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Published On: Thu, Jan 3rd, 2019

Should tribe & religion be expunged from our constitution?

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By Ifeanyichukwu Mmoh

I do think it was wise if every electorate cleared his/her preferred candidate for the office of president of the most sensitive question that is yet to be made popular as a part of relevant questions necessary to ascertain where a candidate stood as per making Nigeria more secured and going forward economically.
The place of race and religious belief viz-a-vis the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria is one argument that many Nigerians would rather not talk about. Yet it remains pivotal to everything that made a country either prosperous and in peaceful harmony or in pains, poverty and war. It is one question that has remained fluid in the face of sociopolitical analysis.
No one doubted the economic significance of the question of race and religion but at the same time, no one wanted to discuss it or see it as a necessary part of a questionnaire or interview or debate. Hence, while the election frenzy was building and while questions about the polity, restructuring and the economy’s importance are overblown; nothing is really said about race or religion.
For instance, how does your preferred candidate view the issue of an appointee’s loyalty; was it supposed to be to the president or to the constitution? If loyalty was to the president, it means that your candidate is most likely to run his government with family members as top aides. But if it was to the constitution, it means any Nigerian could work with the president.
Again, how does your candidate view the issue of competence; does he think the Nigerian people deserved competent appointees or himself? If he believes he deserved competent appointees rather than the Nigerian people; he is more likely to turn his cabinet into a religious gathering or brotherhood of tribesmen like we’ve seen the government of President Muhammadu Buhari did.
Again, find out what he thinks about resource control. Did he feel it was right to hand over the gold mines in Ondo state or the one in Niger state to the government of Nigeria? Did he feel it was right for government to control these resources and not be concerned with compensation due the environment? First, if he believed the gold mines should go to government as government property; he is more likely to be unbiased.
Secondly, if he feels that it wasn’t he is more likely to be biased. Ask me how. Resource control has been a front burner for a while essentially because government neglected the environment.
Now, if one felt that the solid minerals are to be controlled by the federal government then it means that he will easily take responsibility for the environment – regardless of the people or the state involved – and most likely do things a little more differently from his predecessors. Otherwise meant that your candidate was most likely to ignore the degradation of the environment which was a responsibility government owed its citizens.
You may also need to find out from your candidate what he feels about the Muslim worshippers who built places of worship and blocked the highway because they were located along a highway or the Christian worshippers who used loudspeakers on high pitch for worship. Accordingly, road blocks because of worship constituted public inconvenience and loudspeakers at high pitch signaled noise pollution.
The candidate who was firm and did not defer the idea – which is growing anyway – that race and religion be expunged from our constitution and that every citizen must be equal in the eyes of the law, was your candidate. That candidate will not have issues with conceding to those who demanded for restructuring and the entrenchment of true federalism. He will be miffed by the appointee who brought shame to his government in the name of loyalty.
Because loyalty, he knows should be to the constitution and to the Nigerian people instead of to him or his office. Folks like Col. Lawal Daura (rtd) have in the past, brought great disgrace to the federal government when – in a bid to show loyalty to his employer (Muhammadu Buhari) – deployed troops to condone off the national assembly when it was constitutionally incorrect to have done so.
Observation showed that the interest of an average Nigerian was easily influenced by 3 factors namely: Tribe, Religious affiliation and Greed for gains. But tribe and religious affiliation ranked as primary influencer for greed for gains. This is how nepotism, sectional appointments, crass impunity, indiscipline and corruption have come to plague us as a society.
As these candidates reel out the wonderful ideas they had for us if elected; I still believe it was necessary to take them on any question that bothered on race and religion because the country’s quagmire at the moment came about because of how lightly we’ve treated the important issue of cosmopolitanism and secularism in the past. Folks told us in the past that they would fight corruption, end insecurity and fix the economy.
And when they came on board and found that a great number of their acquaintance had corruption cases to answer; they became sentimental. When they saw that insurgency was impoverishing their region; they thought of ways to duplicate chaos in the Niger Delta and the Southeast regions by using military force to answer youths who were – though making threats of treason – only agitating peacefully against obvious neglect.
We have had folks tell us how workable their ideas were in bringing solution to the economic impasse but when they got to office, they dollarized the economy because they wanted their tribesmen to benefit form the sale of the dollar. And when they got to office, they simply couldn’t see how peaceful co-existence, a sense of fair play as well as kind utterances had a tremendous positive effect on national economy.
They harassed, witch-hunted and assassinated characters in a bid to show that they tracked the movement of illegal monies. They flaunted court orders and chose a secret and dictatorial style to run government as against the open and accountable system they promised. For the Vice-president to access his boss; he was required to go through a brick-wall of aides who must know why the president was to be seen.
Tribe and religion is one of the reasons why I believed that the youth – who are tipped as those capable of fixing the country – cannot and will fail to do so. What does an average youth think about President Muhammadu Buhari’s style of governance?
The northerner applauds it and the southerner deplores it. The Muslim praise him but the Christian criticize him. However, not all who criticize are right and not all who praise are wrong. But the change of mood is no doubt real and told where the youth stood as per race and religion. Check these candidates out and let’s get Nigeria working again.

Comrade Ifeanyichukwu Mmoh is an advocate for attitudinal change and researcher.

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