As the senate versus executive stalemate threatens to snowball into a full blown constitutional crisis, it is now imperative for Nigeria once again to step back from the brink. The signs of anarchy and revolutionary disorder are already with us. The streets are tense. There is a foreboding stillness in the air, presaging some thunderous deluge.
This nation is too precious to the Black psyche. In order not to be embroiled by petty political schemes, in order to regain our sense of perspective, we must go back to where the rains started beating us. To do this, we must go back to the origins of the Fourth Republic. To be sure, Nigeria’s endemic crisis of nationhood predates the Fourth Republic going back all the way to the founding anomaly of the nation.
But as the most recent elite contraption for navigating the crisis of nationhood and as the origin of the current incarnation of the crisis, the Fourth Republic is the most appropriate benchmark for an analytical dissection of the national impasse. Exactly twenty years after the mysterious death of General Sani Abacha, the post-military settlement now appears to have reached the limits of its historic and political possibilities.
It is unfortunate that Nigeria has remained mired in a foundational crisis a century and almost one decade after the amalgamation of the protectorate at a time when other nations are taking revolutionary leaps forward, at a time when the civilized world is grappling with the problems of poverty eradication in the face of population explosion, eco-disaster stemming from mismanaged industrialization and spiritual disharmony arising from shifting demographic trends.
The Fourth Republic was born in crisis and from crisis. For a tell-tale sign, look no further than the fact that the operators knew nothing of the contents of the operative constitution until after the departure of the military. Technically, it means the elections were held in a constitutional vacuum. As this writer noted then, military constitution turned out to be “ a patchwork of incoherent rambling, with the sole aim of indemnifying the departing military….a recipe for future chaos”.
As a barely reconstructed military autocrat but one with immense personal drive and volcanic energy, Obasanjo took the constitutional remiss to heart and came to the messianic conclusion that if the party is too important to be left in the hands party people, the senate is also too important to be left in the hands of senators. He therefore proceeded to tinker and tamper with the structure and personnel until both institutions reached the point of exhaustion.
Parties proliferated and so did internally displaced politicians and former senate leaders. Yours sincerely stumbled upon one of these senate presidents one early morning at a Nigerian restaurant somewhere close to Elephant and Castle in London wolfing down steaming pepper soup and piping pounded yam and came to the conclusion that Nigeria was doomed. Miraculously or probably owing to Nigeria’s legendary luck, Ken Nnamani managed to evade Obasanjo’s searching binoculars. The rest, as they say, is history.
In a sense, then, the ruling APC is a victim of its own strength and success. The gale of defections which facilitated its ascendancy and catapulted it to the state house also signalled the irreversible fracturing of party identity and affiliation in the Fourth Republic. It is a sign of the times and nothing can bring it back. You cannot eat your cake and have it, just as you cannot harvest cassava and expect to harvest yam.
This is where the strategic snag comes for the APC. It is dangerous to fight a new battle with old weapons of contention. If the party had been more politically cohesive and ideologically vibrant, Bukola Saraki ought to have been expelled for anti-party activities or at the very least sanctioned once he crossed the party line. But divided personal interests and the inchoate and incoherent nature of its formation kept the ruling party from unity of action and unanimity of purpose.
In the politics of the mirror, you see what you want to see and the rest is optical illusion or mere chimera. Famously, the newly elected president himself noted that he belongs to everybody and belongs to nobody. So, what is the beef with Saraki acting out the script that he belongs to all parties and no party in particular depending on where consuming ambition is best served?
With the shattering of party formation and identity, the political structure of the Fourth Republic has gone into terminal coma. What we have are civilian camps of feuding political warlords. Perfidy has become the norm. There will be more defections when the bugle sounds for the commencement of renewed hostilities. This is why it may be tactically perilous to attempt to remove Saraki at all costs. There is enough judicial and political resentment in the air to sabotage that and President Buhari himself has not helped matters by his own acts of constitutional infractions.
At the beginning of the Fourth Republic, there was at least a semblance of party structure and identity formation. Although this cannot be compared to the First and Second Republics, it worked for some time before it came to grief. The old AD approximated to the AG and UPN of yore with Yoruba progressive and traditional libertarian politics at the core of its ideological soul.
But as it came to pass in the First and Second Republics, this splendid self-isolationism was bound to come into fatal contradictions with the nationally dominant unitarist and anti-federalist momentum of military-engineered and autocratically enabled democracy. With the Saraki PDP tendency having evacuated the APC like the enemy sojourners that they are, what remains is an unstable potentially explosive wedlock of mutually contradictory political tendencies bristling with recuperating progressive elements and conservative neo-feudal die-hards.
So, however much we abhor Saraki’s reptilian tactics, however much we deplore his underhand antics, it must be understood that the Ilorin strongman is a product of his time and template. He who comes to equity must come with clean hands. The APC itself is a product of the ethical and ideological meltdown of the Fourth Republic. A masquerade that farts into its own muffled robes has a feat of endurance ahead of him.
Had the APC turned out to be the great reforming party of its original billing, it ought by now to be at the commanding vanguard of those championing a structural overhaul of the party structure in the Fourth Republic as well as a comprehensive review of the nation’s fundamentally misaligned political and economic architecture. But that will be the day, if General Buhari’s unhelpful off the cuff marks are anything to go by.
While many other nations are taking great developmental strides towards the self-actualization of humankind, what we are likely to have is what we propose as a management of mismanagement in which the nation continues to fumble and wobble with some divine reprieve always around the corner. But a person named Folorunso must not tempt fate by climbing a palm tree with banana straw.
There is too much tension in the land. Toppling Saraki by all means may provoke a constitutional storm which can snowball into a political meltdown. A way must be found to manage him until the next elections when the law of the more dominant war-lord or the logic of the bigger rigger will kick in. as the case may be. Common sense must dictate this inevitable comeuppance.

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On the origins of the present crisis – Tatalo Alamu – 2018-08-19 00:03:18

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