Corruption not Nigeria’s number one problem, Nwabueze tells Buhari

For Nigeria to work, Buhari leadership has to be replaced —Prof Nwabueze

Elder statesman and chairman of The Patriots, and Project Nigeria Movement, Professor Ben Nwabueze, has refuted President Muhammadu Buhari’s “hackneyed rhetoric” that corruption is Nigeria’s number one problem.

He said that the number one problem of the country contrary to Buhari’s position remains “The national question” which according to him has to do with how “the immense number of diverse ethnic groups comprised in the territorial area of the state created with the name Nigeria and forcibly imposed by British colonialism can be coalesced and united into one nation and how the state so created can order the relations among the constituent groups to facilitate such coalescing.”

Nwabueze stated this in a statement he made available to Ripples Nigeria entitled, “President Buhari’s 57th Independence anniversary broadcast and the national question.”

President Buhari had in his address to Nigerians on the occasion of the country’s 57th Independence anniversary said, “We must fight corruption which is Nigeria’s number one enemy. Our administration is tackling these tasks in earnest.”

But Nwabueze described Buhari’s Independent speech as a mere “clichéd rhetoric” which he said simply re-echoed his address at his inauguration as president on 29 May, 2015 when Buhari also said that the fight against corruption is not just a moral battle for “virtue and righteousness in our land” but a fight for the soul and substance of the nation which must be viewed as an existential threat that “if we don’t kill it, it will kill us.”

Making reference to his 2016 book, “The National Question and Corruption,” Nwabueze noted that while corruption remains serious threat to the continued corporate existence of Nigeria as country, he however maintained that it is not the country’s foremost problem.

He said, “I venture to say, as I said in an interview … on the occasion of Nigeria’s 55th Independence Anniversary, that our No one problem is the National Question.

“I proceeded to define the National Question as follows:

“The National Question is concerned with how, while preserving something of their separate identities, the immense number of diverse ethnic groups comprised in the territorial area of the state created with the name Nigeria and forcibly imposed by British colonialism can be coalesced and united into one nation and how the state so created can order the relations among the constituent groups to facilitate such coalescing.

“That is the essence and the core meaning of the term, the National Question… “In its true essence, as defined above, the National Question encapsulates four questions which combine together to make it the intractable problem that it is. First, what is an ethnic group in the Nigerian (or African) context, how many ethnic groups are comprised in the Nigerian state, and what is their status or standing in relation to the state?

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“Second, what is a nation in the context of the existence of an immense number of diverse ethnic nationalities to be coalesced or united into one nation? Third, how are the divergent demands for the preservation of something of the separate identities of the component ethnic groups and their creation into one, united nation to be balanced together?

“Fourth, does the National Question tantamount to the issue about the absence or otherwise of civil order in Nigeria or, putting it differently, what is the connection between the two?

“An ethnic group is not just any group or collection of people. It is a group deriving its distinctive character from the word, ethnic. By its definition in New Websters’ Dictionary of the English Language, the word ethnic refers to ‘a group sharing a common language or set of customs or characteristics or a common origin’.

“In the Nigerian (or African) context, the dictionary definition needs to be supplemented by adding after the word ‘origin’, the phrase ‘inhabiting a common traditional territory’. As so defined, with the super-addition of the words ‘and inhabiting a common traditional territory,’ an ethnic group in Nigeria (or Africa) is a nation or nationality in miniature.”

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The statesman argued that recent events in the country have proved beyond doubt that it is not corruption, but the national question that threatens the continued existence of Nigeria.

“There are agitations for the Republic of Biafra, Niger Delta Republic and Oduduwa Republic,” he said frowning at the Independent Day statement where Buhari said that ‘calls for re-structuring, quite proper in a legitimate debate, has let in highly irresponsible groups to call for dismemberment of the country. We cannot and we will not allow such advocacy. Any deserved constitutional change should take place in a rational manner only at the national and state Houses of Assembly’.

“How sad indeed!! These bodies are just agents of the people with limited mandate. They do not replace the people who are their principals and in whom the sovereignty of the country resides; section 14, Constitution 1999,” Nwabueze said.

He added that for Buhari to say that this ‘is new in Nigeria’ was an “amazing statement coming from a President who won the presidential election in 2015 by defeating an incumbent President belonging to another political party.

“It is a measure of the political freedom that exists in Nigeria since 29 May, 2015 that the country has been reverted to the inglorious era of authoritarian rule in Africa’s political history when the freedom of the individual was oppressively trampled upon by detention without trial and conviction by a court of law for long periods of time ranging from one to fifteen years, when court orders granting bail to detained individuals were flagrantly disobeyed; when groups or organisations were arbitrarily proscribed; and when dialogue as the accepted means for amicable resolution of conflicts in a democracy was disdainfully abandoned, which now constitutes a betrayal of the democratisation revolution that swept across the world from 1989, including Nigeria in 1999.”




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Ebere Ndukwu

Ebere is a lover of investigative journalism, always seeking to unearth the hidden.

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