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WEIGHED AND FOUND WANTING – NIGERIA AS A FAILED STATE

By Joshua Omenga

Even from the standpoint of the most insouciant observer of the goings-on in Nigeria for the past few years, one does not need an analyst to understand the degenerate level of existence in which its citizens have and are continually being relegated to. However, it is not an obvious assertion that Nigeria is a failed state – not at least for one who for a moment takes time to consider the implications of such assertion. For this reason, and not for its unobviousness, one needs out of respect for the reader’s justified incredulity to attempt an explanation.
A failed state is a state whose living standard has gone below the minimum standard of civilised existence, a state which is unable to function even at a minimum standard of basic competence in the globalised economy. Such a state often becomes a haven of criminal activities: smuggling, peddling of illegal drugs, extortion at various levels of government and its parastatal, and terrorist activities. Most significantly, such a state is unable, in the main, to curtail these activities. These are debatable criteria, and not in the least exhaustive; but for those who have been witnesses to these activities, they are mere academic locution whose correctness or otherwise does not diminish the people’s level of suffering in such a state.

Therefore, the question whether Nigeria has degenerated to this abysmal concept should be not a matter of definition but of experience – of none but those who are first-hand witnesses of the Nigerian story. Leaving then this question to be answered by each stakeholder, this article will direct its attention to the more germane issue: the IMPLICATIONS of the Nigeria’s degeneracy – its inability to provide security, economic stability, internal sovereignty and to satisfy the yearnings of its disgruntled citizens, in the light of the aim of governments and international law.

We, the People’ and the Social Contract Theory

The government of any state exists for the purpose of fulfilling the mandates of its people. The early philosophy on the emergence of governments, called the Social Contract Theory, derives from the crude understanding among a people to surrender their right of self-governance to a sovereign who, in exchange, would provide them with security of persons and ensure stability from the pristine state of nature in which the mighty devoured the weak. Prior to this pact, the people were solely responsible for their own protection, achieved in whatever means; after the pact, the sovereign is responsible for the protection of the people, in exchange of the people’s obedience. The end of the people’s obedience, says Hobbes, is the protection offered by the sovereign. This forms the core of the pact; it is from this that the sovereign, by whatever name called, derives the power exercisable over the citizens. We shall see later what happens when and if such right to self-governance ‘donated’ to the sovereign is withdrawn.
That this is no mere antediluvian elocution of philosophers, whose irrelevance never existed or has diminished, may be seen from its operation in most governments in the world, especially the acclaimed democratic ones. The grund norm of the Nigerian polity proclaims boldly that ‘sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority; the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government: and the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.’ Bold assertions, these; one need not go far to appreciate its magnanimity: that the government belongs to the people. If for a moment we accept the tenability of this assertion, even theoretically, then we have a ground in this discussion. It would not be an empty inquiry if we attempt to explore the implication of failure of a party to this contract to fulfil its obligations.

The Nigerian state is an agglomerate of many nations, one need hardly reiterate, forced into an uneasy amalgam to sate the British exploitative desires. Fundamental though the flaw of its formation is, it is an immaterial inquiry into the validity of this political contract foisted on the peoples by the colonial power; what is of tangible moment is whether, having entered into this contract, any rights still subsist for the parties. To this we answer in the affirmative: that there remains the right vested in the people under the constitution to form and determine their own governments. Inherent in this – even express to one to one who is unused to the impoverishment of power – is the people’s right to determine who and how their political sphere is controlled.

Nigeria Weighed

Nigeria as a state has emphatically failed to fulfil its obligations under this ‘social contract’: it has failed to provide its citizens with security. And let it not be imagined for a moment that security means only the protection from ballistic activities. O yes, it is hardly worth anyone’s time to be burdened with instances of terroristic activities and other life-threatening criminalities which the Nigerian state has failed to protect its citizens from; it is simply a matter of res ipsa loquitur. Nigerians have in fact taken the constant unrest due to terroristic activities as a part of their lives’ phenomena. It is not a label of any particular government but of the state, an incorrigible determination to betray the owners of its mandate. The source of people’s outcry is therefore not in this aspect of security to which the people have adapted (being, in Soyinka’s words, a nation of short memory), but in a rather old kind of menace to which the people are unable to adapt: economic insecurity. It is by no means an agenda of this write-up to attempt to elucidate the reasons, much less proffer solution, for this menace; and so no moment will be spent than in the mere recognition of the menace.

Seeing then that the Nigerian state has breached its contract with the people, what remedy should the people pursue? What say the propounders of the social contract theory as to the consequence of its breach? Hobbes: ‘the obligations of subjects to the sovereign is intended to last as long as, and no longer, than the power lasteth by which the sovereign is able to protect them.’ ‘A sovereign when ruled by passion and ignorance may govern in its own self-interest and prove too incompetent to protect the interest of its subjects. Such a sovereign loses the right to obedience.’ There is no need to pontificate on the glaring fact, namely, that the sovereign violates this social pact once, by its actions or inactions, it can no longer offer a measure of protection to its people; that the sovereign of the Nigerian state has demonstrated times innumerable its inability to offer the most basic protection to its people. I assert that a state which, through its policy or lack of it, has so bastardised the economy as to remove the bread from the table of the many, has failed in material respect, failed to the extent that the citizens’ right to legitimate disobedience may rightly be activated.
But quite apart from the right of legitimate disobedience to irresponsible government, it should not be imagined at all that peoples who have vested the sovereign with power under this social pact cannot of their own volition divest the sovereign of such power. I assert that not only may the people do so, but that the people may also in addition decide for themselves the political sphere under which they intend to be governed. The least option available to the people is to withdraw their mandate – which implies individual re-investiture with self-governance. May the same people not donate their power again to form a new government of their choice?

The Entity Vs The People

Those who preach the unity of the Nigerian state often hinge it, albeit inadvertently, on the concept of ‘uti possidetis’. We shall examine the flaws of that concept later. Then in a very righteous tone, they insist that the sovereignty of Nigeria is not negotiable. Leaving apart the rightness or wrongness of such pontification, what interest have those who preach this doctrine of inviolability of Nigerian territory, the non-negotiability of ‘its unity’? I seek your leave to quote and adopt in extensor some strong words of Soyinka long before the present degeneracy: ‘We must not even shy away from the possibility that a nation is a mere sentimental concept, unfounded in any practical advantages for its occupants…The inviolability principle of national boundaries is therefore a fictitious concept, born out of nothing more substantial than faith… When I listen therefore to the pontificating voice declaring that the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable, I detect only wooly or opportunistic thinking. What the speaker is saying is this: It suits me and mine to keep Nigeria a single entity… Yes, whatever the individual or group motivations or expectations that compel this bond in the occupants of a national space, let us cling to them by all means and lodge them in the collective pot. But the language of “non-negotiability” simply has to be abandoned. It must be consciously terminated for reasons that are quite simple to grasp but are unfortunately obscured to a majority because of its overpowering Sunday school rhetoric. At heart, such language is subversive because it is designed to stop intelligent confrontation with the very issues whose resolution is essential to guarantee the emergence or continuity of such geographical spaces as true nations.’

Agreeing then that a state in no more than a summation of its occupants, sands apart, one encounters no difficulty in jettisoning the notion of sacrosanctity of a state’s sovereignty when those beating its knell are the citizens themselves. But that is the kennel of the uti possidetis doctrine: a principle whose primary aim is securing respect for the territorial boundaries at the moment when independence is achieved. Its damaging implication is the desire to extinguish not only external claims to territories prejudicing a sovereign state but also internal disruptive elements. By this doctrine, groups within independent states should not seek a fractionalisation of the state, except by consent of the constituent peoples. The impotence of this doctrine is hardly worth the discussion.

International Law: a Bulwark and a Restriction

It is necessary to explain before much is said about international law that unlike domestic legal system, international law follows practice and not the other way round. When therefore international law concept is posed, one should be circumspect to regard it as immutable, or mutable in the same way that a domestic legal system is; rather, states act and their acts become law. There are of course many qualifications to this rather oversimplified explanation, but we shall proceed on that assumption with its imperfection.
The seeming postulation under the international law regime that the sovereign integrity of a state should not be undermined either from without or from within is also logical in the face of another benevolent doctrine: the doctrine of non-interference which posits simply that states are not to interfere in the domestic affairs of other states. But what constitutes the domestic affairs of a state? They are too many, and highly subjective; I will therefore only answer in the evasive by giving what it does not mean. It does not include human rights and racial oppression of the people within the state’s jurisdiction. When an action of a state amounts to oppression or violation of human rights of the people within its jurisdiction, it cannot lay claim to this non-interference doctrine.
One such international dimension of collective human rights is the right to self-determination. We shall for now overlook its rather controversial political perspective and focus on its rights dimension. The Helsinki Final Act of 1975 iterated that self-determination includes ‘people’s right, in full freedom, to determine when and as they wish, their internal and external political status, without any external interference and to pursue as they wish their political, economic and cultural development.’ Article 20 of the African Charter (which in a questionable decision the Supreme Court admitted to be superior than the Nigerian constitution) recognised the right of peoples to self-determination. Some words in lieu of definition: self-determination is not a magic concept which vests any disgruntled group of people with the right of secession. Secession and its attendant breakdown of law and order is the very thing that the promulgators of the doctrine aim at preventing. To this end, the traditional, political view to this right is that it ends at the door of colonialism: an independent state has no further use for the self-determination concept. That is as far as theory goes; no, not even theory but merely the entrenched level of development. For even at the heart of this ‘freezing’ of territory at independence, the independent Yugoslavia broke up. The Advisory Opinion to this act? ‘Republics must afford members of those minorities and ethnic groups all human rights and fundamental freedom recognised in international law, including where appropriate the right to choose their nationality.’ The Canadian Supreme Court, while emphasising the necessity of non-interference in the state’s sovereignty and boundary, mentioned ‘exceptional circumstances in which a right to secession may arise within an independent state.’
What is often advocated in lieu of secession for independent states is ‘internal self-determination’. This means simply that within the polity of the independent state, there should be guaranteed a people’s pursuit of their political, economic, social and cultural developments. To this end, individuals and groups have a legitimate interest in ensuring the efficient functioning of the state in a manner consistent with respect for the rights of individuals and groups. I assert that even in the concession that only internal self-determination applies in the Nigerian situation, the Nigerian state has failed in this respect as to amount to an exceptional circumstance in which the peoples’ right to seek a political definition for themselves should be honoured.
Thus even within the contradictions of international law, the Nigerian situation has reached a maximum level of tolerability. There is no pretence left for the sovereign to continue holding on to the destiny of the Nigerian peoples.

The Way of the People

Not for a moment should it be construed in earnest that the main aim of this article is to justify the right of a particular people to secession – not of course that it deprecates that. Rather, the aim of this article is to say what many are already aware of but afraid to admit: that the Nigerian state is a failure from the human perspective and that the time has come for its people to determine their destiny. What this collective determination will result in is another question. The anthem should be stifled midway in its chant that the Nigerian sovereignty or territory is not negotiable. The peoples who are the initiators of this ‘contract’ may vary its terms as they wish, or dissolve it altogether, and it is of no moment to anyone what new contract they decide to enter into.
The lesson for the present government is not to think that it can hide behind any hollow concept in deploying resistance to the peoples’ will. It should instead seek to understand the desires of the people, and so long as it attempts to any discernible degree to fulfil them, the people will continue according it obedience. Any policy of the sovereign, no matter how well intentioned, which the people do not see as beneficial, will meet inevitably with resistance. It should be no surprise to the Nigerian government that having led its people into dark, bitter waters, they should resist at all possible fronts. This is merely the beginning; people are only gradually realising by the totality of their travail that the Nigerian state is a failure. The culmination of this realisation no one should be comfortable to prophesy.

© 2017 Joshua Omenga

Published By Great Opara

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2017 in Politics, The Law

 

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OVERALL BEST GRADUATING STUDENT FROM LAW SCHOOL 2016 – AYO KADIRI

Law School is hard. Your lowest grade is your graduating class. There is a lot of pressure. 

These are a few of the things we hear about The Nigerian Law School, which is the final gate, standing between us, and our License to practice the Legal profession in Nigeria. And so making a 2.1 from Law School is no small feat. It means your lowest grade was a B! Now talk about bagging a First Class! Means you made a straight 5 points! But that is not all…to be best graduating student, it means your individual grades were the highest! You 5.0 was the ‘5.0-iest’…and that, is a big deal. A very VERY big deal!

It is our pleasure to announce that this year, the singular person who achieved this feat is one of ours. Ayo Kadiri of the Law Class of ’15 just got called to the Bar, and it was no small call. Before she went on to do this, we’ll have you know that while still in school, she was a founding member of the Blog Committee, an Exco of the Gani Chambers, Editor in Chief of the Lex Observer, was the first representative of the Tax Club at the Tax Quiz of the Annual Tax Conference…and she made a 2.1.

What prospects the Legal profession holds for her cannot be imagined, as she is already being terribly coveted by law firms all over Nigeria, the UK, and beyond. We will be sure to keep our fingers crossed, and our ears open for her news when she takes the scene. Did we forget to say, Congratulations Barrister Ayodele Kadri!

Who said hard work doesn’t pay……oh that’s right, Nobody.

Published By William-Adusa Hosanna and Great Opara

ayo-kadiri

 

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THE PENDULUM

Name: Raymond Sylva-Oriji
Level: 300
Article, Title: The Pendulum

I remember that time, that ss1 time, when science or arts was the reigning subject. The struggle ehn, to pick one and remain there, was amusing. One Mercy, short girl like this, she had a desk in each class, just in case she felt in the mood for Literature by 11a.m, then Chemistry by 1p.m.
Even I was indecisive. Very. Unbeknown to me that I will still study law, I remember going for one Physics class where I saw the pendulum. That thing amazed me, the movement, the sway, the subsequent calm. No matter how much the naive students pushed it left and right, it ALWAYS came back to it’s centre, it’s focus, as if mocking their futile attempts to derail it.
Ehen, coming back to our faculty sef, how far results? My own ehn, it was not so bad o, but then it was disappointing. You know when you starch everything, from your shirt to your shoe, you swerve through traffic, and then, at the wedding, they say jollof has finished? That kind of disappointing. Then to make it worse, my Engineering peers will now be complaining that the B they’re getting is ruining their GP. Ahn ahn. B? If I get all Bs in Law, I will even go and ask the lecturers to remark o, because it’s probable that something went wrong.
Kai, LAW. Almighty LAW. And I hear we’ve not even started, that it gets harder as we go higher. Thinking back to that pendulum time, I sometimes wish I had stuck to sodium monoxide, F = MA and dy/dx. It’s really annoying o, like C is now the new A. They will be using somebody’s future to play lawn tennis. How will I even tell my father? My new response to ‘How was your result?’ is ‘sigh, my brother, thank God it was not F’. Sincerely, I’m tired.
So, before this thing becomes unbearably long, let me round up. Even if we, the reputed lawyers cannot study Chemistry and Physics, I pray us to make like the pendulum. Amidst all the turmoil and seemingly futile long hours in the library, be still. Be firm. Like the pendulum, find your gravity, let it help you stay on track. The lectures, lecturers, books will frustrate you, but find your place, and little by little, like the pendulum, you will finally be still. There will finally be peace.
Oya, please come and be going. Let me not waste your time. Me? I’m going to the library – that CGPA must rise. As the semester unfolds, I wish you peace, and just like our Mockingjay people used to say, MAY THE ODDS BE EVER IN YOUR FAVOUR.

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2016 in Students Write-ups

 

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SO FAR NOT SO GOOD

It’s been a while since I posted anything on here…I know, I missed me too. Quite seriously though, I want to ” briefly” run you through what Law has been like for me, so far….
I should start with my freshman year. That year was just full of partying, scouting for babes at New Hall, vodka, disturbing the peace, and vodka, oh, did I mention vodka? So, yeah I had my first F. But bleak as it seemed, my first semester results were fair. Against all odds, things improved in year two, like I was surprised sef, and I had the illusion that it’d always be like that. Then, I entered year 3 (ghen ghen), and then I was made to realise that no matter how smart you think you are, in Law, you can be the real olodo…I must confess, the whole Lombroso parole never really stuck, but at least, I got as much as I could into my head. You see, the problem with this Law ehn, isn’t that you’re dumb, it’s that somehow, what you think you wrote isn’t what the examiner wants…I’m positive that a lot of us would perform better if exams were oral, or something… Criminal law questions be like “Buhari and Muhammad Ali were on a plane, the next day, Ali died. Donald Trump has come to you for advice. Discuss how Stephen Keshi should be buried” and they’ll be looking for A’s. You’ll empty your intellectual watering can on the seeds of law courses, and few will germinate. You’ll na be seeing E, F, C, C on noticeboard. With all the reading and stuff, it seems “Library o jawo mo”. It is well oh, shout out to all the lecturers who made last semester the way it was. I hope this semester is much better than the last, for everyone. #iStillLoveLaw.

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2016 in Students Write-ups

 

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Why an Aspirant may never need a Secondary School Certificate to be President of Nigeria. By Akindele Olabode and Olushuyi Olutimilehin

PRESIDENCY IN NIGERIA AND THE ‘SSCE REQUIREMENT’
The executive power of a state is, without mincing words and without underplaying the powers of other organs of government, the foremost governmental power in all sovereign states of the world. In Nigeria, it the most strived for; in fact we only recently began to move past the ‘do-or-die’ era in some regions of the federation while other regions still record embarrassingly mischievous political tactics, violent electioneering and the death of a winning candidate in manner not pre-empted by constitutional provisions.
The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, taking its cue from a fusion of global federal and presidential trends, provides in section 5(1) that “…the executive powers of the federation shall be vested in the president…” By virtue of Section 5(1) which is summarily stated above, a president should at all times exist in a country as the executive head of state and government.
Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2016 in Law Guru, Politics

 

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VOX POP: WHAT THEY THINK ABOUT US.

In this edition, we bring to you a topic, well, not too intriguing, but then it’s quite interesting. It’s what people from other faculties think of we law students. As usual, various opinions were sampled, and minds were spoken. Enjoy.

“They like book too much, and they have hidden talents.” –Banks; Engineering.

“The ones I know are cool. Normal everyday students. In your white and black.” –Daniel; Architecture.

“The girls are hot. The guys are dumb af. They are cool people sha. But I think there’s lots of forming. I also feel they do co-operate and support one another tho.” –Lamipe; FSS.

“Uh I think they are really cool and highly intellectual set of people, at least the ones I know. They’re hard workers and people you can call the ‘leaders of tomorrow.’” –Tolu; Sciences.

“They are classy, intelligent, proud, and they have this air of authority they carry about when they walk. I think that black and white, o ma n gun yin gan (translated as ‘the black and white dressing gets into our heads’). Oh, and they’re friendly.” –Kenny; Accounting.

“I don’t know what to say about law students na. They are iintelligent and confident.” -Eche; Engineering.

“They are cool, I think. Well, people have the mindset that you guys are proud, but then I doubt. They’re misunderstood, mostly.” –Chineme; Arts.

“Lawyers are liars. So law students should be potential liars. They have no respect for each other, because they have no department. You think you can just wake up to a year five guy who will break your heart. Then you’re in year four. You run to engineering looking for potential husband. Bullocks.” –Chidubem; Engineering.

Hours and I’m still confused at the last response. Well well, people are entitled to their “opinions.”

DISCLAIMER: THE ABOVE RESPONSES ARE NOT THOSE OF THE WRITER, RATHER, THEY ARE THE UNFILTERED RESPONSES OF RESPONDENTS TO THE VOX POP.
Peace.

IMG 20160120 WA0001  Taiwo Famakinde is a member of the Law class of ’19. She is a fun loving writer who likes to conduct interviews and vox pops (sampling people’s opinions on a particular issue). She enjoys reading, music and travelling.

 

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Americans and a Female President

By Samuel Abu

Americans would rather have a black man or an irrational man as a president than a female.

“every work experience was a hit back to back from the UN to Senate and Secretary of state……..Feminism must take over”

Err okay, so I think that’ll probably be an exasperated expression of a woman in the male dominated political scene.. Perhaps maybe one such as the U. S. Well honestly you can’t blame such if it ever happen though, we’ll only need to know the fact that or perhaps I might be wrong. Nonetheless the possibility that Americans would probably vote for another black man or in fact an irrational hateful alleged “bigot” over Hillary Clinton would be discussed further.
Trust me, this isn’t some sort of hoax. In fact, if anything was to be a hoax, Donald J Trump’s irrationality isn’t one. So let’s travel back in time as I use one very prominent American female’s experience to prove the hypothesis of Americans and their issues with women in the political scene.
In 2008, the world was elated by the words of a man which was simply ” yes we can”. Barrack Obama became the first ever elected black American President and I’ll see this is as a necessary step however to the historical development of the country and also a political game, yeah trust me it was. We know that year to be the end of the Bush Dynasty, which set forth an open path for others to become involved in the presidential experience. Also that year saw the sparkling lights of a potential female president as well. This woman had worked with the UN nations with regards to women development rights, she’s served in the Senate, and in fact she’s a wife of a former American president….Her score cards had a cogent weight of intellectuals, ooo my oo my it was a hit back to back  yet they brought in Barrack Obama.
Funny Americans, the day a white woman was strong enough to sway their votes, they allowed a black man into government… What happened to the likes of Jesse Jackson, Shirley Chilsom etc they were all at one time potential black candidates too. Either way 2008 would have been a great year  historical, a first black president or female President. They went for the former over the latter.
Eight years down the line, the American Society would soon be called to the polls. Although the presidential debate had started, and miniature polls have been setup. Hillary Clinton is at it again, well to be honest I felt this time around, she’s just gonna ride along to the white house with no real threat or so… Oh boy I was wrong. In fact, Americans have had another favorite, worthy of keeping Hillary on the sidelines  and I’m sure even if you don’t know anything about American politics, this particular dude’s name must have come across your hearing. The wonderful irrational and realistic Donald J Trump.
This year’s presidential election is gonna be a really epic one, because Hillary is back with a very brainy and more acute plans. Yet despite her 4yrs as sec of state coupled with other cogent experiences, Americans have seen a new messiah in the very courteous Donald Trump…. “He’s the man the country needs, he’s realistic and very active”
Mean while, there’s a woman who’s been an American icon herself. Here we can’t say she isn’t worth it or she’s lack the experience,  in fact compared to Trump he’s not even meant to be a candidate. More over, this would only serve as a proof that Americans well, don’t really fancy a female president, in fact they’ll prefer Donald J Trump to be their president if possible. And if possible I mean the mock polls reiterate same feat.  I just hope the 2016 elections would get hillary Clinton fans like     “But Sir let’s be honest, every work experience was a hit back to back from the UN to Senate and Secretary of state……..cmon, Feminism must take over”.  And then maybe, just maybe Trump would go ” Well I like her persistent spirit, but if she’s won the election, it probably wasn’t a honest poll”
If this should happen, well it’ll be sad, and painful for some of her fans, but nonetheless it would have been a good show.

 

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