Contending voices on the future of Nigeria are establishing their ranking order on the streets of the country’s major capitals, particularly Abuja, Lagos, Abeokuta and Ibadan. The 28th anniversary of the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential polls provides the opportunity for the test of strength in which the police are battling one group of protesters but, impliedly, in approval of those chanting ‘sai Baba’, a positive reference to President Muhammadu Buhari in Hausa language.
Protesters are out to push the message of dissatisfaction with what exists in spite of the government’s dramatic come-down in favour of amending the constitution although what is to be amended from what exists to what remain unclear. To that extent, those who interpret Buhari’s idea of his willingness to play a major role in the process without usurping the role of the National Assembly thereto to mean that the debate over reform has been won by its protagonists would not be wrong. However, the question of what are being amended and how remain undefined.
While the organising concept driving the debate is restructuring, there is yet to emerge a consensus on what the concept refers to. Is it re-territorialising Nigeria along ethnic cum cultural identities or just devolution of power? If it is re-territorialising, how would each ethnic group guarantee invulnerability to infiltration from other such identities in an age of deterritorialisation? If it is all about devolution, what is anybody’s guarantee against the emergence and consolidation of power by local emperors, god-fathers and tin-gods?
This is the point some sections of the radical constituency such as the Amilcar Cabral Ideological School, (ACIS) emphasise but ACIS is not a dominant centre of power in Left politics in Nigeria. Mainstream Left politics in Nigeria is still dominated by a materialist interpretation of History outlook rather than a discursive sense of History that would have enabled it to develop a radical, subversive narrative of even ethnicity, for example, to the point of making such narrative a rallying point for an irresistible coalition against political parties that are no more than a shell of themselves in Nigeria now. In the absence of such a Left force, it is speculated that ethnic platforms such as Afenifere, Northern Elders Forum, Middle Belt Forum, Ohanaeze Ndigbo will, along a few NGOs, continue to define the terms of national politics but in mostly very essentialist monologues that can precipitate inter-group disaster before anyone knows.
It is strongly feared that the high level of trans-ethnic interaction that has sustained Nigeria in spite of tremendous enemy images and complicit media narratives of citizenship might have begun to wane under the combined weight of what has become popularly known as President Buhari’s nepotism. How long whatever is left of that before Armageddon strikes is what no one can be sure of in the face of total collapse of leadership training schools and collapse of values in crucial national institutions that were hitherto the bulwark against the volume of insularity and parochialism.
All these after 16 years of the People’s Democratic Party, (PDP) and six years of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) cannot but be a big question tend to be a big question mark for politics and political leadership in Nigeria!