AUN's Professor of Politics & International Studies, William 'Bill' Hansen has attributed Nigeria's litany of sociopolitical crises, including the insurgency and other security challenges to bad governance.
"The post-colonial Nigerian state is 'rule-governed' by a parasitic-predator class".
Professor Hansen delivered this damning verdict while presenting a paper on "Parasites and Predators: The Post-Colonial State in Nigeria", at the inaugural seminar of the AUN Center for Governance, Development and Human Rights (CGDH-R), on March 9, 2020.
The well-attended seminar formally kick-started the Center's colloquium series that aims to present the research of scholars from the AUN community as well as those from elsewhere in Africa, Europe, Asia, and North America.
The Nigerian state is currently mired in the throes of insurgency, separatist, Sectarian and environmental agitations, resource conflicts, brigandage and criminality, and Professor Hansen blames Nigeria's leaders for the crises.
"All can be laid at the feet of six decades of the virtual absence of efficient, honest and effective governance."
While explaining the introductory part of the paper that was divided into six sections, he contended that the outcome of the national independence that didn't meet citizens' expectations was the genesis of the failed or almost failing Nigerian state.
"Promises of a glorious and prosperous future were made by the nationalist political class in mobilizing the people to support the anti-colonial movement. Unfortunately, the goals of the political class had never been to create the promised 'new states' but merely to replace the European foreigner with western-educated indigenes."
Boko Haram, kidnapping, farmer-herder conflicts, IPOB and Shi'ite agitations, Niger Delta militancy, piracy and illegal bunkering, regional security outfits, local vigilantes, state anti-grazing laws, poverty, and corruption have emerged as both consequences and triggers of insecurity and have further weakened the foundations and capabilities of the Nigerian state.
The paper is part of a broader piece of work on Boko Haram which the Assistant Professor of Politics and International Studies and Director of CGDH-R hopes to add as an early chapter in his forthcoming book, "Parasites, Predators and Terrorists: Nigeria and the War on Boko Haram".
"This is an opinion I have developed from over 15 years of living in Nigeria."
In the 90s, when he lived in Eastern Germany, he did a similar study where he tried to understand what happened to socialism.
What then followed after his presentation was an intense cross-exchange of ideas in the question and answer session.
The respondent, Dr. Mahamadou Lamine Sagna, said the research shows that we cannot understand the state if we don't take into account what the "local proletarian people" feel. It is a term which he believes describes the Boko Haram insurgents.
"It is a distinct category of people," he added.
Assistant Professor in the School of IT & Computing, Dr. Ferdinand Che, opined that there is a need to advance the conversation beyond the colonial paradigm, arguing that religion is a fundamental contributory variable.
Assistant Professor of Biology in SAS, Dr. Malachy Okeke, urged the researcher to further explore the underlying factors that are behind the issues of Boko Haram, corruption, kidnapping, elitism and associated ills others which he described as symptoms.
"This sort of research, however, cannot be completed by one individual, it must be inter-disciplinary. There is no way that a political scientist alone can elucidate this problem. You need other components because the human brain is not designed to think in an inter-related manner."
Assistant Professor of Information Systems, Dr. Chidi Ononiwu, disagreed that religion is the problem, pointing instead to a problem of distorted social disorder.
"There was a distortion of our indigenous society and indigenous structure. The African economy is (still) not capitalist. When you consider the colossal damage (and distortions) to Africa's indigenous political structure and their displacement with alien structures, that could explain why Africans started tending towards Religion for help."
"Initially, Africans slavishly accepted the distortions and didn't have the power to resist. But as many Africans become more empowered, they have started resisting and challenging alien orders and systems."
An American, Professor Hansen has published on Fanon, nationalism, socialism, the post-colonial state and revolution. Boko Haram is his current focus on which he has published numerous articles in international journals. He is completing a book on the topic to be published by Africa World Press.
Reported by Omorogbe Omorogiuwa