STATE OF THE NIGERIAN NATION
A Keynote Address
BY SENATOR DAVID O. DAFINONE, B.Sc. D.P.A. F.C.A.
OWHERE I OF OKPE KINGDOM
May 29, 2001
It is indeed a privilege to speak at this crucial meeting of the Distinguished Leaders of Thought, consisting of 21 members drawn from each of the 6 Geo-political zones, including Abuja, that constitute the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Before commencing my speech, it is necessary to place on record: my delegation's sincere appreciation to our two respected and distinguished Traditional Rulers, namely His Eminence Alhaji Mohammadu Maccido, The Sultan of Sokoto, and Alaiyeluwa Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse II (CFR), The Ooni of Ife, who are the joint conveners of this historic meeting. § that this meeting is the first, in the history of this nation, where the gathering is not at the instance of a military dictator or a colonial master. The purpose of this meeting is to tackle the challenges to national unity and integration posed by the absence of a national focus with which the people can identify. Needless to say that the absence of this focus is the result of 30 years of military rule characterised by inconsistencies in policy formulation and implementation.
The aim of this meeting, in the view of the conveners,
is to promote and conduct the necessary dialogue on many of the serious
national issues militating against the promotion of a healthy, vibrant
and progressive polity in our nation. The issues at focus, which have led
to the myriad of problems facing the nation, can in one phrase be
defined as "the Future of Nigeria." This can be analysed as follows:
F = Facts on the ground as at the date the present administration assumed office on the 29th of May, 1999.
U = Urbanisation and the problems in our cities.
T = Tribalism
U = Universality arising from the problems of Globalisation, Liberalisation and Privatisation.
R = Radicalism which has been associated with the Odua Peoples Congress, Arewa Peoples Congress, Bakassi Boys, etc.
E = Eternity: The problems of conflict between Religion and the State
1.0 FACTS ON THE GROUND AS AT THE DATE THE PRESENT ADMINISTRATION ASSUMED OFFICE ON 29TH OF MAY 1999.
The unresolved constitutional issues affecting our institutional frame work are and still are as follows:
(a) The inconsistencies and contradictions in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and the need to redress the issues contained therein by allowing the people to make their constitution. In particular, certain provisions of the 1999 constitution should be expunged as follows:
(i.) Deletion of certain of the Fundamental objectives and Directive principles of state policy as contained in Chapter II of the Constitution. This has become necessary in view of the inter play of market forces typified by Globalisation and Liberalisation. (ii.) Abolition of the Land Use Act. This Act is contrary to the Law of Property Act, which is still in our statute books in accordance with Section 315 of the 1999 Constitution. Land today has ceased to be a factor of production following the enactment of the Land Use Decree 1978.
(iii.) The repeal and abolition of the Petroleum Decree of 1969 and the deletion of Section 44 (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999. Equally, Section 44 (1) is in conflict with Section 44 (3). Equally the rights associated with the Mineral Ordinance have since been abolished by the United Nations charter on Colonialism.
(iv.) The abolition of the powers of the National Judicial Council to approve the appointment of Judges for the States.
(v.) The abolition and repeal of the Revenue and Fiscal Commission Act and its deletion from the Constitution as this is inconsistent with the spirit of Federalism and the inter play of market forces.
(vi.) The deletion of Section 314 of the Constitution in which the National Debts of the Federation and the States are included as part of the Constitution.
The above are urgent issues which must be tackled during the tenure of this administration.
(b) The urgent need to reduce the cost of governments of the Federation by adopting a zonal structure based on Six zones as follows:
(c) The reform of the Electoral Laws by allowing free association through the formation of more political parties.
(d) The further reform of the Civil Service in order to ensure greater transparency, probity and accountability in the system.
(e) The amendment of the Electoral Act 1982, to remove the power of StateGovernments to appoint their Electoral Commissioners.
(f) To ensure the immediate implementation of the National I.D. Card project before the conduct of any Local Government Elections.
(g) The reform of the Institution of Traditional Rulers in order to safeguard their removal and tenure of office from the clutches of State Governors.
(h) The devolution of functions such as health, forestry, fisheries, agriculture and primary education to the States and Local Governments. There is no wisdom in the Federal Government undertaking the building of primary schools in the States and Local Government Areas. The two controversial issues arising from the foregoing relate to:
(a) Federalism; and
(b) Resource Control.
Nigeria must return to fiscal federalism as envisaged by our founders and forebears, beginning with our colonial masters and our highly respected torch bearers such as Herbert Macaulay, Ahmadu Bello, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Tafawa Balewa, Anthony Enahoro and very many of our patriots who fought for our independence. This is imperative in view of the diverse nature of our polity. Our "strength in diversity" can only be realised under a system of government in which all constituents are reasonably happy, and my delegation is left in no doubt that all things considered, a federal structure offers Nigeria the best option. It is well known that before the advent of colonial rule, most of the ethnic nationalities that inhabited the geographical area now called Nigeria were autonomous independent kingdoms and peoples with different languages, religions and cultures equal in status and in no way subordinate one to another but with each having its own unique system of administration. It was this structure of about 250 autonomous or semi-autonomous ethnic groups plus the vast nature of Nigeria, both in terms of land mass and population, that made the colonialist to administer Nigeria as a federation and not as a unitary state.
At the constitutional conference for the independence
of our great country, Obafemi Awolowo, Tafawa Balewa and Azikiwe left no
one in doubt that what
Nigeria needed must be a federation with significant autonomy for the regions. This was what Nigeria practiced until successive military regimes, who only knew how to operate regimented systems, foisted on Nigeria a near unitary form of government which now leaves Nigeria as a federal republic much more in name than in deed. There is a clear need for the return to true federalism with devolution of powers to the states and better managed local governments. This will resolve several of the conflicts and contradictions in our constitution, which include:
1.2 RESOURCE CONTROL
Resource control is a basic political theory grounded on the fact that land, labour, capital and enterpreneurship are factors of production owned by the individuals, and should therefore be controlled by them. In so doing, the rewards derived from such factors of production should be passed to those who own them. Adam Smith, an early economist, analysed this in his "Wealth of Nations, 1776". Rent is a return for the use of the original and indestructible properties of the soil. Whoever owns land expects some form of compensation from those hiring this very important factor of production. The clamour for resource control is a clamour for adequate compensation, a cry for redistribution of the revenue allocation formula, and nothing more. The only thing a government should do is to impose tax to be used for the welfare of the community. Resources of production are of two types: (a) Renewable Resources (b) Non-Renewable Resources
The renewable resources consist of Groundnuts, Cocoa,
Rubber, Palm Oil and Kernels and Timber. The non-renewable resources consist
of petroleum, gas,
bitumen and solid minerals. The control of the non-renewable resources in Nigeria are in the hands of the Multi-national Oil Companies who own the capital and the enterpreneurship while the Traditional Rulers and the local communities own the land on which the people live. There is need therefore to control the level of exploitation and exploration of the mineral resources of this country and employ the benefits derived therefrom in the rehabilitation and education of the human
capital that inhabit the areas. This country must learn from the mistakes of the past, for the failure to do so has led to the devastating effect which the mining of tin and columbite has produced or will produce from the exploitation and exploration of minerals in Plateau, Niger, Bauchi, Taraba and Kogi States. The absence of any statutory distribution of revenue from the Federation Account to these communities has been controversial as well as contentious in Nigeria's political history.
The Political Bureau Report of 1987 observed that the issue is so contentious that "none of the formula evolved at various times by a commission or by decree under different regimes since 1964 has gained general acceptability among the component units of the country." Even then, the lessons learnt from the Minefields of the Plateau have never been assimilated by Nigerians. But the Report also observed that the issue of revenue allocation and to be specific, derivation, had been essentially a political rather than an economic tool. Whoever was in charge introduced a formula that best served his interest. The British administered the country initially mainly from the proceeds from oil palm trade, derived largely from the then Eastern Region. Derivation was not given any prominence. But when groundnuts and tin from the North and cocoa and rubber from the West became major earners of revenue, derivation, to use the words of Dr. S. J. Cookey in his report, "was catapulted into a major criteria for the allocation, thus underscoring the linkage between regional control of the political process and the dominant criteria for revenue allocation at any given time.
This linkage was further underscored when, following the increasing importance of petroleum derived mainly from the South-South States (the Niger Delta) as a revenue yielding source, derivation was again de-emphasised. Today it is instructive to note that the exclusive federal jurisdiction over natural resources applies only to oil and gas, and not to cocoa, palm oil, hides and skin, bitumen, marble, etc. This is not Justice which is defined by John Rawls of Harvard University as "Each person (or community) possesses an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override. For this reason, justice denies that the loss of freedom for some is made right by a greater good shared by others. It does not allow that the sacrifices imposed on a few (mineral-producing areas) are outweighed by the larger sum of advantages enjoyed by many (nationally and internationally). Therefore, in a just society, the liberties of equal citizenship are taken as settled, the rights secured by justice are not subject to political bargaining or to the calculus of social interest …truth and justice are uncompromising."
To be sure, the practice of federalism has been traumatic, making some to blame it on the "mistake of 1914." Even so, our nationalists who negotiated the form of our existence made some efforts to stimulate healthy competition among the regions. The 1958, 1960 and 1963 Constitutions allowed for competition among the various segments of the society. The 1963 Republican Constitution was not a perfect document but its stance was clear on issues of the society, that were central to federalism. It directed that revenue derived from imports be paid 100 percent to the state in proportion to the consumption of the product. The same goes for Excise Duty: 100% payment to the state according to the proportion of the duty collected. For minerals, the constitution shares the revenue in the proportion of 50: 20: 30: i.e. 50 percent for derivation, 20 percent to the Federal Government and the remaining 30 percent paid into the distributable pool to be shared among the states, including the Donor State. It was not perfect, but it made up somehow for past mistakes.
It is necessary to recall the environmental degradation of the land and the absence of any long term benefits to the people of Plateau State to drive home the misconception in some quarters as to the vesting of the ownership of Land in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Land Use Act of 1978 does not vest the land in the
Federal, State and indeed the Local Governments. Section 3 of the
recognises 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory. There is nowhere the Federal Government is said to own the land. In States, land is vested in Governors to hold in trust for the people and in Local Governments, to the Chairman and the Traditional Rulers, also to hold in trust for the people. But when the land is occupied before the Decree came into effect, the land is vested on the owners because they have the statutory right of occupancy. The case of Ojema Vs Momodu was an eye opener. This is the structure before the Constitution. The citizens of these communities were in existence before the coming into being of the country called Nigeria. It is also necessary to state that Mr. President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was ill-advised to pay the not less than 13% of the Derivation Account to the States as this was never authorised in Section 162 (2) of the Constitution. The intention of the framers of the Constitution is that these funds should go to the communities, which sustained losses through the evils of oil extraction and exploration in order to make good the losses sustained by them. It is common knowledge that many oil-bearing communities complain of diversion of funds meant for projects in their areas to some other areas. The 13% Derivation is rent on Land leased by the Federal Government of Nigeria from the communities to the oil companies. They need therefore the money derived from their pains and their sufferings as the result of the destruction of their means of livelihood, and their environment through ecological degradation. The money ought to be deposited in a Trust Fund, which should be a quango for the education and economic development of their area, each according to its value and contributions.
It is also necessary that whatever funds that emanate from derivation should be administered by representatives of all the stakeholders; that is, the communities, the Federal, States, Local Governments and the multinationals. Such a Board of Trustees should control the implementation of projects. That is resource control and no meaningful social, political and economic progress would be made unless we restructure and administer these funds in the manner hereby prescribed.
To conclude this analysis, let me draw some inspiration from the life and works of Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto as follows: "No nation should sacrifice its valuable resources for the sake of short-term monetary benefits. By extracting oil without regard to the side effects or the quality of citizens' health and longevity, the nation does not improve either its social or its economic sectors; instead, a declining trend will be onset. Those who may feel that the problems of oil producing areas are not in their backyard, and who may feel a safe distance from the oil communities, should be reminded that Nigeria is an entity within one environment; a decay in part will ultimately affect the rest of the nation. The fate of the mineral producing communities should be a concern for us all. When ordinary people and their environment become victims of disruptive economic expansion without adequate protection or provision of alternative means to improve their social and economic circumstances, they will remain vulnerable. Therefore, the need to broaden the social responsibility and performance of the oil industry in order to maintain economic progress with environmental balance should be a matter of compulsion.
The essence of systemic balance is also reflected in the inspirational Islamic thoughts on a balanced system of economic security: Wealth must be earned properly, without abuse, and wealth should be used for the betterment of the needy. Reflecting on a systemic view, Mohammed Siqqi wrote, "As a small thorn to any part, a thorn in any of the human body pricks one spot but pains the whole to restlessness. Similarly, the needy pricked and pinched by the thorn hunger destroy the peace of the whole humanity."
Over the years, the oil industry's activities have threatened the host community's food systems and the rest of the ecology on which the inhabitants depend. The result has been the precipitation of food shortages and ecological deterioration. These enlightened thoughts from Islam affirm the fact that a problem in one part of the system ultimately affects the whole; hence our social system or nation (and, ultimately, our entire planet) may be viewed as "one body." The ecclesiastical view of systems theory is also reflected in the teachings of Alhadis (the Islamic Holy Book) which reads: "There is a piece of flesh in the body, when it is sound, the body is sound, and when it is unsound, the whole body becomes unsound. Behold it is the heart."
Let us now have a change of heart, so that this nation can commence a renaissance. This change of heart must also commence from this meeting if the life and works for which Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto lived and died for is to be preserved not only for the survival of democracy but also for the survival of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
2.0 URBANISATION AND THE PROBLEMS OF OUR CITIES
The short term hope for the transformation of our economy
to achieve the required economic growth does not yet exist but would in
any case depend on: § Improving the state of infrastructure and utilities
(d) water supply
(e) availability and affordability of petroleum products as the preferred source of energy;
The Nigerian society is fast losing her national cohesion due to ethnic and tribal rivalries. Some ethnic groups lay claim to superiority over others. Ethnic values and norms are being eroded. Religious riots and clashes are recurring events in our society. Due to these developments, our society today associates ethnicity and religion with negative characteristics such as: parochialism, fanaticism, and backwardness. Nigerians lack any consensus on almost all major national issues.
Nigeria should develop an adequate capacity to manage
its diversity, to
produce enduring harmony, by changing her negative ethnic and tribalised attitudes, and learn to accommodate others of different ethnic and religious backgrounds. We want a Nigerian Society that has a common belief that each person, whatever his or her colour, religion or origin is sufficiently endowed with abilities which, if well harnessed, will make them individually or collectively strong and successful. Nigeria should also imbibe the philosophy that there is strength in diversity. We also want to see a country that works together as a team to forge consensus and balanced sectional, religious and ethnic needs with the national interest, in order to, build a strong and virile nation, where every one has equal rights and opportunities. Nigeria should be transformed to a country in which each individual and social group maintains close relationship with other Nigerians, who may not share the same political and religious convictions or do not have the same ethnic background.
Certain characteristics such as common values, norms, ethics and beliefs, found across ethnic groups in Nigeria should be identified, studied and codified into ethics and moral philosophy which may be used for the promotion of national integration, unity and development. This effort should be directed towards evolving a true Nigerian citizenship, with the objective of achieving a national psyche that transcends religion and ethnicity, and enthroning a strong commitment to the defense of the National interest. The national psyche should be transformed to the level where we can avoid distrust and defend our positive values as one people with one destiny.
The Federal Government should assign the traditional rulers and local government chairmen with the responsibility of codifying the various ethnic and religious values nationwide. This should then be developed into an ethical and moral philosophy at the Federal level. The Federal Government should publish the final report in English and the other major languages where possible and distribute this nation wide. This ethical and moral philosophy should be taught in primary and secondary schools as part of moral instructions or social studies.
We need to develop a scenario where ethnicity and religion play positive roles in developing Nigeria and deploy the scenario for the dissemination to all Nigerians.
4.0 UNIVERSALITY: GLOBALISATION, LIBERALISATION AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
Globalisation is a concept, which is not new in international trade although in the world global scene it has been known by different names. Those who are conversant with the industrialisation of Europe and America will recall the writings of Adam Smith in his Wealth of Nations 1776 where the doctrine of globalisation and liberalisation were the order of the day.
As governments all over the world increased their interest in the development and expansion of commerce and trade, globalisation became the norm following the worldwide integration amongst countries and the consequent dissolution of state barriers. It became a particularly popular concept in the last two decades of the last century, and its emergence could be attributed to a number of interrelated factors.
Thus, the liberalisation of worldwide trade proceeded with greater intensity through the rounds of GATT/WTO negotiations that removed barriers to trade. Common legal and technological standards in production, trade, transport and other areas were gradually established to facilitate the exchange of goods. The assumption here is that the liberalisation of trade would enhance specialisation in production and increase foreign exchange earnings by countries, which would leave in its wake, higher level of consumption worldwide.
In the same vein, efforts are being made to liberalise capital movement through the adoption of internationally accepted standards, which facilitate flows of capital across national borders. The objective here is to ensure that capital flows to countries and sectors where returns are highest and risks lowest. Along with capital, technology and managerial skills are transferred from the developed to the developing countries.
This allows for faster increases in productivity, especially in manufacturing. This process explains the high growth rates in some developing countries, especially in Southeast Asia and Latin America. However, the developed countries and the newly industrialising countries, have been the main beneficiaries of globalisation, in the context of increased trade and massive capital accumulation. They have been able to export more and attract more capital for investment because of their higher level of industrial development and better economic structures. On their part, the bulk of developing countries, especially those in Africa have largely been left out of the process of globalisation. The exports of developing countries have not expanded as significantly as those of the developed countries and the newly industrialising countries partly because of: (i.) the protectionist policies of the industrially developed countries; and (ii.) the difficulties in the supply side of the developing countries themselves.
The trade policies, political environment, economic structures and the effects of adverse weather conditions play a significant role in the expansion of the external trade of developing countries. Total global private capital flows amounted to 256 billion US Dollars, in 1996:
(i.) of this 95 billion dollars, (or 40%) went to five East and South-East Asian countries: South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia.
(ii.) at the other extreme was sub-Saharan Africa, which received less then $4 billion, or 1.5%, of all such funds. African countries have not benefited from growth of world investment partly because of the weak interest of foreign investors. Foreign investors question the domestic environment of African countries, especially political stability, economic policy, investment codes, and robustness in economic growth. An important fact that should however be recognized is that capital flows, in the context of portfolio investments, have limitations that should be understood. The interest of investors is maximum returns on outlay. There appears to be no regard to the priority needs of the country or the absorptive capacity of the countries concerned. The experience of the Southeast Asian countries of 1997 suggests this fact cannot be ignored. The excessive flow of capital, coupled with poor management, culminated in major financial crises in a number of countries in the region with far-reaching effects on socio-economic development and the development of other countries in other regions. Although there is the need for additional foreign capital in order to promote economic growth and development, it is also imperative that there should be adequate financial policy and institutional infrastructure for the inflow of capital, prior to the liberalisation of capital account.
Nonetheless, the pertinent questions which we now have to ask ourselves at this point is what have past governments themselves done to solve these problems? And what are the unresolved issues and how can the private sector facilitate the solutions that the governments seek to address? In this connection, a brief incursion into socio-economic development may throw some light on and provide some answers.
It is therefore necessary to stress that the globalisation and liberalisation of businesses has led to the release of capital from private sources both internal and external so as to leave government with the performance of those duties which they know best. This has brought us to the third child of globalisation and liberalisation which is privatisation and this must involve the renouncement by governments of their previous theory of state capitalism in favour of the adoption of market forces. The sole aim of globalisation and liberalisation as well as privatisation is to put in place the following:
(i.) Sustainable economic development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
(ii.) A process of change in which the expansion of resources, and direction of investments, the orientation of technical development and institutional change are all in harmony.
For globalisation and liberalisation as well as privatisation to succeed in Nigeria, there must be put in place the following pre-conditions:
(a) Peace, security and social cohesion - pragmatism
(b) Rules-based polity - no discretion, no corruption
(c) Protection of physical and intellectual property - rule of law
(d) Freedom of speech and association - creativity
(e) Legitimate, democratic government - power of elections
(f) Educated population - human capital
(g) Free access to global information and markets - internet
(h) Affordable and accessible healthcare.
I aver that the above factors are the social framework
necessary for globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation to flourish.
There are, however, some economic success factors, and these are as follows:
(a) Private sector as engine of growth
(b) Macroeconomic stability and fiscal discipline
(c) Investment promotion and enabling environment for investment
(d) Deregulation and democratisation of financial markets
(e) Aggressive fight against corruption in public life
(f) Sensible and responsible trade regime that encourages domestic production and international competitiveness
(g) Opening up the economy and incentivizing the environment to attract foreign direct investment.
It would be necessary to add that economic success is
not enough. There must also be put in place:
(a) Law and Order - security, peace and inculcation of democratic values
(b) Judicial - Judicial reforms - affordable, transparent and predictable legal system
(c) Legal - enforceability of intellectual and physical property rights - as important as human rights
(d) Civil Service - abolition of ridiculous 'toll gate' rules in public service - which everyone circumvents by paying bribes
(e) Lower the arrogance and insensitivity of state apparatus to the needs of the private sector
(f) Independent regulators to oversee market conduct and protect public interest.
Equally important, Government should put in place the
philosophical basis for reforms as follows:
(a) Government should legislate, regulate and tax businesses, not be an operator, competing with its citizens. It is fundamentally wrong for the Federal Government to shed its monopoly and return it to the states.
(b) Government should forge partnerships with the private sector and other stakeholders in policy formulation, reform and implementation.
(c) Key economic sectors requiring focused reform, investment and competition are:
Nigeria cannot operate as an island and there is therefore no alternative but for us to embrace the principles of globalisation, liberalisation, information technology and the consequent privatisation. What is clear is that we must put in place the necessary structures to attract the Foreign Direct Investment that would ensure that we are not left behind in the race for corporate supremacy.
In putting these structures in place, we must recognise that the theory of market forces espoused by Adam Smith ensures that only the strongest will survive. Essentially therefore as a developing nation it is important that we embrace with caution the principles of globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation if we are to protect and nurture our young economy. The wholesale reduction of all life to market economics under the dogma of privatisation, liberalisation and globalisation will damage the web of family attachments and values that make up the Nigerian society.
5.0 RADICALISM VIS A VIS SOCIAL STABILITY
Two thirds of Nigerian youth who have attained the age of adult employment are presently unemployed or underemployed. Two thirds of all Nigerians live below the poverty line. Nearly half of all Nigerians are illiterate. Not more than one third of the population of young Nigerians who should be at one or other of our educational institutions are in fact receiving any education. There are, this year a miserable number of 800,000 young Nigerians doing the Joint Matriculation Examination and not more than 10% of that number will find a place in the Universities. Given our demographic profile, the number gaining admission into the university if they were only 1% of the relevant age cohort should be a minimum number of 600,000! What all this suggests is that our current economic growth profile is insufficient to meet our needs and ambitions. In twenty years we had regressed from a barely adequate quality of life to the level of the poorest of the poor. In half of that same period, China had pulled itself from the status of a poor country to that of a medium income country. So our present circumstances are not beyond redemption. It is a Herculean task but it is doubtful if we understand the magnitude of the task we are facing.
Although this is a Herculean task, we can achieve it if we have a committed and engaged leadership class. It must be emphasized that a nation's status in the power equation of the New World order revolves around the size and dynamism of its economy. Given the reality on the ground we should be under no illusions that any one regards us as the Giant of Africa. It is a myth that lulls us into a false sense of importance and achievement. Given our resources it is also a circumstance that portrays us as an incompetent, uncaring and visionless society. It is necessary to state that no elite faced with our dire statistics can sleep easy. And the reasons are obvious. Food riots, violent protests over living conditions especially housing, disillusionment and the loss of hope in a viable future in the youth - all these have brought down many a government in the history of the contemporary world over the last thirty years. We should change our ways if we are to prevent an event of this nature from taking place in Nigeria.
6.0 ETERNITY: THE PROBLEM OF CONFLICT BETWEEN RELIGION AND THE STATE
The constitutionality of Sharia in Nigeria. My delegation does not support any Government in the country interfering with any religion, be it Christian or Moslem. It is needless to comment on the absolute right of any Moslem to pursue his own faith if we have to adapt true federalism, as religion is the virtue around which all other virtues revolve. Its erosion in our society today, best portrays the low ebb that other values have fallen to. The Sharia Laws and the relevant punishments attached thereto, which were put in place by Sir Ahmadu Bello in 1959, are the best literature ever written on any faith in Nigeria. The failure, however, of the judiciary to revise the level of punishments attributable to such laws should not have necessitated the introduction of a myriad of punishments in the name of Sharia into our legal system. The Judiciary should rise up to the challenge by updating the punishments associated with Sharia Laws to bring them in line with the level of inflation. Subject to the foregoing, let me aver that my delegation stands by Sir Ahmadu Bello and his works even in death.
From the foregoing, it is obvious that we cannot complete
all that which is to be done at this meeting. There is therefore
the need to map out a strategy to achieve our objectives as time is not
on our side. We should therefore set up various committees as here-under:
1) The Constitution: Institutional framework of Federalism
2) Law and Order
3) Human Capital: Health and Education
4) Fiscal Monetary and Banking policies including macro economic management
5) Oil, Gas, Solid Minerals and Resource Control
7) Good Governance
8) Eternity: Religion and the State
9) National Orientation and Co-operation
10) The Social Framework for Stability
11) Agricultural Revolution
12) Universality: Globalisation, Liberalisation, Privatisation and Information Technology
Alternatively, we should refer these matters to the Nigerian Economic Summit Group to produce before us, within a time frame, a memorandum upon which we shall deliberate. As soon as we depart from here, we shall need to embark upon a process of the selection of the respective delegates who shall reconvene as representatives of the people in a National Conference to approve any proposals.
8.0 CONCLUSIONS: DEMOCRACY, FREEDOM AND THE MORAL CODE
Attempts have been made in my foregoing speech to expatiate on the state of the nation but this will not be complete without placing in the annals of history, the role of this meeting.
The conference, with the ideas that shall be garnered from it, will without doubt significantly change our relationship with one another in order to ensure a united Nigeria where peace, order and good government shall reign. Within the walls of this great hall, various members of the respective delegations were, during the night engaged in discussing the future of democracy, the need for freedom, and the moral code under which we should live together as one indivisible, strong, united and prosperous nation committed to the goals of democracy and the rule of law, transparency probity, accountability, equity and justice.
This in fact is the first time in our history when a meeting of this nature and the calibre of its attendees has not been held under the aegis of a colonial master or the directorship of the military.
We have, before coming to this hall, been comparing and contrasting events, leading up to the pogrom of the 15th January 1966 and the 33 years of military rule that followed this eventful period of our history. These years have left behind inconsistencies in policy formulation and implementation such that we as a nation now find we are not able to:
1. Feed ourselves;
2. Provide adequate housing for our people;
3. Educate our citizens both quantitatively and qualitatively;
4. Cater fully for the health of our citizens;
5. Provide full employment.
We may have arrived here as an unruly mass but from the deliberations of this meeting, we should depart from here as a united people, and as true elders committed to the survival of Nigeria.
Today marks our birth, as the beacon of hope for the Black race. A nation whose written constitution could be in the making as a result of some of our deliberations at this meeting.
This meeting should be regarded as the birth of the idea of a free society based on justice, equality and the inalienable right to dignity of every person who is a citizen of this great country.
As I was taking my flight from Lagos yesterday, I envisioned that the hour for freedom has come.
But do not think freedom will be easy.
Freedom needs the careful sustained disciplines of restraint and habits of the heart. Without these qualities freedom will be for the strong, and not the weak, the powerful and not the vulnerable.
A free society is not one in which everyone is empowered to do as they wish. It is rather one where my freedom respects yours. If we hear the cries of the people, be it in the mosque, the church, or even at party rallies, we should bring them to the centre of our oncerns. A free society is a responsible society, be it in the practice of Sharia or in the worship of other religions. It is, and always will be an inalienable right of freedom and a moral right ordained by God and Allah for the purification of our soul.
Somewhere along the line those in authority forget this truth, and begin to believe that freedom is just the absence of restraint. Do what you like, so long as it does not obviously harm others. Do we therefore condone:
We have discovered over the last thirty years that the end of the road is nigh. Our children now know that they have never had or will ever know what it takes to make a stable family: § Men and Women even though married have never known how to create a covenant of love.
We must all remind ourselves that liberty comes with responsibilities to others, to the past and future and to the common good. Without this moral code we shall soon find that our freedom is too fragile to survive.
God save the Federal Republic of Nigeria and may God bless us all.
Senator David O. Dafinone