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Nigeria As A Republic Of The Future



Prof. Tunji Olaopa

By  Tunji Olaopa

I have deliberately crafted the topic of this piece to link the status of the Nigerian state as a republic to the aspirational desire, embodied within the forthcoming election, of transforming the fortune of the country through a decidedly ideological willpower that aligns the future to a vision of Nigeria. When the electorate go to the polls in all democratic contexts, that act is symbolic of a desire and yearning to keep drawing the state closer to an ideal. And that is done either through the removal of a leadership that seems to have fractured that vision or through the election of another who the electorate believe could facilitate the transformation that takes the state closer to an idea of utopia. Abraham Lincoln had something fundamental in mind when he insisted that “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” And I think William Shakespeare fathomed what that meant when he made Cassius to utter, in Julius Caesar, that “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars/But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” Cassius juxtaposes fate and human character and will power to make whatever one wills to happen.

The historical evolution, developmental trajectory and future possibilities of the Nigerian state are not in our stars (which is evidently divinely enabled in more than equal measure), but in our determination to transform the limitations and resources of the state into a policy architecture, national value capital and productivity framework that make life worth living for Nigerians. And since independence, Nigeria, through its consecutive governments, have been reaching for that ideal of a developmental state that is capable and efficient, without ever achieving it. I am not sure if the situation of ancient Athens was worse or not, as historical comparisons have their limitations and utility. However, we have the evidence that the democratic experiment had decayed so badly in Athens that the leadership no longer saw the significance of a critical citizenry in what Socrates and his interlocution meant to achieve. Socrates had to die for tyranny to keep reigning. 

In 1963, Nigeria became a republic. Over the cause of its conceptual trajectory, the meaning of the republic has shifted, first, from any government defined around the idea of the common good, to a form of government where the leadership is procedurally elected according to constitutional imperatives. This differentiates a republic from a hereditary monarchy. In contemporary times, a republic is a democratic government where sovereignty lies with the people who then govern through their representatives. It is in this sense that Nigeria declared herself a republic to claim the possibility of translating the wish of Nigerians into a solid policy architecture that produces tangible development results. From the first republic to the fourth, the Nigerian governments have been straining at the governance and development equation without much significant success. Three out of the four republican experiments were taken over by military rule. The experimentation with democratic governance began all over again in 1999, and so far, it has been turbulent as all Nigerians know. 

When Plato, the Greek philosopher, began writing his magnus opus, Republic, it was a work motivated by disillusionment and hope in equal measure. Socrates, his teacher, had been killed and the democratic experiment was in  free fall. The death of Socrates, for Plato, was the final death knell about the corrupt tendencies of democracy. So, if democracy could preside over the unjust killing of someone like Socrates, Plato argued, there is then a need for another government, an ideal one, that will take justice seriously. And so, Plato began crafting the contours of an ideal society that has the capacity to facilitate the good life through good politics. Plato’s Republic is a fundamental act of reformist social re-engineering. From the guardians who have the reflective capacity, in the mold of the philosophical king, to the educational system that generates them and others, who properly situated, according to the law of justice to render service, transforms the Republic to become the site of good governance. 

T. S. Eliot was perceptive when he insisted that “There is no absolute point of view from which real and ideal can be finally separated and labelled.” The real and the ideal are coterminous. We move to the ideal from the perspective of the real. Or, what is the same thing: the ideal is what enables the strategic re-construction of the real. This is what gave birth to Plato’s Republic. And if we contend that Plato wrote about a utopia, then we can counter that it is the vision of the utopia that precedes the emergence of the real. The House of Maktoum saw Dubai from the lofty core of a vision. Even the name of the city, from the Arab proverb, “daba dubai”, speaks about the influx of money. And consistently for many decades, this vision passed through the strategic and focused policymaking architecture of this family until Dubai arrived as a site of governance wonder out of the shape of a mere village. 

The Nigerian republic was equally preceded by several visions. As part of the founding negotiators of the Nigerian state, Chief Obafemi Awolowo was equipped with both the historical, political and philosophical sagacity to assess and reflect on the past and future of the Nigerian state. This is what he did in The People’s Republic. It is a serious and strategic act of vision that locates Nigeria’s present in a critical assessment of her colonial past, and envisioned a vision that subordinates Nigeria’s greatness to upholding the social contract in a true service to Nigerians. For Awolowo, the Nigerian constitution constitutes the institutional framework for reconstructing the Nigerian state. It is the constitution that outlines the framework for ordering a good society. The constitution encodes the blueprint by which the leadership desires, through policy initiatives, to keep rearticulating the direction of a state. The anomalies that Awolowo saw in the first instantiation of the Nigerian republic has become aggravated over the next three instantiations. Even the democratic experiment has not been able to erase the deep ethnonational and institutional cleavage that make divisiveness and underdevelopment possible. 

This, perhaps, demonstrates the essential basis for restructuring the Nigerian state. Unlike the vast desert of the Dubai, Nigeria began life as an amalgamated territory. With independence, the plurality that defines Nigeria, as a mere geographical expression, rather than be federalized to facilitate the belongingness of the diverse constituents, was through bad policy unitarized into a centralized entity supposedly operating a federal constitution. This constitutional lopsidedness has been the source of many institutional and governance aberrations. Nigeria’s monocultural economy, for instance, draws strength from crude oil to centralize Nigeria’s wealth and kill regional innovation and initiatives. It swallowed the cocoa plantations of the southwest, the groundnut pyramids of the north and the coal industries of the east. Restructuring the federation simply means making it more constitutionally possible to allow for the comparative advantages of each geopolitical zone to manifest in advancing the governance possibilities of Nigeria. 

Even more critical to the constitutional restructuring is the need to empower local governance into a developmental mode. Within the unitary dynamic of Nigeria’s federal constitution, the local governments have become comatose in developmental terms. As is, no local government can supervise grassroots governance in Nigeria. It is that bad. The exclusive and concurrent lists of the constitution have emasculated the residual list and taken the developmental and democratic initiatives out of the reach of the local governments. The exclusive list contains sixty-eight items. The concurrent list, powers shared by the federal and state governments, further decimate the capacity of the local governments. 

Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones could facilitate regional governance and development corridors that could become the strategic component of a reconstructed and diversified economy, complemented by crude oil. And no incoming leadership should be deceived that local governance sustained by the principle of subsidiarity can be exempted from such vision of a constitutional re-engineering. The grassroots are where a large swarth of Nigerians want to participate in democratic dynamics, as well as contributing to the economic growth of this country. It is where the social contract can factor them into good governance, especially through the many traditional institutions (like the traditional chieftaincy), local frameworks (like the thrift societies), and local governance arrangements (like the Optimum Community approach—OPTICOM—recommended by the late Professors Ojetunji Aboyade and Akin Mabogunje). 

From Plato’s Republic to Awolowo’s The People’s Republic, the fascination of the ideal for building a great nation cannot be underestimated. A nation is constituted by the visioneering of the ideal by the leadership, and concerted efforts of all others, including the people, within the change space where good governance is concocted in tune with democratic aspirations and developmental objectives. The excuse of anyone that will take on the task of re-engineering the Nigerian state cannot be that of being bereft of ideas and frameworks of the ideal. What Nigeria can and should be is very clear. What is lacking is the administration and leadership acumen, backed by a transformational political willpower, that will translate the visions of the ideals and the appropriate ideological framework into institutional forms that can then deliver good and services, as well as infrastructural miracles, to Nigerians.       

Olaopa is a retired Federal Permanent Secretary, and  Professor of Public Administration.



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Moral Values In A Changing World



Prof. Hope Eghagha

By Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha

JUSTICE: This world has degenerated into abysmal filth, immoral ungodly concupiscence, infantile greed, atavistic, primitive acquisition of property, and satanic hopelessness! The judiciary, the political class, the church, our royal fathers, and most other socio-cultural institutions have fallen into the cesspit of indiscipline and lack of respect for ethics! The Labour movement that used to be in the forefront of discipline cannot be trusted anymore!

MARIAM: Hehehehehehe! Okpoyibo! Big grammar is talking. I must invite Hon Patrick Obahiagbon to compete with you on explosive vocabulary.

PROFESSOR: That’s an old song. Our parents said the same thing some forty odd years ago.

UMUKORO: You are right; it is the way of the old to berate the world and say the past was better!

JUSTICE: Kindly don’t reduce the profundity of my introspective submission to the jejune level of the banal as has been the hallmark of pseudo-intellectuals in the polity!

MARIAM: I am going to get a new and bigger dictionary. I can’t find Michael West anymore!

JUSTICE: If you still restrict yourself to the archaic confines of Michael West, then you are a victim of historical detention, arrested development, and exploration of the brave new world!

MARIAM: I give up!

UMUKORO: Who still uses a dictionary in the 21st century? Ask Google my dear, ask Google!

JUSTICE: Your infantile and rudimentary knowledge of homonyms limits your capacity to process thoughts of the new century. Away with you, thou physically beautiful body without an intellectual soul. I take exception to people denigrating my exceptionally brilliant exegesis on the state of Homo sapiens!

PASTOR: ‘And in the last days, iniquity shall abound and the love of many shall wax cold’, so said the Master. The time is here!

PROFESSOR: A broken record! A broken record waxed hundreds of years ago!

PASTOR: But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved!

PROFESSOR: Saved from what? Another holocaust? Another atomic bomb dumped on humanity?

PASTOR: Do you spurn sacred and biblical prophecies?

PROFESSOR: General prophecies mean nothing to me. Look here Mr Pastor. For all the false prophecies which members of your infernal gang of profiteering pastors gave before the last general elections, you should be behind the bars of God!

JUSTICE: It is not late, not too late at all. The hounds of heaven are waiting for all the false pastors, especially those who have commercialized the Lord’s work! A wonderful and abominable thing is happening in the land. The prophets prophesy falsely, and the people love it so!

PROFESSOR: One preacher I knew used to say that one false prophet was more dangerous than 100 armed robbers. Now I understand why!

UMUKORO: Armed robbery is no longer fashionable. Pen robbery fetches millions of naira with one stroke. Just add two zeros to the figure or transfer public funds to a private account.

PROFESSOR: I spoke metaphorically!

PASTOR: When it is becoming fashionable for persons of the same gender to marry and be recognized by the state, then the world is coming to an end.

UMUKORO: Sodom and Gomorrah incurred God’s wrath with that abomination!


MARIAM: When Supreme Court judges dispense political justice, then the end of the state as we knew it, has come.

UMUKORO: Even in America! Democratic judges give judgment guided by the so-called liberal values of the democrats while republican judges give conservative verdicts like abolishing the right to having an abortion!

JUSTICE: What then is justice?

MARIAM: Self solution! Your name is justice!

PROFESSOR: Aren’t we mixing oranges and apples in the same basket?

PASTOR: Let the tares and the wheat grow. At the harvest the Lord shall do the separation of sheep from goats!

JUSTICE: Eschatological metaphors can be used to rationalize and explain currents and undercurrents of contemporary events. It is very convenient to do so!

PROFESSOR: I am disappointed that our Nobel laureate could make such a one-sided pronouncement on the 2023 general elections. Unlike him, he didn’t speak like a man who comprehends the totality of our traumatic experience in February 2023!

MARIAM: But he spoke his mind. The Constitution guarantees freedom of expression!

JUSTICE: He spoke with the finality of a judge. I respect him for that. But he should also like an elder have acknowledged the level of rigging and violence which marred the exercise. The general thinking is that he is silent on that aspect because a friend of his now occupies Aso Rock!

MARIAM: That is a most uncharitable thing to say about a man of such intellectual distinction and moral probity!

JUSTICE: Excuse me! Has he occupied any public office in the country to enable you to arrive at that conclusion? Has he been tested?

MARIAM: His name is a shield. His name travels before him.

JUSTICE: Why did he wait for the PEPT to make a pronouncement before proclaiming his tigritude?

PROFESSOR: Let’s leave that old man alone jor! I’m more interested in the shuffling feet at the CBN. What exactly is going on? Was there no due diligence before Shonubi was asked to act as Governor of the Central bank of Nigeria? Didn’t they know, couldn’t they have suspected that he was part of the rot that ran that institution aground in the dying days of the former president?

PASTOR: Alas, it has given the president the opportunity to appoint his own man as governor. The new man by all account is competent and exposed in the financial world!

PROFESSOR: My only worry is whether he will have the gumption to say no if he receives obnoxious directives from his boss.

JUSTICE: How many appointees in our country have the liver to say no to the indiscretion of their bosses? It is not in our DNA!

MARIAM: In Lagos state, the Speaker of House said no to the governor on the appointment of some commissioners! The heavens did not fall.

PROFESSOR: The heavens almost fell. But that speaker is arrogant. No big man can trust him. Or was he dancing to music being played in higher quarters to spite the governor?

MARIAM: Who knows! It is possible. The ways of politicians are not straightforward. How could he say that he and the governor are colleagues! He has no respect for the office!

UMUKORO: I felt sorry for the governor! This attempt to humiliate him all in the name of politics.

JUSTICE: I hear it is all about 2024. If he is thinking of becoming governor, that statement will return to haunt him in future!

PASTOR: Now! Now! Now! Is the Dubai visa ban still hanging over us or Mr. President got the desert kings to lift the embargo?

JUSTICE: Is there any ‘gbajue’ going on?

PROFESSOR: Hahahahahaha! The more you look, the less you see. Proverbs to bones and silence!

UMUKORO: I don’t think it is ‘gbajue! It is possible that there was an agreement in principle which would require Nigeria to finetune certain details before going public. A federal government cannot tell lies about such public matters!

PASTOR: When the saviour comes, let him that be on the rooftop not come down to be saved. You will run to the mountain and the mountain will be melting!

MARIAM: And the sea will be boiling!

PROFESSOR: Who will save us? Who can take the nation back to factory reset? Shall we invite Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi, and Ahmadu Bello to rescue us?

PASTOR: Perish such thoughts please! Those men have not been able to save themselves. How can they save anybody? Jesus Christ is the answer!

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A Response To Toyin Falola’s Obasanjo, Obadide And Obajoko



Former President Olusegun Obasanjo

By Yinka Agbetuyi

Toyin Falola’s “Obasanjo, Obadide and Obajoko” is a timely article that captures the complexities and contradictions of a Yoruba (even Nigerian) in transition. It reframes the questions: ‘transition to where?’ How will this transition be better managed? Until these two questions are adequately resolved Yorubaland (and Nigeria) will always be in constant crises.

    It is very important that the essay brings out the fact of extant kingships alongside modern polities in Europe like the UK and Belgium, (there are still twelve extant monarchies in Europe) where the monarchs are not subordinated to modern politicians and humiliated thereby. So which West are the Yoruba (and Nigerians) copying?  Newfound lands, mainly the US – as well as Australia and Canada- stolen from the aborigines.

    Yoruba people and fellow Nigerians must constantly be reminded that the success of the anticolonial struggles was about stopping such occurrence in Africa.  Perhaps Yoruba Nation advocacy was geared toward the same goal, but lacked effective strategies. At the last stop before Tinubu’s unexpected victory, the groundswell was for Yoruba Nation advocates to go into partnership with other Nigerian ethnic nationalities and evolve a workable blueprint that takes into consideration each group’s preference and the rate of and speed of integration into the totality – the North’s preference at independence, and Awo’s true federalism- supplanted unfortunately by the adoption of an American presidential federalist model, hook line and sinker!  My reaction over the decades is that Nigeria is not necessarily vying with others for the position of the 51st state of the US.

    In my own summation in diverse forums, as it exists now in Europe, the royal houses should be clearly delimited and given definite CONSTITUTIONAL roles and worthy remuneration. First Class traditional rulers should earn the same salaries as sitting governors (Nigeria can afford this option many times over from a mere fraction of its stolen wealth if recovered). Monarchs will in turn underwrite the integrity of the polity by being constitutionally tasked with the appointment of auditors who will scrutinise State spending (states and federal) and projects in their domains and report directly back to such MONARCHS for onward transmission to state chief executives and the presidency.

    Traditional rulers should be elected and appointed only by traditional councils and their appointment signed into law (but not subject to nor subordinated to) the state governors.  After all the days of crass illiterate caricature of traditional rulers is long gone.  Traditional rulers should therefore be structured as parallel instruments of and facilitators of governance in a check and balance structuration of governance, in a carefully integrated whole to achieve total governance – the transient and the permanent. Lesser traditional rulers should be administered by the First-Class rulers (in council) who will recommend their emoluments, (and functions) subject to rankings to state governments.

    Only First-Class rulers (in council) should be able to recommend the creation and elevation of lower ranked rulers to the states according to the existing norms of such communities, (they did this well enough in the precolonial days) and the state government should only administratively approve or reject such recommendations based on financial contingencies. This formulation should neutralise party politicking in the creation and maintenance of traditional rulership.

    Yes, traditional rulers must be constitutionally barred from seeking and accepting contracts from their states of origin and from the federal government, the same way a governor is not notionally entitled to be awarded a contract by their own government.  In the British system, this is called declaration of interests by parliamentarians (whether in government or not) in the register of interest book.  This is to prevent conflict of interests of the person in government (and their associates) and their official duties.  This provision demonstrates that greed is a universal phenomenon unless and until checked by relevant laws (witness the UK Parliament’s expenses claim scandal in 2010.)

    Now that the Tinubu struggle has been fought and won, the Yoruba Nation advocates, must in continuation of their activities not rest their oars on the ship of State, but intensify such by taking the lead in the quest for this new reality, by reaching out to like minded nationalities across the country to achieve the constitutional change for a better, stable and prosperous tomorrow for Nigerians.

Prince Agbetuyi is a Professor of Comparative Arts & World History at the Edutronix Institute, London.


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Use Your Penis: Hopes, Expectations And Realities Of African Migrants In Europe



The panelists at the event.

By Leo Igwe

The issue of migration to Europe has been in the news. There has been intense discussion on how to tackle the flow of migrants to, not from, Europe. There have been reports of boats carrying migrants capsizing or missing on the Mediterranean Sea. Many Africans have died trying to enter Europe via the Sahara desert. North African and European countries have taken measures to curb illegal migration and human trafficking. Still, the migration flow out of Africa continues and shows no signs of abating. Why has the migration of Africans or migration from Africa become such a huge problem? What are the hopes, experiences and realities of these migrants?

In August I was invited to speak at a seminar on migration. The focus was on the migration of Africans to Europe. The event took place in Bergen, Norway. As a doctoral student, I lived in Germany for six years. I was invited to speak at programs on migration. Governmental and nongovernmental agencies in Denmark and Germany organized the events. I did not find these events interesting because the focus was on human trafficking and the role of African juju and witchcraft. Do not get me wrong. Human trafficking is a huge problem and needs to be addressed. But we have to tackle the problem from the root. These events were by my estimate a complete waste of time and money because organizers and participants were not ready to tell themselves the truth, face the facts and address the real issue. They want to make themselves feel good and privileged while talking about these helpless Africans streaming to their shores. Organizers were more interested in marginal voodoo, and oath-taking issues. They made it seem as if there was something unusual about African migration. But there was not. Migration is as old as human beings. Humans from all races and regions have been migrating from one region to another, from one country or continent to another. Before this recent wave of migration out of Africa, people from Europe, America, and Asia have been migrating to Africa. They are still migrating for business, social, economic, religious, and political reasons.

Contemporary African migration is mainly economic. It is driven by poverty, miserable living conditions, and the devastation of African economies by European, Asian, and American companies. To tackle the problem of migration, African economies must be fixed. The continent must realize an economic leap. Now instead of focusing on the economic roots of the problem and how to address them, many Europeans and Americans expend energy discussing trivialities, such as the role of voodoo and so-called powerful witch doctors in Nigeria. Well, at these events, I told the organizers the bitter truth. I told them to forget this juju or voodoo talk and face the reality: the destruction and revival of African economies. I told the organizers what they did not want to hear. And they never invited me back.

But this time around it was different. The organizers were not Europeans or Americans. A Nigerian student at the University of Bergen staged the event. He contacted me some months ago, drawing my attention to the plight of African migrants in Norway. He explained how many who travel to Norway and other European countries had their hopes and expectations dashed. Many who migrate to this country or other European countries end up entrapped. They are compelled to go into things they did not plan to do. Many migrants end up in a new form of slavery, in a marriage to a European citizen. Left with the option of going back to Africa at the end of their study or marrying to get the documents to stay, many end up contracting a marriage, in many cases a paper or document marriage. These marriages entrap them, they turn these migrants into errand boys and girls. Many of them are mistreated. They suffer silently. If they misbehaved, their partners would threaten to report them to the authorities and get them deported. I was told that many in the African migrant communities were not helping matters. Someone told me that he approached some migrants seeking and wanting to know how he could navigate migration issues. But the person told him: “Use your penis”. I guess for a female it would have been a case of: Use your vagina. While studying in Germany, some African migrants told me how they were sexually exploited, and dehumanized before they could get legal documents to stay in the country. One woman told me that everyman who wanted to help her wanted to sleep with her.

So, the program was cathartic. It provided a space to let out these pains, sufferings, disappointments, and frustrations.

The event brought together ‘free-will’ migrants and Norwegians. The panelists were from Ghana, South Sudan, Nigeria, and Belarus. I was the only international guest on the panel. Other panelists discussed the hurdles that they have faced, and the challenges that they confronted trying to live and integrate in Norway. As one panelist noted, many who come to study were unable to find a job at the end of their program. In many cases, they graduated and found out that there was no job for them, or they were unable to speak the local language, which was a requirement for many jobs. Another panelist from Ghana, married to a Norwegian, discussed her challenges as a migrant parent in Norway. She recounted how her child had suffered racism in the school. She narrated an experience where the child did a group assignment with four other white Norwegian children. And the teacher gave her child four marks for the assignment and other group members five marks.

There was some discussion on illegal migration and the risks involved. Some Norwegians in the audience noted that many African migrants knew about the risks they could face migrating to Europe. And still, they decided to embark on the risky journey. There was a lot of focus on migrants and their experiences traveling from Africa. However, little or no attention was paid to the European connection with the problem, the fact that western foreign economic policies have devastating effects on African economies. Africa is a market for Western goods including Norwegian stockfish. Apparently Europe needs African markets not African migrants. Western multinationals are relentlessly plowing and plundering the resources of Africa in ways that have displaced the local populations. African professionals are leaving in droves. They are migrating to work in the West and the Middle East. So, Western economies profit from the migration flow and the cheap labor it provides. Western countries benefit from the economic status quo that has turned Africans into migrants and refugees in Europe and America. To contain the flow of migrants to Europe, the situation in Africa must change. African economies must begin to grow and improve. Western governments must end the economic exploitation of Africa.

Dr. Igwe directs the Advocacy for Alleged Witches.

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