- Category: POLITICS
- Published on Wednesday, 15 August 2012 15:54
- Written by Ogbuefi Blogs
The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, on Tuesday said the adoption of a flag, coat of arms and state anthem by Bayelsa State, and some other states in the country, was illegal. Equally condemned as unconstitutional by the NBA was the recent declaration of independence by Ogoniland. Outgoing NBA National President, Mr. Joseph Daudu,
SAN, stated the association‚ position on the developments while addressing journalists in Abuja, ahead of the 2012 NBA Annual General Conference, which comes up between August 26 and 31.
With respects, the NBA president is wrong on this matter. This is the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA, and not a unitary government.
According to the Free Dictionary, a Federal government or federation, government of a union of states in which sovereignty is divided between a central authority and component state authorities. A federation differs from a confederation in that the central power acts directly upon individuals as well as upon states, thus creating the problem of dual allegiance. Substantial power over matters affecting the people as a whole, such as external affairs, commerce, coinage, and the maintenance of military forces, are usually granted to the central government.
Self-determination is the right to make basic choices about your life. It is not about secession as misconstrued by JBD. The retention of jurisdiction over local affairs by states and composite nationalities in a federation is compatible with the federal system and makes allowance for local feelings.
The chief political problem of a federal system of government is likely to be the allocation of sovereignty, because the need for unity among the federating states may conflict with their desire for autonomy. The Greek city-states failed to solve this problem, although religious and political federations were often attempted and the Aetolian and Achaean leagues had many of the institutions of federal government. The primacy of the central over the state governments was not resolved in the United States until after the Civil War.
The distribution of powers between the federal and state governments is usually accomplished by means of a written constitution, for a federation does not exist if authority can be allocated by ordinary legislation, and the Nigerian constitution makes clear the powers of the states, vis-à-vis that of the centre.
in 2001, when the NBA Annual General Conference was held in Calabar Cross River State, their flag, anthem and coat of arms were already in place. Indeed when the Governor then made his entrance at one of the events, the Cross River Anthem was played while all stood.
I also know that many other States, especially in the South West have followed suit. We are merely giving this issue more attention than it deserves. Cross River has had its own for over 11 years and nothing has happened.
In the United States, every State has its State tree, coat of arms, state flower, Supreme Court, Senate, etc. Indeed every Ministry in the USA has its own coat of arms. The Secretary of State, Agriculture, AG, etc all have their coat of arms. Indeed the coat of arms of the president is not the coat of arms of the US.
I am always amused and it in fact looks ridiculous that a letter head paper from every local government in Nigeria and every State and every government agency should bear the coat of arms of the federation. I think having individual identities indeed enhances cultural values and promotes identities and pride.
Being a nation does not extinguish community identities.
The recent moves by Bayelsa State and the people of Ogoni have been interpreted in some quarters as acts of secession.
MOSOP president that made the Ogoni declaration has since clarified that their autonomous declaration does not mean secession, but their ability to determine what happens to their ecological environment within a united Nigeria.
The NBA President said, it is unconstitutional for any section of this country to break away or take any action that suggests that it wishes to secede from the Federal Republic of Nigeria, while claiming that there is no constitutional provision that allows for a flag other than the Nigerian flag, or any anthem other than the national anthem.
He quickly clarified that there was nothing wrong with a state adopting a slogan or jingle to promote its unique qualities but stressed that when such a move suggests self determination, then it becomes illegal.
Daudu said, ‚What I have in mind is when you go ahead to declare that you have a right to self determination. When you have a jingle extolling the virtues of your state there is no problem with that.
When it is promoting the culture and traditions of the state, that is permissible, but when the language used is self determination, that is secessionist.
We must draw a clear line between the things that extol the virtues of a state and actions that promote self determination.
Bayelsa State, the home state of President Goodluck Jonathan, recently announced that it would roll out its flag, coat of arms and an anthem.
Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson, in a statement by his Press Secretary, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, also said the flag, coat of arms and flag would forge a common identity for the Ijaws.
The governor said nine other states include Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Ogun, Ekiti, Kwara, Cross River and Rivers ‚ had taken similar steps.
The introduction of a new anthem, coat of arms, new school uniform and other emblems by Governor Rauf Aregbesola of the Action Congress of Nigeria in Osun State led to a face-off between state government and the Federal Government.
The Federal Government accused the governor of attempting to effect the secession of the state from the country.
It will also be recalled that the people of Ogoni in Rivers State, had, on August 2, 2012, declared political autonomy.
Mr Daudu need to be reminded that the Constitution of the NBA declares a commitment to protection of human rights. NBA officials should strive to uphold that commitment in their pronouncements. Where they fall short of that goal, they are on their own, representing themselves and not the NBA.
According to Femi Aborisade, under the Nigerian Constitution and under international human rights law, there is recognition of the right to the protection, promotion of the existence of national, ethnic, cultural, religious, linguistic identities in individual geographic units. It is trite to state categorically that international law recognizes the right to self determination of peoples, contrary to what the outgoing NBA President peddles around. What needs to be clarified is that there are two aspects of self-determination, namely: external and internal self-determination. It is the internal form of self-determination that international law recognizes. To my knowledge, the States of the Nigerian Federation that have adopted their own flags, anthems, etc, do so, not in an attempt to exercise external form of self-determination (that is not to secede) but in an exercise of the right to internal self-determination (that is to exercise the right to community or collective self-expression) within the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Articles 1 and 55 of the UN Charter (that is UN Constitution) expressly recognize the rights of peoples to self-determination. The self-determination here is to be understood as internal self-determination. For the avoidance of any doubt, the UN Charter defines 'peoples' as a group of human beings, who may or may not comprise States or nations.
A basic requirement for membership of the international society of nations is acceptance of the aims and objectives of the Charter, which includes three main obligations with regard to human rights: respect, protect and fulfill. Any nation state that is not prepared to accept or accommodate the right to self determination is not fit to belong to the international society of modern nation-states.
I may appreciate the concern of the outgoing NBA President. It may be that he is concerned that Nigeria should not break. I share that concern because a breakup of Nigeria will not solve any of the social problems confronting Nigeria. A breakup may just result into a formal replication of the problems in the individual nation-states that may emerge. However, the recognition of the right to self-determination, whether internal or external, is recognition that no force can permanently hold a country together. The continued existence of the various ethnic groups making up Nigeria can only be conditional, conditioned on recognition of fundamental human rights of individuals, peoples, and ethnic groups, their cultural, religious, linguistic and political rights. In a situation in which genocide is being committed with impunity on a daily basis, a consensus must be reached that those committing such mass criminal atrocities do not deserve to live in the community of the human race of the 21st century. Where it is becoming difficult to reach such a basic consensus, ultimate disintegration of Nigeria will be inevitable. It will not be a question of 'if' but a question of when and how? Though that would, unfortunately, be at huge costs.
Whatever happens, societies can only be taken forward by recognizing, advocating, respecting, protecting and fulfilling basic human rights. No organisation or individual who has had the opportunity of leading credible organizations that enjoy public confidence should support views or perspectives that could empower wielders of political power to suppress peaceful expression or exercise of preferences by individuals, communities, ethnic groups, states or 'peoples'.
'The purposes of the United Nations are:
(2). to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and SELF-DETERMINATION of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace'
Also Article 20(1) of the African Charter, which has been domesticated, provides:
'All peoples shall have the right to existence. They shall have the unquestionable and inalienable right to self-determination. They shall freely determine their political status and shall pursue their economic and social development according to the policy they have freely chosen'.
I hope the NBA and its leadership will continue to defend peaceful exercise of basic human rights, including the right to self-determination, where and when circumstances compel such choices.
We are operating "federal system" of government, no one should be afraid that individuality means secession. England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland; all have their individual flags and coat of arms while remaining in the United Kingdom.
Let’s get over it.