The Unelected have made by far greater impacts on the fortunes of Nigeria than the elected politicians. The evidence is there for everybody to see, especially in the provision of lasting infrastructure and even in areas of policy and political orientation.
It started with the great General JTU Aguiyi-Ironsi, one of Nigeria’s unsung and uncelebrated heroes. It was Ironsi who laid the foundation of the Unitary government we have remained stuck with since 1966 with his promulgation of the Unification Decree otherwise known as decree 34. Ironically, it was for this reason that Aguiyi-Ironsi was murdered in cold blood by the Northern Establishment. Yet the North, now the biggest beneficiary of the unitary form of government as opposed to true federalism would rather die to the last man than have a weak centre and a loose federation, and a return to regionalism. This is of course not the purpose of this piece.
It was unelected that broke Nigeria into twelve states, and the same unelected went further to continue with the creation of states which today stand at a whopping 36! The unelected gave us the 36-state structure and the same unelected made creation of Local Governments a federal matter and even entrenched the total number created in the Constitution.
The unelected built majority of the Highways all over the country, starting with the Lagos-Ibadan Express Way which of course had been ruined by the neglect of the elected! The Lagos-Sagamu-Ore-Benin Road was also constructed by the unelected.
The ultra-modern architectural wonder sitting proudly at Iganmu was the National TV cultural Centre built by the unelected Gowon’s regime. It was the same unelected people that built the Muritala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport at Abuja.
The unelected built the National Stadium in Surulere, and followed it up with provision of some excellent stadia in the states where the unelected held sway.
Nigeria will never forget the establishment of the National Youth Service Corps, one of the greatest legacies of Gowon’s administration.
The unelected changed our national currency from the Pounds Shillings and Pence inherited from our colonial masters to the Naira, our symbol of sovereignty and nationhood.
The unelected gave us the 2nd and 3rd mainland bridges. In fact the 3rd Mainland Bridge famously called IBB Bridge has the distinction of being the longest bridge in sub-Sahara Africa, and a great delight to behold in aerial view.
I have it on credible authority that the June 12 Cultural centre at Kuto Abeokuta was financed by the unelected administration of Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.
Our now moribund Refineries were all products of the unelected and they functioned properly before the elected marauders messed them up and messed up our national pride and dignity to the bargain.
The Rolling Mills were establishments of the unelected, so also were the national Flour Mills and Auto Assembly Plants. The Oku-Iboku Newsprint Manufacturing Company was created by the unelected. And to crown it all the unelected leftover 20 aircraft in the fleet of the then National Carrier, the Nigerian Airways. But the elected sold off everything with a result that Nigeria today does not have a National Carrier while some African countries the size of Mushin in Lagos proudly display their flags. Yet the elected have more jets in their presidential fleet than even the United States of America!
The unelected gave us the Federal Road Safety Corps. The unprecedented Centre for Democratic Studies was a creation of the unelected while MAMSER was also an institutionalised policy initiative of the unelected. The unelected gave our country the National Conference Centre in Abuja and quite a number of imposing national edifices.
The unelected conducted the freest, fairest and most credible election in the political history of Nigeria which became a reference in the whole of Africa.
One begins to wonder what landmarks the elected had been able to make since the demise of the glorious First Republic of the Ahmadu Bellos, the Azikiwes and the Awolowos. One is tempted to dismiss the entire long history of the elected as the history of kleptomania, banditry and shameless treasury looting.
It is fashionable to accuse the unelected as being undemocratic and being lawless. Experience has shown over the years that the impunity of the so-called elected is by far worse than the record of the unelected. And in any event, it is not even fair to compare apple with orange. The unelected do not make any pretence to civility, but what of the so-called ‘leaders’ who came to the ‘throne’ through the ballot box?
It was the unelected that removed Lagos as the Capital City of the Republic and by a decree relocated the capital to a virgin land in Abuja! This is a watershed in the history of Nigeria and a landmark that can never be reversed. This writer had the privilege of supervising the physical and material relocation of the City of the Federal Government to Abuja in what was known as the Directorate for the Movement to Abuja. Since December 12, 1991 when the unelected ceremoniously collected the symbolic Key to the new Federal Capital the national equation and political calculations changed for good. The face and fortune of Lagos changed. Proud Lagosians bemoaned their loss of status and comforted themselves with the damning song of ‘Osa ‘o se gbe lo s’Abuja’ literally saying that ‘you can carry your head and nose to Abuja but you cannot carry our lagoon and our Ocean to Abuja!’
It is becoming increasingly clear that the landmarks made by the unelected can hardly ever be reversed, especially landmarks already institutionalised. The unelected threw out the British-type Parliamentary System and imposed in its stead the US-type Presidential System.
All the states created post 1964 were created by the unelected. To add a single state to the 36 created by the unelected had been an uphill task, yet to be surmounted.
Resource allocation since 1966 had been made a Federal subject as bequeathed to the country by the unelected. To go back to the 50- 50% practiced by the elected is now almost impossible.
What all these boil down to is that the elected had been so incohesive, incoherent and grossly undisciplined to alter any of the landmarks made by the unelected. It would appear that the unelected showed superiority of thought, stronger political will and greater strength in service delivery than the so-called elected people.
This article is not intended to invite the unelected back to the saddle. The idea is to put in historical perspective the giant strides recorded by the unelected and to challenge the elected people to buckle up and prove to the world that they are, and could be better than the unelected. So far, the evidence on ground as far as our collective history and experience are concerned does not say so.
The pen is the tongue of the hand, the silent utterer of words for the eyes…Henry Beecher