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Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
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Nigeria – A Broken and Failed State: The Solution

A clear distinction must be made between the people and the state in Nigeria. The people are not the problem; it is the state that is broken. Metaphorically speaking, the state-mobile is kaput: Brakes don’t work; the engine leaks oil; the tyres are flat; the battery is dead and the headlights are broken. In other words, the brake system, electrical system as well as other systems in the vehicle do not do what they are supposed to do. Add to this scenario, a bad driver and one can well imagine the double-trouble.

Similarly, a failed state is where the institutions of the state do not work or fail to do what they are supposed to do. They do not provide reliable supply of electricity, clean water, sanitation, health care or other basic social services and infrastructure. Neither do the police and military officers provide security or peace. Judges are often on the take and members of the National Assembly are more interested in giving themselves hefty salary increases and emoluments than serving the people. Lawlessness is the order of the day because the police either can’t enforce the law or are themselves law-breakers.

Even under the so-called democratic dispensation following the election of President Obasanjo, police and security forces carried out attacks on the media to avenge perceived criticism or to uphold directives given to them by state authorities — despite the fact that freedom of expression and of the media is guaranteed by the CONSTITUTION. In 2004, a wave of intimidation and brutal attacks on the press spread across the country. None of the perpetrators were brought to justice. A few examples taken from the 2004 World Press Freedom Review:

• A correspondent for the African Independent Television (AIT) station, Joseph Nafoh, was assaulted on 27 March by a group of men allegedly acting on orders from Boniface Kobani, a councillorship candidate for the People´s Democratic Party (PDP) in southern Nigeria. While trying to capture incidents of multiple voting and electoral fraud on film, Nafoh was attacked and his camera was taken before police officers at the polling centre. The police did not attempt to arrest the attackers. Nafoh´s camera was returned to the AIT office on 29 March by State Commissioner for Information Magnus Abbey, but his tape had been removed.

• On 25 June, a group of policemen in Osun State, southwestern Nigeria, beat Gbenga Faturoti of the Daily Independent newspaper almost to the point of unconsciousness. O. C. Agboromoti, an assistant superintendent of police at the Osun State parliament ordered officers to attack the journalist. Faturoti was beaten because he had not turned off his mobile phone while reporting at the House of Assembly. After being slapped in the face, manhandled and dragged from the building he was arrested and detained for several hours.

• Kola Oyelere, a correspondent for the privately owned Nigerian Tribune in Kano State, northwestern Nigeria was arrested by police on 4 July and charged with publishing false information after the publication of a story entitled “Panic in Kano? As Fresh Crisis Looms.” Before he was arrested, he was declared, “wanted” by the police and charged under six sections of the penal code. Oyelere said that while in police custody he was repeatedly beaten and tortured and was refused access to his medication for typhoid fever. On 8 July, he was released by Kano police and the charges against him dropped.

• On 9 July, two journalists, Lawson Heyford of The Source and Okafor Ofiebor of The News were arrested and detained for their alleged association with Pastor Joe Alatoru, who had accused two senior police officers of taking bribes from him. Police officers from the Rivers State Security Agency’s Special Operations Squad (SOS) arrested the three individuals and told them they would face trial for trying to frame two police officers. The journalists were detained for over 18 hours before the charges against them were dropped. While little explanation was offered as to why the journalists had been detained in the first place, the Media Foundation for West Africa condemned the arrest as an example of the abuse of power that police authorities use whenever a news report threatens them in any way.

Source: http://www.freemedia.at/wpfr/Africa/nigeria.htm

These incidents can be multiplied a hundred-fold. But the police and SSS were not alone. Politicians, controlled by powerful and corrupt god-fathers also took the law into their own hands and used their own private militias or hired thugs to manhandled or kill political opponents. On Nov 10, 2004, two public radio stations in the southeastern state of Anambra were vandalized and torched. The conflict began when supporters of State Governor Chris Ngige interrupted a meeting of supporters of a rival local politician Chris Uba. Fighting ensued between the two groups and later that night over 100 pro-Uba supporters stormed public radio stations in two separate communities and attacked staff members. They tied up and beat the staff before setting fire to the studios. There have been hundreds of such incidents of violence which plagued the country as people were incited by politicians to aggressively challenge opposing political leaders.

According to a 2007 Human Rights Watch Report, the real sources of power in Nigeria have been the wealthy political godfathers who finance an epidemic of election-related violence that killed at least 300 people in the flawed election in 2007. Electoral rules were openly flouted and ballots were no match for the bullets of the gangs hired by politicians to rig the vote.

“The conduct of many public officials and government institutions is so pervasively marked by violence and corruption as to more resemble criminal activity than democratic governance,” the report said. It spelt out in stark detail the contracts made between politicians seeking office and the rich kingmakers who back them in exchange for kickbacks from government coffers. It also described the brutal means used by criminal gangs to sway elections, including intimidation and assassination, in the 2003 and 2007 elections, both of which were marked by violence, fraud and administrative incompetence. For example,

“One state covered in the report, Anambra in the southeast, offered a particularly explicit example of the intersection of godfather politics and gang violence. In Anambra, Chris Uba, a powerful chieftain in the People’s Democratic Party, once boasted of personally placing virtually every elected official in office.
The report includes a copy of a contract signed by Mr. Uba and his protégé Chris Ngige, who won the governor’s race in 2003 with Mr. Uba’s financial backing. Mr. Ngige promised in the contract to “exercise and manifest absolute loyalty to the person of Chief Chris Uba as my mentor, benefactor and sponsor” and gave Mr. Uba control over many appointments and the awarding of all government contracts.
The document refers to Mr. Ngige as the “Administrator” and to Mr. Uba as “Leader/Financier.” It empowered Mr. Uba to “avenge himself in the way and manner adjudged by him as fitting and adequate” if Mr. Ngige failed to live up to the bargain.
Mr. Uba fell out with Mr. Ngige soon after the election and tried several times to remove him. Mr. Ngige signed a letter of resignation with a gun to his head in July 2003, the report says. Neither Mr. Uba nor Mr. Ngige could immediately be reached for comment.
A court later threw out Mr. Ngige’s resignation, but in 2006 the Federal Court of Appeal ruled that he had been elected fraudulently, and his opponent from 2003, Peter Obi, was installed as governor.

In the 2007 election, Mr. Uba arranged for his brother, Andy, a close adviser to Obasanjo, the former president, to win the party’s primary as nominee for governor, using a feared street gang known as the Buccaneers to clear voters from polling stations while gang members marked the ballots. “In the primaries we carried axes and machetes and chased away any voters that came near while we were voting,” one member of the Buccaneers told Human Rights Watch.
“The authors of Anambra’s worst abuses — including murder, illegal possession of weapons and the wholesale rigging of the 2007 electoral process in the state — continue to enjoy complete impunity for their crimes,” the report contends. Similar political arrangements involving godfathers, politicians and gangs were detailed in the report in three other states, including regions in the largely Muslim north, the oil-rich Niger Delta and the restive southwest, home to the Yoruba people.
Little has changed since then: An Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, chieftain and four others were on July 21, 2012 caught with stuffed ballot boxes in Remo North Local Government, Ogun State, Southwest Nigeria. They were allegedly intercepted at ward 01, Ishara by the Nigerian police.

The Crux of Nigeria’s Problems

The crux of Nigeria’s myriad of problems stems from complete break-down or absence of the rule of CONSTITUTIONAL law and total government dysfunction. It seems no one follows the Constitution. Politicians don’t; neither do the police or even President Goodluck Jonathan, who doesn’t “give a damn” about the Constitution. Any aggrieved person or group can take the law into their own hands and wreak vengeance or havoc and settle scores. It is like driving on the road without any TRAFFIC LAW. The ensuing result is the chaos, wanton carnage and deaths we are all witnessing.

The obvious solution is to enforce the law. ALL must obey the same traffic law; that is, ALL, regardless of tribe, religion, creed or gender must obey the same CONSTITUTIONAL LAW. State institutions – the Executive, Legislature, Judiciary and everybody else must respect and obey the Constitution. It is a socio-political contract between the state and the people. It defines the functions of the state and the rights of the people. But, above all, underlying the Constitution is a set of beliefs and principles such as freedom, equality and justice that unite a people. For example, what unites Americans is the concept of liberty.

I began these series by pointing out the necessity of having laws in society – just as traffic laws are needed on the road. Six laws may be distinguished: Natural, contractual, statutory, customary, religious, and constitutional laws. Customary law is the cord that keeps a tribal society together. Similarly, the Constitution is the yarn that weaves the fabric of a modern nation together.

Let me ask you this: What keeps Nigeria together? The color green? The flag? Religion? Tribe? What? The obvious answer should be the Constitution that enunciates a set of beliefs and principles ALL Nigerians believe in. But if nobody follows the Constitution then there is nothing that holds Nigeria together. In this case the country could disintegrate into a failed state because, in the absence of constitutional law, other types of laws – tribal, religious (the sharia) and even gangster law – emerge to fill the vacuum. Nigeria’s problems are not due to tribalism, religion, nepotism, or even corruption. They are merely symptoms of a disease. The root cause of that disease is lack of CONSTITUTIONALISM. The Constitution comes before tribe, religion, gender and anything else. The Constitution should be the supreme law of the land; it is above all and trumps all laws.

The destruction of Nigeria began under 29 years of arrant misrule by MILITARY vagabonds and bandits, who suspended the Constitution and ruled by decree. No Nigerian should ever ever forget that. Worse, the transition to democracy managed by military coconuts was a sham and what obtains today is fake constitutional rule.

How to Fix Nigeria

Fixing Nigeria would require major structural and institutional reform. Like a broken down vehicle, the brake system, electrical system and other systems must be repaired. Similarly, Nigeria’s state institutions must be cleaned up – the executive, the legislature, the judiciary, law enforcement, etc. The blueprint for doing so is the Constitution. The 1999 Constitution is flawed; for example, Section 308 that grants immunity from prosecution to state governors and the president needs to be repealed. A new constitution will obviously be needed and will have to clip the powers of the presidency, the executive and establish some checks and balances between the legislature and the judiciary. In addition, it will have to restructure the state – from the unitary state to a federal or confederal in which there is much greater decentralization of power and devolution of authority. It must also establish a permanent Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime, where all cases of corruption – petty or grand – shall be reported. This Directorate must be independent of the Executive; that is, the director cannot be appointed by the president. It must have its own budget and must be relatively autonomous in order to do its work. It shall report to Parliament. The Directorate should also seek to recover loot worth over $1 trillion that corrupt politicians have stashed abroad. Botswana has established such a Directorate successfully: http://bit.ly/JrexdM

Institutional Reform

Though Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution is flawed, the institutions it established can be made to perform better. In fact, all human rights violations, vapid cases of corruption and poor governance emanate from the absence or non-performance of the following 7 key institutions:

1. An autonomous National Assembly, that provides oversight over the Executive and thus checks and balances,
2. A free and independent media to ensure free flow of information. Smart strategy would privatize the state-owned media – especially the radio. It is the medium of the masses and has such power.
3. An independent judiciary is essential for the rule of law. Supreme Court judges in Nigeria, for example, may be rotated within a region.
4. An independent Electoral Commission that is made up of representatives of all political parties, not just packed with government appointees.
5. An independent central bank: to assure monetary and economic stability, as well as stanch capital flight.
6. The establishment of a neutral and professional armed and security forces to protect the people and not fire on them or protect the bandits in office.
7. An efficient and professional civil service, which will implement policies and deliver essential social services to the people professionally and not on the basis of ethnicity, religion or political affiliation.

The first six are the requirements for a functioning democracy. The two great anti-dotes against corruption are an independent media and an independent judiciary. And all seven are critical in ensuring “good governance.” The United Nations defines it as the process of decision-making and the process by which decision are implemented (or not implemented). “It has 8 major characteristics: It is participatory, consensus oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive and follows the rule of law. It assures that corruption is minimized, the views of minorities are taken into account and that the voices of the most vulnerable in society are heard in decision-making. It is also responsive to the present and future needs of society” (http://www.unescap.org/pdd/prs/ProjectActivities/Ongoing/gg/governance.asp),

Since “god governance” is extremely difficult to define, perhaps an analogy would help in grasping te concept. One may not like the shape, style or color of a car but ALL cars must have an electrical system, brake system, cooling system, suspension system, transmission system, etc. Each system is INDEPENDENT of the others and has a SPECIFIC function to play. You cannot mismatch them by asking, for example, the brake system to serve as steering. When all systems are operating normally, the car is said to be in GOOD WORKING CONDITION.

Similarly, a Constitution may not be perfect but ALL Constitutions specify or have institutions such as parliament, the judiciary, the executive, civil service, etc. Each institution has a specific function to serve and institutions are to society what systems are to a car. When ALL the institutions of society are working well and doing what they are supposed to do professionally and efficiently, then GOOD GOVERNANCE is said to prevail.

To work well, each institution has its own internal control mechanism – or “code” — to police and cleanse itself. For example, the civil service has the civil service code and then there are the military code, the police code, bar code and even academic code. The codes enjoin members of that particular institution to uphold certain professional and ethical standards. Some of these codes can be found in the Constitution. For example, the civil service and police codes debar civil servants and police officers from taking bribes. Thus, to deal with such cases of petty corruption, the codes need to be enforced. It is pointless to punish bribe takers without enforcing the codes. Similarly and more generally, institutional reform can be achieved by simply enforcing the respective codes of the various institutions.

When an institution is dysfunctional, you do NOT ask the president to fix it because that violates the separation of powers. A “conflict of interest” is involved since you cannot ask the president to reform an institution that is supposed to check his arbitrary use of power. Besides, each institution is supposed to cleanse itself. For example, if a judge is corrupt, you do NOT ask the president to sack him. The judiciary is supposed to be independent of the executive. Go to the Judiciary Commission, ask it to enforce its own code and sack the corrupt judge.

NOTE: Separation of powers and checks and balances require INDEPENDENT institutions. All three go together. If your institutions are subject to control by the Executive or political interference, then they are weak and not independent. If your institutions are not independent, then you do NOT have separation of powers and checks and balances in your political system.
Recall the statement by President Barak Obama in Accra in July 2009: “Africa doesn’t need strong men; it needs strong institutions.” Strong men do NOT build strong institutions. The strength of an institution is determined by how professional and efficient that institution is, which depends upon how it enforces its own CODE. For the Government of Tanzania to set up a Ministry of Good Governance reflects total and complete lack of understanding of the concept.

The purpose of having checks and balances is to ensure that one center of power does not careen recklessly out of control. If the Executive acts recklessly, Parliament can impeach the president or remove him with a “no confidence” vote. Or if Parliament acts irresponsibly, the president can dissolve it and call for fresh elections. And if Parliament passes a law that is outrageous, the Supreme Court can throw out that law as “unconstitutional.” This is what is meant by checks and balances.

Most countries in Africa flunk the three key tests for democracy – a freely-negotiated constitution, separation of powers and checks and balances. Even some of the 14 democratic countries in Africa in 2012 do NOT pass these tests. They are: Benin, Botswana, Cape Verde Islands, Ghana, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Kenya, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia.

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s annual democracy index ranks only one African country, Mauritius, as “full” democracy, though it uses tough criteria that count countries ike much praised Botswana as “flawed” democracies” (The Economist, March 31 – April 6, 2012; p.57). In Ghana, for example, the president appoints the Speaker of Parliament, all the Supreme Court Judges, the Governor of the Central Bank, the Electoral Commissioner, the Inspector General of Police, among others. This absurdity not only violates the principle of separation of powers but also obliterates any checks and balances in the system. Cameroon, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and host of other countries do not meet these tests.

It is absolutely important to stress that these concepts – a freely negotiated constitution, separation of powers and checks and balances – are not new or alien to Africa. They are all embedded in our traditional political system.

The three units of government at the village level are: The Chief, the Council of Elders and the Village Assembly. These three centers of power are all independent and separate from each other. There are checks and balances in that system. The Chief cannot remove a Councilor but he can be removed from office by the Council of Elders and Councilors themselves can be removed by the people. In the larger polities, confederation was the common form of political organization. Confederation entails decentralization power and devolution of authority, which means multiple centers of power that are separate and independent. There are checks and balances in that system too. The most elaborate can be found in the Oyo Empire, which was in existence even before the US gained its independence in 1776. For more on the Oyo Empire, see this link: http://bit.ly/IDkJBh

It should be obvious by now that bad vehicles produce bad drivers. Similarly, bad constitutions produce bad leaders and bad governance. Any constitution that concentrates enormous unchecked power in the hands of one person will produce a tyrant. And a constitution that does that has no checks and balances because it subordinates the other institutions – for example, the legislature and the judiciary – under the executive.

Each institution is supposed to be on “auto-pilot,” cleansing itself to ensure that it is working well. If not, the public can get involved to make sure that the institutions do what they are supposed to do. For example, in this day and age, mobile phones with cameras are everywhere. Snap pictures of police officers taking bribes and present them to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to punish the bribe takers for violating the Police Code. If the IGP repeatedly fails to do so, agitate continuously for his sacking. This approach is “focused”; it provides evidence and targets the IGP to solve a problem within his jurisdiction. The same approach – focused pressure — can be applied by civil society with respect to cleaning up the National Assembly, the judiciary, etc.

Just as each institution is required to police itself, the government as an entity too is required to do so through this process. The government has a Comptroller-Accountant-General, Auditor-General and Attorney-General. These are the 3 key officials to target in the war against corruption. Each year, the Comptroller-Accountant-General is required by law or the constitution to submit an accounting report of all government expenditures, both at home and abroad in the embassies. This report must be submitted to the Auditor-General within a specified period of time. The Auditor-General goes through the expense account with a fine comb, noting suspicious payments, financial irregularities and malfeasance. For example, suppose he noticed that $40 million has been spent by the Ministry of Education to build three classroom blocks. He may query this in the Auditor-General’s Report. The Auditor-General’s Report must, within 90 days, be submitted to three key entities: the President, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the National Assembly (Parliament) and the Attorney-General. Upon receipt, the PAC may haul in the Minister of Education to explain how his ministry spent $40 million on three classroom blocks. If the Minister is unable to answer satisfactorily and PAC suspects embezzlement, it may refer the case to the Attorney-General for prosecution and recovery of the loot. Then the Attorney-General hands the case over to the State Prosecutor to seek conviction in court. In a federal system like Nigeria, exactly the same mechanism is replicated at the State level. There are the State Comptroller-Accountant-General, State Auditor-General, State Attorney-General and Public Accounts Committee in the State Legislature.

Fortunately, the normal cleansing system is beginning to work in Ghana and Tanzania. In Ghana, the 2010 Auditor-General’s Report was duly produced and submitted. A sharp-eyed MP, Hon Ken Agyapong, noticed that a huge sum of GH¢58 million or $37 million had been paid to one individual, Alfred Woyome, a self-acclaimed financier of the ruling party, as judgment debt when he had no contract with the government. The MP began asking questions that ultimately led to the eruption of the “Woyome corruption scandal.” To make matters worse, the Auditor-General attempted to correct what he claimed were errors in his report: That only GH¢17 million, and not GH¢58 million was paid to Mr. Woyome in 2010. But Mr. Woyome himself said GH¢58 million was paid to him. So who was telling the truth? Could the Attorney-General, Betty Mould-Iddrisu help? It turned out that it was she who put pressure on the Finance Ministry to pay the judgment debt. At first, the President, John Atta-Mills, claimed he knew nothing about the payment to Mr. Woyome. Then, later, he said he tried to stop the payment on two occasions. Suddenly, cabinet was reshuffled and the embattled Attorney-General became the Minster of Education and Martin Amidu became the Attorney-General. But the heat was getting too hot. The new Attorney-General, in a news conference claimed some senior members of the ruling party were beneficiaries of the Woyome largesse. He was immediately fired; later, Betty Mould-Idrisu, the former Attorney-General, resigned. There are calls for the Auditor-General too to resign. Presently, Woyome is on bail as his case winds through the courts. Hopefully, the loot will be recovered.

Tanzania is another country that is beginning to do things right. The Auditor-General Report was released on time and the media had a field day: http://bit.ly/HMEiWW The cost of bloated government bureaucracy and financial malfeasance were scandalous. Irate MPs on the Public Accounts Committee demanded action: http://bit.ly/IdDOu8. The public outcry forced the president, Jakaya Kikwete, to act by sacking six ministers on May 4, 2012::

• Mustapha Mkulo, minister of finance
• William Ngeleja, minister of energy and minerals
• Ezekiel Maige, minister of tourism
• Omari Nundu, minister of transport
• Haji Mponda, minister of health
• Cyril Chami, minister of industry and trade

The “ministry of energy, which oversees the lucrative mining sector, and ministry of tourism – two of the major revenue generators for the government, were criticized most in the Controller and Auditor General’s annual report” (BBC News Africa, May 4, 2012). The sacked ministers should be prosecuted and the loot recovered.

Parliament too must obey the Constitution. In Ghana, it acted wrongly in July 2008 when it ratified a Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA) on the sale of Ghana Telecom to Vodafone without the President’s signature. http://bit.ly/M7QVBh. Finally, Nigeria’s Supreme Court is awakening to enforce the CONSTITUTION. What took it so long? http://bit.ly/Mmb5Uz

In short, there would be good governance if everyone follows the Constitution and each institution does what it is supposed to do under the Constitution.



1. kingsiju ...the positive phenomenon! - August 7, 2012

Reblogged this on kingsiju and commented:
“…. A clear distinction must be made between the people and the state in Nigeria. The people are not the problem; it is the state that is broken…” you cant miss this!


2. Emma - August 7, 2012

Nigeria masses are not the problem but the constitution system structure and those in the affair of the government. Nigeria a failure. Failed Nation.


3. Baba - August 8, 2012

Indeed a failed State, and weak Government.


4. jooda - August 8, 2012

God bless Ў☺ΰ sir! With people like Ў☺ΰ, Africa has hope.


5. Show All Reviews - July 10, 2013

Good information. Lucky me I discovered your website by chance (stumbleupon).
I have saved it for later!


6. Use the contents of my clipboard - July 10, 2013

I tend not to leave a leave a response, but after browsing a few of the comments
(VIII) by Prof @ayittey | A New Nigeria. I do have 2 questions for you if you don’t mind. Is it only me or do some of the remarks appear like they are coming from brain dead folks? 😛 And, if you are writing at other online sites, I’d like to follow you.
Could you post a list of every one of all your social
networking pages like your linkedin profile,
Facebook page or twitter feed?


seunfakze - July 21, 2013


I am more active on Twitter than other pages. Mt twitter handle is @seunfakze



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