Chief David Edebiri is the Esogban of Benin Kingdom and chairman Benin Forum, the umbrella body of all Binis both in the country and in the Diaspora. He was a staunch member of the Zikist Movement between 1946-50 before he joined the Action Group in 1958. He was appointed the administrative secretary of the AG in the Midwest region.
In this interview, Edebiri, who is popularly referred to as the ‘Oracle of Benin Kingdom’ regretted that 55 years after independence, the nation has found itself in a political quagmire until the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari.
His words: “It is true that our nationhood is 55 years old, which is still young in the life of any nation. All the same, it was the expectation of most Nigerians at Independence that this country will move forward and will copy the best of democracy from our masters, the British people. But somewhere along the line, we missed the point on three occasions.
First at Independence, people who did not canvass for freedom during the Independence suddenly found themselves holding political power, meanwhile they did not canvass for it. The people who came to power at Independence worked against achieving independence at that time.
As a result the country was denied the services of a crop of nationalists and politicians who devoted their entire life to the freedom of this country. Sadly enough, three years into our Independence the new people in the saddle without any convincing reason suddenly changed from our traditional way of democratic practice, which is the Westminster pattern of government that we had practised for over 100 years, they suddenly changed and adopted the Presidential system being practised in America.
“The people who adopted this system were not used to its practices, the result was that what was practised in Nigeria was neither the American type of presidential system nor a truly Nigerian pattern. This hastened the demise of what we refer to as the First Republic, when some elements in the military struck in 1966, to dismantle the existing structure.
It is expected that the young military officers who staged the coup of 1966 had some idea of what they wanted to achieve but they were short changed and a new crop of military leaders emerged. This leaders of the military headed by Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi did not plan for any participation in civilian democracy, so Ironsi attempted to foist on the country unitary form of dictatorship.
This again was another place where we missed it. Those who conceived the idea of a military revolution were not the people who came to the saddle. Again, Ironsi’s idea of foisting a unitary form of government in the country led to the early demise of his regime when he was toppled in a violent coup by the same military. This led to a long period of military dictatorship during which the country failed to move forward.
“Again, after a very long time of military rulership in the country patriotic nationalists all over the country got together to wrestle the military and finally got democracy in 1999. This again was another point where we missed it. The civilian government that emerged in 1999 was headed by a party that was predominantly controlled by military leaders. As matter of fact, the PDP that took power in 1999 was controlled by military dictators. Again we missed it.
“I want to say now that the first and truly government of the people of Nigeria is the one installed through the people’s revolution in an election held on the March 28 and April 11, 2015. From the pattern of vote, it can be seen by anybody who wants to know that the government that emerged from this two elections is the government of the people of Nigeria.
I have high hopes for the government of President Muhammadu Buhari because four months into the government he has shown a lot of political will to rule the country under democratic setting. I want to appeal to all my compatriots to give Buhari the chance to rule the nation so that this country can progress. Otherwise, the movement so far, 55 years after Independence is nothing to write home about.
55 years after we are still largely dependent on other nations in respect of our economy. Any nation that is not economically independent cannot claim to be independent. I advise those in the saddle now to learn from the mistakes of past leaders. “I will like to call on President Buhari, after clearing the mess of previous administration, it is my advise that he should pay posthumous’ respect and recognition to those already recognized by the country as founding fathers of modern Nigeria.
If you go to Ghana, you will see that the burial place of the late Kwame Nkrumah is now a tourist haven in the heart of Accra. One of the rulers of Ghana exhumed the body from where it was buried and brought him to the city centre and gave him a very conspicuous and responsible burial that today people go there as tourist attraction.
The present Government headed by Buhari can also do a similar thing to Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Ahmedu Bello, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, Chief Anthony Enahoro, Aminu Kano and others. The Federal Government can make the burial sites of these heroes tourist centres. – Culled from Vanguard.