Osinbajo, London and globalisation

Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo

At the 40th annual conference of the Nigerian Association of law Teachers, the then versatile Dr. Yusuf Bala Usman, the iconic historian of the then once foremost Ahmadu Bello University Zaria in Kaduna State, North West Nigeria, once gave these impressions of his understanding of the concept of globalisation. He affirmed as follows: “There are so many definitions of globalisation. But, the essence of the conception of it, which is dominant now, seems to me to be that globalisation is, basically, the intensification, over the last two decades, of the interconnection and interdependence between all parts of the world, particularly at the levels of the economy and communications, such that former national barriers to the movement of information, finance, goods, services, and entrepreneurship, are being drastically reduced and everybody now has to compete with everybody in what has now become a global village and a single global market. ”

He argued further: “This is presented as a new phenomenon, marking a distinctly new epoch in world history, which had roots in earlier periods, but which has come up, since early 1980s, sweeping everything before it”. To me I think this represents a brilliant attempt at encapsulating the real import of the word globalisation.  I so adopt. My reflection on the recent one day whistle stopover but totally unannounced visit to London, the United Kingdom by Nigeria’s Acting President Professor Yemi Osinbajo has understandably commenced with a brief take on the concept of globalisation because of the sad scenarios playing out at the top most echelons of Nigerian Presidency. This is because of the indisputable fact that as a member of the comity of nations experiencing the almighty globalisation, it is expected that Nigeria must comply with global best practices. Since we are citizens of the global community of humanity, that subscribes to international affiliations to advanced civilisations in the West, we are obliged as of necessity to behave as sane and civilised members of the human race coexisting under the same epoch and time.

Sadly, Nigeria is politically governed in such medieval fashions that a calm, calculated and meticulous thinker would inevitably begin to imagine how come we cling on to the farcical claim of being a constitutional democracy but yet turn the rules of the game upside now but still expect sane persons in saner climes to take us serious. This is because globally, especially in democracy, accountability by leaders is sacrosanct. But who cares about accountability in contemporary Nigeria. But here we are in Nigeria, whereby the President Muhammadu Buhari has spent virtually one hundred days in a foreign medical facility at grave financial burden to the common wealth, but the people are deliberately denied of their legal and constitutional right to know how much of their resources are being spent medically attending to just one citizen even whilst over 100 million citizens out of over estimated 150 million population go through excruciating economic perils. This is even as the Constitution says that Sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria who periodically and willfully donate authority and legitimacy to those of our brethren occupying political offices. Again, here we are in Nigeria with all the constitutional provisions, but yet the political elite have breached the most fundamental tenet which obliges them to be transparent and to live beyond reproach if they must serve and not to be served. In Nigeria of today political leaders live like masters and treat the citizens like conquered slaves.

Who knows, perhaps, the way governance is witnessing speedy decline in much of Africa with such presidents like those of Nigeria and Zimbabwe frequently been flown abroad to distant jurisdictions for expensive medical emergency treatments, that made the young president of France Mr. Emmanuel Macron to question the validity of the claim of civilization and willingness to abide by democratic norms by Africans.

As reported Yesterday by a British Press, Mr. Emmanuel Macron has faced criticism in some quarters for claiming “civilisational” problems and women having “seven or eight children” as factors hampering development in African nations. Independent newspaper reports that while speaking at the G20 summit, the French President was asked about the possibility of implementing a policy in the continent like America’s Marshall Plan for rebuilding Europe after the Second World War. “The problems Africa face today are completely different … and are ‘civilisational’,” Mr. Macron told a reporter from former French colony Ivory Coast. “What are the problems?

Failed states, complex democratic transitions and extremely difficult demographic transitions.” In a lengthy reply, Mr. Macron also listed issues including Islamist terrorism, drugs and weapons trafficking but said there were examples showing the “continent is a land of opportunity.” He said that although France, a former colonial power that controlled dozens of territories across Africa, accepted responsibility to help with infrastructure, education and heath, a “simple money transfer” was not the answer. “It’s by a more rigorous governance, a fight against corruption, a fight for good governance, a successful demographic transition when countries today have seven or eight children per woman,” Mr. Macron added. “At the moment, spending billions of euros outright would stabilise nothing. So the transformation plan that we have to conduct together must be developed according to African interests by and with African leaders.”

Although, one may not totally subscribe to the whole thesis of civilisational issues tearing down Africa as has just been postulated by the French president who was a diplomat even in Nigeria, but if we must tell ourselves the truth, we must acknowledge that the political elite have been left to push Nigeria to the Medieval period whereby a Philosopher Thomas Hobbes called it a state of nature that made life miserable, short, uninteresting and pathetic. Come to think of it, Mr. Emmanuel Macron may be substantially correct. Is it the question of collapse of national infrastructures? Is it the question of large scale theft of public fund by state governors?

Is it the matter of the incessant violent attacks of farmers by armed Fulani herdsmen and the apparently conspiratorial silence and deliberate criminal inaction of the armed security forces to check these ugly trends? The questions begging for a civilised response in Nigeria are widening by the day but the total disrespect of the people by the presidency in this case of the ill-health of President Muhammadu Buhari is pathetic. Three scholars-John M. Shishi; Yakubu Isa and Abdulkarim A. Kana contributed a researched paper in the book titled: “Globalization, National Development and Law”, and affirmed that good governance is a Sine qua non for a legitimate democracy.

Their words: “Good governance can be identified more than defined. It can simply be defined as governance according to agreed rules and regulations that satisfy the development needs and aspirations of the members of a given society. Good governance emanates from a legitimate government that does not act arbitrarily and achieves the common goals of a nation.” The scholars quoted the multilateral finance institutions the World Bank as viewing good governance as “the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for development.” The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on the other hand, sees good governance as “the use of political, economic and administrative powers at all levels of government to deal appropriately with the problems facing a country.”

The main ingredients of good governance to the UNDP are: Citizen participation in governance, the rule of law, transparency, and equality.” In Nigeria however, the political rulers have little or no regards for the constitutional right of the people of Nigeria to participate in the governance process.

A situation whereby the presidency conceals the real health status of the president and the ship of state has continued to remain unstable is totally unwarranted. This sad situation has even culminated in a bad history been recorded for the first time since 1914 that the name Nigeria was imposed on us by the British colonial overlords. For the first time, both the president and the Acting president met in a foreign jurisdiction and for 24 hours the country ran without any leader in what is a clear breach of the constitution and even the law of nature which abhors a vacuum. Nigerians must collectively take a position on how best to salvage this ugly situation and demand for openness and accountability from the president.

The Nigerian Presidency shouldn’t be administered as a cult whereby certain elected and unelected persons are constantly engaged in the deadly game of selfish political warfare at the detriment of the wellbeing of the nation State and the collective welfare of the People.

The substantive President elected by 15 million voters cannot continue to travel to foreign medical facilities whilst political instability and economic collapse steer us in our faces. He had better thrown in the towel and allow the constitutional mechanisms to be activated.
Let the constitutional provisions as set out under Section 144(1) and (2) take its full course so we do not collapse as a nation. For the avoidance of semantic doubts, these are the exact wordings of the 1999 constitution specifically in section 144(1) and (2 (1).

“The President or Vice-President shall cease to hold office, if (a) By a resolution passed by two-thirds majority of all the members of the executive council of the Federation it is declared that the president or vice-president is incapable of discharging the functions of his office; and (b) The declaration is verified, after such medical examination as may be necessary, by a medical panel established under subsection (4) of this section in its report to the president of the senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives; and (2) Where the medical panel certifies in the report that in its opinion the president or vice-president is suffering from such infirmity of body or mind renders him permanently incapable of discharging the functions of his office, a notice thereof signed by the president of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall be published in the official Gazette of the Government of the Federation.” We must be governed by law and not by the whims and caprices of a cabal.

Onwubiko is head of Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria.  



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