Nigerians are yet to leave the shadow of military rule – Don


Lorine Emenike

As Nigeria marks two decades of civilian/ Democratic rule this year, a university professor, Dr Benet Ozuoma Oluwene, the acting head of the department of political science in the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Port Harcourt has said the governance being practised in Nigeria is called “Militocracy”.

Dr Oluwemen noted that Nigerians are yet to leave the shadows of the military regime.

The academic while granting an interview to TPCN reporter in his office in Port Harcourt blamed the executive arm of government and the political elites in the country of imposing and enacting their selfish aggrandizement rather than considering national interest in governance.

He said ” We have not started so far as I am concerned. The three arms of government especially the judiciary have been trying their best, the legislatures are caged by the executive both at the federal and state level. We only had a bit of democratic government during the time of Obasanjo, when people like Chuba Okadigbo were at the helm of affairs at the National Assembly, they try to entrench the democratic norms but our military mentality did not see it so. They were criticizing that arm of government, which is the legislative arm, that they were confrontational. You know when you insist on your right and you want people to do the right thing, you are either wicked or confrontational. Because of the long years military took over in this country, people do not know that the first arm of government is the legislature.

“They make policies which the executives ought to implement, but what we are seeing in Nigeria is the reverse. The executives will tell the legislatures what to do, then the legislatures will say it is confrontational. How many bills have been passed so far by the national assembly, the executives refused to assent to and the national assembly kept quiet, instead of invoking the third majority and why I said that they are not performing, when issues like that come up they will no longer view it as a national policy, they will rather view it as a party policy and some that supported the bill earlier will decline and say that they are just supporting the party rule. Are they now representing parties or national interest? That is part of the reasons why I say that they are failures, the executive is the cause of these problems.

“The law says when an arm of government, which is the legislature or judiciary that interprets the law is interpreting good or bad since it has been a pronouncement, what you do is to appeal but since it has been to the final court, you have to obey. You obey before complain, but in Nigeria here, they will disobey a court order. I am not holding brief for those that have been granted bail that they are good or bad, the executive ought to obey court orders. People like Dasuki and so many orders like Nnamdi Kalu were all granted bail but the executive refused to release Dasuki, Dasuki have been there for a number of years now. Several calls have been made from Nigerians to grant him bail. That is why when Nnamdi Kanu was granted bail, as soon as he got the opportunity he had to elope”

Continuing, Dr Oluwene also condemned the manner with which elections are conducted in the country, he said ” Talk of the election, arms and uniforms were given to unemployable youths to assist them to win the election at all cost. At the end of the day, they won the election and they abandoned all those boys and the boys are using the arms now to create problems all over since 2003.

“We don’t have peace in this country. The insecurity is all over, it has trickled to the grassroots. Where do we go from here? We don’t have democracy, we are still under militocracy. Apart from wearing agbada and suit, they are not democratic”

Dr Oluwene recommended that, for the executive arm of government and the political elites to right their wrongs in governance, before assuming any political office, they should be engaged first in orientation, civil service and public orientation. He said by engaging aspirants or nominee to serve in civil service for at least one year, it will expose them to basic rules and ethics of civil service and public service rules which will, in turn, aid them in proper governance.

He also recommended that all government office employment should be done in the governors’ office, including staff promotions, approvals, dismissal etc.

He added that the political habit of godfatherism should be abolished to enable citizens’ choice to prevail.

He said: “The issue of godfatherism is too much in Nigeria political system. At the ward level, you have godfather, local, state and national level there is godfatherism, this is the reason why members of political parties do not make valid contributions, whatever master decides is exactly what will happen. Master has to decide who runs for whatsoever office, whether the person is qualified or not. So we are too parochial in our thinking and reasoning.

“Before choosing a preferred candidate or aspirant, they should consider capable hands. Look at APC in Rivers State, there was too much impunity in the party’s conduct of the last election. What stops the party in Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi to give everybody a level playing ground. Even if he wants to support a particular person, he should support the person but everybody should be given the privilege to participate rather than imposing a particular candidate on the party. The issue of imposition is too much in all the political parties. Because there is no internal democracy, that is why it is not extended to the federal level”

“I recommend that federal character principle should be reflected in every appointment. The constitution says, in the appointment of ministers, one minister should at least come from a state as well as service chiefs, if the positions will not go round, the zonal arrangement should be reflected. The security aids of the president are virtually being headed by a section of the country, mostly the Hausa-Fulani. Based on our federal character principles, ideally it is not supposed to be so, so the constitution is not followed, instructions of the constitution is not adhered to.

“There are certain tenets which must be obeyed. Our federal system is faulty, faulty in the sense that ethnic groups were forcefully brought together to form a national without their consents or approvals, amalgamation. Dejected groups were put together to form a nation without duly been consulted. So based on all of these, the structure of Nigeria is bad. So Nigerians should go back to a round table and discuss whether we should still be one or split. Nigeria problems are enormous. Nigerians are very tolerant. There are certain things that had happened in this country that can not happen in other countries, the political elites in this country are part of our problems. In spite of the faulty structural arrangement that Nigeria was built upon, restructuring is very very important ”

“Coming back to state politics, the problem of Rivers State is that we are very wicked.

“After politics, what happens is administration and governance but in Rivers state after politics, politics continues in the place of governance.

“In the governorship zoning in River state I recommend that the zoning should be slotted into the three senatorial zones in Rivers State instead of the Riverine and upland zoning, because across every community in the local government in the state there are rivers and there are lands that indigenes farm, so I totally condemn the upland/ riverine zoning. I also recommend that before 2023 election, stakeholders, members of the State house of assembly who represent various constituencies in the state should sit down now and zone the governorship of the state into three senatorial zones. This practice is done in our sister state Akwa Ibom. Akwa Ibom has three senatorial zones, the Ikot Ekpene, Eket and Uyo zone and governorship rotates amongst them.

“I will also want to advise aspirants who failed elections, if you fail election, go to the tribunal and if you lose at the tribunal go home and start planning ahead. There is no permanent nor permanent enemy in politics. Stakeholders should meet now and discuss ahead of time. Our politicians are docile”