Sunday, 7 August 2011

Yar’Adua… A historical excursion into Nigerian politics

 By Yemi Olakitan

Nigerian Politics in the Age of Yar’Adua (Strategic Insight Publishing, U.K.; 2011) is a compendium of essays and articles of an award-winning journalist, Bayode Ogunmupe, that spans over forty years
IT is a book of intellectual discourse on the Nigerian nation. It highlights democracy, its meanings, its mission, significance, and problems. It contains deep analysis of democracy, political parties and the role of the press as an institution of democracy.
It also chronicles the annals of international democracy, Nigeria’s democracy and military dictatorship. It talks about the role of the media in shaping the future of the nation, eradicating poverty and fostering prosperity.
The book is an interesting account of the story of Nigeria covering political, and economic issues.
Ogunmupe traces the history of Nigeria through the 11th century to present day Nigeria. He discuses the nation’s political and economic problems and also proffers solutions. Although the book is tied to the age of the late former President of Nigeria, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, it however provides an exciting account of the story of Nigeria. Anyone looking for an engaging and illuminating book on the political history and economy of Nigeria would do well to read this book. It is an account that gives the reader a deeper understanding of the Nigerian state. Although, the title is in honor of the late former President, the book discusses much more than the age of Yar’Adua.
It takes the reader through Nigeria’s economic and political history from the pre-colonial era and to the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates and the various regimes that ruled Nigeria, both military and civilian. It gives insight into Nigeria’s democratic evolution over the years. It discusses the Nigerian Civil War, the slave trade era, the British rule and even the economy of Nigeria in the early years through the age of Yar’Adua.
In the first chapter, the book opens with Nigerian politics in the age of Yar’Adua and justifies the title of the book, which was probably given in honour of the late President’s achievements in the Niger Delta, arguing that the late Yar’Adua brought peace to the region through his Amnesty programme. It details Nigerian economy and Nigeria at 50 commemortaion, her problems and prospects.
In chapter, the author gives analysis of democracy and the concepts of freedom, justice and equality. He agues that justice is the first mission of democracy. He traces the origin of democracy to ancient Greece under the leadership of Pericles who lived 450 years ago and to Athens where democracy originated and matured. It compares the American concept of democracy, the British democracy and that of Nigeria. It discusses the different types of democracy, justice in a democratic state and security in the practice of democracy, particularly in Nigeria.
The author discuses Nigeria’s constitution and how it has developed through the various governments in Nigeria, starting from the Richardson Constitution of 1946 and the Macpherson Constitution which emphasised greater regional autonomy as a means of maintaining national unity. It discusses the 1979 Constitution and the eventual clamour for a sovereign national conference.
In chapter three of the book, the author dwells on the issue of reparation, which was spearheaded by the late business mogul Chief MKO Abiola. It traces the justification of reparation to the era of slave trade, how the developed nations underdeveloped Africa through colonialism and slave trade. He argues that the economy of Western nations was built with the slave labour. The author gives numerous suggestions and ideas on how developed nations can help develop Africa through reparations. It goes further to discuss the role of the press in a developing economy such as Nigeria. It draws numerous examples from other nations.
Nigerian Politics in the Age of Yar’Adua examines the role of the media in shaping the future of democracy. It agues that Nigeria generally enjoys press freedom, except in periods of military rule when journalists and media houses were victimised. The book discusses the use of opinion polls in Nigeria. Also emphasized is the importance of education in Nigerian polity and the need to invest more in education so that illiteracy could be eradicated.
Using Lagos State as a case study, he traces the development of education in Nigeria and the provision of infrastructure by different administrations and governors since the reign of former Governor Lateef Jakunde. It also discusses issues facing the federal character concept.
Chapter Four of the book goes on to talk about leadership and management. The author says that leadership creates prosperity. He identifies courage as the key to good leadership. He goes on to discuss an ideal constitution for Nigeria.
The economy of Nigeria occupies the fifth chapter with emphasis on topics such as: Nigeria’s debt repayment, the curse called adjustment, reviving the economy, the tradition as enemy of progress, the Aquarian age, Gaze into the future, Common currency in ECOWAS, Yunus Banking option and many more.
The author, Ogunmupe is an experienced journalist, economist and literary critic. He was educated at the international School, Ibadan, University of Ibadan, University of Geneva and the London School of Economics, UK. He holds degrees in History, Economics and Business Administration. He has received several journalism awards. They include the Nigerian Merit Awards in 1993 and he also won the Ladi Lawal Journalist of the year in 2010.

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