In many instances, some Nigerians tend to look onto their values, norms, cultures and even strength. I am one of such incurable optimists on the Nigerian project who believes that Nigeria is a great country, but shrouded by enormous challenges, especially leadership.
Nevertheless, those that are into the business of research and study of international affairs would definitely testify to the fact that not all countries of the world could surmount the challenges Nigeria conquered from independence to date.
Many political scientists and other experts in governance studies often describe Nigeria as a state with weak institutions. Despite the negative perception of the country’s institutions, the so-called weak institutions performed the “wonders” that their counterparts in the developed world are often found pants down when confronted with a fraction of challenges that Nigeria’s institutions effectively handled.
Since the invasion of Capitol Hill by President Donald Trump’s supporters, as a political scientist, I kept recalling and comparing the existential threats that Nigerian institutions handled, which are graver than the invasion of the USA’s “democratic temple.”
My comparison pushes forward the assumption or hypothesis that; if ability is to defend the core objectives of a state and ensure that national interest always emerges supreme in the face of existential threats, then Nigerian institutions are quite stronger than those of the United States of America.
Yes, I know by reading the foregoing hypothesis, some Nigerians are already screaming and wailing: “Nigerian institutions stronger than USA’s? What a crazy and disrespectful analogy!”
Yes, Nigerian institutions are stronger, because they successfully handled existential threats that are severer than Capitol Hill invasion, without the panic that the US’s institutions demonstrated in handling the Capitol incident.
For example, when some errant military officers attempted secession in 1966, the military institution successfully safeguarded the sovereignty of Nigeria.
When the June 12, 1993 presidential election was annulled, the military institution, again, successfully maintained Nigeria’s sovereignty against the rampant separatists that were receiving both local and international support. This led to the successful handing over of power to a democratically elected government through a transition put in place by the military in collaboration with other institutions within the realm of the country’s political system.
Furthermore, at the peak of Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’adua’s, of blessed memory, health debacle, the legislative institution successfully invoked the Doctrine of Necessity and Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, then vice president, became acting President and eventually President.
The Judiciary, on many occasions, affirmed the supremacy of the Nigerian Constitution against the wishes of many military regimes, ruling parties or sitting presidents. Examples abound.
One of such examples is the Supreme Court’s pronouncement on April 16, 2007 that allowed Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to contest that year’s presidential election despite the stiff opposition of then President Olusegun Obasanjo. Courts had earlier thwarted another attempt by President Obasanjo to remove Atiku Abubakar from the office of Vice President.
Of late, when the murderous #EndSARS protesters attempted to overrun the country, Nigeria’s religious institutions preached against mob rule by highlighting the dangers and implications of that on the well-being of all Nigerians.
During that period, the executive arm, as an institution, demonstrated unprecedented respect for the rule of law, while the police and the military institutions restored law and order and Nigeria to date remains an independent, sovereign nation.
If three hours of violent protest can make USA’s institutions panic to the extent of deploying their almighty National Guard to quell Trump’s and his supporters’ uprising, the weakness of US’s institutions came bare if compared to the breakthroughs made by their Nigerian counterparts in the afore-mentioned circumstances.
The panic generated by the Capitol Hill incident has unsettled the leadership of the US’s legislative arm, particularly the House Speaker, as the riot holds her feet to the fire. She is now calling and pushing for the impeachment of President Trump “for fear of the unknown.”
The Western world’s controlled media could not exercise “restraint” and quickly went ahead to breach the human rights of President Trump and his supporters. These media outfits, including social media platforms, trampled upon Trump’s and his supporters’ freedom of speech; they literally “murdered” that in their dictionary in a clear case of “preaching what they don’t practice.
Imagine such a scenario taking place in Nigeria! By now, some irritating human rights noisemakers would have started writing petitions to the United Nations, European Union, among others, demanding the heads of several leaders of Nigeria’s institutions.
Twitter, Facebook et cetera would give them all the support they need, including soliciting for financial assistance.
Whatever weaknesses one would associate Nigeria’s institutions with, their counterparts in the US are worse off, especially America’s institutions in charge of foreign relations, as well as the USA’s military institution. The tragedies in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan et cetera are still fresh in the memory of all followers of world politics.
I am not sure if USA institutions can surmount the likes of the MURDEROUS EndSARS protest that had both local and international financiers, supporters and influencers, if just three hours protest unsettled and traumatised this almighty Super Power.
Therefore, just imagine Nigerian institutions without wicked, greedy and corrupt leaders at the helm of their affairs from 1960 to date; can USA’s compete with them?
Sa’idu writes from the Department of Political Science and International Studies, ABU, Zaria.