Vol. XVIII, Issue 4 (Fall 2011): Libya, Nigeria, Brazil's Berimbrown

BOARD:

Gloria Emeagwali
Chief Editor
emeagwali@ccsu.edu

Walton Brown-Foster
Copy Editor
brownw@ccsu.edu

Haines Brown
Adviser
brownh@hartford-hwp.com

ISSN  1526-7822

REGIONAL EDITORS:

Olayemi Akinwumi
(Nigeria)

Ayele Bekerie
(Ethiopia)

Paulus Gerdes
(Mozambique)

Alfred Zack-Williams
(Sierra Leone)

Gumbo Mishack

(South Africa)

 

TECHNICAL ADVISOR:

Jennifer Nicoletti
Academic Technology, CCSU
caputojen@ccsu.edu

For more information on AfricaUpdate
Contact:
Prof. Gloria Emeagwali
CCSU History Dept.
1615 Stanley Street
New Britain, CT 06050
Tel: 860-832-2815
emeagwali@ccsu.edu

 





 

Table of contents

Editorial

By early September, 2011, the rebels and self-styled revolutionaries of Libya gained the upper hand militarily, in Benghazi and several Libyan regions, with massive military help from NATO, under the guise of “R2P” humanitarianism. As early as August 2011, BBC World News once respected for its impartiality and reasoned journalism, jubilantly declared victory on behalf of NATO. The failure of the Western based rebels to gain regions such as Sirte and Bani Walid, by mid September 2011, however, implied that the euphoria was premature.

The hard reality is that the battle for Libya continues, and there are yet several possible outcomes, namely, the Afghan model of intra-regional fighting, intermittent suicide bombs and American troops on the ground, and, the Somali model of permanent warfare- in collision with U.S drones and more moderate Islamic interest groups. When diamond-rich Katanga attempted to secede from the newly independent Congo in the 1960s, it ultimately failed.  Nigeria’s Biafra was not able to breakaway and declare independence, despite the brutal civil war of 1970 -3. Conversely, oil - rich Benghazi has chosen to be part of the new Libya and not secede completely, but it is difficult to say how long the entire region can stay unified under its direction, given the nature of the intervention, lingering suspicions of Western self interest, and the ideological disparity within the rebel group, some of whom, alas, may be al-Qaida sympathizers. The best case scenario for Libya would be regional reconciliation and reconstruction, done on the basis of democracy, respect for human rights, and free and fair elections. Time will tell if that is possible.  

*During his forty two year tenure, the erratic ruler of Libya, Moammar Gaddafi, supported numerous activist groups around the world including the anti-apartheid African National Congress and the Irish Republican Army.  He also supported the notorious Charles Taylor and his rebel group, RUF, and as pointed out by Museveni, Idi Amin, Gaddafi’s plan to introduce in Africa a common gold-based currency, the dinar, did not endear him to Western power brokers, despite his willingness to collaborate in U.S backed torture programs such as Rendition. Gaddafi’s attempt to replace the Sanusi dynasty, that he overthrew in 1969, with his own, weakened his support domestically. In the final analysis,  it is most unlikely that Moammar Gaddafi will recover the Libyan seat of power, even though  his friends around the world are probably  no smaller in number than his enemies, given his largesse and spasmodic signs of courage and rebellion in the first three decades of his rule.

We include in this issue of Africa Update an analysis of the Libyan situation by Yoweri Museveni, who wrote this piece in the early days of the conflict. President Museveni of Uganda is by no means a role model for democracy. He has been accused of electoral malpractice and human rights abuses, by his critics. His commentary on Libya, however, remains informative, lucid and illuminating. It sheds light on the academic and cultural background of Museveni and his peers, and the life and times of Muammar Gaddafi. The balance sheet, listing the negative and positive activities of Mr. Gaddafi, is helpful for those seeking a dispassionate account of the Gaddafi saga.

Dr. Sule Bello of the Department of History, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria delivered a lecture to the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPPS), in February 2011, on the issue of good governance. We have included that address in this issue of Africa Update.

The issue concludes with a brief interview with Mestre Negoativo of Berimbrown, the internationally acclaimed, Brazilian, Congo Pop Band, that has been deeply inspired by African culture.

Dr. Gloria Emeagwali
Chief Editor,
AfricaUpdate


Let Libyans Solve Their Own Problems
Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of Uganda

By the time Muammar Gaddafi came to power in 1969, I was a Third Year university student at Dar es Salaam. We welcomed him because he was in the tradition of Col. Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt who had a nationalist and pan- Arabist position. Soon, however, problems cropped up with Gaddafi as far as Uganda and Black Africa are concerned:

1. Idi Amin came to power with the support of Britain and Israel because they thought he was uneducated enough to be used by them. Amin, however, turned against his sponsors when they refused to sell him guns to fight Tanzania. Unfortunately, Gaddafi, without getting enough information about Uganda, jumped in to support Amin presumably because Amin was a ‘Muslim’ and Uganda was a ‘Muslim country’ where Muslims were being “oppressed”’ by Christians. Amin executed a lot of people and Gaddafi was identified with these mistakes. In 1972 and 1979, Gaddafi sent Libyan troops to defend Amin when we attacked him.

2. The second big mistake was Gaddafi’s position vis-à-vis the African Union. Since 1999, he has been pushing for a United States of Africa. We tried to politely point out to Gaddafi that this was difficult in the short and medium term. We should, instead, aim at the Economic Community of Africa and, where possible, also aim at regional federations. Gaddafi would not relent. He would not respect the rules of the AU. He would resurrect something that has been covered by previous meetings. He would ‘overrule’ a decision taken by all other African Heads of State. Some of us were forced to come out and oppose his wrong position and, working with others, we repeatedly defeated his illogical position.

3. The third mistake has been the tendency by Gaddafi to interfere in the internal affairs of many African countries using the little money Libya has compared to those countries. One blatant example was his involvement with cultural leaders of Black Africa — kings, chiefs, etc. Since the political leaders of Africa had refused to back his project of an African government, Gaddafi, incredibly, thought that he could by-pass them and work with these kings to implement his wishes.

I warned Gaddafi in Addis Ababa that action would be taken against any Ugandan king who involved himself in politics because it was against our Constitution. I moved a motion in Addis Ababa to expunge from the records of the AU all references to kings who had made speeches in our forum because they had been invited there illegally by Gaddafi.

4. The fourth big mistake was by most of the Arab leaders, including Gaddafi, to some extent. This was in connection with the long suffering people of Southern Sudan. Many of the Arab leaders either supported or ignored the suffering of the Black people in that country. This unfairness always created tension and friction between us and the Arabs, including Gaddafi to some extent. However, I must salute him and former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak for travelling to Khartoum just before the Referendum in Sudan and advising President Omar el-Bashir to respect the results of that exercise.

5. Sometimes, Gaddafi and other Middle Eastern radicals do not distance themselves sufficiently from terrorism even when they are fighting for a just cause. Terrorism is the use of indiscriminate violence — not distinguishing between military and non-military targets. The Middle Eastern radicals, quite different from the revolutionaries of Black Africa, seem to say that any means is acceptable as long as you are fighting the enemy. That is why they hijack planes, use assassinations, and plant bombs in bars.  Why bomb bars? People who go to bars are normally merry-makers, not politically minded people.

We were together with the Arabs in the anti-colonial struggle. The Black African liberation movements, however, developed differently from the Arab ones. Where we used arms, we fought soldiers or sabotaged infrastructure, but never targeted non-combatants. These indiscriminate methods tend to isolate the struggles of the Middle East and the Arab world. It would be good if the radicals in these areas could streamline their work methods in this area of using violence indiscriminately. These five points above are some of the negatives associated with Gaddafi. The positions have been unfortunate and unnecessary. Nevertheless, Gaddafi has also had many positive points, objectively speaking. These have been in favour of Africa, Libya and the Third World. I will deal with them point by point:

1. Gaddafi has been having an independent foreign policy and, of course, also independent internal policies. I am not able to understand the position of Western countries, which appear to resent independent-minded leaders and seem to prefer puppets. Puppets are not good for any country. Most of the countries that have transitioned from Third World to First World status since 1945 have had independent-minded leaders: South Korea (Park Chung-hee), Singapore (Lee Kuan Yew), China People’s Republic (Mao Zedong, Chou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping, Marshal Yang Shangkun, Li Peng, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jing Tao, etc), Malaysia (Dr Mahthir Mohamad), Brazil (Lula Da Silva), Iran (the Ayatollahs).

In Africa, we have benefited from a number of independent-minded leaders: Col. Nasser of Egypt, Mwalimu Nyerere of Tanzania, and Samora Machel of Mozambique. That is how Southern Africa was liberated. That is how we got rid of Amin. The stopping of genocide in Rwanda and the overthrow of Mobutu were as a result of efforts of independent-minded African leaders. Gaddafi, whatever his faults, is a true nationalist. I prefer nationalists to puppets of foreign interests. Where have the puppets caused the transformation of countries? I need some assistance with information on this from those who are familiar with puppetry. Therefore, the independent-minded Gaddafi had some positive contribution to Libya, I believe, as well as Africa and the Third World. I will take one little example. At the time we were fighting the criminal dictatorships in Uganda, we had a problem arising from a complication caused by our failure to capture enough guns at Kabamba on the 6th of February, 1981. Gaddafi gave us a small consignment of 96 rifles, 100 anti-tank mines, etc., that was very useful. He did not consult Washington or Moscow before he did this. This was good for Libya, for Africa and for the Middle East.

2. Before Gaddafi came to power in 1969, a barrel of oil was 40 American cents. He launched a campaign to withhold Arab oil unless the West paid more for it. I think the price went up to US$20 per barrel. When the Arab-Israel war of 1973 broke out, the barrel of oil went up to US$40.I am, therefore, surprised to hear that many oil producers in the world, including the Gulf countries, do not appreciate the historical role played by Gaddafi on this issue. The huge wealth many of these oil producers are enjoying was, at least in part, due to Gaddafi’s efforts. The Western countries have continued to develop in spite of paying more for oil. It, therefore, means that the pre-Gaddafi oil situation was characterised by super exploitation by Western countries.

3. I have never taken time to investigate socio-economic conditions within Libya. When I was last there, I could see good roads even from the air. From the TV pictures, you can even see the rebels zooming up and down in pick-up vehicles on very good roads accompanied by Western journalists.

Who built these good roads? Who built the oil refineries in Brega and those other places where the fighting has been taking place recently? Were these facilities built during the time of the king and his American as well as British allies or were they built by Gaddafi? In Tunisia and Egypt, some youths immolated themselves because they had failed to get jobs. Are the Libyans without jobs also? If so, why, then, are there hundreds of thousands of foreign workers? Is Libya’s policy of providing so many jobs to Third World workers bad? Are all the children going to school in Libya? Was that the case before Gaddafi? Is the conflict in Libya economic or purely political? Possibly Libya could have transitioned more if they encouraged the private sector more. However, this is something the Libyans are better placed to judge. As it is, Libya is a middle income country with GDP standing at US$89.03 billion. This is about the same as the GDP of South Africa at the time Mandela took over leadership in 1994 and it about the current size of GDP in Spain.

4. Gaddafi is one of the few secular leaders in the Arab world. He does not believe in Islamic fundamentalism, which is why women have been able to go to school, to join the Army, etc. This is a positive point on Gaddafi’s side. Coming to the present crisis, therefore, we need to point out some issues:

1. The first is to distinguish between demonstrations and insurrections. Peaceful demonstrations should not be fired on with live bullets. Of course, even peaceful demonstrations should co-ordinate with the police to ensure that they do not interfere with the rights of her citizens. When rioters are, however, attacking Police stations and Army barracks with the aim of taking power, then, they are no longer demonstrators; they are insurrectionists. They will have to be treated as such. A responsible government would have to use reasonable force to neutralise them. Of course, the ideal responsible government should also be an elected one by the people at periodic intervals. If there is a doubt about the legitimacy of a government and the people decide to launch an insurrection, that should be the decision of the internal forces. It should not be for external forces to arrogate themselves that role, for often, they do not have enough knowledge to decide rightly.Excessive external involvement always brings terrible distortions. Why should external forces involve themselves? That is a vote of no confidence in the people themselves.A legitimate internal insurrection, if that is the strategy chosen by the leaders of that effort, can succeed. The Shah of Iran was defeated by an internal insurrection; the Russian Revolution in 1917 was an internal insurrection; the Revolution in Zanzibar was an internal insurrection; the changes in Ukraine, Georgia, etc., all were internal insurrections. It should be for the leaders of the resistance in that country to decide their strategy, not for foreigners to do so. I am totally allergic to foreign, political and military involvement in sovereign countries, especially the African countries.If foreign intervention is good, then, African countries should be the most prosperous countries in the world because we have had the greatest dosages of that: slave trade, colonialism, neo-colonialism, imperialism, etc. All those foreign imposed phenomena have, however, been disastrous.

It is only recently that Africa is beginning to come up partly because of rejecting external meddling. This, and the acquiescence by Africans into that meddling, has been responsible for the stagnation in Africa. The wrong priorities in many African countries are, in many cases, imposed by external groups. Failure to prioritize infrastructure, for instance, especially energy, is, in part, due to some of these pressures. Instead, consumption is promoted. I have witnessed this wrong definition of priorities in Uganda. External interests linked, for instance, with internal bogus groups to oppose energy projects for false reasons. How will an economy develop without energy? Quislings and their external backers do not care about this.

If you promote foreign backed insurrections in small countries like Libya, what will you do with the big ones like China, which has got a different system from the West? Are you going to impose a no-fly-zone over China in case of some internal insurrections as happened in Tiananmen Square or in Tibet?

The Western countries always use double standards. In Libya, they are very eager to impose a no-fly-zone. In Bahrain and other areas where there are pro-Western regimes, they turn a blind eye to the very same conditions or even worse conditions. We have been appealing to the UN to impose a no-fly-zone over Somalia so as to impede the free movement of terrorists linked to Al-Qaeda who killed Americans on 9/11, killed Ugandans last July and have caused so much damage to the Somalis, without success.

Why? Are there no human beings in Somalia similar to the ones in Benghazi? Or is it because Somalia does not have oil which is not fully controlled by western companies on account of Gaddafi’s nationalist posture? The West is always very prompt in commenting on every problem in the Third World — Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, etc. Yet, some of these countries were the ones impeding growth in those countries.

There was a military coup d’état that slowly became a revolution in backward Egypt in 1952. The new leader, Nasser, had ambition to cause transformation in Egypt. He wanted to build a dam not only to generate electricity but also to help with the ancient irrigation system of Egypt.  The West denied him money because they did not believe that Egyptians needed electricity. Nasser decided to raise that money by nationalising the Suez Canal. Israel, France and Britain attacked him.

Another negative point is going to arise out of the habit of the Western countries overusing their superiority in technology to impose war on less developed societies without impeachable logic. This will be the igniting of an arms race in the world. The actions of the Western countries in Iraq and now Libya are emphasising that might is “right.” I am quite sure that many countries that are able will scale up their military research and in a few decades, we may have a more armed world.

All this notwithstanding, Mr. Gaddafi should be ready to sit down with the opposition, through the mediation of the AU, with the opposition cluster of groups which now includes individuals well known to us  Ambassador Abdalla, Dr Zubeda, etc. I know Gaddafi has his system of elected committees that end up in a National People’s Conference. There is now, apparently, a significant number of Libyans that think that there is a problem in terms of governance. Since there has not been internationally observed elections in Libya, not even by the AU, we cannot know what is correct and what is wrong. Therefore, dialogue is the correct way forward. The AU mission could not get to Libya because the Western countries started bombing Libya the day before they were supposed to arrive. However, the mission will continue. My opinion is that, in addition, to what the AU mission is doing, it may be important to call an extraordinary Summit of the AU in Addis Ababa to discuss this grave situation. Regarding the Libyan opposition, I would feel embarrassed to be backed by Western war planes because quislings of foreign interests have never helped Africa. We have had a copious supply of them in the last 50 years — Mobutu, Houphet-Boigny, Kamuzu Banda, etc. Recently, there has been some improvement in the arrogant attitudes of some of these Western countries. Certainly, with Black Africa and, particularly, Uganda, the relations are good following their fair stand on the Black people of Southern Sudan. With the democratisation of South Africa and the freedom of the Black people in Southern Sudan, the difference between the patriots of Uganda and the Western Governments had disappeared. Unfortunately, these rash actions on Libya are beginning to raise new problems. They should be resolved quickly. Therefore, if the Libyan opposition groups are patriots, they should fight their war by themselves and conduct their affairs by themselves.


Perspectives on the Challenge of Good Governance  in Nigeria since Independence
Dr. Sule Bello, Department of History, A.B.U., Samaru, Zaria

Introduction

This is a topic which is widely discussed at several levels in Nigeria as well as outside the country. It is discussed from national to regional and international levels by both governmental and non-governmental organizations. In particular it is continuously addressed by executive organs, legislative assemblies, higher institutions of learning and specialized research institutions as well as relevant public and private resource centres, from both within and outside the country. In this regard it is a subject which enjoys tremendous input from foreign sources such as Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS), African Union (AU) and the United Nations Organization (UNO) especially the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), as well as the United States of America (USA) and the European Union (EU) in addition to many others. Despite such diverse and massive inputs, in both human and material resources, over a long period of time the almost universal verdict on the question, and status, of good governance in Nigeria is that it is conspicuous only in the manner it has been absent from the scene.

Indeed most analysts conclude that poor governance in the country, particularly since the mid 70’s, has increasingly only resulted in various development crises associated with  dismal performances at the levels of creative and productive economic activities, as well as disregard for the rule of law resulting in corruption, mismanagement, poverty, insecurity and economic backwardness. How do we account for this discrepancy between the massive human and material investment towards good governance, on the one hand, and its poor outcome on the other? How do we explain the tendency for most national policies and programmes to end in failure despite the apparent goodwill, and the generous support, towards their implementation from foreign sources as well. How can we put a stop to the tendency for massive investments made in the formulation of constitutions, visions, laws, policies, plans, goals and programmes, at both the national and international levels, ending in unwarranted failures? What are the key challenges of “good” governance by whatever criteria governance is adjudged as either “good” or “bad”? How is accountability to be ensured at both the national and international levels?

Clearly there is a big gap, nay a tendency towards contrary development, between expectations and inputs, on the one hand, as well as performance and output on the other. This is further emphasized by the obvious discrepancy between the vast resources available to the country, on the one hand, and its condition of massive and increasing poverty on the other. So when we talk of failure we are not only looking at it in relation to the abundant resources available to the nation, in absolute terms, but also  in terms of the specific resources increasingly committed to governance in general, and the formulation as well as implementation of national development plans and programmes in particular.

Two basic assumptions underlie the attempt to explain post independence development in Nigeria, and Africa, made in this paper. These two interrelated assumptions refer to the quest for development, symbolized in the nationalist struggle for independence, in a manner that makes it possible to address both internal and external factors relevant to contemporary African conditions.  The first assumption is that the scope, levels and quality of independent, as well as popular, national participation in politics greatly define all manner of Nigeria’s national achievements or the lack of such. This is particularly so because it is independent and popular participation that informs both freedom of political expression as well as qualitative participation of the national intelligentsia, and various other resource centres, in national development. The second assumption is that the extent to which African nations are able to unite and manage their external relations towards common regional independence, integration and development also greatly informs the level, and degree, of both national and continental stability as well as their common prosperity. Failure in this regard also greatly reflects the extent to which inimical foreign interests, and meddlesomeness, greatly subvert Africa’s common interests leading to instability, as well as socio-political and economic malfunctions.

No matter how we choose to define good governance its essential character, in Africa, is that it is nationalist politics geared to national liberation and nation-building in the context of regional integration, based on the principles and ideals of Pan African development. It is in fact in this context that the outstanding performance of African nationalists towards the achievement of independence, democracy, republicanism and local processes of popular decision making in their respective countries, as well as the creation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) at the Regional level in 1963, needs to be seen. This period constituted an expression not only of positive political development but also portrays a gallery of competent, nationalist and visionary African leaders.

 The so-called failed states and leaders that we observe today in Africa are defined by their recency, venality and corruption. They exhibit an inherent incapability towards leading their countries in sovereign development resulting in the type of incompetence, and foreign subservience that saps the national will and subverts self-reliance, unity, respect for the rule of law and creativity so vital to any genuine process of development.

Two important conceptual issues need to be touched upon in the light of their importance to developments in Nigeria since independence. The first is the question of corruption in Nigeria in terms of its sources, scope and consequences. The second is the characterization of  Nigeria as ‘post-colonial’ i.e. in terms that tend to obscure its possible connections, or lack of same, to either the colonial past or to new forms of imperial relations in the present.

Corruption is so colossal that in many cases, in Nigeria, it has become open plunder of national resources and public revenues as well as widespread extortion of the general population. It has undermined and contributed to the failure of most national programmes and projects. It has resulted in the most irrational development whereby massive capital is repatriated abroad, in the search for safe havens for the proceeds of corruption by corrupt officials, rather than invested at home. It has thus completely undermined the nations efforts towards investing or re-investing national resources, let alone attracting foreign capital, for constructive and comprehensive national economic development.

Due mainly to the above observations there is the need to appreciate the fact that corruption cannot be fully explained, or contained, only on the basis of a moral or legal approach. This is because it is venality, or inaccountability, of the political class that defines Africa’s corrupt and failed leadership. External dependency also facilitates the undue influence of foreign interests in terms of controlling, and compromising, local leadership. We have to look therefore at both the political and economic conditions which make possible the generation of a leadership that is above the law, as well as inclined mainly to the act of national spoliation rather than nation-building.

In order to fully appreciate these observations we need to draw attention to the nature and degree of influence exerted over modern African states by former colonial, or recent world, powers as well as the extent to which modern African economies have remained essentially colonial, in terms of their general structures and extroversion (Amin,1974, Kodjo,1989).  Indeed in his assessment of the causes of today’s Africa problems Kodjo, a one-time Secretary General of the OAU, summarised them as “continued extroversion, lack of economic policies based on independence, and apathy as regards the creation of a community” (1989, P.53).

We need to also bring into view the extent to which a substantial body of the national laws of African countries, as well as international laws that affect Africa, greatly derive not only from the colonial past but also the era of the slave trade (Esiemokhai, 1986; Umozurike, 1979 P.7).  Umozurike draws attention to how the self-cetredness of European states, their expropriation of the land and properties of peoples they termed “primitive”, as well as the abuse of their rights and persons constituted the basis of international law. He noted that “since Africans were denied international personality, their future was decided by bilateral treaties entered into by European states” (1979, p.21-24). Indeed the author, in his summary of the basis, content and objectives of international law concluded that: “Although the Europeans purported to raise their methods into the realms of international law, the immoral, inhuman and unjust basis of such a law is hardly disputable” (1979, p. 26)

Similarly we need to bring into focus how new forms of economic relations with the West, the World Bank and The IMF, such as foreign indebtedness as well as monetary and fiscal relations, lead to the fleecing of African countries as well as the control of their internal policies in addition to the imposition of various conditionalities on them. (The Report Of The South Commission, 1993; Mihevc,1994)

Finally it is important to also underline the fact that the USA and its (NATO) allies, have at various times, applied different strategies to contain, undermine, subvert and control various African States (Mamdani, 2004; Onoja, 1996; Smith, 1974). Africa’s development since independence tends to indicate that local accountability is more greatly expressed where ruling regimes derive their powers from local support rather than remain under some form of foreign control. The latter tends to promote greater in accountability and corruption. In short the extent to which politics and governance in Africa is defined by venality and corruption is a function of the degree to which popular freedom, public and national interests as well as popular sovereignty have been denied, in favour of foreign control, usually with enough military support to defeat the independent assertion of any form of local resistance.

Of all the problems confronting the student of Africa’s contemporary history the presumption that the possible role of colonialism or the continuing influence of imperial powers, in Africa’s present day affairs, is either considered to be nil or even outright rejected, constitute a major conceptual challenge. In this regard it is usually argued that since at one point in their history, usually 1960, African states were granted formal independence the factor of colonialism must not be introduced into any discussion about Africa’s ‘post-colonial’ development. (Mazrun, 1984 P.xi, Ashcroft, etal, 1995; Meredith, 2005; Akinyemi, 1974; Palmberg, 1999) This view does not only presuppose that the influences of the colonial past, in both form and content, could be ignored but is indeed designed to ensure that they are not even investigated. Similarly the possibility of the continuation of old colonial relations and activities in new forms, or neo-colonialism as many experts contend, is simply denied rather than refuted on the basis of the available evidence. (Kodjo, 1989; Smith, 1974) Indeed the post-colonial period cannot be studied in any meaningful sense outside its general relationship with the colonial past which produced and shaped it. The ‘post-colonial’ period cannot be assessed, and evaluated, except in relation to how much or how little it has changed from the colonial past. This is what makes it essential to study not only the colonial period, but also the pre-colonial period as well, for any proper evaluation of the so-called ‘post-colonial’ period. Beyond this the insistence that colonialism is simply past and gone amounts to no more than an attempt at ideological censorship against the investigation of its new, and probably more critical, role in the contemporary affairs of  African states.

Identification and Contextualization of the Essential Dimensions of Good Governance.

It is important to put in context the very idea of “good governance” and the various dimensions, or parameters, defining its assumed character in every given situation.

Politics and governance have always been historically, as well as ideologically, defined by a number of factors from the earliest times to date.

Two important issues need to be born in mind. The first is that good governance could come from sources other than formal “democratic”, or multiparty, rule in so far as such governance were nationalistic, patriotic and committed to the overall interest, and development, of the nations concerned. Indeed in many cases it was both popular and “authoritarian” regimes that were able to initially establish and nurture the progress of their countries, as well as design and promote the “democratic” regimes that eventually succeeded them.

Secondly even in terms of “democratic” choices it is obvious that it is the national will, expressed through popular and independent initiatives, that determine both the “nature” of politics and the “goodness” of governance institutionalized, as well as what is considered to be the highest priority in terms of the national interest-which might not necessarily be multipartyism for its own sake. What therefore makes functional democracies exceptional is the degree of freedom, participation and control they afford the individual citizen, on the one hand, as well as the extent to which they are able to facilitate political choices between competing interests and ideologies. Democracy, therefore, is not a political ideology per se but rather a set of legal, institutional, structural and cultural procedures that guarantee and protect individual citizenship rights as well as provide an environment that promotes peaceful, free and fair contest between different political interests and ideologies. Any claim therefore that any particular political option constitutes or represents democracy per se must therefore be seen as not entirely correct. Support for democracy does not mean lack of association to any particular political interest, choice or ideology.

In the case of Nigeria for example, the nationalist period and the 1st Republic (1940s-1966), constituted significant, constructive and progressive development in terms of the origin and development of democracy, the subsequent achievement of independence in 1960 as well as attempts at the promotion of federalism and the declaration of Nigeria as a sovereign Republic in 1963. In addition the nationalist leaders participated in the founding of the Organization for African Unity (OAU) also in the same year. (Nwozugha, 1999, Akindele, 1988)

By extension the Second Republic (1979-1983) was also to a large extent characterized by the influential role of Nigeria’s foundation nationalist leaders like Shagari, Awolowo, Waziri Ibrahim, Nnamdi Azikwe, Aminu Kano and many others in the newly formed political parties such as National Party of Nigeria (NPN) Unity Party Of Nigeria (UPN), Great Nigeria Peoples Party (GNPP), Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP) and Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) respectively. As such they reflected not only some measure of independence in their policy orientations but also significant abilities in terms of local policy formulation with respect to national economic diversification and socio-economic development in such areas as agriculture, industry and infra-structural facilities at both the national and state levels.  (Nwozugha, 1999; Ojiako, 1981)

Although the military regimes in Nigeria’s history generally undermined democratic governance, constitutionalism and federalism it is to be noted that most of them exhibited strong inclinations towards promoting national unity and national independence in a manner that helped to keep the country united, as well as constituting new and significant initiatives in a few cases. For example in the aftermath of the  Nigerian Civil War General Yakubu Gowon’s policies signified more of an achievement rather than any kind of failure both in terms of their strategic objectives of Going On With One Nigeria, as well as in terms of the level of transparency manifested by its leaders. The regimes policies of promoting national unity in the form of the 3Rs-Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation under the slogan “No Victor, No Vanquished”, was seen as a particularly important achievement. It is to be noted that Gowon prosecuted the Nigerian Civil War, in addition to the creation and development of the 12 states of the Federation, as well as the reconstruction of Lagos, within the resources of the nation. (Nwozugha, 1999 P. 81ff). He refused to incur any foreign debt. At that time he was widely ‘misrepresented’ as having stated that with the new incoming oil revenues Nigeria’s problem was not one of cash but rather that of how to spend it!.

Similar observations could be made with respect to the Murtala Ramat Mohammeds tenure (1975-1979). Murtala’s short reign was characterized by patriotic dynamism at both the domestic and the international levels that won him the admiration of most Nigerians. In particular Murtala’s policies of containing corruption and the creation of a new Federal Capital in the country, as well as his onerous support for the Liberation of Africa in international diplomacy, despite the opposition of the USA, stood him out as a patriotic and steadfast leader. Similarly Obasanjo oversaw the faithful implementation of some of the programmes of the regime which culminated in the return to civil rule in 1979.

The Buhari/Idiagbon short tenure (1983-1984) exhibited a committed and purposeful opposition to corruption, and ‘indiscipline’ that greatly promised to cleanse the country of the type of executive lawlessness that had been its undoing. However the highhanded and extrajudicial methods adopted by the regime evinced a great deal of popular opposition to it. It is worthwhile, however, to note that Buhari’s current political popularity is largely associated with what his present admirers perceive as his steadfastness, incorruptibility and singular commitment to the rule of law as exhibited during his short tenure as the country’s military ruler.

In the same manner the tenure of General Sani Abacha (1993-1998), despite various accusations of corruption and human rights abuse in addition to self-perpetuation in office, also inclined towards certain national economic policies designed to ensure sovereign national development. These are particularly illustrated in terms of his initiation of Vision 2010, the rehabilitation of the national economy through infrastructural provisions, such as the Petroleum Tax Fund (PTF), among other things. His efforts to also sanitize the national financial sector and the national banking system also stood out as a significant foresight. Of particular significance was his singular effort towards the absolute liquidation of Nigeria’s foreign indebtedness in order to free the country from the yoke of foreign debts. (Aluko, 2007; Nwozugha, 1999, P.464ff)

Some of the various lessons learnt in terms of Nigeria’s political and economic problems, as well as their adjudged solutions, were summarily expressed in Nigeria’s National Constitution Of 1999. The Constitution emphasized on the need for national control of “the commanding heights of the economy” as well as the responsibilities of the state towards the citizenry in Ch. II on the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy. Indeed, setting aside some limitations here and there, the Constitution would be found to have addressed a number of the actual problems, and needs, of the country in such a manner that faithful adherence to it would have greatly helped to overcome the key problems of the country. It is major deviations from the Constitution that have tended to throw the country into significant problems. Such major deviations could be seen in the form of increased dependency on foreign sources for policy inputs at the expense of the Constitution or in terms of the implications of foreign financial indebtedness, as well as other types of strategic external influences, in the manner reflected during the three years of military rule under Olusegun Obasanjo (1976 – 1979) after the assassination of Murtala Mohammed; the eight year rule of Ibrahim Babangida (1984 – 1993) and above all else, over the last ten years of the 4th Republic (1999-2010).  

It is to be noted that it was Olusegun Obasanjo who, in 1976, began the process of getting Nigeria indebted to the World Bank which has resulted in a number of disastrous consequences, associated with the country’s foreign indebtedness, that are yet to be resolved. (Fasipe, 1990 P.6) Furthermore during Babangida’s time (1985-1993) the Structural Adjustment Policy (SAP) was introduced by the IMF and the World Bank. Since then the country is still to find its way out of the doldrums it was thrown into as a result of that policy.

The current crises of the loss of any sense of a national purpose or direction, extraordinarily high level of corruption and the tendency to socio-economic and political meltdown, generally referred to as evidence of a “failed state”, are more characteristic of the 4th Republic since its inception in 1999 than of any other period in the political history of the nation. The point being made is that while some of the previous regimes, and leaders, could be referred to as qualified successes, in relation to the achievement of Nigeria’s national objectives, the Fourth Republic, despite its being a civilian and “democratic” administration, can hardly qualify as a success in relation to any of the country’s expressed national objectives in general, or respect for its constitution in particular. Indeed it is precisely this fact that makes the ‘failed state’ argument in Nigeria almost exclusively limited to the scope of failure, and scale of corruption, which defines the 4th Republic.

Unlike most other countries, and democratic republics, that uphold the principles of nation-building enshrined in their constitutions under Nigeria’s 4th Republic, in particular, there is not only a disregard for the Constitution but a tendency to its total abuse. This is what makes it difficult if not impossible to identify, in the present scheme of things, in Nigeria, any consistent policy-line or national strategic objective, dedicated to nation-building, whose outcome we should anticipate and whose absence constitutes a fatal danger to the development of the country. To demonstrate the truthfulness of this observation we need to appraise four important policy factors whose role in national development is indispensable.

The key problem, in the first instance, that currently bedevils development efforts in the country begins at the level of their conceptualization, articulation and organization. There seems to be no overall coordinative framework towards the articulation, objectification, strategisation and evaluation of any given development agenda. There is hardly any approach which fully integrates nation-building strategies to the task of economic or socio-political development in general. The earlier efforts of the nationalists towards nation-building seem to have been abandoned without being replaced by any definite, tangible and verifiable alternative. Indeed the National Constitution, National Development Policies and National Development Plans have not been the sources or the guidelines for the programs implemented under the 4th Republic over the last 10 years. This has been one of the most consistent accusations by the National Assembly against the regimes since 1999. It is the absence of commitment to any of these essential national provisions, which ought to provide the framework for its development, that make it difficult to discuss or indeed review present development efforts in Nigeria in any meaningful context, except as a catalogue of some on-going national failures, endless local lamentations and the usually duplicitous denunciations of the local leadership by their foreign “partners”.

The second consideration is the fact that there is no given national vision informing development activities in the country. Since the nationalist, and Civil War periods, no national mission, strategic objective or Vision has been formulated and consistently pursued. Abacha’s Vision 2010 was thrown out by the incoming Obasanjo regime in 1999, while vision 2020 promised the nation by the latter and initiated by the Yar’adua regime, is yet to see the light of day. There is thus no accountability on the part of the relevant governments in respect of the national policies and development plans which they should have implemented, but which were simply discarded and never implemented despite the massive expenditure supposedly committed to them. Foreign imposed policies, like the recent so-called privatization programme and other related foreign economic agenda, for which the government is hardly accountable to anybody, simply predominate. Development is not possible outside any visionary, independent and national framework, or without any base in constitutionalism and the rule of law. This failure is greatly responsible for the nation’s inability to make the Nigerian state accountable as well as the custodian, and regulator, of the nations development visions, instruments and processes in the manner that it should be.

In the third place these problems reflect an incapacity to learn from history as well as the corresponding failure to prescribe for the nation options and strategies for greater future historical achievements. In many ways the failure of nation-building activities in Nigeria is also a reflection of the extent to which its present rulers have failed to appreciate the unique lessons of its own history, and what needs to be learnt from its various experiences in order to construct a better future for it. Knowledge of Nigeria’s capabilities and assets, as well as its achievements and failures should provide guidance in formulating national policies, as well as sorting out national priorities. In the same way the identity and character of Nigeria’s citizens should, in general, be moulded on the basis of a basic knowledge of their own history geared towards an appreciation of their common achievements, problems and prospects. Nigerian, or indeed African, history is conspicuous only in its absence from the curricula, at virtually all levels of educational instruction in the country. The history of all forms of societies, and in particular modern nation-states, indicate that it is not possible to create and promote a sense of common identity, or cultivate an informed and patriotic citizenry, without promoting some basic and common knowledge of their histories as an essential part of their identity, and the socialization process, for all members of the community. Nigeria cannot be an exception to this rule and it certainly does not stand to gain anything by promoting collective loss of memory, and a general state of national amnesia, as a principal vocation.

While the above observations indicate, in general, a tendency towards failing to define and implement national objectives in the due manner and direction, they need to be pursued the fourth problem has to do with the wastages resulting from these observed shortcomings. An important component to governing well is the ability to identify and utilize the necessary resources, both human and material, relevant to the undertaking. Failure in this regard is responsible for a great deal of wastages in the management of Nigeria’s national affairs. In Nigeria we can, among many others, identify four significant areas representing most critical human resource input whose relevance to the political process is indispensable. Once more, however, we find that these important national sources of potential political participation representing independent, evidence-based and professional capabilities in national policy formulation, and implementation, are hardly ever properly utilized and managed. They tend to, generally, be neglected whereas their services are needed towards formulating, implementing and reviewing the kind of policies guiding the overall development of the country.

In the first place the general participation of the indigenous population in politics, even where it is recognized and acclaimed, is seldom taken into account in deciding the destiny of the nation. This is evident in the sense that hardly do indigenous contributions, resources, techniques, economic activities and achievements or problems feature as priorities in the country’s national agenda. (Adedeji, 1981; Akinwumi, 2007; Oniboneje, 1976). As a result various contributions which could lead to more resourceful use of indigenous endowments and capabilities are not reflected at the levels of policy formulation. Earlier policies, like Nigeria’s  indigenization exercise of the early 70’s, have not been followed up by others designed to enhance local indigenous skills, economic activities and national unity in line with many related suggestions and recommendations on the issues.

Further to the above, most of Nigeria’s public institutions of higher learning such as the universities, polytechnics and colleges of education, whose research out-put could greatly facilitate well investigated and considered solutions to many of the country’s problems, tend to exist mainly for the award of certificates rather than the generation of important, innovative and relevant ideas in decision-making at several levels. A similar level of neglect applies to established and specialized research institutions in the field of policy formulation, foreign affairs, industry, agriculture, technology, science, arts, health, human development, employment etc. Further observations can also be made in terms of the neglect of policy output emanating from sub regional and regional organizations such as ECOWAS and AU. Some of these include the ECOWAS treaties on a common market, currency, etc., which should have been achieved by now, or the implementation of the Lagos Plan of Action which should have greatly changed the fortunes of the continent by now (Kodjo, 1989.) Most of these tend to be neglected in favour of policy inputs from foreign sources which are, in turn, hardly ever implemented towards any definite and enduring local benefits.

Similarly the prevailing national institutions in the form of schools, national organizations, political parties and professional associations etc. which should function as leadership cultivation centres, and promoters of the national interest, tend to specialize principally in the promotion of divisive intrigues because their leaders usually use them mainly as conduit pipes for self-enrichment. Thus instead of serving as sources of relevant policies and leadership they only tend to generate ill-governance and local conflicts. Thus political leaders who transgress the law usually decide, in their own favour, either not to allow for its enforcement or simply promote its selective applications. Such ‘leaders’ fear no consequences because there is neither internal democracy in the country’s various organizations and communities nor functional, and productive, separation of powers between the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary at various levels of both the local and national administration. On the contrary the executives, in control of local and national revenues, tend to either buy out or blackmail everybody else.

There is finally the critical role that the citizenry should play in the contexts of social movements, popular and national organizations as well as trade unions and professional associations in the process of nation-building. Such a role is hardly appreciated, organized and pursued. Despite the fact that such organizations are necessary to the articulation, and achievement, of key national objectives through popular participation. Such movements greatly contributed to the achievement of independence and all forms of our major, and positive, national expressions. All of them could contribute more given the right conditions and environment.

It is clear from the above considerations that in order to ensure governance that expresses the popular wishes of its population there is a need to be able to facilitate, generate and utilize both popular and specialized forms of participation, towards the effective formulation and implementation of national policies, as well as the enforcement of its most basic laws. 

(III) Defining Good Governance

We have so far used the term “good” in relation to governance only in its most ordinary meanings of serving popular and public interests or in the disposition of governance towards the achievement of key nationalist objectives in the form of independence, unity, self-reliance and socio-economic growth in general.

The whole question of political “instability” in Africa, in the aftermath of the formal granting of independence to most African states, cannot be properly understood except in the context of the various attempts made by the former European imperial powers, under the leadership of the United States, in the context of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), to retain and maintain control over Africa in new ways, under changed circumstances. As a result of this a new pattern of control, which assumed more of an indirect form as opposed to the direct colonial occupation of old, developed. Similarly the new form of control was based on foreign multilateralism in the form of a united alliance between the US and its NATO Allies. In addition the divide-and-rule policies of imperial control was maintained and, where need be, invented anew in order to ensure Africa’s incapacity to resist. Finally the task of retaining old colonial mono-cultural economic structures, as well as imposing new forms of economic control, were achieved through the activities of the foreign states concerned, some multinational corporations as well as international agencies at the level of UNO such as IMF, World Bank, WTO etc.

It was in the form of the Cold War in Africa that the assault on newly independent African countries identified above was organized and carried out. The objective of the assault was to reverse the gains of independence, and forestall local control over national resources or the evolution of independent processes of policy formulation that could lead to the diversification of the economy, resulting in the unraveling of foreign dependency. The Cold War in Africa did not seek to promote any form of free political expression but rather the negation of all forms of political expression that constituted any threat to continued imperial hegemony on the African continent. Ideological propaganda, as well as political, diplomatic and military intervention by the NATO powers became all too common in Africa. In this respect the Cold War was waged at several levels, all to the disadvantage of African independence, unity, self-reliance and development. In short to the detriment of all that Pan-Africanism and African nationalism stood and fought for. In many cases independent African regimes were toppled, while many patriotic African leaders were assassinated. In an assessment of the impact of the Cold War on Africa the writers noted that:

Across sub-Saharan Africa did the Cold War have perhaps the most enduring negative impact on the developing world? Cold War rivalries encountered newly-independent countries still struggling to find their feet. Both Communists and the 'Free World' found their champions in either the governments or 'freedom movements' in each particular country. Arms, money and other forms of support flowed, and the picture was (and still is) complicated further by the resource-rich nature of many of the countries involved. The results were often catastrophic - Angola, for example, suffered one of the longest conflicts in modern history. Unlike in certain parts of East and South East Asia, there were very few Cold War 'success stories' in sub-Saharan Africa, as superpower interference had a negative influence almost everywhere”.   http://wiki:answers.com/q/whatwastheimpactofthecoldwarondevelopingnations

At the ideological level a whole new baggage, and vocabulary, of “development” was promoted by western powers through various channels, both formal and informal, as well as direct and indirect (Sachs, 1993; http://en.wikepidea.org/wild/Goodgovernance). One of these is “good governance” which espouses ‘human rights’, ‘transparency’, and ‘democracy’ more or less as abstract principles that could be pursued and imposed on selected nations, by a group of self-appointed powerful states, outside the context of either a just and democratic international system or, rather, through the legitimate agency of popular participation, sovereignty and constitutional accountability at the levels of the nations concerned. (Ake, 1996; Ladan, 2004; Mohammad 2010; Coomassie, 1998) The idea of ‘good governance’, in this context, derives from the assumption that it should constitute the political flank to the economic development policies from the “developed world”. In common, however, such policies on both economic development and good governance have only tended to fail.

Infact the major problem of this perspective of good governance, or of so-called pressure towards “human rights” and “democracy”, is its limited scope and focus, on the one hand, and the fact that it denies the pursuit of similar objectives at the level of the United Nations where the influence of the imperial powers is predominant. For example the USA and its allies have greatly opposed various attempts at the democratization of the United Nations system, the creation of a new world economic order and that of a new world information order along with many other “humanitarian” and “democratic” issues, making their claims on ‘good governance’ in general less credible. (Ake, 1992; Mohammed, A.S. 2006; Wisner, 1988)

More importantly “good governance” advocacy, as conducted by foreign powers in Africa, greatly aim to undermine national sovereignty, and processes of independent nation-building in African states, in order to facilitate foreign intervention in their internal affairs. This is why the term, “good governance”, tends to beg the question rather than answer to the critical issues that ought to define it. It tends to be totally silent on such vital issues as national sovereignty, nation-building, national unity, national development plans, citizenship and regional integration. As a result they have promoted policies which undermine local nationalist achievements in favour of foreign economic and political interests. They have relentlessly campaigned against the “state”, where this refers only to newly independent African states, in favour of powerful foreign imperial states and multinational corporations. Not only have African economies remained mono-cultural and non-industrialized but all forms of local investment and indigenous private capital have been undermined in favour of foreign public, as well as private, interests. Despite the poverty-generating effects of dependent African economies foreign policy prescriptions on Africa always tend to maximize resource extraction from the continent rather than allow for the diversification of the local economies and the creation of more employment opportunities in ways that could lead to the promotion of relevant social welfare programmes, as well as the facilitation of local control over natural disasters and social conflicts, in a manner that will benefit its pauperized peoples.

Finally the ideology of good governance, as propounded by foreign powers does not only serve as a pretext for selective intervention in the affairs of other nations it also, in certain situations, facilitates the funding and use of interventionist NGO’S, CSOs and human rights groups to undermine regimes that attempt to assert their independence.

Thus three problems tend to become associated with the issue of human rights. In the first place there is the worrying question of the widespread abuse of human rights by a variety of states. This requires an equal, open and transparent mediation by legitimate institutions of the United Nations. In the second place there are certain states such as the USA, Members of EU and Israel, which appear to be beyond international sanctions on human rights or any other issue. Finally human rights is, many fear, becoming increasingly reduced to a  mere pretext for the pursuit of the foreign policies of the powerful nations of the world to the detriment of the very principle of human rights itself, as well as the interests of those nations that have become the victims of such interventions. (Coomassie, 1998; Ladan, 2004).

Clearly the scope of good governance in Africa ought to transcend the limited agenda of interventionism which picks, and chooses, which “cases” of “human rights” and “democratization” to pursue, in the interest of certain foreign powers.

To define the term good governance in conceptual terms, embracing the status of contemporary Africa and Nigeria in the global political set-up, we need to appreciate major developments since 1960 and, in particular, the impact of the Cold War on politics and development in both Africa and Nigeria.

(IV) Key Problems of Governance In Nigeria

The thesis of failed states and failed leadership have, in general, tended to identify problems of Nigeria and Africa as resulting only from lack of good and capable leadership. It is usually suggested that it is the incompetence, mismanagement and corrupt practices of African leaders that has led Africa to the state that it is in today. (Zartman, 1995). Indeed this perspective has almost been elevated to the status of popular wisdom whereby all forms of problems in the country are simply relegated to the view point of “lack of good leadership”.  While there is some truth in this position it is both one-sided and inadequate in many senses.

In the first place this perspective has neither identified, nor explained, the associated problems and conditions which greatly contribute to the very occurrence of failed leadership in itself. For example what role do inherited colonial economic and political structures, or the prevailing scope and character of foreign influences and direct intervention in Nigeria’s internal affairs, play in the general equation of failed leadership in the country? To what extent is failed leadership a deviation from sovereign national development policies, and a reflection of political surrogacy to foreign interests? Similarly to what extent can we relate local failures, in terms of leadership, to the extent to which the implementation of independent national policies is forsaken in favour of policies imposed from abroad by foreign powers, either directly or indirectly?.

Furthermore the perspective represents a broad and false generalization to the extent that important instances and cases of good leadership in Africa are not only covered up but also misrepresented. Cases of good leadership in Africa are many and most abundantly represented in the type of leadership that constituted the PanAfricanist movement over the last two centuries as well as the nationalist leadership responsible for the liberation of African states from colonial domination leading to the achievement of independence on the continent in the 50s, 60s and 70s. At the national level some of such leaders include Nnamdi Azikwe, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Ahmadu Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Mal. Aminu Kano among many others. Some of such leaders, at the continental level, include people like Patrice Lumumba, Gamel Abdel Nasser, Sekou Toure, Amilcar Cabral, Kwame Nkurumah, Julius Nyerere, Nelson Mandela, Samora Machel and many others whose achievements towards the liberation of Africa have not only been monumental but a number of whom were indeed either overthrown, or assassinated, by foreign interests that are inimical to Africa’s independent development.

Similarly the failed leadership thesis has neither identified empirically, nor explained theoretically, the exact nature, scope and character of the failed leaders it is referring to beyond generalizing them as African. It thus assumes that the leadership of Africa, as distinct from its rulership, is all African without an external component. To what extent, for example, can we divorce the failure of all major foreign policies imposed on Africa from the involvement of the foreign powers that have, in many ways, operated as the defacto leaders, or the self-styled “partners”, of the failed African rulers under reference?

Finally, this perspective thus fails to see that there is a definite connection between failed states and Africa’s political rulership that are beholden to foreign, in the main Western, interests as exemplified in the case of Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, Houphouet Boigny of Ivory Coast, Kamuzu Banda of Malawi, Kofi Busia of Ghana, Husni Mubarrak of Egypt, Bokassa of the Central African Republic and Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, among many others. One cannot blame one of the “partners” and at the same time also exonerate both the other “partners” as well as the relevant system of “partnership” in question!.

The key problems undermining good governance in Africa stem from three major sources. The first is the extent to which foreign interference by the USA and its allies, under the pretext of the Cold War, greatly undermined and reversed the nationalist struggle for independence, democracy and self reliance on the continent. This, in turn,  assured the retention of old colonial economic structures as well as the extraction of new forms of economic concessions, and political control, through a diverse range of policies, directives, conditionalities, treaties and military bases promoted by foreign powers.

Secondly the installment of puppet rulers in itself, where this was feasible, greatly undermined both national and popular sovereignty and, therefore, local control over processes of governance.  This is a very significant feature of Africa’s contemporary history that deserves a great deal more attention from researchers. Nothing seems to define the political character of contemporary Africa like the struggle for control between foreign imperial powers and local nationalist, moderate or revolutionary, forces. The first major manifestation of this was the crisis in the Congo where the duly elected leader, Patrice Lumumba, was abducted and assassinated while a puppet military ruler was installed. These crises defined not only the nature of the political crises in Congo itself but also the pattern of indirect political control that tended to emerge all over Africa subsequently.

Finally, both national and regional development in Africa cannot be divorced from the ability to implement duly considered plans, at both the national and regional levels, within the bounds of existing constitutions and agreements. Failure to operate within such bounds explains why issues like citizenship identity, national unity and economic integration at all levels have not been treated rationally, systematically and on constitutional bases but are rather unusually undermined through various acts of political incitement and provocation, as well as the return to colonially induced ideology of ethnocentrism and primordialism in both politics and civil affairs. (Nabudere, 1977; Mamdani, 2002; Bello, 2010).

If there is any need to verify the truthfulness of this observation a survey of the relative successes of the Pan-Africanists, nationalists and pioneer African governments in the achievements of Pan-African unity, independence and democratization, in addition to the initiation of many independent development policies between 1950 to 1975 is enough to bear ample testimony. (Kodjo, 1989; Ali, 1988). Today’s African rulers whose failures are being generalized as an  overall African phenomenon  consist, essentially, of surrogate functionaries  supported and promoted by the West in its continuous struggle to keep the continent, its peoples and natural resources under its control.  The quest for sovereignty, justice and development in Africa, under the general label of good governance, must not be turned into an opportunity by foreign powers to intervene in African affairs leading to the subversion of both national and popularly sovereignty, which alone constitute the major bases for the independent, and democratic, development of Africa’s nation- states. Good governance cannot be but self-governance, in all senses of the term.

V. Quest for Good Governance and the Challenge of Popular Sovereignty

Indeed good governance, properly defined, cannot be reduced to the pursuit of so – called democratization and human rights on the basis of intervention in the affairs of others and generally weaker, but particularly weakest, nations. The first major problem of this perspective of interventionism, in the name of good governance, is that it does not apply to all other nations of the world but only to a few of the developing countries and most of the states in Africa.  The European and American nation states do not brook foreign intervention in their own affairs and so do not apply, or allow others to apply, such policies to undermine or compromise their sovereignty.

Secondly both national independence and democracy would mean nothing and amount to nothing if they do not translate into popular sovereignty where the citizens, on the basis of their national laws, can freely formulate the policies  that rule them as well as make their chosen representatives accountable to them through due and constitutional processes. Where, as is presently the case, the policies that rule Africa emanate from powerful foreign interests while their rulers, even where they were seemingly elected, tend to kowtow only to local and foreign overlords, it needs to be noted that such a system of indirect control is a misrepresentation of democracy.  Furthermore it is also curious that legions of foreign sponsored organizations are claiming to promote democracy in the weaker countries of the world while their very sponsors are doing everything in their power to frustrate the democratization of the UNO and other international organizations.

Finally not only is popular sovereignty the only true face of democracy it is also the surest guarantor of national independence and public interests, as well the greatest anti-dote to corruption. Unfettered empowerment of the public, through universal franchise, makes it possible for the public to use their representatives and the law, to achieve the protection of public interests.

Good governance, comprehended beyond the rhetorics of Cold War propaganda, must espouse libertarian principles and articulate popular rights in a manner that is not only applicable to each and every nation but is also respected by all nations in each and every case. This is why popular sovereignty and not external dictations or interferences ought to provide, like in most other parts of the world, the basis for the development of good governance in Africa. On the basis of this we can proceed to identify some of the key challenges that need to be taken into account in the formulation and execution of a good governance agenda. In so doing however it is important to keep some issues in perspective.

Good governance needs to be based on the identification and application of those essential principles of governance that makes it possible to overcome bad or ill-governance in favour of unity, peace, prosperity and the enjoyment of basic citizenship rights. Ill-governance is here understood to mean a form of governance that is conducted without any concern for, indeed despite, its harmful effects of oppression, exploitation, repression and pauperization on the majority of the population.

Those key political features of today, on the basis of which many characterize  Nigeria’s present day political system indicate, in themselves, the various dimensions of both bad and ill-governance in the form of corruption, tribalism, nepotism, kleptocracy and, above all, a contingency plan for the rulers to flee their countries when things finally get out of hand.

A number of studies tend to characterize Nigeria’s present day political system, in substantive and descriptive terms, as either neo-colonial or prebendal-beyond the simple clichés of ‘post colonial’, ‘nascent democracy’ or ‘civil rule’. A good number of scholars identify it as a spoil system defined by client/patron relationship as a system founded on god-fatherism. (Amin, 1974; Joseph, 1991; Essence, 2004). Such relations of god-fatherism are expressed in local political activities, as well as in the latter’s connection to the arena of international politics.  In essence god-fatherism, wherever it exists, tends to undermine the required qualities necessary for good leadership in terms of honesty of purpose, independence of character, patriotism and respect for the rule of law. It tends to undermine the capacity for the cultivation of good and independent leaders, with commitment to public interests and national goals, expressed through respect for the constitution and the rule of law. This is why many analysts of the African condition see venality, or disrespect for the laws, as the major form in which corruption asserts and manifests itself. It is also for the same reason that we need to see those countries which provide safe havens to looted funds, and serve as refuge for corrupt officials from other countries, as accomplices in the practice of ill-governance. This is also why the system corrodes democracy, and the rule of law, by denying free, popular and lawful choices in favour of surrogates at every level of the political officialdom, whether governmental or non-governmental, elective or appointive. (Essence, 2004; TELL No.5 Feb. 7th 2011; ‘Tyranny of the godfathers’; Usman, 2008 P.14ff)

The principles we use to formulate or adjudge good governance must not only be capable of overcoming conditions of external dependency, and god-fatherism, but must also not be based on any double standard in the sense that they ought to be able to apply equally to all nations. At the same time they need to respect the rights of non-interference in the affairs of other nations.

Finally the objective of good governance in Nigeria must be able to embrace and address the need for national socio-economic viability through its effective and functional integration into the African regional economic community, as the only viable framework for its general capacitation, diversification, expansion and competitive development. It is also imperative to appreciate that only such a regional platform will be able to promote not only the required economies of scale necessary for independent and sustainable economic development, it is indeed also the only basis on which Africa’s political and diplomatic unity could be harnessed and deployed for the pursuit of its vital interests at the global levels. It is through such a capacity-building process that Africa could be able to protect the interests of its various constituencies at every level from both foreign and local predation. It is also at this level that Africa could be able to exert its weight towards the reform of global institutions into a more democratic, and just, international order as an essential condition critical to its own liberation and development.

To achieve the above objectives African states need to organize, conduct and promote governance on the basis of principles capable of leading to the achievement of people-centred objectives in the form of sovereignty, unity, democracy, creativity and resource control, as well as overall security and performance capabilities.  Only in this way can we be able to approach the question of governance in an expanded, as well as integrated, enough perspective that should do justice to the peculiar problems that governance itself should address in the context of developing countries, in general, and African states in particular. We thus need to focus on:

Sovereignty: As the capacity to assure that national independence, and the freedom of the population to determine the destiny of their nation, is ensured in line with the laws of the land. A close observation of Africa’s development since independence reveal the contradictory fact that for the most part its major policies have either been imposed, or unduly influenced, from outside rather than by the needs of its own peoples. (Wisner, 1988).

Unity:  Unity is fundamental to the attainment of all social and national goals irrespective of their nature or scope. Where it fails such ventures will more often than not also fail. Unity is however not the same with uniformity and certainly not averse to diversity. Indeed unity in diversity is more of the reality in all ages and has certainly become the key principle in the management of modern political, cultural and business establishments. Unity implies the ability to identify common goals or interests and work towards their basic and persistent pursuit, at both the socio-political and economic levels. That is why the most important instrument signifying the unity of any nation is its constitution as well as the corresponding activities of the state towards its continuous realization, development and protection. Unity is not in any way a unidirectional quest for socio-cultural, religious or ethnocentric uniformity. The laws of social development deny such possibilities on the basis of differentiation in all cultures, societies and polities leading to their general transformation. Such is further denied by the need for individuals, as free citizens, to exercise their independent rights of choice, and affiliation, in relation to such matters as personal opinions, creed, affiliations and association. Most African leaders, and scholars, have remained captive to colonial ethnocentric ideologies and lost sight of the fact that the developed nations of the world do but strive only for individual citizenship on the basis of equality, and in the context of plural or multicultural societies. Perhaps the major source of Africa’s incapacity is always demonstrated when it fails to unite in order to face the challenges facing it. Where it was able to unite which are, unfortunately, few and far between it had been able to register tremendous successes and progress.

Democracy:  Democracy is designed to ensure the rights of all nationals as free citizens rather than their continued existence as colonial or other subjects. It assures their participation in the selection and control of their leaders through popular elections, as well as constitutional checks and balances, on the exercise of power. Popular sovereignty, or people’s power, constitutes the basis for independent decision making in the polity, as well as the mechanism that assures control and accountability in the use of power. Where the practice of democracy is neither based on nor serve, such ends it will be a misnomer to call it so. The denial of popular sovereignty in Africa is a fundamental source of its woes.

Creativity:  In order for any modern nation to assert its independence, promote its development and greatly benefit from its human resources it has to be able to harness, tap and properly deploy the creative and productive powers of its population. These should be in the form of a variety of solutions to its socio-cultural, economic and political problems. More often than not the prevalence of old colonial structures, and new forms of external influences, tend to preclude such possibilities in Africa.

Resource Control:  Related to the above issues is the question of resource control. This is particularly relevant for the use of resources to solve basic national and regional programmes. This problem has manifested itself in Nigeria in a manner which runs counter to the positive manner earlier Pan-Africanists and African nationalists had envisioned the utilization of Africa’s natural resources (minerals, water, fauna and flora). Unfortunately not only are Africa’s resources essentially controlled by foreigners but its failed leaders have also led their nations down the path of corruption and ethnocentrism which only promote misuse of revenues, as well as divisiveness and conflicts, in their various polities. There are today in many African states armed mobs deployed by various ill-motivated sponsors to contest and, if possible, confiscate territories which are rich in mineral resources for the benefit of certain criminal gangsters campaigning under one retrogressive banner or another. The nations of Africa must strive towards the general, comprehensive, planned and coordinated use of their resources in order to build productive, and industrialized, economies that can provide jobs, and lead to greater progress through wealth creation, reproduction and conservation for both present and future, generations.

Security:  The concern with the issues of security in Africa is today expressed at many levels of individual, public, national, sub-regional and indeed regional interests. Virtually all aspects of security concerns pervade individuals as well as public agencies and institutions in Africa. They range from individual political rights or security from hunger to general public concerns over foreign interventions, sabotage and aggression at all levels – national, sub regional and regional. They could be in the form of testing nuclear bombs, dumping toxic waste, economic sanction, instigation of coups and conflicts or outright invasion.

As many contributors have expressed, one major factor requiring attention with respect to security in all nations of Africa is the need to review, and transform, it from the inherited colonial functions of the suppression of the local population to the new need for upholding and protecting the rights of Africa’s independent citizens as well as their wellbeing and dignity. Secondly the national security outfits of African nation states need to be reoriented to the task of facilitating the integration of African countries, safeguarding the free movement of peoples in the region and the protection of its integrated economic community rather than the continued maintenance of each African state as an isolated monocultural economy operated mainly for the benefits of foreign economies. Thirdly a security network which is designed to serve the interests of the African peoples ought to have as its basic frame of reference the relevant constitutional provisions of African states as well as the various instruments, at the regional and sub-regional levels, they have adopted. It needs to be empowered, and autonomous, enough to undertake its professional responsibilities without undue interference from the executive arms of government. Finally African states need to exert their diplomatic weight, as well as invoke international law, in order to secure themselves from subversion by foreign interests.

Performance capabilities:  Performance is here seen as the operational capabilities of the essential structures for the execution and delivery of services.  An examination of the LGAs in Nigeria; their structures, capabilities, relations with traditional authorities and state governments reveals that a lot contributes to their present dysfunctional state. The same with the operations of the states and the Federal government. They hardly qualify for the term “federal” and they don’t seem committed to the execution of the essential policies of government in terms of the economic and political goals enunciated in the Constitution. A similar pattern is illustrated in the relation between the central authorities and the service institutions, or parastatals, established to support and complement their functions.

Finally an examination of the foreign component of the functions of the state reveals a tendency towards undermining previous achievements in terms of Nigeria’s leadership role in Africa, as well as the AU’s general conduct at various levels of international relations. For example not only is the recent formation of New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) an abnormality it is also counter-productive. It is both on account of the fact that not only are the so-called “partners” (USA and European states) brought into the OAU not members of the African Region but their very presence also greatly compromises, and undermines, the capabilities of the region.

The problems of political stability, continuity and efficiency, which has attracted the attention of many scholars, cannot be discussed outside the realm of the functions of such to the achievement of nationalist objectives of independence, democracy and self-determined development. Stability cannot be both the permanence and durability of colonial, and neocolonial, institutions as well as those of independent, national and Pan-African institutions at the same time. One must give way to the other and where this has not yet successfully happened only crises of instability is bound to recur.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Good governance could refer to the ability of those in power to promote and protect popular, public and national interests. In this regard governance need to be designed, and conducted, with reference to the essential need for popular sovereignty, unity, democracy, creativity and resource control in the interest of self-determination as well as overall national security and capabilities, for the effective achievement of national goals, as well as their effective protection.

In the light of the popular demand for political reforms in Nigeria two important issues need to be continually pointed out in line with the recommendations of the Political Reform Committee. In the first place there is need to insist on the complete independence of the so-called Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as well as professional autonomy for all security and law enforcement agencies, in order to shield them from undue political influence, as well as ensure that they can execute their duties without let or hindrance, in the interest of the nation and in line with its constitutional provisions.

Similarly in the light of our observations on the deviations from the provisions of the Constitution there is need for continuous pressure towards structural reforms, at both the economic and administrative levels, aimed at ensuring that not only is the Nigerian economy diversified and made more productive but that all relevant laws designed to contain corruption are duly implemented at all levels. In this regard the campaign of Nigeria’s Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) to the effect that all leading members of each administration ought to be seen to account for their tenure, in line with the laws of the land, need to be fully supported and effected.

Enhancing the scope of popular and patriotic participation in governance is vital to the achievement of Nigeria’s national objectives, as well as those of the African region. The present rather lukewarm approach to the activities of national associations, and institutions, need to be greatly improved upon. Higher institutions of learning, specialized research centres and other types of resource establishments as well as political party administrative structures, and the research capabilities of legislative assemblies at all levels, need to be facilitated to assume a more purposive, visible, capable and pro-active function in policy formulation and oversight functions. This will greatly enhance the country’s capacity to become focused as well as engage competent hands in the articulation of its national goals towards finding solutions to its national problems.

The Government needs to greatly improve its performance at the level of mobilizing, sensitizing and using community, religious, youth and women organizations as well as their leaders, towards the promotion of peace, unity and development. Conversely the state also needs to ensure constitutional enforcement of the law where the activities of organizations, or individuals, subvert or threaten these national objectives.

In addition it is important to recognize and actively promote the positive as well as ethical activities of popular and professional national bodies such as unions in the form of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), National Union Of Journalists (NUJ), Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) etc; along with professional associations like Historical Society Of Nigeria (HSN), Nigeria Political Science Association (NPSA), Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN), Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Chartered Institute of Bankers (CIB), Nigeria Institute of Architects (NIA), Nigerian Institute of Building (NIB), Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) etc as well as voluntary organizations that are active on environment, health, culture, leadership, welfare and development issues generally. The proper identification, organization and synergisation of such bodies will greatly enhance the nations capabilities in good governance at least at two critical levels. In the first place the specific contributions of each of such bodies to national programmes, and activities, constitute important and critical dimensions to the overall processes of governance in the polity, as well as the character of the essential variables informing its development practice. In the second place such organizations could, through their exertion of professional ethics and advocacy functions, play a great role in ensuring respect for the rule of law with beneficial effects on the containment of corruption in the land. In order to achieve this each professional association, in particular, and other associations in general, should work to ensure that their members respect the ethics of the organizations and are so held to account in their practices. In particular accountants, lawyers, auditors, architects and many other consultants as well as teachers, administrators, managers, and engineers in both the public and private sectors, in addition to many other social and security functionaries, will contribute a lot towards sanitizing the nation if they work towards enforcing their professional code of ethics on their respective members. This presently constitutes a very important Missing Link in our attempts to fight corruption.

Finally we need to always remember the most basic truism that governance cannot but fail, where justice does not prevail. All our efforts will come to nothing if we are not able to enthrone the delivery of justice as the most cardinal principle of all forms of our national endeavour. We need not only ensure the separation of powers, as well as the independence of the judiciary, but also the latter’s expansion, and empowerment, in such a manner that will make it possible for it to handle the enormous tasks of the delivery of justice which so many, so eagerly, expect from it and which has not only been in short supply but also deliberately denied in many cases.

Finally the extent to which we are able to separate positive political undertakings from criminal activities (fraud, rigging, embezzlement, bribery, theft, hate-mongering, kidnapping, rape, incitement to violence, public unrest, murder, arson etc) will greatly determine the progress we make towards the enthronement of justice as the cardinal principle in our national affairs. This, and only this, will help us to separate politics from criminal activities, – the two of which have been deliberately conjoined, and confused, in the interest of those in power.

In the final analysis, governance cannot but ail; indeed it must but fail, where justice does not prevail.

Lecture delivered at  the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) Kuru on Thursday, 17th February 2011 at the main auditorium , NIPSS, Kuru, Jos.


Brazil's Berimbrown

Central Connecticut State University in conjunction with Trinity College, Eastern Connecticut State University, and Yale’s Center for Latin American Studies, co-hosted a series of musical performances by the internationally acclaimed Brazilian Congo Pop Band, Berimbrow.  Professor Mary Ann Mahony, Chair of the Latin American Studies Committee, facilitated this brief interview of Mestre Negoativo (MN) of Berimbrown, that took place on Thursday April 28, 2011 in the Torp Theater, CCSU.

Interview conducted by Gloria Emeagwali

 

GE: What does Berimbrown stand for?
MN: Berimbrown is actually a musical movement. It consists of a group of musicians from different backgrounds and age groups. We use music and capoeira, the Brazilian martial art form, to engage the youth in a positive way. The local community is involved in this social movement. We compose the lyrics for the music played.

GE: What region of Brazil does the band come from?
MN: Belo Horizonte in Minas Gerais, South Central Brazil.

GE: What is your musical style?
MN: Generally we play Congo Pop and combine various traditional African styles. James Brown was an inspiration in terms of dance steps, body language, his defiance and courage.

GE: How did the band get together and with what objective?
MN: There are nine members in the band. We started in 1997. There was a great deal of violence in our Community and we tried to infuse hope and pride. The lyrics of our songs usually have a positive message and deal with everyday reality.

GE: What kinds of instruments do you play?
MN: A wide variety of drums, including sophisticated traditional African drums. One of our instruments is the Berimba, that has links to capoeira. It looks like a giant bow tied to a gourd. Another popular instrument of ours consists of seeds, symbolizing tears, enclosed in two metal plates.

Good Night

Good Night to those who are headed home
Good morning to those who are getting up
A blessing father, a blessing!
Maculele is the King of courage.

Maculele where did you come from?
I came from Angola
Mestre popo, where did you come from?
I came from Angola.
And the atabaque, where did it come from?
I came from Angola
And the agogo where did it come from?
I came from Angola.

Tindolele aue cauiza
Tindolele is royal blood
My father is the son and I am the grandson of Aruanda.
Tindolele aue cauiza.

Good night to those headed home
Good morning for those getting up.

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