Related Stories By Professor EC Ejiogu Published: 20120528
The Real Situation on Nigeria

“I dare you to look down the valley of Nigeria’s checkered existence and tell me if it’s not filled with the wreckages and indicators of the political instability that I’m talking about”

When all is said and done, what is still at stake about the state of affairs in Nigeria is that state-building amongst the distinct nationalities that British colonialism brought together to constitute the country is still up in the air.

Although British colonial conquest and rule established the de facto state of Nigeria amongst those nationalities the necessary and sufficient factor — legitimacy for political stability in the country - has been absent except in the core areas of the Sokoto Caliphate Empire society.

The principal reason for this being that the British quickly struck a durable alliance with Hausa-Fulani rulers, right after their army was routed by Frederick Lugard’s forces on the plains outside the City of Sokoto on that fateful day in 1903. 

Research conducted by this author indicates that both the modicum of stability that the Nigerian state ever enjoys in the core parts of the Caliphate society and the alliance that flourished between the British and the Caliphate rulers derive from the congruence and consonance between the authority patterns of the Nigerian state and those of the Caliphate state.

Both of them are inherently autocratic to boot.   Elsewhere in the rest of the Niger Basin — in Igboland, Yorubaland, Efikland, and the rest of the other nationalities — where such congruence and consonance are lacking for the reason that authority and its practice amongst the nationalities that inhabit those areas are normatively democratic, a similar alliance was never struck and the resistance to British intervention and colonial rule didn’t ebb at all. 

The departure of the British and end of the de facto colonial rule coupled with the transfer of power to Britain’s Hausa-Fulani allies in 1960 simply meant the recalibration of that resistance by the other nationalities. 

I dare you to look down the valley of Nigeria’s checkered existence and tell me if it’s not filled with the wreckages and indicators of the political instability that I’m talking about.

The unfortunate truth is that Nigeria has sustained its roll on the lane of illegitimacy ever since.  

One is not talking about election rigging because it has been normalised and entrenched into Nigeria’s body politic.

In 2007 the ruling People’s Democratic Party invented and implemented the “doctrine of appropriated voting” whereby ballot papers were thumb-printed under the cover of darkness on the conviction that voters were too ignorant to properly exercise their voting rights.

Move forward to November 23, 2009 when handlers of an incapacitated Umaru Yar’Ardua, the beneficiary of that implementation of “appropriated voting” violated specific provisions in the “Constitution” when they wheeled him onboard the aeroplane to Saudi Arabia without temporarily transferring power to the VP.

As Yar’Adua lay brain dead in a Saudi hospital, illegalities that included the purported signing of the budget, which was flown to Saudi Arabia, piled up all in a bid to sustain an essentially dead man in power.

It took an absurdity to make the VP an “Acting President”.

Only in Nigeria!

My lack of legal training notwithstanding, I still do not see why any or all of the nationalities that were made to constitute Nigeria didn’t take advantage of the continuing pile-ups of illegitimacy to embrace self-determination.

There’s no legitimate excuse for the game of self-deceit by the managers of the Nigeria project to continue.

The project remains simply unsustainable. 

Making Goodluck Jonathan Acting President did not resolve the teething issue of unfinished state-building amongst the nationalities that the British brought together in Nigeria.

I haven’t seen how pile-ups of illegitimacy would resolve the mistrust of the Nigerian state by the distinct nationalities. 

The price of that failure by the Nigerian state to acquire the bases of legitimacy perception amongst those nationalities has been stiff.

The least of the consequences of those pile-ups of illegitimacy are the wasted years, the underdevelopment that characterise them, and the unsavoury image that Nigeria stamps on each and every one of us who - driven by our conscience - decided to opt out of the mess and instead globe-trot in search of a dignified livelihood.

For how much longer must the deceit continue?

The blow-up that all the pile-ups and their consequences will produce is inevitable.

People of conscience from Nigeria’s nationalities must make haste to appraise the real situation concerning the Nigeria project.

The quick fall-back on complacence has never been a viable option in this case, because come tomorrow or the day after, the inevitable rendezvous with disaster shall be made.

 •  Professor EC Ejiogu is a political sociologist.