NIGERIA , A COUNTRY BEDEVILED BY IGNORANCE, APATHY, DOCILITY , COWARDICE AND ARROGANCE . By Chief Malcolm Emokiniovo Omirhobo .
Fellow ignoramus . Oh sorry I mean fellow compatriots . Before the slip I was going to ask you the following questions and demand for your sincere answers .
How many of us know the origin and meaning of the word constitution ? How many of us know that Nigeria has a constitution? How many of us know that the Nigerian constitution is the supreme law of the land, above all other laws with a binding effect on us and all authorities in Nigeria ? How many of us know that Nigeria must be governed by her constitution and not by religion , tradition, customs , common sense , whims and caprices of man ? How many of us have seen a copy of the Nigerian constitution before ? How many of us own a copy of the Nigerian constitution ? How many of us read the Nigerian constitution the way we read our bible and quran ? How many of us make reference to the Nigerian constitution the way we refer to our holy books? How many of us were taught by our parents or guardians about our country’s constitution ? How many of us in our school days were taught about the Nigerian constitution ? How many of us as parents, elders religious , political , traditional and community leaders , professionals, academicians , interlectuals and elites , teach or discuss the Nigerian constitution with our children, wards, followers , congregations, subjects, juniors , protégé , students etc with the view of instilling in them the true letters and spirit of the Nigerian constitution? How many of us follow or abide by the Nigerian constitution? How many of us know the importance and essence of the Nigerian constitution? How many of us know that our civic obligations are contained in our country’s constitution and our fundamental rights guaranteed and enshrined therein ? How many of us know that the duties and responsibilities of the Nigerian government to us is contained in the Nigerian constitution ? How many of us ensure that we are
guided by the Nigerian constitution at all times ? How many of us are ready and prepared to defend the Nigerian constitution when the need arises? And how many of us know that we owe our allegiance to the Nigerian constitution and not to the our president , governors, , traditional rulers, pastors, Imams or any man ?
Fellow ignoramus . Oh sorry I mean fellow Nigerians . After answering the above questions I implore you to gauge your level of ignorance of your country’s constitution on a scale of one to ten . But just before you do so , I suggest that at this point , we look at the word constitution , its origin , meaning , importance and essence in a democracy pertaining to the rule of law of a country to enable you fairly, objectively and comprehensively score yourselves
The word “constitution” comes from a Latin word meaning “an important law” and was generally declared by a Roman emperor, the highest authority in the land .
A constitution is the basic principles and laws of a nation, state, or social group that determine the powers and duties of the government and guarantee certain rights to a body of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is acknowledged to be governed. A country is run by the government, judicial bodies, its people, and most importantly by the Constitution. The constitution serves as the backbone of the country. Without it, the Law and Jurisdiction will not hold up and fall apart in no time, but they are meant to stand strong. The constitution is the embodiment of fundamental regulations and principles according to which the country, state, and its people are supposed to work.
The constitution is something that sets the limits and boundaries of the governments’ interaction and powers. The Constitution works as a means by which the government as a rule knows as to what extent they can impose rules and regulations on the citizen of the country The Constitution is a written instrument which serves as the embodiment of the rules of a political or social organization. These rules and regulations lay down the base of the nation so that it can run without any sort of issue or dispute and in case any problem occurs in the legal and governmental sectors or between the masses of the country and the judiciary, these provisions help the country to get through this phase where there is a regular threat of a civil war breakdown which is probably the last thing any country can have nightmares about.
The constitution forms the basic structure of any government . it lays down all the legal and cultural aspects under which its people and the governmental bodies will be governed . The executive, the legislature and the judiciary are the main organs of the government that the constitution establishes. These three are the source of stability of any country, and without them, the only thing that will rise is terror and corruption among the masses.
The Constitution put in practical terms the principles of separation of powers , checks and balance and rule of law . It defines the powers of each organ of government and helps to regulate the relationship between the government and the people in such a manner that no one part can miss treat power in any way possible.
A Constitution is superior to all the laws of the country which means any law or provision that is circulated in the nation is passed down by the constitution itself. Every law enacted by the government has to be in conventionality with the Constitution and this means that no one or no legal body will be able to speak upon the Constitution otherwise it will not maintain the strength and will fall and so will the nation.
The Constitution lays down the national goals of any country .
The constitution of a country guarantees the fundamental rights of her citizens for example the right to life, personal liberty , dignity of human person , freedom of expression, movement and against discrimination, right to own property etc .
From the above , it is my humble submission that the constitution of a country can safely be said to be her dictionary , holy book, compass , manual , guideline, the yardstick or barometer with which good governance is measured , the map, key and or if you will the essential tool for governance. If these assertions are true , then it will not be out of place to describe the citizen of a country who has no knowledge or idea of his country’s constitution as an Ignoramus no matter the level of his education or exposure in life .
It is not in doubt that Nigerians are the most educated immigrants in the United States with the highest educational attainment rate. It is not in doubt that Nigerians are scattered all over the world studying and bagging degrees in all fields of human endeavours in reputable institutions like Harvard , Oxford and Cambridge Universities. It is not in doubt that Nigerians are inventors , researchers , professors , lecturers, scientist , public servants , top technocrats and captains of industries all over the world .
Back home, like common pure water we have several Federal , State and Private universities, politechnics , college of education , technical colleges and professional schools/ institutions churning out tons of graduates year in year out on ending with bogus degrees in all human endeavours and fields of life .
The educational achievement and attainment of Nigerians notwithstanding, I make bold to say that ninety nine point nine percent of the over two hundred million Nigerian populace both at home and in diaspora are not just ignorant but arrogantly ignorant of their country’s constitution and as such are qualified to be described as ignoramus
Just before you start feeling insulted, I must let you know that I was once in the same ship with you until I jumped ship about a decade ago when I ventured into activism . Before then I was a confirmed Ignoramus , an arrogant one at that .
As a child from birth to when I attained my adulthood and became independent of my parents , my parents never taught me or discussed anything pertaining to the all important book called the Nigerian constitution. The fact that my parents loved me so much and
wanted the best for me , I find it hard to blame them for their failure and/or negligence to introduce me to the Nigerian constitution just like they introduced me to church and the Bible In retrospect, I guess that they were either ignorant of the importance of the country’s constitution or just being cautious because back then it was military rule in Nigeria when everything was determined by the barrel of the gun. No thanks to our past military governments headed by those who today claim to be democrats and elderstatesmen enjoying with their families pension, staff and office expenses, medical care or health insurance, and Secret Service protection fully paid for by the Nigerian tax payers who ignorantly praise and worship them . These clueless, visionless ,and missionless, selfish and self centered men , know themselves and the last time I checked they are all members of the Nigerian Council of State pretending to be serving their father land going about holding meetings , advising , no preaching and writing love letters to the powers that be and bearing the unmerited and bogus title of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic . These men and their juntas suspended the Nigerian constitution , interfered with governance , looted our treasury , abused the human rights of Nigerians and manipulated the school curriculum in Nigeria to produce ignoramus for over three decades so as to perpetually subjugate and enslave Nigerians .
At my ages one to eleven which covers my entire nursery and primary school education period , like millions, of other children of my generation who were fortunate to attend school at that early stage in life and millions of other children of my generation who did not have the opportunity to attend nursery and primary school , I was not taught anything about the Nigerian constitution. The social studies that we were taught then if I may recall and the reciting of the National anthem and pledge like parrots did not help to prevent or stop the schools or society from moulding us into Ignoramus.
As a result of the above, I and many Nigerian children of my generation missed the opening to learn about our country’s constitution and our civic responsibilities to our country at our early stage of life which formed the bed rock of our being Ignoramus .
In my secondary school days , as a new entrants at Isolo grammer school , Isolo , Lagos State , thanks to Alhaji Lateef Jakande, who provided me and many other children of my generation with free education , we lacked the rudiments of what a constitution is and what the Nigerian constitution is all about due to the military government mischeivous and deliberate policies to ensure that we were in the dark. Our school curriculum did not contain subjects like civic education, history or government that is to teach us about the Nigerian constitution from classes one to class three until class four when government was introduced to me as a subject primarily because I was an art student and also because government was a compulsory subject for me in the West African Examination Council Examination . While studying government as a subject , we were taught amongst other things the constitutional development of Nigeria from the Lord Frederick Lugard constitution of 1914 to the 1979 Nigerian constitution This knowledge as far as my entire generation was concerned was the exclusive preserve of those of us offering government as Art students . Thus , by implication all those who are science students aspiring to be medical doctors like the present governor of Delta State, his predecessor in office, lab technicians, engineers , architects and many other scientist in government today were not given the opportunity to have an idea of the constitutional development in Nigeria let alone what the word constitution is all about
After five years in secondary school , I got admission to the Federal School of Arts and Science, Suleja , Niger State to do my Advance Level Studies . There I offered Government , Economics , Religious Studies and General paper for almost two years following which I passed out as an advanced Ignoramus .
My attending the then Bendel State University, Abraka Campus where I bagged a B S C /ED in Economics Education . My attending the Rivers State University of Science and Technology , Port Harcourt where I obtained a degree in law and even the Nigerian Law school where I was taught how to practice law , did not help to wash my ignorance away but instead I became more arrogantly ignorant. Even though I claimed to be a learned gentleman , I lacked the essential, ingredient to make me a good citizen. From my observation , it appears that without education Nigerians are merely ignorant and sheepishly recline to fate while with education Nigerians are cocky and arrogantly ignorant . As a law student I never for one day opened the Nigerian constitution even though I had a copy which I commandeered from my old man’ s library . I did not make use of the constitution , I simply used it to decorate my book shelve .
As a practicing lawyer , I hardly referred to the Nigerian constitution . My ignorance continued until about ten years ago when I took keen interest in constitutional law and activism and had no choice but to use and apply the Nigerian constitution often.
Using my personal experience as as a case study of my generation you can see why the vast majority of us educated and uneducated, literate and illiterate now between the ages of fifty to sixty who are supposed to be at the helm of the affairs of this great country, no thanks to our older generation who continue to rebrand , repackage and recycle themselves to sit tight in Government are Ignoramus .
Today, my generation holds top positions in both the private and public sectors of Nigeria . We are in the Nigerian Military, Department of State Services, Police and other paramilitary organisations . We are governors , law makers , Pastors imams, , traditional rulers, lawyers , judges, professors , doctors , engineers and above all fathers and senior members of our extended families and society . In short my generation forms the lion share of the elites, professionals, academicians and intellectuas in Nigeria today in charge of different levels of responsibilities and I dare ask without a good background of our country’s constitution what do you expect from my generation ? It so sad and damning because my generation is the bridge between the older generation and the younger generation.
From the foregoing , little wonder why today Nigeria is viewed as a theatre of absurdity .Little wonder why Nigeria is likened to a zoo . Little wonder why Nigeria is like a jungle where it is the survival of the fittest . Little wonder why Nigeria is like the stone age where life is short , brutish and nasty .Little wonder why the Nigerian elites , professionals, academicians and intellectuals are silent in the face of tyranny. Little wonder why Nigerians are cowards , docile and have apathy towards holding their governments at all levels accountable for good governance . Little wonder why Nigerians who study abroad and attended world class universities come back home with all their educational qualifications and exposure and still behave like savages, illiterates and uncivilised people . Little wonder why Nigerian returnees fail to replicate their knowledge and experiences when they return home . Little wonder why Nigerians owe their alligeance to their President, governors , pastors , Imams, traditional rulers and not to their country or constitution of their country
It baffles me to see Nigerians living their lives without the constitution of their country in their affairs. With this kind of attitude Nigerians can be likened to a man operating a merchine without its manual , a builder building without a plan , a farmer going to farm without his tools , a doctor going to the operation theater without surgical equipment , a pilot or sailor navigating without a compass and a christain or Moslem evangelizing or preaching without knowledge of the Bible or Quran , a lawyer going to court
to defend his client without law books , a judge delivering judgement without judicial authorities so on and so forth.
It is disturbing and shameful when I see very educated and highly placed Nigerians abandon the constitution of their country for religion , morals , tradition , their whims and caprices , common sense and logic .How do you explain our National Assembly , executive arm of government and its agencies and judiciary refusing, failing and or neglecting to follow the dictates of the Nigerian constitution?.
The need for Nigerians to have knowledge of their country’s constitution cannot be over emphasised because it the only way that the Nigerian citizens can hold their governments accountable , fight for their rights .and live in peace, prosperity and harmony with one another .
If our generation and our father’s generation are ignoramus must we allow our children and unborn generation to suffer the same fate ? To stop our children from becoming Ignoramus like us and our parents we must speedily do the followings :
Ensure that the entire educational curriculum of Nigerian schools are overhauled from Nursery to Tertiary level to teach our children civic education and the bases of the Nigerian constitution .
Nigerians in the entertainment world: Musicians , film producers, actors can help out by ensuring that their films and musics are patrotic and reflects the Nigerian constitution, with the view of educating their target audience.
Parents at home can help to teach their children about the Nigerian constitution and civic education .
The Nigerian elites, intellectuals, academicians and professionals must live up to expectation to educate other Nigerians at the slightest opportunity or provocation on the Nigerian constitution. Write books, plays and articles to help educate the masses .
The Nigerian government through her ministry of information and her various agencies must carry out rigorous enlightenment of the Nigerian public on the Nigerian constitution . The Nigeria government should be able to distribute free copies of the Nigerian constitution or at least make it affordable .
The churches, mosques and shrines also have a large role to play .
Granted that the Nigerian 1999 constitution is not a peoples constitution . Granted that it is a deceitful , fraudulent and dubious document. Granted that we the people did not we anything because it is a military decree given to us by the Nigerian military government and their cohorts to cover the track of their loots and atrocities nevertheless it is all we have got . We must , learn it, know it and understand it for us to change it. It is not enough like most Nigerians often do , criticise and condemn the Nigerian constitution without even sighting it let alone reading or understanding it .
We need to act fast to remedy this ugly and unhealthy situation . We must join hands together to break our generational curse of ignoramus for a greater and brighter tomorrow for us , our children and unborn generations whereas ignoramus are not born but made .
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