Saturday, November 19, 2011
NIGERIANS MUST DISCARD OLD THINKING - BOLA TINUBU
"Mandatory rotation of elective positions in Nigeria is an affront to democracy and places us further down the road of selection rather than election. It exalts mediocrity and access over talent and worth. This type of mind-set is what had fed the anachronistic and false distinction between indigenes and settlers that has cost so many lives, destroyed so many communities and marred our national identity. We must apply the constitutional guarantees in this kind of situation. If we must deploy tanks and armed soldiers for peace, we have already lost something.
After the civil war, the military sought to re-fashion Nigeria in its own centralist image. They thought the way to manage the country’s diversity was to bury it under the suffocating control of an all-powerful centre. By imposing a unitary state on a naturally federal society, the military sought to substitute a chaotic diversity with imposed uniformity, which they thought was necessary to promote order and development. Unfortunately, all the supposedly democratic dispensations since the civil war have substantially mirrored the over-centralised and unduly bureaucratic military political cultures. The consequence of this rigid model retards pluralism rather than advancing it. The Nigerian state thus presents the baffling paradox of appearing at once so powerful when protecting the narrow interests of the elite, yet so fragile in providing the barest services of a modern nation to the bulk of the populace.
Nigeria is run like a closely held private corporation with a revolving ownership. While the leaders may change, one thing remains constant. Those who run the corporation, run it solely for their own benefit. A nation that does not respect pluralism and the diversity of its own people can never achieve her full potential. A disregard for pluralism means a disregard for the peculiarities of citizens. Any nation that operates with such herdsman mentality will only end up diminishing itself. To free ourselves of the old mental shackles, we must discard old thinking. We cannot do this by talking as we have talked before. The problem is that we have not produced an alternative world view. People must think and act on something. Before they leave the old, you must offer them the new, which is superior or more preferable. The nation that we model our government on has a saying, ‘from many, one’ to signify America’s unity. We have distorted this fine saying in our own regard. Our motto has become ‘from many, even more.
The progressives want to change the way we interact politically and economically to bring greater democracy and economic development. The conservatives believe in the status quo, hence have gotten us into this hole. The progressives believe in the development of new ideas and its operationalisation. I believe when the progressives win power, they will be able to lift Nigeria out of the hole by turning our riotous diversity into cooperative pluralism. No more the lack of continuity in development planning which has seen different governments enunciate different and often confusing socio-economic policies." (Culled from speech delivered by Bola Tinubu at the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos, Plateau State.)