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Chief Anthony Enahoro Should Read Alexander Pope



Professor Omo Omoruyi



      I am not trying to send the esteemed Chief Anthony Enahoro to school, even though there is nothing wrong in a society where I am now resident for adult to go back to school if they want to be proficient in their chosen profession.   Recently the newly elected Congressmen calling themselves Class of 2003 had to undergo �training� in preparation for the new role they would be performing from January 2003.   It is only in Nigeria politicians believe that anything goes in politics and it is one profession where they do not need to acquire political education if they want to be good politicians.   According to the theoretician of northern control of Nigeria, Alhaji Uba Ahmed, one of the crimes committed by Professor Omo Omoruyi was to make President Babangida believe that Nigerian politicians needed political education.   I strongly believe that someone like Chief Anthony Enahoro with many years of thinking one way that grew out of �politics of anything goes� should go through a �programmed political education� if they want to be relevant in the politics of the 21st Century.   On this occasion, what I want Chief Enahoro to learn from Alexander Pope who lived in the late 17th century is his often quoted word of advice to politicians who spend too much time discussing forms or type of government or Constitution.   According to Pope, 

                    �For Forms of Government, let Fools Contend; Whate�er is best administered is Best.

       President Obasanjo had to literally tell the revered Chief of Edo land to �shut up� at a public Presidential function where he was just a guest of the President and stop using the Presidential Forum to criticize the Presidential System.   That was during the Public Democracy Lecture delivered by the former Secretary General of the OAU, Ahmed Salim.   As the Chairman of the occasion Chief Enahoro used that auspices with President sitting by him as the Special Guest of Honor, to launch an attack on the Presidential System of Government.   One would have thought that elementary courtesy would have educated the revered Chief of Edo land that that was not the occasion where and when he should use to fly his MNR Agenda.   Of course, President Obasanjo not also known for good manners in public fired back short of calling his behavior bad manners, he had to lecture the Chief that �the System is good for Nigeria�.  

      Recently when he presented what he called a new Constitution that he would like to pursue through the National Conference, I thought like sending him a note calling his attention to the political thought of Nigerian accredited representatives that debated the system along with other Systems in the past.   I wanted him to know how the Presidential System was adopted in 1977/78.   I shall soon do so through this medium.  

     When his Legal Adviser Dr. Robson Momoh came to the London Roundtable on Edo Nation organized by the Edokpamakhin UK to present the same document, I thought like calling his attention to what President Obasanjo told Chief Enahoro in May this year not to confuse the Nigerian people with reinventing what is a �settled issue� since 19778.    I wanted Dr. Robson Momoh did a good job.   But the audience was the wrong one.   He should wait until such a time when the National Conference in Chief Enahoro�s image would be called.   Since Dr. Momoh requested for comments from those who heard him in London, I am trying to send a message to Dr. Momoh to tell his client, Chief Enahoro to stop reinventing the wheel by advocating the Westminster or Parliamentary System that was tried between 1960 an 1965 and rejected since 1979.  

      Maybe one should still remind the revered Chief that Nigerians in their wisdom as canvassed by the Political Bureau in 1980�s endorsed the Presidential System for the second time.   Nigerians also through the Political Bureau said that the problem with Nigeria was not the system but in the Nigerian people.    Nigerians in unison were echoing Pope�s dictum that Nigerians should not quibble with �forms of government� and that only �fools� do that.   One hopes that MNR would heed the advice of Pope. 


     Since the auspices under which the paper was presented in London was the Edokpamakhin UK, may I humbly warn my fellow Edo people that the proposal would not be in the Edo national interest.  

    I am aware that Chief Anthony Enahoro has adopted the Westminster System as the basic plank of his political group, the MNR.   This is his right in a democracy.   But asking Dr. Robson Momoh to go to London to present the document as the plank of the Edokpamakhin at home was fraudulent for two reasons.   

      One there is nothing so called Edokpamakhin at home as Edokpamakhin had not been launched at home.   The document is an MNR document and Dr. Robson Momoh should have said so.   There was nothing wrong with canvassing the MNR position when the time comes when parties would be called upon to canvass their views before any Roundtable properly called for that purpose by Edokpamakhin.   It was an abuse of process to have converted the London Roundtable called by the Edokpamakhin UK to sell a point of view that would be inimical to the interest of the Edo nation in particular and the universe of nationalities outside the tripod.   Chief Enahoro should wait until such a tile when he would be called upon to advocate the return to the Westminster or Parliamentary System both at the Federal and State levels.   But should Dr. Momoh use the auspices of the Edokpamakhin to sell an agenda that has no basis in reality?   Is he by implication proposing that the Westminster System should now be the Edo Agenda?   Does he want the Edo nation to adopt that plank if and when the need for a National Conference arises?   This is not only ludicrous; it is inimical to the interest of Edo Nation and people.  

       Two, with the greatest respect to my revered Chief, a return to the Parliamentary System as Nigeria had during the First Republic would be a retrograde step.   It is not my view to publicly take on a distinguished leader of Edo origin like Chief Enahoro.   I will have to do so in the interest of the living and the dead illustrious sons of Edo land who gave that system to Nigeria that Chief Enahoro wants to rubbish.   Did Chief Enahoro read the background papers on the genesis of the Presidential System in Nigeria in 1977-79?   During Dr. Momoh presentation he did even mention the contributions of these people.   He did not also state his authority for thinking that the MNR way was a novel and feasible idea.  

     Maybe one should call Chief Enahoro and his MNR to appreciate certain facts.   In all his pronouncements so far, I am convinced that he did not know the genesis of the Presidential System in Nigeria.  If he knew, he would have known the role of Edo sons in the development of the Presidential System.   It was an arrant nonsense to think that these sons of Edo land did not know what they did in 1977/78 and are doing since then.  


     When did Nigeria have a Parliamentary System that Chief Enahoro is eulogizing?   Some of us who had the privilege to represent the old Bendel State in the Constituent Assembly in 1977/78 worked for the Presidential System.   Is Chief Enahoro saying that we were wrong then?  On what basis is he saying so?   On what is he saying that he is right today?   Where was he during the debate on the System of Government thrown open by the military on two occasions, first in 1977 and second in 1986?   Of course, on what basis did he reach the decision on the Presidential System?     

      What also bothers me is that Chief Enahoro never made any effort to know what we did and why.   What effort has Chief Enahoro made to find out from us the rationale for the adoption of the Presidential System?   I am not aware of when Chief Enahoro had the opportunity to operate either the Parliamentary System in an independent Nigeria between 1960 and 1965.   Of course, he did not function in any capacity under the Presidential System during the Second Republic and today for him to come to the conclusion that it unworkable. 

      The Parliamentary System that he knew under the First Republic 1960-65 was adjudged a disaster in many respects.   Chief Enahoro would recall that it only functioned from 1960 to 1962 after which the country was afflicted with virus that eventually made the country ungovernable and killed it in 1965.


        I am still alive and I should defend my record of achievement in public life.   That is something he failed to do for himself.  He did not want to credit others with some achievements where he is not the star.   This is unfortunate.

      For the record, one would recall the efforts of some of us (Professor Ambrose Alli, Dr. Mudiaga Odje, Barristers Aghimien and Alegbe, Mr. Israel Amadi-Emina and yours truly, Omo Omoruyi) from the old Bendel State made with other members from the Middle-Belt, the East and the West to neutralize all attempts from the north to change to a variant of the Westminster System.    That is why it is good to write.  

      I wish to refer us to page 59 of my book, Beyond the Tripod showing the Roll Call Votes on three contentious issues in the Constituent Assembly.   One of the contentious issues was the Nature of Government.   It is intriguing that the northern leaders including Alhaji Shehu Shagari who he worked with in 1979 supported the Parliamentary System and failed in the Constituent Assembly.

       What should be noted was that Alhaji Shehu Shagari and other northern leaders supported the Presidential System during the Second Reading of the Draft Constitution Bill in 1977.   But they made a U-turn in January 1978 and voted against the critical provision during the Committee State.   For those who want to do more work and in fact review all the issues in the Presidential System, I�ll call their attention to the Proceedings of the Constituent Assembly 1977/8 Vols. 1 and 11 and my book, Beyond the Tripod.  

        If Professor Ambrose Alli, an illustrious son of Edo land and of blessed memory is not alive to defend what we did together in the Constituent Assembly to have the �Presidential System� and the �Geographical Spread� in the election of the President, it is my responsibility to do so.   The late Professor Alli, Chief Amadi-Emina and Barrister Alegbe would turn in their grave, if what they fought for as being in the best interest of the minorities in Nigeria was being trivialized by a renowned leader of Edo land in the person of Chief Enahoro in the name of MNR.   I still recall the enthusiasm of Dr. KO Mbadiwe that the notion of the �Geographical Spread� would �equalize the Yoruba and the Igbo� in Nigeria after the Civil War.    


        We should not mistake the bastardization of the system by those that did not support it in 1977 such as President Shagari and some military officers with perceived or imagined defects in the system.   The crisis in democratization in Nigeria is NOT systemic in terms of INSTITUTIONAL REFORM, but behavioral in terms of ATTITUDE CHANGE.  

       We can come up with the best Constitution known to man; but if the Nigerian attitude to politics remains what it is today, we will continue to search for remedy in more and more novel institutions.   Pope spoke to us long ago that �for forms of government let fools contend� and went on to advice us, �Whate�er is best administered is best�.  

     The anti-democratic and anti-human behaviors of President Obasanjo in shouting on Nigerians who dared to ask him question he did not want to hear �to go to hell� or his inhumane treatment of Nigerians who are hurting as a result of the bomb blast has nothing to do with the Presidential System.   The President�s inability to get on with the caucus of his party in the National Assembly or his contempt for the institution of political parties in general and of the PDP in particular that sponsored him for the election in 1999 has nothing to do with the Presidential System.  

      Maybe one should remind Chief Enahoro that the crisis in the party system should not be attributed to the Presidential System.  

       Maybe we should remind the protagonist of the Westminster System that the bazaar we are observing in the National Assembly involving Senators Arthur Nzeribe and Pius Anyim, the Senate President and others has nothing to do with the institution.


      I am a behavioralist; no one can discuss the defects in the institution of government without an understanding of the political pathologies afflicting the Nigerian politicians.   I discussed these political pathologies in my address to the Nigerian community in Vienna in August 2002 that the 2003 is a victim the political pathologies of the Nigerian political class.  Nigerians including those of us gathered in London under the auspices of the Edokpamakhin UK have little or no faith in the political order.  Is this lack of faith in the future of Nigeria and the political order because of the Presidential System?   One does not know how Chief Enahoro feels.   Nigerians at home and in Diaspora are apprehensive as to the tomorrow of Nigeria.   

        Maybe one should remind the esteemed Chief that all that declaration of no vacancies all over the place and the cry for a level playing field are symptomatic of the underlying deep-seated uncertainties in Nigeria.   These political pathologies were identified from observation of the political class that the CDS thought could only be corrected through a programmed political education.   I still believe so today than ever.   Education is the only remedy.   I am aware that the US political education institutions are all over the place.   Unfortunately, training is only meaningful if the patient believes in the remedy.      


        Maybe what I would want to leave with my revered Chief Enahoro and the MNR is that the Presidential System was the contribution of the Fourth Dimension.    Those who had talked to me from the universe of the Fourth Dimension felt betrayed by Chief Enahoro for undermining the minorities and for reinventing the wheel.   The same Fourth Dimension once thought that he would provide them leadership in the past.    But he failed them.   They are asking, which side is Chief?   On the side of the tripod or on the side of the Fourth Dimension!   Edo Nation is on the side of the Fourth Dimension.    


      For those who are interested in the genesis of the Presidential System let me state certain facts.

      First, the Fourth Dimension built a consensus around it during the meeting called by me in the Satellite Town in October 1977.   I can still recollect some of the people who were there as Chief SD Lar, Dr. Obi Wali, Professor Justin Tseayo, Mr. Ime Ebong, Mr. John Wash Pam, Dr Mudiaga Odje, Mr. Paul Unongo, Chief Stephen Alete and Chief Clifford Nwuche.  This meeting took place in the residence of Mr. Austin Elu now late who represented Ndokwa in the Constituent Assembly.

      Second, this consensus developed at the Satellite Town, was carried to the meeting at Ngwo in Enugu State under the auspices of Chief CC Onoh in December 1977.   Attending this meeting were members of the Constituent Assembly from the southern minority states, middle-belt and the Igbo states.

       How these two meetings were held and the decision reached as they were critical to the evolution of the Presidential System had been documented in my book, Beyond the Tripod. 

     It should be noted that while the Ngwo meeting was marshalling out the strategy for making sure the Presidential System was undiluted, the Kaduna caucus was going on planning how to return to the Westminster System.   Of course, the two groups clashed in January 1978 and the Ngwo group won.   

       The Edo people being one of the authors of the innovations in the Constituent Assembly should defend the �Presidential System� and the �Geographical Spread�.


        We had the two systems in the past.   We had the Westminster/Parliamentary System between 1960 and 1966.   We had the Presidential System between 1979 and 1983.  

       There is therefore a basis for comparing them as they impinged on the integrity of the Fourth Dimension that includes the Edo.

       I was a school master and I voted in 1959.   Chief Enahoro was a candidate in that election.   I was and maybe some of you were old enough to know that under the Westminster System who was to lead the country to Independence did not need to canvass for votes throughout the country.   This was the mistake Dr. Azikiwe and Chief Awolowo made in 1959 by dissipating their energy.   Of course, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa became the Prime Minister without stepping on any southern soil.   Why was this possible?   The party (Northern Peoples Congress-NPC) that he represented had enough of the MPs exclusively from the north to commence the formation of the Independence Government in 1959.  

       In 1979, I was in the leadership of one of the political parties, the Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP).   All of us at this Roundtable were living witnesses to the campaign efforts of Alhaji Shehu Shagari and other Presidential candidates (Dr. Azikiwe, Chief Awolowo, Alhaji Ibrahim Waziri and Mallam Aminu Kano) in 1979.   They had to transverse the length and breadth of Nigeria including the riverine areas of the south-south and the far north to canvass for votes.   Why did they have to do this?   They did this in order to meet the �geographical spread� in the 1979 Constitution.  


     Even Chief Awolowo changed his mind; why should Chief Enahoro not change his?   Maybe he had not been faced with the drawback for the minorities.   

     It should be noted that the initial position of Chief Awolowo was a modified Westminster System like Chief Enahoro.   I discovered this from the paper Chief Awolowo himself gave me at Benin during his first meeting with me after I was elected a Member of the Constituent Assembly.    I also discovered that his supporters in the Constituent Assembly led by Chiefs Bisi Onabanjo and Abraham Adesanya also came to the Assembly with this modified version of the Westminster System.   After meeting with some of us especially from the Fourth Dimension, the Chief and his men changed their views and embraced the Presidential System.   This is what a leader should do, listen to others and change mind when and where necessary.   I was not surprised that Chiefs Onabanjo, Alli and Adesanya became the greatest exponents of the �Presidential System� and the �Geographical Spread�.  


      The system of government is also to be practiced at the State level as in the US.   States could vary the application as in the US.   Politics 101 would illustrate these variations.  What should be obvious to Chief Enahoro is the nature of Edo State.  

     May I quickly say that just as we have a �Geographical Spread at the Federal level, there should be a �Geographical Spread� in the State when it comes to electing the Governor of the State.    Take the Edo State, if we apply the Westminster method, a party could rely on the votes from certain areas and ignore others.   Such a party could concentrate on the candidates from Edo south with over 60% of the State population to form the Government of the State.   What would then happen to the Edo North and Edo Central.   But under the system of �geographical spread, the election of the Governor would depend on the securing a minimum number of votes in a minimum number of local government areas.  

     One hopes Chief Enahoro, with the greatest respect, would please drop his advocacy and realize that our people�s best interest would not be served by the Parliamentary System.


      For the record, if there were issues that were adequately debated, one would say that they were three which were:

(a)               the system of rule (Presidential System);

(b)                the mode of election (Geographical Spread); and

(c)                the place of religion in Nigerian public life. 

     We in the Fourth Dimension including those in the present Edo and Delta States were in the leadership of the Constituent Assembly that settled the Presidential System in 1978 by votes in the Constituent Assembly in the first month of 1978.   I recall how Paul Unongo speaking for the minorities in the north and south had to intervene at a critical moment in the Constituent Assembly to stop Professor Ben Nwabueze from changing the decision of the Assembly with respect to what weight to assign to the �Majority Votes� and the �Geographical Spread�.   This was how Paul was able to make the minorities in the north and south to be relevant in the Presidential election.  

        For the record, we dealt with the Sharia issue also through the vote in the Constituent Assembly in March 1978.   It was a Bendelite, Dr. Mudiaga Odje (SAN) who successfully moved the motion on behalf of the Fourth Dimension for the deletion of the Sharia from the Draft Constitution.   This is the record of Nigeria that could not easily be brushed aside.   Yes Igbo were against the Sharia provision in the Constitution but none had the gut to move a motion for its deletion.   Dr. Odje did this because of the relationship that was being developed among the minorities throughout the country.  

     That the Sharia issue had been turned upside down and politicized and bastardized since by the military and later by the Shariarists then is no reason why we should not go back to the original position of 1978 in the Constituent Assembly.


    Someone called my attention to the Lecture delivered by General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies where he revisited the issue of some settled issues in Nigeria.   These were the issues that he identified as settled issues that should not be changed by the Constituent Assembly of 1988.   Nigerians then called those issues "no go areas".  They forgot to say that Babangida asked Members of the Constituent Assembly that their function was to introduce measures that would make them work better in light of experience.   This is what one should be expecting the esteemed Chief and his advisers to be advocating.   They should add such other issues as �non-adoption of any religion as State Religion� and �Federalism� to the list of settled issues.

      It is my plea that Nigeria should go back to the 1979 Constitution.   The changes to it since then were not born out of experience.   The plank of those who had never operated it should be rejected.   Their advocacy that we should go a system that failed us in the past amounts to undue preoccupation with �forms of government�.   We should heed the advice of Alexander Pope:

                     �For Forms of Government, let Fools contend;Whate�er is best Administered is best�.


      Can Chief Anthony Enahoro be President when he has no faith in the system?   Can he be a Presidential candidate when he had already endorsed Chief Obasanjo for 2003?     Is Obasanjo 2003 not part of the MNR-PDP accord?

       Most critically, is his belief.   Does he believe in the Presidential System?   I leave this to those who are clamoring for him to be the Presidential candidate of the National Reformation Party (NRP). 

     I asked the same question whether Chief Enahoro believes in Edo Nation in Nigerian politics when the leadership of Edokpamakhin US told me that Chief Enahoro should lead the Edo nation in Nigeria.   Chief Enahoro would need to make many categorical statements about the system in place and the future of Edo nation in Nigerian politics.        

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