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Salvaging the Ruins of the Nation: By Joe Etokudor

No matter how individuals wish that history must be written according to their wishes, it is an eternal truth that writers of history do not sit on a common classroom. From one end of the earth to another, human actions and inactions especially by the politically visible and documented in ways those generations are able to read and make up their minds. Every human society has an inherent capacity for self rejuvenation. Be that as it may, it is pointless denying that nothing in our history could have prepared us for the massive contradictions which continue to explode in our face at every feeble attempt at national salvation. Even though the signs of impending disaster have always loomed large in the horizon, we have preferred to ignore the signs and to hope instead for a miracle. The miracle indeed is how we have lasted so long without calling in receivers with such a huge moral and political overdraft hanging around our necks. But we cannot eternally postpone the fateful knock of history’s bailiff. Only the pathologically deaf among us can miss the harsh impatient rap. The burdens of the defendants are enormous; a military whose espirit de corps has been threatened many times, a political caste that has learnt nothing, a police force that has forcefully resisted reforms and an intelligentia that has lost its intelligence and a prostrate judiciary finally crushed under the gross weight of its own venalities. We cannot, but, be profoundly depressed as we contemplate the vast ruins of our polity.

Any ruling class that has lost its capacity for fostering illusions on the ruled has also lost its capacity for survival. Across vast historical epochs, human societies have been ruled by groups which in the process of furthering their own interests have invariably furthered the overall interest of the society. Thus, the forces of history are borne along under the illusion that the ruling group is acting for universal interest. But our tragedy is that since independence, Nigeria has been ruled in the main, by a group whose interests have never coincided with the national interests. Tragically for this group and perhaps happily for the rest of us, the group now appears to have lost in protecting its interest. Or how else does one explain the disgrace the judiciary, the one arm of the ruling class with the ideological responsibility for fostering the illusion of justice and equality, brought upon itself and the rest of the nation?

A judiciary loses its relevance and authority when rumours begin to circulate among the citizenry about huge amounts of money changing hands for the purpose of influencing decisions on electoral petitions. That judiciary is doomed which aids and abets the gross manipulation and subversion of popular wish. It is only in a relaxed atmosphere of press freedom could the press have had the nerve to publish such a damaging story. And only in an atmosphere of genial indifference could our discredited politicians conduct themselves with such criminal glee. But an administration which has given back a people psychologically impoverished under the harmer of fascism its tongue, ears and eyes must not be surprised if they start singing strange tunes and seeing strange sights.

I hope the Jonathan administration is not unaware of this logic of its historical moment. In some sense, this administration is unlucky to be saddled with the enormous sins of its various forebears. But this situation also affords it the extra ordinary luck of making a clear and clean break with the unedifying past. The central question then is whether the Jonathan regime will fulfill its mission as a mid wife of the new Nigeria or persuade itself into the illusion that there is still some architecture worth salvaging in the old ruins. A new Nigeria, it must be pointed out, is incompatible with the political Bureau as it is structured at present. And the recommendations of the National Conference, it is not an exercise in futility. It is an exercise in the futility of self-delusion. Designed as a talismanic wand against instability, it can only, in reality, encourage such since it can only reproduce the old political system with its leeches and bugs. Such a possibility offends the moral sensibility just as the seeming reluctance to deal with the political crimes of the past regimes. The foundation of a new Nigeria can only be laid after we have cleared the political, moral, economic and judicial debris of the old Nigeria. This is our modest proposal.

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