Second Republic Presidential Aide and academic, Prof. Pat Utomi, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari has lost legitimacy to continue in office going by the state of the nation today.
He therefore, called for a government of national unity which would hold a national conference to chart the way forward for the country.
Utomi also dismissed the country’s electoral system as a joke, which has not reflected the choice of the electorate since 1999, stressing that “state capture” by the political class would ensure that the 2023 elections are rigged as before.
He also addressed ongoing agitations for secession by some regions of the country and linked it to disaffection with the state of nation even as he cautioned against breaking Nigeria up.
However, he stated that Nigeria is at war going by the spate of insecurity currently ravaging the country.
Utomi also decried the quality of public conversation in the country and blamed the media for not being circumspect in shaping publish discourses and publishing or broadcasting “nonsense” from all quarters.
Prof. Utomi made these submissions in a personality interview with the PUNCH newspaper.
His words: “Let us not deceive ourselves – Nigeria is in a war. Unfortunately, the victims of that war, preponderantly, are the powerless, so we don’t count its toll well enough. But, technically, Nigeria is in a rolling civil war, country wide.
“The thing is the whole democratic order has failed us. What Nigeria needs is to restore a sense of belief in democracy by doing something really dramatic. Right now, the legitimacy of this regime is gone. I believe that one of the ways we can move forward is to, immediately, put together a government of national unity, to see if we can bring some legitimacy back to government.
“At this moment, I think Nigeria’s top priority is not the general elections. The constitution is flawed. The electoral process is a joke. ‘State capture’ has made every election in Nigeria since 1999 a fraud. Anybody who wants to put me to the test can try me; I can prove that nobody has been duly elected in Nigeria, especially at the top level. It has always been a fraud. Before the elections, we need to deal with the electoral process as well as constitutional reforms. When we’ve settled those, then, we can move forward.
“I think that the problem for me is the nature of the kind of public conversations we have in Nigeria. If it is a rational public conversation on issues, there should be no problem. We get into this pedantic trading of insults and call that a public conversation. If you say, for instance, minimum wage should be paid at this level, and someone comes to say no, then you advance rational logic on why it makes sense to do so. Let it be a marketplace of ideas. All the ideas we mesh there will make people come to a conclusion, which makes more sense. But, because they like to reduce conversations to insults, they say things like, “You are angry because we did not appoint you to the position or give you that contract!’ That’s childish. That’s not the conversation. Let’s face issues, not what you did or did not do for me. I will also blame the media for the way they shape the narratives. If a government’s spokesman writes nonsense, abusing somebody, that has nothing to do with the issue, trash the nonsense. If an opponent of the government says the minister’s mother did one thing in the marketplace, trash the nonsense. Face the issues that affect public interest. What are your logical ideas of how things should be done differently?
“I think that people are venting (their frustrations). They are frustrated with the failure of the Nigerian state and so they want to go with anything – secession, devolution – to express that frustration. (They are saying) if it (Nigeria) is not working, can we find something else that works? The truth of the matter is that we have a failure in the social contract and it is a big problem. So, if a group of people feel that their lives are fundamentally disadvantaged in a setting, they can have a referendum and decide whether or not they want to continue in that union; it doesn’t always have to be war. So, Nigerians may ask themselves: “Is it in our interest to live together?” In my view, a large customs union is good for everybody to thrive in, but if the danger to your life exceeds the benefit from the union, it is possible to then say “I prefer the benefit of this union, but I’d rather be alive to enjoy it, and if I can’t do that, please, let me go on my own.” But let there be no illusion that if we split Nigeria into smaller constituent units that there won’t begin to be new problems within the constituent units.”