On occasions like this, I sorely miss my departed and dear brother, attorney Kunle Fadipe; he would have treated me to something close or equal to a forensic analysis of the circumstances: either that or some well argued but laughable cynicism of the system. He would have walked me from the roots, point me along the stem and thenbranch by branch, foliage after foliage, let me into the more hidden parts of that arboreal remoteness of the law by which justice is so often tossed into the misty void beyond the reach of the plaintiff, poised diffidentlyon the muddied ground below. He may even have amused himself as he often did, skilfully exposing my ignorance of the realities of the law:….the baffling disconnect between the ability of the law and it’s ambitions… between the labour that law invests in the pursuit of justice and the paucity of the harvest by which that labour is rewarded.
He would have quoted some law lords somewhere in some legal sanctuary in some parts of the world :” law and justice are two twins borne same time, the law nurtured into giant, justice only to infancy “Or” where there is no justice, the law labours but in vain “He lived his short life ceaselessly billowing to police the law against injustice ; in the end, Kunle, not Injustice was the enigma policed into mortal silence. The first time I woke to suspecting the yawning gap between law and justice must have been two or three decades ago. A cab driver in London had come for me. A man suddenly burst through from nowhere pleading he be allowed to have the taxi. I could see he was harried I yielded my turn. “Can you kindly take me to the court of justice just round the corner ” he belted to the driver. “I’ve been a cab driver in London for forty years but I don’t know where that is “, “it is only ten minutes from here. That big terraced house in yellow with low gates down the next avenue. I am an attorney and late for my case”. “Oh … You mean the court of law ” the driver rebutted. “Oh well if you choose to call it that “ the attorney replied”. Sir, you and I know there is no such thing as court of justice, only a court of law ” the driver insisted. And off they sped, leaving me bemused as I waited for the next cab.
I have never let go that exchange between the driver and the attorney. Surgery has many times led me into the courts as expert witness, affording me the opportuned chance to see even clearer , how often justice had its back against the wall. Claims and counter claims from both sides of the palisade , pelted with furious speeds at the bench through partisan bars, in turn meandering obfuscatingly through the judge to the jury. The latter not infrequently half asleep, half informed, half engaged and hardly unbiased. Yet….a verdict. Then same case, same pundits, same circumstantialities but different bench, … and like crystals in a supersaturation experiment … out pops new verdict. In the end, time and again, as many verdicts as the number of benches approached or even more bizzare, … the balance of votes inside one long bench.
These flip flops packaged as jurisprudence have led many populations to watch with combative engagement, the processes by which their benches are filled. If justice is exclusion of arbitrariness, founded on the unyielding pillars of law, yet the pillars are only as strong or straight as their human guardians , legal outcomes can only mirror not the intrinsic physics of the pillars, but the confounding metaphysics of a gaming humanity. As such, not only will the epimorphic forces from such compromised custodians warp the shape of justice, they may abort it’s growth, leaving the law speeding inpetulantly ahead to a destination as unknown to justice as it is to the seekers of justice. Hidden way up within the arboreal lush, heights beyond the gaze, lo the grasp of the plaintiff. Is it any surprise the soap opera playing out inside Washington or few strides away, in Brasil, the Brazilian Washington.
In the former, no one is prepared to trust no one in the choice of a justice. Yet no one is willing or able to argue against the meritocracy of the nomination … only of the nominator, who is by the way constitutionally bound and privileged to nominate. That’s because behind the charade is the knowledge of another charade; … justice and justiciability, no matter the sophistriesare beyond measure or prescriptions of mere merit; they are as much a calibrated factorial of the objectivity or intrinsicity of the law as they are of the subjectivity or extrinsicity of the interpreter of that law. The dentition of the law is but the dentition of its interpreter, the bite, the interpreter’s. Inside the elegant robes by which law is adorned subjectivity (veneered though the language ) trumps objectivity. When decisions are split almost down the middle over same body of evidence, the crippling over-reach of subjectivity, fed through ideological convictions can only become glaring.
If America with all her taunted judicial prowess can be so mortally afraid over choices, she is willing to sabre rattle about who and when to choose a justice, not who the justice is, what should one imagine of less endowed jurisdictions where sabre rattling can degenerate into gladiatorial blood baths or the system so opaque, neither justice nor people is unserved or Tyranny, the only bench. Brazil is tail spinning herself into constitutional snafu, the law labouring hard unassisted by justice or is it. Which will lead away from the abyss ? The infant baby,…alias justice, or its bigger twin….alias law.
Basil Jide Fadipe
Medical Surgeon, Teacher, Social Commentator
Justin Fadipe Centre
Commonwealth of Dominica
By: Basil Jide Fadipe
Medical Surgeon, Teacher, Social Commentator
Justin Fadipe Centre
Commonwealth of Dominica
If I’d thought the Ben Carson that popped up on the political stage was nothing but pitiful caricature of expectations, his recent decision to cast his lot with Donald Trump reduces him to a tragic anomaly. Ben Carson is lost in a fugue, wandering farther and farther away from saneness.When recently , some commentators particularly on the European side started doubting his academic credentials, I personally had little difficulty agreeing. Nothing Carson had said or not said since his presidential bid is testimony to intelligence or high learning …..rather eloquent pointers as much to a perplexing ignorance as mental sluggishness, served in a mushy base of nauseant self centredness. Ben Carson either knows no reality or…. barking mad, ….he has reduced reality to reverse, increasingly locked inside a warped mental state, the product of overinflated ambition and laser grade schizophrenism chisseling ferociously at his mind.
When he drove a wedge between himself and obama at a white house prayer breakfast he had been invited to, using bufoonedly unproven claims to beat down on obama care, I thought he was not only a very dishonest man, he was also very dangerous : dangerous for a man, wicked for a black. A president Obama … out of a sense of kinship , regard for fellow citizen and assumption of the unfetteredness of a trained mind, extended a brotherly magnanimity to Ben Carson: Carson came, mind furtively fettered to inordinate ambitionspat from deep inside his pathologic guts, poison into the face of his host, dishonest enough to characterise obamacare the worst thing since slavery right to the ear of his host: hoping to be rewarded with a Republican platform to launch lurid ambition.
If intellectualism ( and scientific refinement )is less about certificates more about clarity of mind and quality of delivery Ben Carson comes to the table empty.On the issue of homosexuality, he confused socialization with geneticisation, glibly mistaking what is acquired with what is inborn and conflatingpropaganda with scientific rigor And when his stupidity was outed, he lied, denying he ever said what the entire world heard him say ;In the end, both his stupidity and his dishonesty subsequently came to haunt him…… what kind of intellectualism reduces a man’s breadth to no farther than the tip of his nose.If scholarliness is about incisively prolific thinking, enriched by years of studied and accumulated facts, Ben Carsons shows up little more than arid, obfuscating views and opinions to a set of fermenting ludicrities totally at odds with cerebrality.
A man who unashamedly would explain the Egyptian pyramids as grain stores for Egyptian Pharaohs around the time of Joseph ; whence such scholarship?If honesty is about dogged affection for and consistent subscription to truths,Carson is stranger to the art. How can he be otherwise?Here is a man who publicly lambasted planned parenthood for trafficking in body parts, condemning same as reprehensible, yet review of his research records revealed he shopped in those very “reprehensible ” places for those very body parts for his own work.If Christianity’s essence is about “being thy brother’s keeper ” ……’us for the other ‘, Carson’s ‘us versus them’ is a damnable antithesis, a devil’s advocacy .Yet like many Ben Carsons, many his type,he would constantly drip with biblical and prayer lines at every twist and turn.
The Ben Carsons are the worst enemies of the Christian faith, irresolvable conundrums in the path of the doctrine.If historical awareness, knowledge of selfand insight into symbolisms are pointers to the cultured mind, Carson remains in the woods, unevolved from blighted beginnings….no Muslim should be allowed in the white house,…… some Syrian refugees are like rabid dogsOnly a short long period ago, it could have been ….no black man should be allowed in the white houseOr…. no black man at John Hopkins. Governor Wallace was an influence only a short while past;”….segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever…”. was his clarion call to stop the Martin Luther kings.
Such is the silliness and vacuity of this Ben Carson, he couldn’t see the parallelism or indignant equivalences between words ( perhaps convictions) : his and Wallace’s.Nor would he be reminded of the tremendous sacrifices endured by his slave predecessors canalising a path for his generation. The day obama was inaugurated, he met the congressman Louise, fellow fighters with MLK in the civil rights tussle, obama slipped a note into the latter’s hand as they walked past each other” because of you “Obama had scripted on that note, too ready to link his victory to their sweat.Ben claims he has repaired brains but seems his is left as cratered as can be.
To go cast your lot with a man like Trump, defending your decision with the argument there are ” two Donald Trumps ” and on the basis of one Trump you choose to ignore the other Trump , content to place faith in one, recklessly risking acceptance of the other, you are by that very argument diagnosing no less a content of schizophrenia in the bipolar Donald as in you ….the admirer. And this, the reason I think Ben Carson is not just a dangerous man, he is as much a tragic anomaly. So much said.
Basil Jide Fadipe
Justin Fadipe Medical Centre
Commonwealth of Dominica
A few years ago, I met up with a childhood friend who had become very senior within the NNPC hierarchy. He was staying in a pricey London hotel and I had agreed to meet up with him. In the course of our brief conversation, he expressed his dissatisfaction with the way in which Nigeria, and the NNPC, used money. Particularly galling for him was the fact that Nigerian money hardly ever passes through Nigerian hands, once outside the country’s borders. Illustrating this with the taxis that he and other NNPC executives used. He wondered why a Nigerian-owned cab company could not be retained to NNPC executives around London, rather than the current practice of hiring from non-Nigerians on a piecemeal basis.
Courtesy Lockheed Martin
He presented a compelling argument that deploying Nigerian money to enable and promote Nigerian businesses outside Nigeria would strengthen Diaspora ties to the motherland and empower Nigerians abroad to reinvest at home. A policy such as that would also burnish the image of Nigeria and Nigerians in the country of their residence. His sentiments bore strong resonance with my own position on the issue. Nigerians, like many other black nations and communities, instinctively spend their money outwards to other nations and groups, rather than holding the money, or transacting it, within their own circle. The consequence is that black nations and communities end up as financial/economic baskets that struggle to hold money.
Biometric (BVN) enrollment was launched last year, and banks and account holders were mandated to comply with the new directive. Now, I have huge problems with the idea of placing biometric data in the hands of multiple private companies, especially where the regulatory framework is still very weak. I also think it is counterintuitive to maintain multiple biometric databases across sectors. Our biological identification details are retained in the passport office, driver licensing office, the electoral commission, the national Id commission, telecommunication companies, and now, banks!
I must be an IT simpleton, so how could I understand the esoteric reasons for multi-site, distributed repositories of redundant data sets. This surely is some advanced availability+DR strategy that is far beyond my pay grade! I really should not dabble in things too high for me. There I was thinking, in my simple mind, that such sensitive data must be very tightly regulated (procurement and access) and that one backed-up master set should suffice, especially when money is tight.
Be that as it may though, my main grouse is not with the technological aspects as to the operation aspects of this thing. The timeline allowed for compliance, for those in Diaspora was rather short. No one anticipated this constraint when opening accounts all those years ago. So, to suddenly be required to pay a visit to Nigeria, just for the sake of giving up another set of biometrics was, to put it mildly, most unreasonable. To its credit, the CBN soon realised this and acted quickly to address the issue; giving Diaspora account holders two extensions to the deadline. That is to be commended, but the matter is not that simple.
In the haste to rush this policy out and the hurried palliatives deployed to patch up intrinsic faults, the CBN created another, albeit lesser problem. How to enable Diaspora account holders who have no plans of visiting Nigeria in the next X years? Now, this Hydra could have had all of its heads severed in one go, by cutting close to the neck! Most Nigerians living abroad have a Nigerian passport, and almost all will incorporate biometric data, since the old ones have now expired. Why not ask such persons to provide the banks with their passport number? If your passport number is genuine and known, your identity is certain. Indeed, but for that green book, many Nigerians in Diaspora would not be permitted to open bank accounts in the countries of their sojourn. If it is good enough for foreigners, one wonders why it should not suffice for our own local banks.
Once again one is left scratching the head and wondering who comes up with these half-cooked ideas anyway. And why make the compliance window so short when it is clear that there are millions of Nigerians living abroad and many have accounts at home! But that leads on to the elephant in the room. When the CBN finally decided to provide a solution for those Nigerians outside the country, guess who they “selected”! It is not an organisation that you would have heard of before: the name is OIS. Who or what is this OIS, who owns this organisation and what is the composition of its shareholding and board? Why is such an organisation given carte blanche to charge Diaspora Nigerians $45 USD equivalent for a service that lasts less than 10 minutes and involves zero personalisation?
A quick search on the Internet led me to a website with no verifiable contact details. An organisation that prefers to hide/mask its identity. On closer scrutiny though, it becomes clear that this is most likely a non-indigenous company, or one with tenuous links to Nigeria – going by the profile of their business and the geographic spread of their operations. Now, I don’t know if the problem is one of an inferiority complex; short sightedness, or perhaps personal interest, but it hurts to think no indigenous firms were found suitable! These decision makers should have thought long and hard on how they could engineer this undertaking to alleviate some of our present challenges, e.g. unemployment, capital shortages, etc.
What if a conglomerate of Nigerian banks/IT-service-providers were given this task instead, or ask our embassies and high-commissions to facilitate and oversee Nigerian IT companies in Diaspora in completing the exercise. These are just some suggestions, but there are others that we could think of. All that money, running into millions of USD is now gone out of our economy and fallen into foreign pockets – except for my $45 of course. This, January the 31st of 2016, is the last day for registration of BVN details. From tomorrow, I will be unable to transact any business with the meager funds that I have left in my GTB account. The inconvenience is a little price to pay for the sake of nationhood. My widow’s mite is insignificant in monetary terms, but as a statement, it counts for a lot. I have decided to keep my £30 ($45 equivalent) and suffer the inconvenience of restricted access to remote banking, until I am next opportuned to be in Nigeria.
I am persuaded that said £30 will do far greater good as actus humanus in caritate than as contribution to a corporate baseline. If only the presidency would adopt that thinking as the debate on the 2016 rages on. It really is time for change! We must change our thinking, change our actions, change our economics, and keep our money to ourselves.
May God bless Nigeria and help our leaders to think more clearly in light of our present circumstances, amen.
Viva New Nigeria!
I am sure NC members all have their views and have kept quiet out of (appropriate) deference to our right to make our individual choice.
Obviously, I do not need to explain anything to anyone in a purely personal matter but a few points are worthy of note:
1. The lady in question is 18 and therefore legally of age to marry under all laws and certainly under Muslim law.
2. She is proceeding for her undergraduate education in the UK in January. She had an A in computer science in her O levels and plans to get a degree in computer science.
3. each and everyone of my wives is a university graduate and some have worked and then stopped and in each case the choice was purely theirs.
4. It is a tradition in Kano that emirs and princes in choosing wives consider issues beyond the individual. The family is in every sense a social unit. My predecessor was married to princesses from Ilorin, Katsina and Somoto.
5. The relationship between the late Lamido of Adamawa Aliyu Musdafa the father of the current Lamido is well known. Lamido Aliyu was the first Emir turbaned after Emir Sanusi I and they remained close until Sanusi’s death.
6. My own relationship with the current Lamido dates back to 1981 when he was Ciroma and commissioner for works. By the way the Lamido and I are not illiterates we know what we are doing and he does have a PhD in Engineering.
7. My own mother was married in Adamawa and
lived there for more than two decades and I have eight younger brothers and sisters from there.
8. it is therefore natural that if I choose to marry from another kingdom Adamawa would be the first choice for me and I am extremely happy to strengthen these long historical bonds.
9. The young lady in question gave her free consent and even after the contract the wedding will not happen for a few years. By then she may be 21. If she freely consents to this I do not know on what moral grounds anyone has a grouse. She is an adult, she gave her consent, her education is not being in anyway interrupted.
10. The real issue is that people do not accept cultural difference. And you can see it in the approach to these issues. I am supposed to be urbane and western educated. Yes but i am not European. I am a northern Nigerian Fulani Muslim brought up in a setting exactly like the one my children are being brought up in.
If you read this and it improves your understanding of this issue that is fine. If it does not just remember it isnot your life, it is not your daughter and you are not my wife therefore it is not your business.
I obviously cannot stoop to the level of responding publicly to these kinds of articles. I have always been an advocate of girls marrying after maturing. I personally like the minimum age of 18 even though i understand those who say 16 is fine and indeed this is the law in most so called @advanced@ countries. Is this something that I expect a European or western trained or feminist mind to appreciate or endorse? Not at all. But has any american been bothered about my views on men marrying men or women marrying women which frankly I find primitive and bestial? No and my views do not matter. These are cultural issues.
Even in Nigeria I have heard all this stuff as in Pius article about “north” and northerners. Again it is a failure to respect difference. There are parts if this country where parents expect their daughters to live with their boyfriends for years and actually get pregnant before they marry. It has become culture. We do not have that in the north and if your daughter gets pregnant before marriage she brings nothing but shame to the name. But we do not issue condemnations. We agree that this is how they choose to live. And i can give many other examples.
When people use the term libido they do themselves injustice. First of all it shows how they view women and marriage. Women are nothing but the object of sexual desire. Marriage is nothing but sexual gratification. Well I am sorry but in my tradition it is not. Beauty and attraction rank third after religion and lineage in the choice of a wife. They see an 18 year old young lady. I see a princess of noble birth whose mother is also a princess, and who has been brought up in a good Muslim home. This is the kind of woman that is prepared for hiving birth to princes and bringing them up for the role expected of them in society.
Marriage is both social and political. Expanding the links of Kano which have already been established by my predecessors through
intermarriage with Katsina, sokoto, Ilorin, Katagum, Ningi, Bauchi etc to Adamawa is an important and significant step and this is obvious to anyone with a sense of how royal families work and Ibn Khaldun’s sociological concept of Asabiyyah. When the emir of Kano marries it has to be something beyond what he personally desires to what is appropriate for that position and the expectations of the people he represents. You don’t just pick up any girl on the street. And by the way for those who shout libido sex is cheap and available everywhere in all shapes and sizes and all colours if that is what they want. And all ages too. Marriage is a very different proposition. The mother of your children has to be something other than, or at least much more than a mere object of sexual fantasy. But if you do not know that you need to buy yourself a brain.
I have daughters. And they know they can only marry from certain backgrounds. I always prefer family. When my daughter wanted to marry Mouftah baba Ahmed’s son and she asked me, knowing my views on family, i told her Mouftah is family. And this is not about me and Mouftah or me an Hakeem or Nafiu. No. It goes back to Baba Ahmed and Emirs Sanusi and Bayero. And the same rule applies to my sons. And it applied to me as well.
It is I am sure very strange that I should even bother to comment on this. But it would be hypocritical for me to just keep quiet so long as these things are being posted and commented upon explicitly or in a snide manner.
There was no secrecy in the marriage Fatiha. The date was fixed and it was to be done in the central mosque after Friday prayers. The day before we had a tragedy in Saudi Arabia and decided the Fatiha must be very low key as a mark of respect for the dead. All traditional rulers in Adamawa were there, as were governors and commissioners, members of my own emirate council and Adamawa people. There is nothing here to hide or be apologetic about.
The emirs of Adamawa have shown love to my parents and grandparents and it is a sign of my appreciation of their love that i marry their daughter. This is the highest statement of friendship and loyalty on both sides.
Again if you understand this this is fine. If you do not buy yourself a brain, A la Pius.
In any event this is my one and final and only comment on this. And I am making it out of respect.
The controversial comments of the traditional ruler of Eko, Oba Rilwan Akiolu has generated a lot of discussion among Nigerians; at home and in the Diaspora; online and offline.
The Oba made the comments while meeting with Ndigbo representatives at his palace and threatened his guests with an encounter with the lagoon should they fail to heed his demand to support the APC candidate – Akinwumi Ambode. Those that understand the nature of rulership in Yorubaland will attest to the fact that an Oba hardly ever speaks contrary to the will of his council. The council itself is often a good reflection of the feelings and aspirations of the people at large. So, while it may have been politically expedient to discountenance the Oba’s statement at the point of a closely contested election, politicians will do well to take note. It comes as no surprise that, post-election, the governor-elect has prioritised a quick visit to the palace. Time cannot be lost in securing relationships as important as this.
However, we need to examine Oba Akiolu’s comments against the hope of a New Nigeria and the rights of indigenes in that new dispensation. For starters, what rights do communities have in a new Nigeria? Our laws do not distinguish between the person whose ancestry belongs in a place, and the chap who arrived yesterday as an employee or businessman. If for example, a small conservative village of 200 is overrun by an influx of city dwellers, whose values should prevail? Those of the villagers or their guests? Few question the economic value that non-indegines add to any population. Settlers tend to work harder, invest more, and provide services at a lower cost than indigenes. However, there is a social cost. So, there must be a melding of values and cultural accommodation on both sides, so that the economic benefits are not outweighed by the social costs.
The synthesis of a New Nigeria must take cognisance of these issues and begin now to articulate a model that drives synergy from diversity without stoking ethnic tensions. Such balance cannot be a simple case of majority, or right of law; because moral right is more powerful than legality and the use of force. Furthermore, the controversy in Lagos today may bear resonance in other communities across the nation and the country needs a solution that can be applied in every context.
One approach is to ask if there are inalienable privileges that should accrue to indigenes of a place. One could also examine if certain minimal responsibilities should be expected of settlers. The 1999 constitution makes no differentiation between indigenes and settlers, and while the intention is good, it is an omission that has led to many unresolved issues all over the country. The most critical and widespread being the conflicts between Fulani herdsmen and agrarian communities in their migratory path. In the middle belt there are problems between Hausa settlers and the native peoples, just as there are lines of tension between some southern business people and their hosts in the north central.
Our constitution may be silent on this issue, but African ethics and morality is not. A guest, as opposed to an invader, is expected to be deferential to their hosts. Over time, a guest who remains in a place, evolves to become a settler. This evolution must involve some socialisation/indoctrination of the guest with express aim of integration into the community. It is a two-way street though. The guest must desire it, and the hosts must be willing to provide the support or means. Both parties will change in the process. The hosts will have gained some empathy for their guest and built allowance for the guest’s values into their world view. The guest will need to do same, perhaps more so.
Moving on from the 2015 elections and the evidence of a polarisation of Nigerians, one must be careful not to take the results as a true reflection of the will of the people. The country is not as divided as the polls may suggest; but there are unresolved issues around tribe and religion. Nowhere is this more pronounced than in the metropolis where large numbers of Nigerians from varying tribes and religions congregate. Given an urban population accounting for over 30% of the total, balancing the rights and responsibilities of indigenes and settlers is vital. It may be useful to start by stating what is not a solution.
The leadership must not attempt to legislate accommodation, or to use the force of law and the instruments of coercion to impose the rights of one side over the other. Enforcing hospitality only widens the divide between hosts and settlers, accentuating differences, and entrenching hostility to those seen as “coming here to cause trouble”. Where there are significant numbers involved, this can be easily exploited by the politically savvy for electoral gain. History suggests that it is much easier to address extant issues that fuel alienation than to contain ethnophobia once it has blossomed. It is not possible to legislate against the emergence of far-right politics.
In the post Jonathan/PDP era, things are likely to get difficult before they get better. The perfidy of the past decades will take some time to recover. As the immediate resource pool shrinks though, the circle of identity of many will contract. There will be the temptation for politics and power gamers to exploit this myopia of consciousness for personal gain. Care must be taken to ensure that we find balance in our relationships, especially in our metropolises to ensure that the diversity which is our strength does not become a weakness.
Before beginning to proffer solutions, it is worthwhile to play some possible scenario to set the scene.
(1) Abians discover large deposits of oil in their State. With prudent use of the additional revenue, the State really transforms the economy and wellbeing of its citizens. Within a few years, Abians no longer do menial or blue-collar jobs. Spotting the gap in supply, many Hausas migrate to Abia and begin to fill the jobs and to provide services that indigenes would not deign to touch. Such is the abundance of opportunity and the number of migrants that within a decade the new comers now constitute a majority. What will happen if a block vote by the settlers demands Sharia law as a condition to support candidates for governor?
(2) A radical governor revolutionises rulership in Sokoto State by making education mandatory till secondary level, and also financing it. The transformation in lives results in a huge explosion in demand for services. Over a few years, powerful interests from Yoruba land respond by moving offices and employees in large numbers. These families relocate and settle all over the state. On account of their economic significance and dispersal across the State, the settlers insist that a form of Yoruba customary law should operate side-by-side with Sharia. How are the indigenes likely to respond?
In each case there are legitimate demands, but are they appropriate? Would the first guests have been welcomed if they made such a request on arrival? Now, it is easy for the elite to dismiss these issues and obfuscate reality with sophisticated arguments and logic. However, they are often far removed, economically and socially from the trouble spots. The privileged do not have to compete with non-indigenes for survival opportunities. Neither do they live in localities where residents are directly impacted by the dress-code, social conduct, and religious practise of their neighbours. So to them, the problem is selfishness, in-hospitality, intolerance, or some other hidden agenda.
We should learn from the Europeans and the problems they have had with integration of migrants. The issues are real and cannot be wished away. What we see in some parts of Europe is a failure of the political elite to balance the economic benefits of migration with the social costs.
The United Kingdom: England and the Eastern Europeans
Federal Republic of Germany: The Turks in Germaney
The French Republic: French identity and North Africans
Some of these “foreigners” were already resident in their adopted communities before Nigeria became independent! Leadership failure, though, has opened up an opportunity for far-right nationalist politicians to gain political relevance. These fringe parties offer themselves as vents for the concerns of threatened groups. In return, they gain bloc votes that put them in the limelight and the corridors of power. From there, they project a fulsome agenda on an unsuspecting but hitherto apathetic majority.
Here are some recommendations for change:
As a nation, we need to maintain engagement between the elite, middle classes, and the lowest levels of society/economy at all times. Avenues must be created for the articulation of the feelings and concerns of the poor and the disadvantaged. This should be a regular exercise, so that dissatisfaction does not accumulate, or find vent in violence. The poor are less mobile, geographically, so issues need attention in-situ and on time. Townhall meetings with local government chairmen, State/federal officials, legislators, and governors should be part of the calendar for every locality.
Where there is more than enough, few bother with the identity of the person next in line. However, when the dearth arrives, suddenly, colour, religion, ethnicity and other consideration suddenly gain relevance. It is vital that programmes are targeted to conflict areas to provide opportunities that will engage as many idle hands as possible. This needs to be a deliberate action. The target needs to be persons between the ages of 15-35, as they are more likely to be involved in violent disputing.
The CIA has identified that (ignorance + poverty = violence). This should be revised as; ((ignorance + poverty) * political-action = violence). There is usually a spark that ignites a fissile situation: the activist, terrorist, or other. In all cases, it is sufficient to eliminate ignorance, and the threat is largely eliminated. Boko Haram and other terrorists thrive on the uneducated. As a nation, we must cut off this supply line, as a matter of urgency and national security. Education should be a combination of formal instruction and targeted information (propaganda).
The introduction of the unity schools and the NYSC by the Gowon government is laudable. However, it is time to review these initiatives in the light of our present circumstances. The unity schools are too few to have an appreciable impact, but their ethos can be extended to many other schools. Such schools should be supported by goal-linked funding. Similarly, the NYSC should no longer be a source of subsidised labour for the private sector or the public service. Neither should it be limited to graduates of polytechnics and universities. Instead, service should be diverted to key national need areas, and all Nigerians who have attained the age of 16 and have ceased schooling should be involved. NYSC should be divided into an initial 6-months military training for all. This should be followed by either of 6-month military, 12-month police/DSS, or 15-month community service.
There are some cases where the overlap will forever be contentious. There is no point forcing irreconcilables into union. In cases like Modakeke-Ife and other tribal rivalries, or the never ending conflict between nomadic herdsmen and agrarian communities, the government must help facilitate physical separation. For warring communities within the same geographical space, boundaries need to be established and enforced, in dialogue with affected parties and State authorities. For nomadic herdsmen, clearly mapped out grazing paths must be established by the federal government, across the country. This should be backed by law, just like the demarcation of games reserves. Herdsmen must be given preferential access along the migratory path, and affected landowners and communities should be compensated for their loss.
A hundred pages will not suffice to identify the problems, much less to proffer all the solutions in advance. Instead there should be a programme of continuous risk assessment and mitigation planning. Ongoing work should be commenced on the constitution to recognise the ethnic composition of Nigeria and our embedded nationalities. Provisions need to be introduced to recognise and validate these ethnic, cultural, and religious identities. No group should feel lost, marginalised or insignificant in a New Nigeria. The executive, and legislative arms of government should be organised for empathy to these considerations. The judiciary should strengthen and extend customary law at the State level, so that all groups have some representation and expression in the laws of the land. For all other considerations, our commitment to continuous examination and change will help our peaceful coexistence and prosperity.
We are entering a new phase in our nation’s history and being joined at the hip, we need to ensure that it works well for us all. We have lived in the shadow of north-south divide, and ethnic and religious tension for too long. It is time we ceased reaction and take the initiative to make Nigeria better for one and all. The argument here is that there is room for all of us in this New Nigeria. All we need to do is rearrange the chairs!