(OPEN LETTER TO FELLOW NIGERIANS ON SOVEREIGNTY II)
Dear Fellow Nigerians,
In January we submitted a proposal to fellow Nigerians asking that every Nigerian should set aside time to research and get informed on the meaning of the concepts of sovereign and sovereignty. Also we recommended for the consideration of Nigerians the need to organise Sovereign Conferences in stages starting from the family level sovereign conferences through community, local, ethnic, state and finally Sovereign National Conference.
We made the suggestions based on an in-depth evaluation of the extent of deformity in the body of the present political structure. We were aware that the structure under which those who claim to be political leaders want to perform is an unsustainable and an unworkable structure. And that under any circumstance, even for the few politicians who are desirous of rendering selfless services to the people of Nigeria this structure shall forever remain a serious handicap.
Unfortunately, so far the call was like a stone dropped in the ocean that went down to the bottom of the sea without a murmur. We expected comments and ventilations on this ‘stupid’ suggestions but none, so far, was forthcoming. Maybe it was too stupid that it could not even attract a respectable look by the more intelligent Nigerians. Also the absence of the usual launching extravaganza in the presence of ‘eminent Nigerians’ that normally precedes such occasions in Nigeria might have accounted for the dead silence. Our only outlet was the Internet and we would like to say thank you to the Nigerian Web sites that graciously, at no cost, gave the essay a space on their sites.
Although, we can hopefully say it is very early in the year to write off the proposals since there is still about eight months to go in the National Year of Sovereign Conferences. Again, we might as well assume that since Nigerians have refused to react openly to the suggestions, it might be construed that the majority are in agreement with the proposal. On the basis of this assumption we would like to present an interim review of the 2002 Year of Sovereign Conferences.
We would like to apologise upfront and sincerely too for some of the strong languages in this essay. The politicians cannot help but draw out the adrenalin of anger and the impulse of moral outrage in anyone who understands the vile games going on in the political arena. This essay is definitely from the pen of an angry person but we give thanks to heaven for the grace of a controlled anger, a coolness of mind and a calmness of the spirit that still leaves enough room for a significant and objective evaluation of the political scene of Nigeria.
Fellow Nigerians, we are entering a critical phase in the saga of Nigeria. Nobody with a discerning spirit should feign ignorance on the on-going interplay of spiritual forces over Nigeria. But we need not to worry because at the end of the story the spirit of truth shall definitely win the race of equality, freedom and justice for all Nigerians.
A BRIEF REVIEW OF THE POLITICAL ARENA
It is a shame that this interim review on the National Year of Awareness Campaign on Sovereignty Question is again going to be about lamentations. The political scenery is not improving one bit but rather it is getting worse day by day. The political gangsters have definitely blocked their ears with cotton wool. All the sermons, pleas and advises from well-meaning commentators seem not to be reaching them. They are unyielding in their beliefs and faiths that seem to be determined to ruin us completely.
The politicians have not impressed anybody; even the most optimistic Nigerians have given up hope on them. Their antics and shenanigans are just too many to be recounted.
- Is it the attempt to rig the next election with the midnight insertions of offending clauses in the Electoral Act even before the whistle for the 2003 electioneering race is blown?
- Is it the on-going effort to empty the treasury at the shortest possible time with the self-award of mega-contracts to themselves or their aliases and the mega-salary, mega-furniture allowances, and other mega-allowances for cars, aides, offices, etc?
- Is it the intrigues, treacheries, scuffles, and their incessant evil machinations to one another and to the people of Nigeria?
- Is it their insolence to the common people of Nigeria who elected them, or their laziness and pretences that they are working for us or on our behalf?
- Or is it their mediocre and fraudulent output on the real jobs of governing that they were elected to perform?
These types of behaviour are enough justification to conclude that the political structure that supports this kind of mind-boggling despicable acts need to be done away with as quickly as possible. But to one’s dismay, commentators seem not to be too deeply perturbed by the ugly sights in all our capital cities. The fact that comments are still being addressed and geared towards reformation of this insane democratic structure rather than for its demolition shows a misplaced hope and an unfounded faith that this national nonsense can still be saved.
The salient thrust of the aforementioned proposal was based on a simple principle that you cannot start the building of a house from the roof. If it is a house, the builder must start its construction from the foundation. On this understanding we deduced that it flows against logic for Nigerians to desire to build the political structure of Nigeria by starting from the apex of the structure.
Therefore, the idea of a National Sovereign Conference before proper resolutions of the basic constituencies have been worked out cannot work in reality. This type of structure, if built, can only serve the interest of the new hawks that are hitching to displace the present group of hawks in power. Nothing can be more demeaning than this after years of travail. And it will be a grave disservice to the suffering people of Nigeria who have patiently waited on the elites to do the right thing by them and for them after all these years.
UNDERSTANDING SOVEREIGN AND SOVEREIGNTY
However, we noted that the lack of understanding of the concept, principle and philosophy of sovereign and sovereignty was a principal factor why most Nigerians have refused to show a serious concern and to willingly give their supports to the various groups championing the cause of the Sovereign National Conference. It was on the basis of this awareness that led us to suggest that each literate Nigerian should devote some quality time to library work to unravel the mystery of this important political concept.
On my part, this writer has made some attempt in this direction and has discovered that although sovereign and sovereignty are political concepts but their true meaning can only be experienced spiritually. They are among those concepts that derive their powers from intuitive consciousness of their values and their full understanding can only come through revelation. They are among the intellectual and spiritual experiences that come to a person when he/she has devoted ample time to the search for the true meaning of life and existence. The spiritual awakening to the true meaning of these concepts is the happy reward that should normally come to a true seeker of the truth of life.
Unfortunately, religious knowledge is not very helpful in this direction. Some religious concepts are so loaded that they end up standing in the way of our understanding of the concept of freedom and sovereignty. The concept of ‘God-fearing person’, of ‘slave of God’, or ‘of given your life to God’ are innocuous concepts but they have a far-reaching impact on the psyche of believers than people can ever imagine.
God-fearing cannot be a virtue; it is a symptom of spiritual decadence. Fear is a symptom of wrong doing, of anxiety and of a psychological impairment. It is far better to be a God-loving person when we understand the attributes of God as that of love and mercy. In a loving relationship, fear has no place at all. The relationship between God and man is of love; it is not of fear. When there is fear between father/mother and their children in a household, the relationship has tended towards child-abuse.
A slave will forever remain a slave unless he fights for freedom and rescues himself from slavery. Once a person accepted and imbibed the concept of being a slave of God then the representatives of God on earth have the manipulating right by proxy to usurp the first owner, who is God, and make that person their own slave. Of course, they would claim this is being done on behalf of God and in the interest of the slave. A son or daughter of God might be a better option if one desires to show humility towards the creator.
Similarly the idea of giving one’s life to God before salvation from mistakes and wrongdoings can be attained also carries immense implication for liberty. It is very illogical for anyone to give his/her life away. Life is a gift from the Creator to the created. It is the duty of the created to guide this precious gift jealously. You don’t give a gift back to your benefactor. It does not show good manners. Simply, it is rude to do so.
Once you cheapen a life by the ability to give it away, nothing sacred remains in you to be honoured and respected anymore. However, there is nothing wrong, in fact it is an evidence of true wisdom to seek and to ask from the giver of life how the gift can be used effectively. But please don’t give the gift back it is yours for keep and to use for your happiness and joy in the journey of life. These are some psychological obstacles that can stand in our way against a true understanding of the concept of sovereignty.
Basically, sovereignty is about self-determination and self-rule. It is about who has the right to dictate how my life is to be run. It is about who has the power to define or take away, or delineate or limit my rights to freedom, equality, and justice, and my rights to a space, property, life chances and choices. It is about who has the final authority or final say over my life – present, future and even my posterity. Sovereignty is about power in political, social and economic terms over self and others. Sovereignty is therefore the right to exercise any of these powers with respect to my happiness and life goals. Whoever is in custody of that power is the sovereign.
In the search for the understanding of sovereign and sovereignty, a true seeker must be eclectic in his approach, must be adventurous in his desire to know, and must be willing and ready to cut off all umbilical cords of traditional and cultural superstitions, of religious myths and legends, etc. that were designed, in the first instance, to promote the culture of servitude and to support the mentality of slavery in societies.
For example, in countries where a monarch rules, the King/Queen by historical forceful acquisition and subsequently by tradition, is acknowledged as the sovereign. The military regimes of Abacha and Babangida are examples of military monarchs and sovereign power. When they ruled Nigeria, they exhibited all the traits of tyrannical monarchs to the letter. They were rulers by forceful acquisition of power and every Nigerian automatically became a subject or slave and was obliged to become beholding to their graces and benevolences or to refuse their tyrannical rule at one’s peril.
On the other hand in a republic and democratic states, sovereignty is based on an established constitutional political state. The sovereign state derives its onerous power from the collective spirit and from the collective will of the people of the polity that willingly and voluntarily gave the powers to the state. It means each citizen is acknowledged, first and foremost, as a sovereign in his/her natural right. At the instance when the state is deliberately established with the full participation of every member of the polity and with an understanding that the state being set up shall be geared towards their welfare and happiness, each member voluntarily transferred his/her sovereign right and power to the state in the belief and trust that the state will protect it without fear or favour or nepotism or corruption.
But when a republican state falls foul of the ideals of democratic principles, when nepotism and corruption have become the norm, and when the general welfare, happiness and the security of life of citizens are in peril, then the onus falls on the free citizens to find a creative way to do away with the moribund state. This is where Nigeria is consigned at the moment.
The Nigeria state is sick and is in a comatose state of unconsciousness. It is so ill that it needs twenty-four hour nursing care and attention. And so its constitutional duty of safeguarding the welfare and happiness of its citizen is in serious jeopardy. In such a dire situation, unthinkable and drastic actions need to be taken and quickly too before the state infects everyone in the polity with its deadly ailments.
Therefore in such a deplorable state as we found ourselves, the goal of those calling for a Sovereign National Conference, to my understanding, is not to intensify and sustain the current political structure and edifice but to weaken and minimise it.
- It is not to amplify the power and the perks in politics but to abolish them.
- It is not to expand the sphere of governmental power but to roll back governmental power from people’s life.
- It is not to curtail people’s freedom but to expand its sphere of conception and practice.
- It is not to stifle the creativity of the people in the management of the affairs of their lives but to give it more room to blossom.
- It is not to buttress the spurious claims of political leadership ideology but to eradicate such master-slave ideology.
- It is not to promote the spirit and practice of inequality by sustaining political institutions that specialise in ruler-subject relationship but to encourage the spirit of equality by spontaneous voluntary partnership amongst people in free societies.
- And finally the call for a Sovereign National Conference is definitely not to strengthen the archaic ruthless unaccountable anything-goes governmental apparatuses in Nigeria but to do away with them as we build and strengthen new creative, dynamic and progressive civil societies.
This writer is more than doubly sure that these are what sincere Nigerians who have devoted their lives to this cause since 1993 are asking for.
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
But what then does the host of Nigerians really want? We are not asking what the ‘elected political leaders’ or the non-elected vocal but self-interest-motivated Very Important Nigerians want. Thank goodness, Nigerians are gradually learning to withdraw the trust and faith they have invested in these two groups after years of travesty and of playing political gamesmanship with their lives and political, social and economic affairs.
We (at least those who know) need to help Nigerians to understand what is at stake and to urge them to begin to ask the right critical questions from their so-called leaders. However, a cross-sectional survey of the comments and analysis in the press since January has not given much joy as to what exactly the chattering Nigerians really want for Nigeria.
The issue of the Sovereign National Conference has been on the burner since June 12, 1993. After almost ten years, it is natural that the fire of this intention and desire for justice would have started to wane. And this is more than obvious judging by the sign of deference being shown to those in government even among the top protagonist of the SNC movement.
It is not uncommon to find among the strong canvassers of this noble idea those who feel they can still be drawn into making recommendation to this present government with respect to their performance or non-performance; with respect to policy matters; with respect to legislative matters; with respect to managerial and administrative styles etc.
This is a grave error that professional negotiators will definitely advise those engaged in negotiation never to commit. A negotiator is taught to have clearly defined and mapped out strategies in stages before the start of a negotiation. If strategy A fails to yield the dividend demanded, B follows. If B fails C follows and so on until the cleverly hidden objective at the centre of the various disguised steps that were designed to wear down the opponents’ resolve is achieved.
Let us be more specific. Imagine the issue of resource control that is fundamental to the principle of federalism and central to the economic self-sufficiency, decentralisation of power and political autonomy of the states. In the same breath that agitators submitted a case on this issue they allowed themselves to be manoeuvred into resource allocation debates; into calculation of percentages by derivative and non-derivative criteria from oil revenue; and into legislative bills for a toothless resource allocation institution. Or the case where a state government blows hot and cold air over resource control but is forced to kow-tow to Abuja to queue, beg and bribe for federal allocation of budgetary fund to states.
What about those who allowed themselves to be lured to court to table onshore/offshore resource control matters under a constitution they have acknowledged to be fraudulent, fudged as well as fundamentally hostile and unjust to the interests of the generality of the citizens?
What about the knowledge of the kind of characters in charge of our political affairs which we all know are overwhelmingly those of thugs, rogues, swindlers, robbers, etc.?
Yet, commentators are still expecting honourable performances in the governmental affairs or still debating the possibilities of a fair election under the present set up.
Apart from thugs, robbers, rogues, and charlatans which sensible, morally upright and disciplined Nigerian will dive into the present polluted political waters to swim or to contest with this type of political characters?
Do all these not suggest that fundamentally we are doing something wrong? Philosophically, we have no idea about what we are doing. Sociologically, we have refused to allow facts and figures to inform and direct our comments and supports. Historically, we are neglecting the lessons of our recent and past historical experiences to guide our thinking and judgement. Psychologically, we are in self-denial of the things we know and foolishly we are aiming for the dreamland where fairies abound and magical ‘open sesame’ are the two key words needed to succeed.
For the umpteenth time, the structure on which Nigeria is erected is fundamentally faulty; the foundation is rotten to the core; the cracks in the walls are getting larger and more profound because no repair work has been done since the engineers first pointed out the initial defects.
What more can the experts do to make the political actors heed the alarms and warnings? Why must they wait until the structure collapses on their heads with a possible loss of millions of lives before they do what is right?
These are the realities that informed the suggestion that Nigerians, not Nigerian Governments must deliberately and creatively find a way to organise the forum and conferences that can bring the present nonsense to an end with minimum injury to the peoples of the country. The suggestion made in the first letter is still valid. Let every Nigerian make effort to unravel what is at stake not the cliché, sound bites, legalese and rhetoric of the political sophists and professional commentators.
Nigerians must be advised to find a way to boycott the political gangsters playing kalokalo (slot-machine gambling) with the lives of innocent nationals. Sensible Nigerians must be advised not to venture to compete with these lots in their murky water, their natural turf. Politics have always been the preserve of the bullies, the never-do-wells, the incorrigible liars, the morally depraved, the pretenders, the histrionics and the psychotics of the human race. Why should any sane society keep strengthening the structure that creates and supports this kind of despicable Homo sapiens?
Modern politics have never been for the good people of the world. It is an institution, since it was hijacked by the moneymen of all nations, populated by the heinous characters of every nation. But these people are great pretenders, master of camouflage, expert in deceptions and adept Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde personalities. Hear what a columnist in a British newspaper says about politicians, ‘Politicians are despicable beings, cowards, hypocrites, liars, lack conviction or faith, lack ideals or principle; merciless and selfish in the drive for power, ready to play God, full of righteous pretences, expert of double-speak and sophistry; shallow in ideas and short-sighted in plans and delivery, powered and motivated by a ruthless believe and love for power.’
Please, Fellow Nigerians let us leave the politicians alone to their fatal devices. What goes up must eventually comes down. The loads of Naira arsenal they have amassed in their war chest for the next election shall surely come to nought. In their stupidities, each of them believes that with loads of cash at his/her behest, the election into any of the national or state assemblies is a forgone conclusion. However, as long as Nigerians joined them by legitimising the outrageous atrocities through participation in fraudulent political elections then these idiots shall always be winners.
Let each Nigerian go down the memory lane and recall Hon. Rabiu, Hon. Sina, Hon. Tom, Hon. Obi, etc. who is currently strutting about in Abuja or in any of the cities as a politician and leader of the people. Was he ever obedient to parents or seniors in the family, was he ever obedient to teachers or the school authority while in school, was he ever within the laid down rules and guidelines of the company he worked for, was he ever a reliable business partner that can be trusted to see a deal through without dubiously cornering his associates, was he ever a pleasant neighbour or a neighbour from hell, was he ever a loving husband and devoted father or a wife molester and child abuser?
But these are the compositions of the men and women the whole nations are rooting for to pilot Nigerians to the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey. Indeed, if we still insist on placing our trust and faith on this people yet again then Nigerians must either be imbecile jokers or gumption-less suckers.
These people cannot suddenly change just because they are now called Mr Honourables. They are still the same incorrigible Rabiu, the same un-teachable Sina, the same disrespectful Tom and the same indolent Obi that they have always been.
How could we have forgotten so soon that majority of these people were Sani Abacha’s errand boys and Babangida-made moneymen? What do we think would have changed them from natural turncoats and unrepentant enemies of the common man to noble men and women and friends of the common man? What magic or miracle would transmogrify in a twinkle of an eye these shameless lots from tyrannical military apologists to democratic supporters of civil and human rights?
Fellow Nigerians, let’s get serious with the business of redefining and reclaiming our social and political space from these hoodlums. We cannot and we should no longer believe or rely on these despicable lots of sad people to take us out of the woods.
With this awareness, it becomes very unfortunate when enlightened Nigerians allow themselves to be drawn into puerile debates of who should run or should not run for the 2003 elections. It is a waste of valuable time and a subterfuge to cover up the real issue.
The real issue, as at today, is true sovereignty that is guided and hinged on the unassailable principle of freedom, equality, and justice for all, not for only the elites or the politicians but for all the nationals of Nigeria. It should not matter one jot if the said Nigerian is literate or illiterate, rural or urban, man or woman, half-educated or full educated. This is the real issue.
This sacred issue cannot be achieved under the present political structure. Whether the structure is reformed, refashioned, reframed, recycled, rephrased, retouched, or whatever is done to the present constitution on which this structure is built, it cannot yield the dividend of equality, freedom and justice for all.
The constitution and the institutional structures are both illegal and unjust from the beginning of their lives. The spirit that fashioned them is the spirit of empire ownership, of exploitation, of greed, of supremacist belief, of domination and of a slave owner. We must overcome this lying spirit of evil before we can begin to design a New Nigeria of our dream under the spirit of truth and love. The Christian Bible advised us not to put new wine into old wineskins or else both shall be ruined. Building legality on illegality is hypocrisy or foolishness. It is hypocrisy if the builder is aware of the truth of the matter and it is foolishness if the builder is a crass ignoramus of the facts of history.
Dear Fellow Nigerians, mediocrity has no place in the New Nigeria of our dream. The popular responses to intellectual matters that hide under ‘I don’t know’ or ‘a no sabi book’ are no longer tenable excuses. The literacy rate of Nigeria as at today is greater than that of the United States of America in 1776 when it fought and won the war against British imperialism, when the Americans crafted together living political ideas and drafted the crucial elements of their constitution, and when they established the institutions of their governments. So Nigerians should no longer plead ‘I-don’t-know’ to cover laziness and carelessness.
Every Nigerian is supposed to know because each of us is endowed by nature with salient faculties designed principally for the art of knowing things. This is the time to forget and put aside your fanciful certificates. Please for goodness sake, let us get back to the school of seekers of truth and knowledge.
It was Thomas Paine in Age of Reason who says, ‘As for the learning that any person gains from school education, it serves only, like a small capital, to put him in the way of beginning learning for himself afterwards’. He goes on to add, ‘Every person of learning is finally his own teacher, the reason of which is that principles … cannot be impressed on memory; their place of residence is the understanding, and they are never so lasting as when they begin by conception.’ Meaning, the ability to think is an important prerequisite to true knowledge and understanding. And it comes through rigorous self-education.
What we should all be aiming for in Nigeria is the end of politics. We should by now understand that there is something fishy going on when fools rush in where angels refuse to tread. The Abuja/Aso Rock Trophy and the State House Medals are goldmines. There is no other reason why there is a do or die scramble for them by all concerned. It is about money, about fraudulent acquisitions and about stealing what does not belong to them using every guise in the books. Political power in Nigeria is a licence to print money.
Let us shame the fools by turning our backs on them. We know them in every family, in every village and in every community. We know their characters and we understand their deadly games. Heaven has been kind to put them on stage in the last seventeen years so that we can truly know and identify them. This is the time to put a fence around them.
Fellow Nigerians, let us boycott them. In the family or village or community, do not take their money. It is tainted money and it is blood money. Let us ostracise them now that we know who they are. No one should fellowship or socialise with them. They are killers and murderers. They wine and dine on our blood. It is because we have been too gullible, at least up till now, and that is why they have so far succeeded in their vile games.
Dear Fellow Nigerians, the battle for the soul of Nigeria has started. Let all Nigerians who have been redeemed by truth and knowledge stand up and be counted. “Please remember it is a bloodless, ‘machinegun-less’, ‘bullet-less’, ‘bomb-less’ and ‘tank-less’ battle. It will not require any of the stupid technology the wicked powers of this world have devised for war of man against man.
Ours is a battle of peace and love for freedom, equality and justice. It is both a spiritual and an intellectual battle. It is a battle of true deliverance and total freedom. It is a battle against self. It is a battle designed to destroy the insatiable and irrepressible human nature in each of us and to awaken each soul to its true state.
Dear Fellow Nigerian, until you have won this battle against self you have no business fighting for the liberation of other Nigerians.”
The only weapon at your disposal shall be the sword of truth and knowledge. Let the rallying call from each soul to another as from today be simply and emphatically, ‘Enough is enough’ to this national nonsense.
So Fellow Nigerians, let us get down to the real business of Sovereign Conferences. Let it be the only talk in town. Each family, each community, each local area, each ethnic group, each state should be able to have a draft constitution before the end of the year.
The Sovereign Conferences we are canvassing is not the type that shall be organised by the so-called eminent Nigerians but by the host of Common Nigerians. We are now more than aware that the eminences and excellences of these eminent Nigerians were built on educational and financial frauds, on false pretences and on fictions and deceptions.
The only eminent Nigerians in our dictionary are the long-suffering Common Nigerians. These are the true noble men and women when fully awakened that will fashion relevant constitutions for the various levels of the civil societies of a New Nigeria. Our cardinal objective is the transfer of political power to the civil societies where it duly belongs.
As we put minds and heads together for these onerous tasks, please endeavour not to go for highfaluting legal jargons. Let us concentrate on the essential issues necessary for a decent and honourable life that shall have great potentials to contribute to a more meaningful human existence.
Let us document these issues in a language that every member of the polity can understand. We should focus on issues that would make relationships built on mutual respect between equals and friendly partners work without tension and fear.
Where it is possible let the constitution be drafted in the vernacular language for the common use and easy access of all concerned.
It is a laborious route but it is a safe route.
This route will definitely take us to our final destination of peace, freedom, equality and justice for all. That it has never been travelled before anywhere in the world is not an excuse not to try.
May the spirit of truth be our guide and our light at this darkest hour.
In The Spirit of Truth
SAM ABBD ISRAEL
8 April 2002