As the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar file their appeal at the Supreme Court, the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal judgment on the petition against the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari in the February 23 Polls will linger.
To supporters of Mr. President, that simple decision has provided answers to thorny electoral questions and laid to rest the controversy surrounding the 2019 presidential election. To his opponents, however the judgment has created more question than answers- a state of affairs that qualify it for further legal scrutiny.
From commentaries, instead of the judgment to unite Nigerians and promote positive national political discourse, it has succeeded in separating neighbors, and redirect focus on primordial political conversations.
The most frightening paradox about the decision is that while it, in the estimation of some Nigerians announced the arrival of a new opportunity for Mr. President and his team to build a better Nigeria, the tribunal’s pronouncement on the academic qualification requirement marks a departure from our values for hard work and quest for academic excellence. The judgment actually made nonsense of the time-honored belief that education is the bedrock of development.
From all that was observed during this period, it is obvious that the people’s frustration was not only nourished by the ‘seeming timidity’ of the judgment but was fed by several worries.
First, is the belief that the marriage or forceful amalgamation of the Northern and the Southern protectorates on the 14th February 1914, by Lord Fredrick Lugard set the stage for this appalling situation in the country. Some Nigerians, from all spheres put the blame for country’s woes in Lugard’s decision to lump such a huge conglomeration of districts tribes and history.
This notion is further fueled by the inability of successive administrations to recognize that public order, personal security, economic and social progress, and prosperity is not the natural order of things that they depend on ceaseless effort and attention from an honest and effective government that the people must elect.
It is true that sometimes we get discouraged and disappointed with the slow pace of development in the country. At times we talk about how the amalgamation of the North and south has badly impacted us. But Lord Lugard’s ‘mistake’ may not be the only challenge confronting our nation.
We need to study the theory of why some nations are prosperous while others fail remain poor. Nigeria was not the only nation where the British overlords colonized with historical, ethnic and religious differences. India and Sudan are two examples of countries colonized by the British and administered with the same governance model.
The difference is that every nation or institution develops a culture of their own. And the success or failure of such an institution is closely tied to that culture. India upon attainment of independence discovered that such an arrangement maybe more of a burden than goodwill looking at their cultural and particularly the religious differences of the amalgams, so they unbundled the union. Today, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan are three separate countries.
In like manner, apart from splitting into two(North and South), Sudan confronted a challenge that impedes national rebirth, in the person of Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, founder of the National Congress Party who served as the seventh President of Sudan from 1989 to 2019 Omar al-Bashir had been in absolute power for three decades. But his implacable palate for power sought more days in office. The citizens disallowed him and when he wouldn’t leave in peace in the face of worsening economic woes, a popular uprising took over.
On our part, the British colonial overlords probably intended the protectorates to operate in a symmetrical manner with no part of the amalgam claiming superiority over the other. This arrangement conferred on the fledgling country the form of the Biblical trinity. So, at independence in 1960, Nigeria became a federation, resting firmly on a tripod of three federating regions-Northern, Eastern and Western Regions. Each of the regions was economically and politically viable to steer its own ship, yet mutual suspicion among them was rife. In fact, regional loyalty surpassed nationalistic fervor with each of the regions at different times threatening secession.
While many who believe in the unity of Nigeria may not agree with the campaign of any group or ethnic nationality to dismember Nigeria like India or Sudan, the truth must be told to the effect that neither Lugard nor the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal’s decision is our problem. Rather, the whole gamut of restiveness of youths, whether in the Southeast, South-south, North or Southwest, and resurgence demands for the dissolution of Nigeria stems from mindless exclusion, injustice and economic deprivations?
Even as it’s certain that ‘things are falling apart’ with the country now in its most fragile state since the end of the civil war, leaders have refused to muster the courage to lead toward a better future by studying the different calls for the restructuring of the nation and adopt the already existing template for solving these problems-the report of the 2014 National Conference.