Former President Goodluck Jonathan, during a national dialogue event, expressed the view that Nigeria is a state rather than a nation, highlighting the constitutional governance structure as the defining factor.
He pointed out that the 1914 amalgamation didn’t unite the North and South regions, as the country operated with individual interests and lacked a sense of national identity.
Jonathan referred to historical comments by leaders like Awolowo, who stated that there was no nation called Nigeria.
Nigerian leaders discuss nationhood and democracy challenges
He also compared Nigeria to Tanzania, where leaders like Julius Nyerere worked towards creating a unified nation with a common philosophy, contrasting it with Nigeria’s regional and alliance-driven early political parties.
Former Ekiti State Governor Dr. John Kayode Fayemi advocated for proportional representation in politics, emphasizing that liberal democracy was facing challenges in Africa.
He believed that proportional representation would be fairer than a winner-takes-all system, where a candidate with 37% of the votes could secure 100% of the spoils.
Fayemi acknowledged the imperfections in Nigeria’s history and urged Nigerians to maintain hope and avoid weaponizing ethnicity and religion.
Former Minister of Education Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili echoed the sentiment that democracy hadn’t failed Africa but rather that corrupt leaders had failed in governance.
She emphasized that democracy should yield results that reduce poverty, increase life expectancy, enhance social capacity, and remain relevant in governance, emphasizing the need for democracy to achieve its social goals to be considered successful.