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Falcon can no longer hear the falconer – Part 2


Buhari presides over the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) Meeting. Photo: TWITTER/NIGERIAGOV

Continued from yesterday
The two postulates are the theory of “centralised federalism” and the theory of federalism, strictosenso. Between the two theories, there can ultimately be no compromise. What has been occasioned by the dominance, though ominously, of the theory of “centralisedfederalism” in Nigeria has been a siege economy, a curbed and subservient judiciary, and a regulated press – a manifesting variant of which is the attempt to muzzle the social media.

Centralised federalism is positioned to impose uniformity on the whole nation in the interest of a false claim of ensuring uniform development. It will distrust all forms or any form of eccentricity and distinction. It will crush local autonomy. It will dictate the structure, form and content of education. It will corrupt or take advantage of religion. It will depend greatly on a fictive voters’ list or voter register even as a tiny minority elects the “representatives” of the people relying on the apathy of the rest as a passport to office. This is already happening. It has however been accentuated by the insistence of the present APC government not to abide by the verbiage of its published manifesto freely drawn up by itself to return the country to a true federal state on assumption of office in 2015. But the complacency of the APC government is misplaced as time will tell. Centralised federalism is in itself a misnomer. It is, in fact, a contradiction in terms regarding the true meaning and intendment of federalism. What the government is practising as “federalism” offends or affronts the instructed conscience of all who recognize the original purpose of the choice of federalism for Nigeria’s diverse peoples.


Since about 1999, the demand for the practice of true federalism has been on the front burner. The emphasis has been on welfare and social reform as more and more people come to recognise that all is not well. The Nigerian society is not stable. Whole geographical units are showing signs of wishing to opt out. Organised minorities clamour to be heard and what they cannot win by the ballot box, they seek to extract by violence. Nigerian society is sorely divided as never before.

It is proposed here that the Buhari government should, as a matter of urgency, recognise that Nigeria’s attenuated links are further weakening. In place of diversity the government is foisting uniformity on the people; in place of equality, it is pursuing the policy of the divine right of a section of the community; in place of the requirement to protect the rights of minorities and the individual, it is preaching the rights and privileges of a fictive majority population. As an alternative to the rule of law, it propounds regulation. What is prescribed here now is for the government to recognise limits beyond which government must not go. The ways and means by which it can be compelled to observe those limits are suggested to be within the purview of the people. In place of the present concentration of power, power should be diffused. This will confer rights of self-government on previously-ignored entities. Above all, it corresponds with the general conscience of mankind. It must be borne in mind that individuals and minorities have rights against constituted authority, even when it is elected by universal franchise.


In closing, we draw a parallel between the siege of Nigeria’s territory by alien elements and the curious frenzied efforts to reconstruct the history of Ilorin in the pantheon of Yoruba ancient or legendary towns vis-a-vis the true, authenticated or recorded history of that conveniently-misunderstood human settlement. Beleaguered Afonja, as Aare OnaKakanfo and traditional ruler of Ilorin had rebelled against his principal, the Alaafin of Oyo. He sought to deny the suzerainty of Alaafin or take instruction from him. To perfect his rebellion, he enlisted the support of Alimi, a peripatetic Fulani and Islamic preacher. He was reputed to be a potent medicine man too. Alimi helped to beef up Afonja’s army with a detachment of brave infantry men from Sokoto. Together, they successfully warded off the Alaafin’s advancing army. In all these, Afonja had under advice sought refuge away from his throne. He fell for Alimi’s subterfuge to stay away to await the announcement of victory. At the conclusion of the military operation, Alimi seized the throne declaiming Afonja’s right to the stool. The “fleeing” Afonja was not fit to continue as ruler. Afonja was killed as he insisted on his mandate. Alimi became the first Emir (a culturally irrelevant title in Yorubaland) of Ilorin.

Those who invite foreigners and outsiders to come and fight their battles run the risk not only of insurgency but of the shame of a crisis of identity even as they become quislings for the external forces. The falconer has lost his authority to recall the falcon from its perfidy.


Rotimi-John, a lawyer and commentator on public affairs wrote vide


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