THE KEYNOTE ADDRESS OF PROF. CHRIS MUSTAPHA NWAOKOBIA JNR ON SEPTEMBER 2, 2017 AT AN EVENT CONVENED BY THE SOWER’S CHOICE, UNDER THE THEME, THE TOUCHLINE.
It is my pleasure to grace this great event as your Keynote Speaker, and indeed great honour to Speak at an event Chaired by a great Statesman with whom I am honoured to share the same first name, CHRISTOPHER, Dr Christopher Kolade. I salute the conveners for a daring topic, one that inspires great faith in the present generation. I’m conversant with the raging debate on our Political Kaleidoscope, our nationhood and unity are the subject of variegated thoughts, prognosis and agitations, which are the valid quid pro quo for years of neglect and decades of running a nation on false feet, false Constitution and false paradigms.
I shall dwell predominantly on RESTRUCTURING, as SECESSION does not cut an ice with me. Haply it does not also mean a lot to its protagonists, as profoundly it appears a bargaining chip for the inevitable, RESTRUCTURING. The call for RESTRUCTURING is one that I have supported body, soul and spirit, but there appears a certain mischief in the socio-political space that must be addressed seriously and didactically, perhaps those are the IN-BETWEENS conjectured by the conveners of this platform.
I have heard the debate that seeks to confuse the narrative, some leaders like our former President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, the present Minister of Information Chief Lai Mohammed et al insist that what we need is the RESTRUCTURING of the mind (whatever that means) and not the RESTRUCTURING of this meddlesome and unwieldy super structure, I DISAGREE, just the same way I disagree with those who think that the balkanization, dismemberment and a possible break up of Nigeria, will be the long sought elixir to the jambalaya of crisis and conflict that trouble our space.
For students of jurisprudence who remember vividly the Hobbesian times when ‘..life was brutal, nasty, selfish and short’, we remember that Laws rather than positive morality gave birth to orderly society. Why do men seek the seemingly easy and lazy way out? Why put the cart before the horse? On what Laws will you predicate your so-called RESTRUCTURING of the mind? Can you grow good values on INJUSTICE and UNJUST Laws? Can you build TRUTH on falsehood?
How can our nation run on a Constitution that is a lie, and you think that that which breeds liars and engenders corruption, should not first be RESTRUCTURED. How? You can’t build something on nothing and expect it to stand. Those who built America, and the Countries of Europe were not the best of men, but men and women who created just, equitable and fair societies through Laws that compelled the worst men and women to respect and fear her institutions. It is about strong institutions not about good or strong men, and strong institutions run by Laws not strong men.
At the heart of our moral decay is a Constitution that is both a lie and fraudulent. At the heart of the pervasive greed in the land is a flawed and greedy super structure that gives the control of just about everything and resources to a meddlesome Centre (Federal Govt). At the root of the villainy, banditry and criminality that tyrannize the space is a Constitution and various legal programmatic that are manifestly unjust, unfair and inequitable. A greedy and power drunk Federal Govt cannot fight corruption.
A structure that steals from her constituents, and turns them to monthly beggars can only corrupt her values, little wonder the Biblical saying ‘If the foundation/structure be destroyed/faulty/flawed what can the righteous/good/restructured minds do?'(emphasis mine). Tell those who worry about how the nation will turn out if we restructure without first restructuring the mind, that there is no such thing as the restructuring of the mind. That it was Laws not positive morality that transformed brutish man to modern civilization. That those who built America and Europe were pirates, slave traders, and predominantly greedy and corruptible individuals, but for a prosperous society they made unto themselves laws to which and before which all men were equal, they created institutions that could punish the strongest and the weakest alike. The law spelt out sanctions for offenders, and created monuments of reference and of deterrence.
Have you wondered why Chinese, Russians, Americans et al remain high on global crime chats whilst their Govts function well, nay with negligible corruption? The answer is simple, fix the structure, and only those who want to serve and make their nation great will seek elective office.
To those who wonder why RESTRUCTURING, the Merriam-Webster dictionary says that that word first used in 1942, means ‘to change the basic organization or structure of (something). And I ask, what else does NIGERIA need right now? To former President Obasanjo, I must urge some penitence, he should lead those who insist on ethical/moral reorientation, and on the ‘Restructuring of the mind’ whatever that means, by first admitting that his gang of Military ‘leaders’ brought us to this sorry trajectory, they messed up our regional federalism and replaced it with an unwieldy and meddlesome Centre. They replaced hard work, industry and healthy competition, with laziness, rent taking and rent seeking. They made greed and mediocrity attractive by outlawing competency and excellence. How you may ask? When Govt took over land, mineral resources and Oil across the Country, and placed herself as Lord and Master to whom the nation must kowtow and genuflect for monthly handouts, laziness, greed and corruption bludgeoned, as the demands of ownership gave way to the corruptive and corruptible praxis of ‘everybody’s property/wealth is nobody’s’.
To fight corruption therefore, we must stop the delusional jargon of mind reset, and return resources to the owners, devolve power to the States, allow true fiscal federalism, and watch the return of the the values of responsible and responsive governance. The day our structure is reworked such that every offender is punished and all Nigerians equal before the Law, the day our States cease to be beggarly adjuncts to the Centre, the day the ORDINARY PEOPLE are truly respected and provided for through the instrumentality of a Peoples Constitution, that day the journey to the Isles of progress and greatness is assured.
THE REALITY BEFORE THE YOUTH IN THE NORTH.
I speak with love from the bottom of my heart. I am concerned that the oligarchy and the self-serving hegemony have refused to remove the blindfold that threatens our generation, seeking to condemn the present and indeed posterity to servitude and mediocrity. Have they told you why they are opposed to RESTRUCTURING? Ask them what happened to the pyramids of groundnut? Ask them what happened to your Hides and Skin? Ask them what happened to your huge agricultural wealth? Ask them why your monstrous mineral deposits are untapped? Ask them why a blessed North, appears entirely dependent on Oil wealth from the South? Ask them why the North is today the breeding ground of beggars and Street urchins in the name of ALMAJIRIS, and why with the highest number of ‘leaders’ in our history, the North has the largest number of unemployed and unemployable youths, and the largest chunk of the poor (TALAKAWAS)? Ask them of what useful benefit has central and centralized Political Power been to the North.
Dare to remind your ‘leaders’, that in the 1st Republic when we had regional autonomy, a lot of your people were not beggars like they are today, that they earned income from agriculture. Tell them that your patriarchs Ahmadu Bello, Tafawa Balewa, Aminu Kano et al, were visionaries who saw the benefits of true federalism, resource control and devolution of power, and supported it. NOW IS THE TIME TO THINK. We have for too long allowed selfish politicians to define our intellectual and moral margins. We have swallowed falsehood and allowed deceit to fester. Hate and chicanery have become the basis of our activism and engagement. We have elected for foes those who suffer the same fate. We threaten those whose lot is as hopeless as ours. Sad. Have you wondered why those you call leaders are opposed to Restructuring? It is not about the welfare of the North. It is not about the wellbeing of the ORDINARY PEOPLE. It is not because they care about you and I. No, it is about them, and their children’s children. It is about the Oil Blocks and Wells they have acquired. It is about the quick monies they make. And it is about a desire to keep us down and hold us hostage perpetually.
The divide in the Nigerian space is really not about North and South. Don’t be deceived, it is not about our Hausaness, Igboness, Yorubaness, Ijawness et al. It is not about the Christian/Muslim dichotomy. And it is certainly not about APC/PMB and PDP/GEJ. Unfortunately that is what the puppeteer wants us to believe. They consistently use creed and clan, region and religion, and Parties and Partisans to blind us against the truth. The truth is that we are involved in a battle between good and evil, between a self-serving political class and the ORDINARY PEOPLE, and between praise singers and truth sayers. That is the truth. How do you believe they love you, when rather than grow the wealth of the North, they make you depend on OIL? THINK!
In the final analysis, I sincerely believe that the challenge before the present generation compels deep introspection, we must learn to rise beyond the blinding dictates of Creed or Clan, we must repudiate the fuzzy preachment of region and religion, we must stop taking sides with, and defending egocentric Political Operators, and we must demand the best deal for the ORDINARY PEOPLE.
I close without an ounce of equivocation on this flawless truism, that RESTRUCTURING will return our country to the path of growth predicated on justice, equity and fairness, that RESTRUCTURING will etiolate the pervasive tension that threatens our collective peace and security, and that RESTRUCTURING shall engender industry, healthy competition and genuine brotherhood across the Niger.
GOD BLESS NIGERIA.
Prof Chris Mustapha Nwaokobia Jnr. Convener, COUNTRYFIRST MOVEMENT.