thy speaking, never forget modernity is by subscription, not by imposition.