Curled from This Day
A former United States of America (USA) Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell says Nigeria is on the brink of imminent collapse.
Campbell disclosed this recently in an interview with newsmen.
He, therefore, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently take a number of steps to could help salvage the country from the impending implosion.
He said that such implosion would be an ‘unmitigated disaster’.
Campbell described the 1914 amalgamation of the Southern and Northern Protectorates by the British colonial rulers as borne out of mere administrative comfort.
The former envoy said that some of the immediate steps to be taken to save the country from collapse included addressing the police and military’s age-old issue of human rights abuses.
Campbell said that the secession agitations in parts of the country could also be addressed if the Federal Government considered the logic in power devolution.
“Right away, it would be those steps that could be taken that would show Nigerian people that the government is moving to address the issues that bedevil the country.
“I would start with police reform and also seeking to address the question of human rights abuses by both the police and the military,” he said.
The former US ambassador and the Ralph Bunche senior fellow for Africa Policy Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations also recommended that the Federal Government needed to consider a review of the constitution.
He said that such constitution would addresses the aspiration of the masses as well as endorsed by them.
He noted that successive Nigeria constitutions, including the current one were imposed and did not address Nigeria’s genuine political faultlines and aspirations, including its various ethnic nationalities.
Campbell, therefore, urged those in power to pursue a course of rewriting the constitution to genuinely take into consideration current issues and realities.
“The amalgamation of Nigeria by the British was done for their own administrative convenience without any consultation of Nigerians and without thinking what the consequences of putting together in a single unit 350 different ethnic groups that had little in common with each other might be.
“But, I would suggest that that approach has continued. Nigeria’s constitutions had been imposed first by the British, later by various military regimes, and was never submitted to the Nigerian people for a vote or for ratification,” he said.
The senior fellow at the CFR think-tank maintained that Nigeria’s current constitution mimicked that of the U.S. but is generally relics of the British colonial rule and military regimes that had superintended Nigeria.
“The current constitution, in many respects, mimics that of the USA. In the immediate post-independence period, the country’s constitution essentially mimicked that of the Westminster way of governance.
“Maybe, these western models have shortcomings when they are imposed on 350 different ethnic groups,” he said.
He, however, warned that if the government and the political class remained indifferent to the current nationwide crises, Nigeria might end up in what he described as an “unmitigated disaster.”
According to him, implosion of the country will be an unmitigated disaster. Whether that occurs or not is very largely up to Nigerians themselves and to their political leadership.
He said that the most dangerous issue in the country at the moment was the deterioration of security across the country.
“Jihadism in the North, conflict over water and land use in the Middle Belt, conflicts that often assume an ethnic and religious dimension, growing separatism sentiment in the South-East and even in Yorubaland the emergence of new institutions, which are not federal.
“ I am talking in particular of the sort of quasi-security force that a number of the Yoruba governors have put together,” he said.
He said that true federalism where the states would be less dependent on the central government would serve the nation better.
“I think if there were genuine federalism in Nigeria, much of the agitation for ethnically based separatism would go away. What are the elements of genuine federalism?
“ First of all, the entities that make up a federal republic need to be able to raise their own revenue and not be dependent on the central government for revenue.
“Currently, almost all of the states are. I think only Lagos State, in fact, is able to raise much, though, not all of the revenue it needs,” Campbell said.