A Republic, if You Can Keep it, by Abdulmumin Yinka Ajia, Ph.D.

Abdulmumin Yinka Ajia, Ph.D.

“There is a story, often told, that upon exiting the United States Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was approached by a group of citizens asking what sort of government the delegates had created. His answer was: “A republic, if you can keep it.” The brevity of that response should not cause us to under-value its essential meaning: democratic republics are not merely founded upon the consent of the people, they are also absolutely dependent upon the active and informed involvement of the people for their continued good health” – Richard Beeman

Today I consider myself a member of the All Progressives Congress even though my relationship with the party has been fraught with tension due to what I consider as acts inconsistent with a self declared progressive political party.

It doesn’t matter what your politics is – unless – you have unconsciously given up on Nigeria, you cannot be okay with the nature of the elections we have been having in recent times. And please do not tell me that the PDP did worse. Nigerians chose the APC in 2015 precisely because they were disenchanted with the PDP and rightfully wanted change. Since then I hate to admit that our electoral process hasn’t gotten any better and we have since 2015 continue to spend billions of dollars and lose precious lives in the conduct of sham elections.

Some of us are concerned about the state of affairs in Nigeria and have been for a while because we understand the implications of a failed Nigeria even though it seems those who actually run Nigeria do not understand what the implications are.

When thinking about Nigeria, I find myself pondering about the state of Haiti – the poorest and perhaps the most unstable country in the Western hemisphere – and I couldn’t help but hold the Haitian leadership responsible for the sorry state of affairs.

Please note that Haiti was the first independent black republic but a combination of external and internal forces have combined to keep Haiti perpetually poor and unstable. Now, I recognize that Haiti does not possess the abundant natural resources that Nigeria has but I am also aware that even in our case, these natural resources have not really helped to launch Nigeria into a middle income country.

Across a wide spectrum, it’s been agreed that the single most important resource is human and I will add that the single most important factor in turning that resource into something of value is leadership. Without leadership, everything else falls apart and we are all living witnesses to the absence of compassionate, forward looking leadership in Nigeria.

For our own sake, it is time we rethink our democratic engagement because if we don’t, Nigeria will be adversely affected by the existential issues of this century. Issues such as climate change, globalization and artificial intelligence. I am afraid that if we do not reorder our priorities, Nigeria may face enormous chaos in the years ahead.

Dr. Abdulmumin Yinka Ajia is Chief Executive, Ilorin College of Advanced Studies, Ilorin, Nigeria