POWER-SHIFT AND DEMOCRATIC STABILITY IN NIGERIA’S 4TH REPUBLIC
Nigeria, the most populous black nation on earth with a population of about 150 million and over 250 distinct language groups successfully transited to democratic governance on may 29, 1999 and this date marked the beginning of the 4th republic. Democracy is a government by effective representation. In order words, it is the government that is responsive and responsible to the electorate. And the essence of democratic government is to make life more meaningful for all citizens; a democratic government is also the government that is being elected through free and fair election to govern a country. But the surprising thing in the Nigeria context is the continuous agitation for generation power-shift which is acting as a moonstar against the nascent democracy and always posing the threat for instability.
It is against this backdrop that makes it imperative for scholars in the power school of thought to take a study on the “power-shift and democratic stability in Nigeria’s 4th republic (1999-2006) and Akwa Ibom State as a case study. Following the development of the federal framework from 1914, we see that the problem started right then, since the amalgamation of Nigeria was not with a genuine intention for national integration. The nationalists appeal was turn down for promotion of regional, ethnic, party antagonism and mutual distrust, coups and counter coups, collapse of the First Republic (1st October, 1960-1966), Second Republic (1979-1983), and Third Republic (1984-98) the problem of power control, sharing of national cake at the detriment of national integration triggers instability in the Nigeria fourth republic.
The problem of national unity started in Nigeria since 1960 during our political independence. The formally three major bloc e.g. North, West, East seen as tripod that continue to wobble as every attempt to achieved expected developmental and integration programmes yielded no fruits and as a result amounting to uncertain and instability in the Nigeria’s fourth republic. The incorporation of the three bloc into British empire by the colonial authority then were tailored towards achieving selfish colonial ambition or purpose, four constitutions since independence, Nigeria still struggle for a workable political structure that will ensure stability. The continued contentious, agitations and rancor for devolution of power, power shift and instability in all ramification has kept all concern Nigerians one eye open when sleeping as this rancor’s, battle is seen to influence some state of the nation with a particular reference to Akwa Ibom State which has three distinct ethnic groups that were foist together by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida administration against their wishes. Infact, Akwa Ibom state has a true resemblance of Nigeria of old both in forceful amalgamation, ethnocentrism, tribalism and political domination to mention but few.
The question of power shift in Akwa Ibom State has generated a lot of tension that attracted the attention of scholars to undertake a study and proffer recommendations to ensure democratic stability in fourth republic of Nigeria. Should there be questions like why Akwa Ibom State, one of the youngest states in the federation is chosen for this study? The above assertion answers the question not only that, its strategic location in Niger Delta region and endowment of abundant natural resources which boasted the economic of the country is another reason. Akwa Ibom State, created 1987 under Gen. Ibrahim Babangida military regime having three major ethnic groups, the Ibibio’s, Oron and Annang’s were forcefully or foist together to become a state and the result is ethnic hostilities in the state. (Unoh 1986:27)
It will be recalled that when it was becoming obvious that Ibrahim Babangida administration was about creating states, the Annang ethnic submitted a proposal demanding for Itai state while the Oron ethnic wanted Mainland state, so neither do any of these ethnic group appreciated the brother and sisterhood with the Ibibio people because of their domineering nature, it is not an assumption but a fact that what these two ethnic groups feared most before the creation is their present experience and as a result the clamor for power shift around these three ethnic groups to ensure a stable democratic practice. This is the central theme of this study.
If the National interest and demand was not protected in the forced amalgamation of the Nigerian state, definitely the agitation and the creation of Akwa Ibom State did not meet up with the expectation of the principal characters, agitating for state creation especially those from Oron and Annang ethnic Nationalities/groups. The same way Hausa/Fulanis of the Northern Nigeria took over power and ceased it and claimed it to be their natural endowment according to Maitama Sule 1986:46) a prominent member of the northern oligarchy,
“The northerners are endowed …. with leadership qualities. The Yoruba man knows how to earn a living and has diplomatic qualities. The Igbo is gifted in commerce, trade … God so created as individually for a purpose. Others are created as kings; servants … we all need other. If there are no followers, a king will not exist (cited in Ige 1994)
The Ibibio’s in Akwa Ibom State who sees the leadership as their birth rights even do the worst since the creation of Akwa Ibom State. Facts and figures will be presented in the later part of this work to prove the above assertion. The fact that the forced amalgamation has created more than enough problems for Nigeria nation and that conferences of ethnic nationalities, constitutional conferences, many committees for constitutional review has failed to address these problems, calls for a study on power shift and democratic stability in Akwa Ibom State.
1.1 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
In consideration of the fact that for over twenty nine (29) years since the creation of Akwa Ibom State, power or major political offices have been revolving within a sectional and ethnic group making democratic stability a problem child to the incumbent administration. Political rancor masterminded by massive agitation for power shift has metamorphosed in different dimensions of the polity.
But we also know that in every regime or administration in Akwa Ibom State, for the purpose of Justice and equity, federal character principle have been adopted i.e key positions e.g Governor, Deputy Governor, Secretary to the state government, speaker of the state house of assembly are always shared within the three ethnic groups. However, wrong administrative ideologies and self centered policies formulated and adopted by bad leaders serves as accessories for the massive agitation for power shift as a principle that will ensure democratic stability in the 4threpublic.
The problem therefore is that, while some people argue that political or democratic instability derived from hegemonic control of political leadership in the state. Others believe that the instability of democracy is derives from a class struggle for power, as such the ruling class (both from the three ethnic) dominantly and constantly controls the instrument of governance in Akwa Ibom State to the detriment of the masses.
- OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The main objective of this study is to investigate the trends of power shift in Nigeria democratic practice. Specifically, the study aims at:
- Identifying the rancor’s in the Nigeria’s 4th republic democratic practice.
- Examine the majority agitation for generational power shift among the regions that makes up Nigeria and Akwa Ibom State in particular.
- Proffer solutions for a stable democratic society and practice in Akwa Ibom State.
- SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The significance of the findings of the study will be useful in two major dimensions:
- it will contribute to knowledge by expanding the literature and information of the relationship between power shift, class struggle and democratic stability in Akwa Ibom State.
- it will also contribute to the improvement of public policies concerning political stability and the political development of Akwa Ibom State in this 4th
- SCOPE, ORGANISATION AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY.
The study covers the thirty one (31) local government of Akwa Ibom State. The study is organized in to five chapters, chapter one talks about the background of the study chapter two reviews literature theoretical frame work while chapter three contains critical analysis of the subject matter of the study and chapter four carries the presentation of the Data analysis and chapter five contains the summary of findings, recommendation and conclusion.
The study was limited by time and finance.