Magazine article New African

Politics Why Nigeria Should Adopt the Swiss Model: Dele Ogun, a Nigerian Barrister, Argues for the Nigerian State to Be Organised along Swiss Lines

Magazine article New African

Politics Why Nigeria Should Adopt the Swiss Model: Dele Ogun, a Nigerian Barrister, Argues for the Nigerian State to Be Organised along Swiss Lines

Article excerpt

My original title of this article, "The Nigerian Watchmaker", seemed an incongruous title since we Nigerians are neither known for our respect for time nor for any expertise in the manufacture of precision instruments like watches. But I invite the reader to stay with the idea for a little while.

It was on 7 July 1998 that Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola forfeited his life. That was the price he was made to pay for insisting on his right, as a "fellow Nigerian", to hold on to the presidential mandate that the people of Nigeria had given him, in the face of opposition from those who claimed a divine right to rule, or at least to determine who should rule, Nigeria and their collaborators.

Many thought that the stand of principle that he was taking ended with his elimination in custody but they clearly misread the warning signs; not least in the meaning of his name "Kashimawo", which translates as "Let us continue to watch".

And so 13 years on from when this accidental, and most unlikely, hero told the world to watch this space, what have we seen?

We have seen the same group, who preferred to see Abiola dead than to be president, show a preference for President Yar'Adua continuing in office, even though dead, rather than his southern deputy Goodluck Jonathan taking over.

And when that deputy eventually did take over, having won what was considered a free and fair election, we saw a number of Youth Corpers, male and female, made to forfeit their young lives in acts of wicked retribution and the mass evacuation of their colleagues from parts of what they had been brought up to believe was their own country. Meanwhile, Boko Haram's murderous attacks, via car bombs, have taught those who were saying that the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) consisted of madmen, that, whether or not their assessment is correct, there is a hierarchy amongst the "mad", and their "madness" is growing.

Now, as the cracking noise in the Nigerian edifice gets louder with each passing day, all we hear from the proponents of the indivisible and indissoluble "nation" is Kashimawo.

But there is a positive in all of the madness that has been unleashed within the Nigerian political space since the audacious arrogance of the 12 June 1993 annulment.

It is to be seen in the move towards the politics of issues at the national level such that it is now possible to discern two rival schools of thought: the Federalists and the Unitarists. The Federalists say the best way to deal with our diversity is to allow us to be different - and yes, even the Boko Harams. The Unitarists maintain that the best way to deal with our diversity is to continue our efforts to eliminate the differences. The ethos of the Federalists is "live and let live" while that of the Unitarists is "do or die". The Unitarists look to America with its one language and one faith while the Federalists can point to Switzerland with its many languages and multiple faiths. Having test-driven the American model for some time now, it may be time to watch the Swiss model more closely.

Nigerian politicians are, of course, no strangers to Switzerland, from their banks to their chocolates, but most especially those Swiss watches that are the must-have status symbols on their wrists-Bulgari, Breitling, Cartier, Ebel, Omega, Rado and the mother of all Swiss watches, the Rolex. Our country would, however, be better served by the political class if they were to take some time to look behind the facade of these ornaments which they so proudly wear.


My research tells me that the technology for the manufacture of Swiss watches dates back to the 14th century and that the traditional mechanical watch is made up of about 130 components assembled in three main parts behind that unified and synchronised facade. These different parts work together to provide the energy, the regulating parts and the display that makes up those amazing ornaments on our wrists. …

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