Reflection on the Sovereignty Question in Nigeria

(OPEN LETTER TO FELLOW NIGERIANS ON SOVEREIGNTY)

Dear Fellow Nigerians,

We are all living witnesses to the political saga unfolding in our societies. The chattering class has not ceased from reporting, documenting, criticising and commenting on the despicable activities of our governments and political representatives. We are ashamed when our names are associated with the flagrant hooliganism of the political gangsters of our societies.

We cringed with horror when these incorrigible gangsters insult our intelligence with claims that their stupid skirmishes and fraudulent bickering are for our sakes and welfares. We feel helpless and powerless as to what we should do to free our good names from the hoodlums that took over our governments and resources.

Our helplessness becomes unbearable when the charlatans of our nations based the rights for their waywardness on a sacred mantle bestowed on them by a criminally fudged so-called constitution. We look stupid when they rub our wounds and pains as we moan and groan under the yoke of their excesses with an attitude that says we-don’t-care.

Fellow countrymen and women, what shall we do? What is the solution to the moral maze that our kind of democratic practice has thrown up? Here is a situation where we have the ‘honourables’ of our land polluting and defacing our moral and ethical landscapes. We are powerless. We don’t know what to do.

We stand agape as the gangsters of our land took over the moral high ground. We watch with sadness as they flaunt their intellectual nakedness, spiritual emptiness and moral decadence in our faces. We stood petrified as they dare us to speak against them before they do our heads in.

We are dumbfounded and we are lost for words on how to describe the inglorious spectacles on display at every level of the local government councils and secretariats, the state houses of assemblies and secretariats, and the national assemblies and secretariats of government.

Once again, this writer like many other troubled Nigerians is asking, what shall we do? What shall we do is the common question every commentator on Nigeria is trying to mutter in reports and discourses. As it were, it seems none of us is yet to find the right answer to this national predicament.

This writer, like many other Nigerians, feels he has a duty to reflect on the most important question of the day. The sovereignty question by now should have attracted the attention of every Nigerian as a priority challenge and ought to demand from everyone a need to put on his or her thinking cap as we endeavour to crack this knotty problem.

The deadly situation prevailing all over the country should not be allowed to continue at its own pace and momentum without some assistance to abort it. The final outcome will be too disastrous for everyone if this high-speed political disaster train is not stopped before it derails catastrophically.

Like many other Nigerians, this writer has keenly followed with more than an average interest the propositions made by erudite scholars of the land on the insurmountable national questions of governance. The summary of most of the submissions is that there is a need for a Sovereign National Conference as a first step in the search for solutions.

In principle, every analyst seems to agree that there is a need to discuss the philosophical, moral and ethical foundations of Nigeria State. However, the logistic problem of how and who should initiate, organise, coordinate and participate in the conference and how and who shall implement the report of such endeavour has overwhelmed everyone.

Some analysts have even gone further to expose the weaknesses in our collective understanding of the concept of sovereignty and they have demonstrated that each of us as individuals and as nations seem to be saying the same thing but with different meaning and understanding.

Notwithstanding the technical problems identified by the eggheads, those who are convinced that this status quo of fraud and hypocrisy in the land should not continue must keep up the struggle until we resolve the national question of Nigerian sovereignty.

However, this writer is of the opinion that the difficulty identified with respect to the logistics of organising a national conference has more to do with the fact that Nigerians have refused to begin their thinking and reasoning from a fundamental premise of value. To begin to address the question of sovereignty from the apex of government is to lose sight of the natural evolutionary development of every thing in life.

Ideas, matters, the universe, etc. started their life journeys from a microscopic level. They all grow and mature into whatever they eventually become. Nigerians cannot engage on national sovereignty question unless they have debated the personal, family, community, local, ethnic, regional and state sovereignty.

In other words, the question of sovereignty should start at the personal level. Each Nigerian should embark on personal awareness research to unravel the various interpretation of this important political concept. This effort will definitely lead to an awakening of the mind and a rebirth through knowledge. The enlightened individual should then take up the task to educate and enlighten members of his/her family on the meaning and practice of sovereign and sovereignty. This intellectual awakening of members of a family should then be directed for the organisation of a family/household sovereign conference.

The ensuing informal family conferences will allow every family to get together to debate the philosophical, moral and ethical question of their relationships. For example, who should be responsible for exercising the decision-making power on rules, rewards and punishments in the family? What are the rules, the taboos, the sacred materials and how the rules and taboos etc. formulated?

Should the leadership style of a family be a monarchical despotic arrangement where the father acts the tyrant with no room for the wife or children to appeal? Or should it be a republican democratic arrangement where every member of the family is accepted as an equal and consulted as appropriate at all levels of decision-making?

If we are indeed serious about national sovereignty, let each family starts the debate on the type of relationship it desires between husband and wife, between father and mother, between father/mother and children, between each nucleus family and each member of the extended family – cousins, aunties, uncles, nephews, nieces, between each household/family and far/near neighbours, etc. Let this mini-conferences discuss and debate the modalities of financial, commercial, social, moral, ethical, and political engagements of the family/household.

Let each family/household make effort to document the agreed principles of the pattern of relationships they will henceforth like to be engaged in for the economic welfare and social well being of their family. Remember to accommodate your posterities in the ensuing analysis and recommendations. At the end of these intellectual, social and political exercises, each family would have come up with a document that can be easily titled, The Family Constitution. This document will become the guiding principles for the family’s internal and external relations.

In undertaking this intellectual exercise, each family member would have seen how difficult it is even within a family to arrive at amicable consensus on every issue under focus. And this exercise would have sharpened the senses of members as they reflect on some basic political and sociological concepts and principles, such as: rights to and responsibilities of equality; rights to and responsibilities of justice; rights to and responsibilities of freedom; etc.

This writer believes that unless Nigerians start their political lessons from the basics, the majority can never understand the bigger question that pertains to the meaning and importance of National Sovereignty. And as long as the majority of the nationals are ignorant of and therefore indifferent to these principles, then the erudite scholars and the chattering class are merely wasting their time since the necessary democratic and moral support that are essential to the cause of freedom shall remain elusive.

In essence, this writer will like to suggest that Nigerians should declare Year 2002 as the National Year of Sovereign Conferences. But rather than start with a Sovereign National Conference, let each member of the polity start with personal research as to the true meaning of sovereign and sovereignty. It is after we have tutored ourselves on the philosophy – concepts and logic of these sacred political terms – that the work of initiating and organising the family sovereign conferences can begin. After the family sovereign conferences have been undertaken by every living alive (not dead alive) family in Nigeria, then the following stages of sovereign conferences should be organised:

  • Sovereign Community/Village Conferences
  • Sovereign Local Administrative Conference
  • Sovereign State Conferences
  • Sovereign Regional/Ethnic Conferences
  • Sovereign National Conference.

Among the recommendations that shall be expected at each level of these conferences are practical provisions for the logistics of the next phase – financial, venue, organisation, recorders, etc. At every phase the spirit of voluntarism should be encouraged and promoted. Each participant to any of the conferences must be prepared and willing to sponsor him/herself to the conferences.

The members of each household must work out the modalities for the family conference. And among the recommendation of each family conference should be a provision for the village/community sovereign conference.

Similarly the village/community sovereign conferences must make recommendations and provide logistic support for the organisation of the Sovereign Local (Administration) Conferences.

While the Sovereign Local Conferences would make recommendations and provide logistic support for the organisation of the Sovereign State Conferences.

The Sovereign State Conferences should also make recommendations and provide logistic supports for the Sovereign Regional/Ethnic Conference.

Finally, it shall be the duty of the Sovereign Regional/Ethnic Conferences to make recommendations and to provide logistic supports for the initiation and organisation of the Sovereign National Conference.

In a nutshell, the above suggestions are addressed solely to the citizens and peoples of Nigeria and not to any government. It is not the duty of an oppressive government to organize sovereign conferences. It is the responsibility of the suffering and oppressed people of a community or polity to organise the ways and means on how to defeat the oppressors.

Today our oppressors are the political gangsters in charge of the local governments, state governments and the Federal Government of Nigeria. If Americans have waited on the British Colonial Governor-General to undertake the task of organising their Constitutional Conferences, there would have been no United States of America, as we know it today.

No incumbent power holder freely supports the processes that shall lead to its demise. The errors made by the African nationalists that allowed the Imperial Governments to organise and to covertly dictate the modalities of how the independent colonies shall be governed are the riddles that all African countries are trying to unravel today.

These conferences should not be of clandestine activities. They should be organised openly and informally without any fanfare but with strong passion and faith in the knowledge of the principle under pursuit. These conferences should be taken as one of the ways and means in the search for the core on which the foundation of divine and friendly relationships among the peoples resident on the land known and called Nigeria shall be built.

I humbly present the above suggestions to every Nigerian. Wherever you are based in the world, please let us reflect together on the sense or senselessness of this proposal. It is not a perfect submission. It is open to analysis and debate. This writer believes in the exchange of ideas as one of the important ways that can unlock the seed of creativity present in every mankind.

Fellow Nigerians, let us address the challenge that fate has thrown at our generation with all seriousness. The answer to the problems of our time is at our doorsteps but we must make effort to search for it with everything we’ve got. We must not remain careless anymore about our lives.

From the on-going activities in the political arena, it is obvious that the Dishonourables of Nigeria are prepared to ruin us all. But we must, as members of the living world, resist their recklessness and foolishness. The path of honour and nobility, I believe, is to resist injustice, bullying, cruelty and tyranny with our lives, if need be.

Fellow Nigerians the above is my personal contribution as a suffering member of Nigeria to other suffering but no longer smiling Nigerians. Please receive it as a New Year message of hope to all the hopeless and as one of the keys to unlock the door of enlightenment that can overpower ignorance and fear in our lives.

Thank you and may you all have a brilliant year of sovereign conferences.

In The Spirit of Truth

Sam Abbd Israel.

January 2002

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