Professor Ben Nwabueze And Bloody Revolution

Hon. Alex Obi-Osuala – The lecturer’s first statement, “Professor Ben Nwabueze is the best constitutional lawyer in the country”. I was stunned, My brain was reverberating, different permutations were routing my mind. Did I hear him right?  He didn’t say one of the best; but the Best. Pride enveloped me. Popular parlance, was/is that Yoruba dominate the legal profession. They do really

Setting, University Of  Lagos; Faculty, Law; Department, Public Law; Lecturer Mr. Taiwo Osipitan {Now Professor Taiwo Osipitan}, Student; I, {Alex} Course;Constitutional Law.


The lecturer’s first statement, “Professor Ben Nwabueze is the best constitutional lawyer in the country”. I was stunned, My brain was reverberating, different permutations were routing my mind. Did I hear him right?  He didn’t say one of the best; but the Best. Pride enveloped me. Popular parlance, was/is that Yoruba dominate the legal profession. They do really. I had an urge to ask Mr. Osipitan how he came about that conclusion, rather held myself, wondering why should I?, if the Yoruba’s who constituted about sixty-five percent of the course members, were not making move to ask, why should I?, an Igbo man. However, I was determined to find out more. Research started, I was digging deeper. Not just on Professor Ben Nwabueze, but on any other legal authority of Igbo extraction.  My findings later corroborated Mr. Osipitan’s statement.


The general perception in the academic and legal circle was that Professor Ben Nwabueze was/is the best constitutional lawyer in Nigeria. The assertion may not be unconnected with the 1979 constitution Of The Federal Republic Of Nigeria, which was mostly credited to him.    Ironically later, Professor Taiwo Osipitan with his team, wrote the current 1999 constitution.


Earlier as a Jambite, I had came across the name Ben Nwabueze, but through one of his books; The book was titled, {If I remember correctly} “Constitutionalism In Nigeria”, it was one of the syllabus requirement by JAMB; highly recommended for JAMB candidates, very helpful, though I never bothered to take notice of the revered author; since it did not have much biography or appended prefix; the name of the author was simply written as; Ben Nwabueze.


The next time l came across him was a face to face encounter; he was then a Minister, with Federal Ministry Of Education in Victoria Island, Lagos, I was there on a visit to see a friend, Mr. Adewale Lawal, who was his protocol officer. The perception l had of him at this encounter was Smart, Intelligent with No nonsense disposition. It was good meeting the legendary Prof at last.


Having read his books as part of my academic progression, I regard myself as one of his students. This article is written as a rejoinder to his recent postulation on the way forward for Nigeria. A publication was credited to him calling for a bloody revolution in the country. His position is that for Nigeria to move forward there must be total transformation. The system should be sanitized with the blood of it so-called bad eggs. Those who survive the cleansing should pick up the piece; and create a new dawn. 


Quoting Him In His Own Words:


“I want a wholesome Transformation; This is where I disagree with T.Y Danjuma. I want a bloody revolution; We need a revolutionary change. A bloody one and those who survive will pick up the piece; Corruption has eaten deep and everyone is involved, only a bloody revolution will remedy the situation; That’s how France was saved.” 


Calling for such bloody revolution in Nigeria as presently constituted, will be calling for Armageddon. The intention may be good, but will certainly be wrongly executed. There are different barrier demarcating us as a nation; we have the Religious, Ethnic,Tribal Etc, with different sectional vigilantes singing their war tones; we are too diverse for such. Every segment of Nigeria is so corrupt and so ethnotized that; emotional and sentimental passion will take over a just revolution; and turn it into ethnic cleansing. 


I want to believe that Professor Nwabueze’s position was made out of anger and frustration at the system that has no decorum, so rotten and retrogressive. According to him, as a member of Presidential Advisory Council {PAC}, They had the cause to invite some members of the National Assembly to furnish them with some information, the revelation they got from this members were mind blowing.


Once again in his own words:


“We have had cause to invite some members of the national assembly to furnish us with some information, A situation which gave insight to fraud going on there, What is going  on there is terribly incredible. The national assembly is the “House Of Thieves” and the level of docility displayed by Nigerians has worsen the situation leading to arrogant display of power by those entrusted with governance.”



In my opinion this so-called legislative bandits do not deserve the blood of innocent Nigerians, The first revolution has already been had in Nigeria  led by  Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, and the end was catastrophic. It was highly perceived as an Igbo agenda targeting other ethnic groups. The result was reprisal killing of the Igbos and subsequent civil war; that consumed more than 3 million lives.


The second revolution could have been Gideon Orkar Coup, which was marred with communication flaws. That coup ordered certain segment of the nation to leave the federation. Thus emotional, tribal and sentimental attachment will always be infused into a just cause.


I look at Professor Ben Nwabueze’s call for bloody revolution as strange; Its more strange coming from a person of his caliber; An academia of highest repute; An acclaimed national and international authority in constitutional law.


The question begging for an answer is, If the nation takes his option, where will it start? who will lead? Will it be a civilian or Military revolution? since he said bloody, we assume  a military revolution; The military itself has been discredited recently as a biased umpire, especially with the last ethnic/religious disturbances in Jos. The Jos incidence and killings revealed how ethnic bias has crawled into the Military institution. Two retired Generals, Former Chief Of Defence staff; Gen. Domkat Bali and Air commodore Jona Jang governor of Plateau state accused the military of complicity in the massacre of defenseless civilians by the Hausa/Fulani herdsmen; this allegation from this Generals is a cause for concern. 


In that disturbance, more then 500 innocent souls mostly women and children where butchered by this cruel blood thirsty herdsmen.


A bloody revolution in a multi tribal, ethno diverse and complex nation like Nigeria is a call for ethnic or sectional war. With the present situation, where Arms are flying from Niger Delta to Hausa/Fulani Herdsmen; from OPC  to Massob; such will make old Bosnia look like a child’s play. We must guide against such calls.


Retired Lt Gen T.Y Danjuma, a Former Defence Minister and a civil war veteran, countered the position of Professor Ben Nwabueze’s call for bloody revolution as a transformational measure to redeem Nigeria . He posits:


“Revolution devours it sons, It knows no enemies and does not know how it will end. Revolution is exceedingly costly, it is a very costly means of transformation. I am an optimist as far as our country is concerned. I believe one man in a position of authority can transform our country, only that we have not been lucky to have such a man.”


I agree with Gen T.Y Danjuma’s position on the need to discard the option of bloody revolution; but disagree on his optimism that Nigeria as presently constituted could transform itself. I do not foresee any transformational change with the country as presently constituted and with the current system of government in place.


There are various governmental or political models that can turn tides in the country without shedding blood. Nigeria today is at crossroads, we will need every hand to be on deck to pull us through. Sovereign or National conference should be constituted to discuss a way forward for our federation; to come up with design or model that best suits or befit our socio cultural and political differences


Some have called for total disintegration of the country; I don’t also agree with this option as good alternative.


My position is that too much concentration of power at the center is part of Nigeria bane. In other to keep the republic, discourage ruthless ethno tribal and sectional quest for power at the center, we should make the center less attractive; I therefore suggest Confederation System Of Government.


Confederate Government could be defined as one in which an alliance of semi-autonomous states creates a central government of limited power; the member states have supreme authority over all matters except in those areas in which they have expressly delegated authority or power to the central government, such areas could be; Defence, Currency, Treaties, Foreign Relation Etc


Con federal constitution specifically separates laws within the central and Region/State authority. Some laws are within the jurisdiction of the region/state while some are within the central jurisdiction, where such laws or edicts of the region/state conflicts with the central law, the central law takes precedence. 


Nigeria has a perfect geographical distribution to guarantee successful application of this model. The six geopolitical zones of South East, South West, South South, North East, North West, North Central, already in existence and function in the country should be turned into six states or region; this will disable present 36 states; {which in my view, we don’t need}; and completely and effectively put in comatose agitations for more states in Nigeria. 


In summary, Confederation in this context, will pre suppose that  that the six geopolitical zones/states/regions will be semi-autonomous; with their Police, School system, Revenue etc under it control and authority; but a certain percent of their accrued revenue will be statutorily required to be remitted to the central government. 


The central government will control the Currency, Defence, Treatises, Foreign Relation etc. This option should be the last resort or alternative to disintegration, which in my view, bloody revolution, as canversed, has high level possibility of pre empting.


In disintegration, you loose or have a great difficulty in accessing your investment made in the disintegrated regions. The affinity, intermarriages contacts or years of assimilation and co-habitation, etc would either be lost or great barrier stand in place. As a South Easterner, I wouldn’t like to be made to require a visa to go to any of the disintegrated regions or vice versa. 


In confederation, one country and unity is preserved and maintained. The desire, struggle or do/die quest for power at the center, is reduced and unattractive, most political quest or effort are channeled towards the region/zone/state where the action is.


Confederation breeds competition among confederating units, each researching and brainstorming on the projects and policies that will accelerate development. No region/state will like to be left behind in the developmental race. 


Niger Delta agitations will be a thing of the past. Guerrilla warfare and vandalization of government properties and pre meditated blowing up of oil pipelines will stop.


Confederation will stop or drastically minimizes religious riots and disturbances, including the issue of Tribalism and Ethnocentric behaviours. 


Rotational Presidency as propounded and being implemented in PDP, could be a make-shift model for the time being, It certainly will not be a permanent solution to our political logjam in the long run. It neither addresses Corruption, Religious nor ethnic bias; which are the most critical issues hampering the nation.


The aim is to brainstorm to find the best possible political solution to our socio complex society; Nigeria.


There may be other more applicable models that could be proposed.  I posit Confederate Government as an alternative to our ethno dynamic political upheavals,  to guide against total disintegration or Bloody Revolution.



Hon. Alex Obi-Osuala

Atlanta GA USA