1963 Republican Constitution, a veritable guide
This is a sequel of sorts to an earlier piece, ‘‘Restructuring: History 101,’’ published in this newspaper. We now can comfortably presume that the jury is finally in on the vexed topic: restructuring. If Nigeria were to “catch-up”, she must necessarily restructure her administrative apparatus. Much earlier, another piece in this newspaper, ‘‘Legislature should elect president and governors,’’ had deployed technical facts to make the point that Nigeria is, indeed, NOT a democracy, but republican. The rising calls for restructuring, and ipso facto a reversion to the 1963 Constitution inspired the current piece. The latter article is quoted in extenso below:
“Were the United States of America a democracy, Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party candidate in the 2016 presidential election would have broken the ‘glass ceiling,’ and become the first female U.S. president because she won the popular votes by some three million. Rather, the Republican candidate, Donald Trump became president because the U.S. practises republicanism, thanks to the collegiate votes. Not a few persons still wonder at the difference of the two terms due to the convenient-interchangeability to which politicians have rendered them over the centuries. The thought would not have crossed the minds of the US founding fathers who under the apparent influence of Plato’s Republic, rejected democracy, lock, key and barrel.
“George Washington who had presided over the Constitutional Convention and later accepted the honour of being chosen as the first president of the U.S. under its new Constitution, indicated during his inaugural address in April 1789, that he would dedicate himself to the ‘preservation of the republican model of government.’ James Madison, who is rightly known as the ‘Father of the U.S. Constitution,’ wrote in the Federalist, No. 10: ‘…democracy have been spectacles of turbulence and contentions; have ever been found incompatible with personal security; or the right of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they are violent in their deaths.’ John Adams, a signatory to the US Declaration of Independence, said he championed the new Constitution because it would not create a democracy. He had insisted that democracy never lasts long, ‘it soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.’ Alexander Hamilton in his stead had averred that ‘we are forming a Republican form of government. Real liberty is not found in the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments. If we incline too much to democracy we shall soon shoot into monarchy or some other form of a dictatorship… Our real disease is DEMOCRACY.’
“It is therefore not a wonder that the word ‘democracy’ is not found in the US Constitution. Article IV, Section 4 of that Constitution categorically declares: ‘The US shall guarantee to every state in the Union a Republican form of government.’ Republicanism recognizes the gradations that exist in human societies, and therefore posits that electoral votes be aggregated. Democracy, on the other hand, promotes the doctrine of absolute equality of all humans; each vote carries equal weight. Therefore it is disingenuous to interchangeably employ the two terms; the one is cheese, while the other is chalk.
“Article IV, Section 4 of the US Constitution could well have been influenced by Edward Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, which appeared in the period of US Declaration of Independence. That towering masterpiece traces the Roman history from the middle of the Second Century A.D. to the dissolution of the Western Empire late in the Fifth Century, through the Dark Ages and the Middle Ages in Western Europe, including the history of the Eastern and Byzantium for a thousand years to the fall of the Constantinople in 1453. The Decline and Fall deploys empirical evidence to show that the greatest western empire ever, collapsed essentially due to the failure of democracy in the Roman constituencies.
“According to the treatise, as the Roman Empire’s material wealth attained unprecedented proportions, following many conquests, her emperors felt the irresistible urge to centralize administration. With centralization went the liberty for individual initiative and creativity. Consequently, constituencies’ contributions to the common wealth declined. That declining fortunes adversely affected citizen’s morale, inclusive of the soldiers, thus the fall of the Roman Empire. Centuries after, the Great British Empire would follow that declining trajectory; see The Decline and Fall of the British Empire, (Allen and Co. Ltd, Bocardo Press, Oxford, 2005).
“From the respective fall of both empires we could see that the ‘collect and share wealth’ philosophy, a cardinal attribute of democracy, which only works as long as there is someone else’s money to share, is doomed to eventual collapse. Those receiving are quite pleased with getting something for nothing. But those forced to give are denied the right to spend the benefit of their natural endowments and labour on their own self-interest, which creates jobs no matter how the money is spent. They also lose a portion of their incentive to produce. The result is that democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy. This historical lesson must have moved another US founding father, Benjamin Franklin, to define democracy in these graphic words ‘two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.’”
Conclusively, therefore, the United States of America practises a republican form of government. And since we purportedly imported our present form of governments from the US, it is appropriate to aver that Nigeria aspires to practise republicanism. Thusly, a republican Constitution must necessarily guide her endeavours. Need we state that a more forceful argument cannot be made for reverting to the much-acclaimed 1963 Constitution; and by extension, for Nigeria’s administrative restructuring?
•Nkemdiche, consulting engineer, wrote from Abuja
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