Nigeria Not A Nation Yet, Says Ex-president, Jonathan
Former President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, said Nigeria was not yet a nation, but a state since it was governed by set rules in the constitution.
In the same manner, a former governor of Ekiti State, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, said since liberal democracy was gradually falling in Africa, proportional democracy should be given a chance as the predisposition to winner takes all was not good for the system.
At the same time, a former Minister of Education, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili said democracy has not failed Africa but corrupt leaders has failed in governance.
All of them spoke at “a national dialogue on how to make Nigeria work in honour Prof. Udenta O Udenta at 60 and the presentation of his 21 Books”
Jonathan said the 1914 amalgamation did not unite north and south but merely an economic process, saying, “I am not blaming our forefathers but it failed to integrate us into a proper nation, we operated as individual interest and so on.
“And, of course, if you’ve read some of the comments of our former leaders, like Awolowo made it very clear that there is no nation called Nigeria. Yes, it is a geographical entity; it is a country, it is a state, it has laws but there is no nation.
“The country was so polarised especially during the early political party formation and the parties were regional parties, there was no sense of commitment to integrate Nigerian into an entity that you can say, yes, this is a nation with core…with common philosophy and people will be patriotic to that nation, most of the parties belong to regions, then there were so alliances for the purpose of ruling the country.
“And always when I compare Nigeria and a county like Tanzania, incidentally I am going to Dar Salam tomorrow, I feel that Julius Nyerere, so celebrated. His own vision then was to make Tanzania a nation, yes they have different tribes, maybe not as many as Nigeria but he claimed that we probably have the same but I am not sure that we have the same.
“They have two major religions, Christianity and Islam, it is almost 50-50. Zanzibar is almost 90%…is major part of Tanzania. Nyerere felt that look, if I go through multi-party that is his philosophy, I am not saying multi-party is the best for Nigeria, now or as that time, I am just saying what leaders do to create nations.
“He said if I go multi-party, the parties may take regional cleavages or go into religious cleavages, maybe you will have a Christian party, a Muslim party and so on and that when we go that way, they will have problems, the country will be divided and that sense of nationality will not be there, that is why he advocated for one party.”
In his key note address, Fayemi who quoted former President Olusegun Obasanjo, said since liberal democracy was failing, “what Nigeria needed was alternative politics”
According to him, “What we need is proportional representation, as it would be unfair where a winner with 37 per cent of the votes cast takes 100 percent spoil,” maintaining too that the 1914 amalgamation was not a mistake as it did not create Nigeria.
“No nation was delivered as a perfect union,” he said, citing the political crisis in the United States, when Donald Trump wanted to use undemocratic measures to keep himself in power.
He explained that 63 years in the life of an individual was a big deal, but not a big issue in the life of a nation
Fayemi urged Nigerians not to lose hope, saying, “We are hopeful when we understand the various challenges we are facing. Crisis comes when we weaponise ethnicity and religion.”
Ezekwesili, in her key note address, reiterated that democracy has not failed Nigerians or Africa, but corrupt leaders has failed in governance.
She explained that democracy must produce results that would decrease poverty, increase life expectancy, increase social capacity and be relevant in governance, adding that, if those social goals were not positively delivered, then, democracy has not achieved its goal.