Darkness At Noon: Time To Reason Together


Darkness At Noon: Time To Reason Together

The brightest part of the day is noon time. It will be unexpected and unwelcome to have darkness at noon. It will be an eclipse of glory and sunshine that no one would love to see.

It will be most unfortunate and disastrous for a country that ought to be at noon to be enveloped in total darkness. This is the unfortunate and shameful situation in which Nigeria has found itself.

Nigeria, with a landmass of one million square kilometres and a population of 205 million has found itself tottering between a failed and/or collapsed state. With 20 per cent of the population of Africans, 17 per cent of the population of Black People in the World and 47 per cent of the GDP of Black Africa, Nigeria has suddenly become unable to guarantee the security of lives and property of her citizens.


And this is the country that, not too long ago, provided security and stability in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Lebanon, Cambodia, etc. This was a country that was a frontline country in rescuing South Africa from apartheid. This was a country that had the largest economy in Africa. It was a country that international agencies expected to be one of the four fastest growing economies and one of the largest economies in the World.

Nigeria can no longer feed itself. She cannot power and light her industries and streets. She cannot provide houses nor jobs for her people. She cannot save her people from poverty: physical, financial and, unfortunately, mental poverty. She cannot guarantee peace to her people to live their lives lawfully the way they want. She cannot guarantee peace to her people to worship God the way they want.

In this complete darkness at noon, there is no ray or beacon of light and hope. Nobody is accepting responsibility for errors and mistakes. Nobody is accepting responsibility for charting a path out of the confusion, contradictions and inanities.

In the loud imbecillic chatter, those who are elected in to positions, no longer care nor listen to the people they were elected to represent.

On the contrary, they operate as free agents, responsible to no one. They pass the buck, intimidate the people with the money and money at their disposal. They lock themselves up within their narrow partisan, ethnic, religious confines and behave like an ostrich whose head is buried in the sand while the whole body is exposed to all to see.

We didn’t get to this depth of decadence. It is a cumulative of neglect, incompetence and lack of commitment to the people over the years. It is absolutely true that the 1999 Constitution is a fraud. It is true that the Constitution lied against itself claiming that it was made by WE THE PEOPLE. Are we so dumb that we are just discovering this?

It is true that in 1998, apart from power shift from the North to the South, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) promised a restructuring of Nigeria and a restoration to true federalism. So what happened?

I recall the efforts of the committee set up by the PDP, the All Progressives Party (APP) and the Alliance for Democracy (AD) to produce a new constitution. I recall the efforts and elaborate consultation all over Nigeria by the Jerry Gana Committee. I recall the efforts of the members of the Confab set up by then President Olusegun Obasanjo.

But all these efforts to comprehensively produce a new constitution, not amend the 1999 Constitution, ended and collapsed on the altar of Third Term ambition. A MORE INTELLIGENT AND PEOPLE SENATE WOULD HAVE EXPUNGED THE THIRD TERM CLAUSE AND STILL PROCCEED TO ENACT A NEW CONSTITUTION. That opportunity was lost because the SENATE was driven more by politics of 2007 presidential elections than doing what was needed for the country.

In 2014, President Good luck Jonathan, also of the PDP, set up a National Conference. That Conference had about 600 unanimous resolutions. Going through these resolutions, a more determined government would have, by Executive Orders, implemented about 200 of these resolutions, that were administrative and required no constitutional amendments. The PDP lost the opportunity to redeem its pledge to restructure Nigeria and restore true federalism.

In 16 years, the PDP did not deliver on its promises. It certainly did not guarantee true democracy and federalism to the people of Nigeria. The people chose to kick out the PDP and voted in the All Progressives Congress (APC), a party, that for political reasons, refused to take part in the National Conference. The people preferred the APC that sacrificed the National Conference on the altar of partisan political preferences.

Perhaps, the voters relied on the fact that the APC also promised a restructuring just as the party made promises on national security. The people also trusted on the much vaunted integrity of President Muhammadu Buhari, and were sure that he would do a restructuring that the PDP could not do.

When the APC set up the Nasir el-Rufai Committee on Restructuring, the people had their high hopes. They were shocked when the leadership of the party and its government would ask, what does restructuring mean?

Nigeria is in this darkness at noon because of the total lack of commitment by all the politicians across political parties to the optimum good for the maximum number of. Their priority is based on winning elections and getting the spoils of office. They have no interest in restoring the true federalism that made the performances of Azikiwe/Okpara, Awolowo and Sardauna still unsurpassed.

Nigeria is in this darkness because our democracy has failed to produce good leaders. Our democracy has only given us the best president we never had. It is true that free elections produced the worst dictators in the world. Free elections produced Hitler in Germany and Mussolini in Italy. It is not strange that Nigeria chose to produce a succession of local despots, domestic tyrants and ill-equipped leaders. Why has our own democracy not produced the likes of F.D. ROOSEVELT, WINSTON CHURCHILL, LEE KUAN YEW?

The Way Out

First, it is time for all of us to accept that we are guilty and vicariously liable for contemporary darkness and rottenness. Those of us in the PDP, whose non-performance and dwindling effectiveness led to the emergence of contemporary darkness, are guilty. Those of us in the APC, the New PDP, media, pro-democracy and human rights organisations that packaged contemporary darkness as the best option for Nigeria are equally guilty.

We need to apologise and repent. We need to, as Chief Obafemi Awolowo said in his last interview on earth, EXORCISE the evil in us. According to Awolowo, the 1000-2000 political leaders NEED TO EXORCISE THE EVIL IN THEIR MINDS AND HEARTS for the country to be what it should be.

Secondly, President Buhari or the Presidency must constitute a NATIONAL DIALOGUE that will produce an autochtonous true people’s Constitution, that will be ratified by the people in a referendum. This process will be fruitful, easy and positive because the exorcism would have removed all the ethnic, religious, partisan and ego blinkers and loyalties.

Thirdly, we must overhaul our political recruitment process so that our First 11 will always occupy positions. Merit, competence and character must not take back seats in political recruitment. The best constitution with incompetent evil operators will get Nigeria no where,

President Buhari can still be the greatest living Nigerian, if he or the Presidency will initiate, today, the process that will produce the PEOPLE’S CONSTITUTION.



•Ambassador Farounbi OON, former Nigerian Ambassador to the Philipines and an elder statesman, writes from Ibadan.