So I laughed and asked, seriously (?) when President Buhari said recently in his last national broadcast as a matter of opinion that must not be taken lightly that “our problem is more about process than structure”. I knew immediately the president needed to be engaged but while still ruminating, the Fulani herdsmen struck for the umpteenth time in the Benue forest decimating villages and farm settlements to leave in their trail as usual, blood of hundred of farmers and their families in their own settlement in a country they call their own and which constitution guarantees their freedom to life. The Fulani herdsmen terrorism will therefore form the pillar of my structural failure argument against the president’s process hypothesis.
Process by simple dictionary definition is a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end; perform a series of mechanical or chemical operations on something in order to change or preserve it e.g. Banana to ice cream. To conclude that this is merely the problem of Nigeria will amount to over simplification and gross lack of capacity to appreciate the fundamental nature of structural anatomy to the development and survival of nations. I agree that “process” is everything to war and military domination, a profession where Mr. President has built a successful career like his co-compatriots former heads-of-state who are still alive – Gowon, Obasanjo and Babangida. Perhaps this explains why you all ignorantly and arrogantly erred on the side of the “process” thesis and that has remained the greatest bane of this country since the first military take-over in 1966. Your Excellencies will agree that there is so much in military trainings that tends to dehumanize and introduce a stone heart which makes men amenable to mechanical processes but which are by no means practicable in civilian human environment particularly in a constitutional democracy like we inherited from the British colonial masters. The Aristotlelian theories, the Plato creeds, the Jean Bodins, De Rosseaus, the Descartis, the George Weahs of this world all knew that the human society is far larger than the military camps and hence has given prime attention to developing sustainable institutional structural thesis for survival of nations. It’s morbidly unfortunate that Nigeria has had the ill luck of been governed mostly by men who were taught and groomed to believe process is everything.
Mr. President with due respect, “structure” in my opinion is primary to systems and specifies the “processes” to follow. Structure is like the carcasses in building construction which carries and holds the brick works. Any edifice without a good structural engineering is bound to collapse like pack of cards in matters of time. By the natural accident of our nation’s cultural, religious and ethnographic heterogeneity, Nigeria is never, has never and will never function as a unitary state in a democracy but rather as a united states in a federation just as our colonial masters forged and bequeathed to us at independence. We were not without our complaints even then but our agitations were purposeful and limited: create a mid-west region from the western region, create a middle belt region out of the northern region and the agitation for the COR state out of the then eastern region. The processes for their actualization were already part of the structural design and it had delivered one out of the three expectancies without any loss of blood. That for me is “restructuring” for perfection. We were on that road before the accident of oil and the attendant misfortune of military rule. Until then, all the four regions have their different constitutions aside from the federal constitution, all the regions have their own development plans and agenda and in fact were free to negotiate bilateral cooperation with foreign nations and even had their independent agents in foreign missions. Until then, the north does not depend on oil, coal or cocoa neither does the west or the east begs for bread. What we had was healthy competition for development and a resultant productive economy with jobs for all and food for all. The problematic question today is “what are we as a nation”?
Afolabi Ige Esq. is the chair at the Concerns for Democracy & Good Governance in Nigeria and also coordinator and administrator of the New Nigeria Project. Join us on Whatsapp: 08063054219