Theory of Divine Origin of State and Good Governance in Nigeria
Maduekwe, V.Cα., Mazi Mbah, C. C.σ & Ojukwu, U. Gρ.
God, who is the originator of all things, had a system of constituted leadership and authority. This is what the theory of the divine origin of states postulates that the State was established by an ordinance of God; and its rulers/leaders are divinely appointed hence are not accountable to any authority but God; this which scholars have tried to disclose as that which affects governance negatively. Good governance is integral to economic growth, the eradication of poverty and hunger, and sustainable development. The mechanisms, processes and intuitions through which authority is exercised in Nigeria to bring about the much sought after growth and development have been part and parcel of the nation’s political history. This, study is an exploratory research that examined the theory of divine origin of state and its implications for good governance in Nigeria. It sought to find out whether the application of the theory of divine origin of state could establish good governance in Nigeria; the shortfalls of governance in Nigeria and its causes. The study revealed that there has been poor governance in Nigeria, which is as a result of poor political leadership and observable flaws in the leadership recruitment process in Nigeria; that the parliaments in the military era had no say in governance and the period was a period of sufferings, fear, turmoil’s, etc. and that the heads of state were seen as gods and tyrants. The study, having established these, ended up revealing that the theory of divine origin of state is a typical example of tyrannical governance which although worked out for a season when ignorance was the rule of the day, is now obscene and can no longer make good governance in this era. The study recommends that Governance in Nigeria should be reformed in line with and reflects the principles of good governance.
Keywords: divine origin theory, the state, governance, good governance, nigeria.
Author ασρ: Department of Political Science, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Igbariam, Anambra State, Nigeria.
The effects of good governance on a state cannot be over emphasized. It is imperative to note that the growth and development of a state is dependent on the way or manner the government sets out its rulership, authority and control. The issue of good governance is a phenomenon that has stunted the growth of many nations of the world with reference to Africa and Nigeria in particular. Nigeria, since inception, has battled with the issue of good, credible and accountable government in the country. The quest for good governance seems to be Nigeria’s most urgent need. Most Nigerians believe strongly that the factor that had crippled the country’s progress in virtually every field of human endeavour is poor leadership and bad governance (Nnamdi, 2009). Nigeria as a nation has produced leaders, who practically have nothing in mind to offer for the nation and her citizens, but to just become leaders, over the years. This is supported by Igbafe and Agbontean (2014) thus:
Sadly, the manifestos of most political parties in the country are not ideologically driven. Rather, political actors see their involvement in politics as a means for primitive accumulation of wealth. While some view it as a means of investment through the sponsorship of candidates (godfathers) for elections so that when their candidates win, they would recoup a million fold what they spent to get their godsons into office. This has greatly diverted the attention of political office holders from the primary objectives of improving the general welfare of the state to settling political scores with godfathers.
According to Ekundayo (2017) the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999), section 14(1), stipulates that Nigeria is a state based on the principle of democracy and social justice. It further stipulates that the primary purpose of government should be the security and welfare of Nigerians in order to guarantee the majority of Nigerians, decent living standards which any political leadership that derives its mandate from the people ought to subscribe and preserve. Yet Nigeria as a nation-state is far from fulfilling this constituted obligation. Could this be attributed to the foundation on which the nation was built? On the issue of the foundation, Ekundayo went further to disclose that “Nigeria is one of the colonial legacies in the African continent. Therefore, as an offshoot of the colonial rule, the Nigerian state no doubt retained parts of the colonial administration”. Rather than being at the service of the people, the Nigerian state was at the service of the ruling oligarchy (Fagbadebo, 2009). This invariably connotes that oligarchy and monarchical system of government is still practically in play in Nigerian polity.
According to Amadeo (2017), an oligarchy is an organization controlled by just a few businesses or individuals. They have enough power to turn the organization to benefit them to the exclusion of other members. They maintain their power through their relationships with each other. Furthermore, in a monarchy or tyranny, they have enough power and money to influence the king or tyrant. This particularly is the picturesque of the Nigerian government; where the elites occupy, manipulate and execute their plans without considering the masses and the citizens. Meanwhile, it is imperative to note that God, who is the originator of all things, had a system of constituted leadership and authority before now. This according to the theory of divine origin which states that the State was established by an ordinance of God; and its rulers/leaders are divinely appointed hence are not accountable to any authority but God.
Following from the above propositions, the essential features of this theory scholars have argued is that it is not only that God created the state in the sense that all human institutions may be believed to have had their origin in divine creation but that the will of God is supposed to be made known by revelation immediately to certain persons who are His earthly vice-regents and by the communication to the people. It is glaring therefore that in this theory obedience to the state becomes a religion as well as a civil duty and disobedience is obviously a sacrilege. Hence, this background forms the basis for this study in order to explore the theory of divine origin of state and good governance in Nigeria. The broad objective of this study is to find the nexus between the theory of divine origin of state and good governance in Nigeria.
The people, by whose contrivance governments were instituted, ought to determine how they should be governed. The constitution of the state should thus truly be ‘The Constitution of the People.’ This will promote democracy, and, as Alexis de Tocqueville, rightly opines, ‘Democratic laws generally tend to promote the welfare of the greatest possible number; for they emanate from the majority of the citizens, who (although) are subject to error… cannot have an interest opposed to their own advantage’ (Tocqueville, 1998). The Nigerian State deviates from this provision and the phrase ‘WE THE PEOPLE…’ (The Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999) in the preamble of her 1999 constitution appears to be merely presumptuous. This is largely responsible for much of her political and ethno-religious crises as well as the prevalence of militant agitations across the country.
This paper will therefore examine how the application of the theory of divine origin of state can establish good governance in Nigeria.
- DIVINE ORIGIN THEORY
The divine theory or the theocratic conception is almost as old as the state itself, and was universally popular in primitive society. It is a well authenticated fact that the early forms of political authority were often connected with unseen powers. According to MacIver, the earliest rulers were a combination of Priest, Magic man, and King (Asirvatham and Misra, 2000).
According to the Mahabharata, there was anarchy in the world, and the people prayed to God for a King, and God appointed Manu to rule over them. According to the Jews, the King is treated owing responsibility to God alone for his acts. These references were used by medieval writers to assert supremacy of the Catholic Church over political affairs, as the Pope is regarded as a living man closest to God. The Protestant Reformation gave a new impetus to the divine theory. It was declared in the Augsburg Confession (1530) that all authority, government, law and order have been created and established by God himself. Bousset advocated the theory of divine origin to support the despotism of Louis XIV. James I, in his book The Law of Free Monarchies asserted this theory, claiming that Kings derived their authority directly from God. The theory of divine origin lost its popularity by the late 18th century, although it was still popular in places such as Czarist Russia until its collapse (Mahajan, 2010).
The conception of the divine creation of the state may be traced back to remote antiquity. It was universal belief with the ancient people that the King is the representative of God on earth and the state is bliss of God. Thus the King had both political and religious entity. In the religious books also the state is said to be created by God. In some religions this conception is explicit, but in others it is implicit. The divine origin of the state is gleaned first from the Old Testament of the Bible. There we find St. Paul saying, “let every soul be subject unto the higher powers; for there is no power but of God; the powers that be, are ordained by God. Whosoever resists the power; resisted the ordinance of God and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation”.
In 1680 Sir Robert Filmer wrote a book entitled, ‘The Law of the Free Monarchies’, where it is stated the Adam was the First King on earth and the Kings subsequent to him are the descendants of Adam. In the Manuscript it is said that when the world was thick in anarchy, the people prayed to God to remedy the condition. God was pleased to appoint Manu to rule over the earth. This theory prevailed in the old age when religion and politics were combined in the person of the King. In ancient India the Kings ruled over the people according to the injunction of the Dharma, which stood for both religion and politics. Laws fray deep in the profusion of the Sastras. In the medieval period the Christians held the Pope in semi-God status. In the Muslim world the Caliph was the Priest-King. The Dalai Lama was the head of the Theocratic state of Tibet. He was considered there as the incarnation of the Buddhist god Avalokitesvara.
Both the church and the state in their mutual rivalry used the theory of the divine origin in the medieval age. The church asserted the supremacy of the church over the state; on the other hand, the state because of its divine nature emphasized on its supremacy over the church. The Stuart King James I claimed that he derived his authority directly from God. According to him, the King is wise and intelligent, but his subjects are wicked. Even if the King is bad, the people have no right to rebel against him. Even in the nineteenth century, the Kings of Austria, Prussia and Russia formed the Holy Alliance under the notion that they were appointed by God to rule over their people. Anyway, the European Kings took shelter under the divine origin theory in order to justify their dictatorships. Be that as it may, during a large part of human history the state was viewed as direct divine creation and theocratic in nature. The theory was in currency so long as religion was considered to be the chief motive force of all human activities
In the twentieth century, this theory came under criticism being an incorrect explanation of the origin of the state. With the growth of scientific outlook this theory faded into oblivion. Today’s trend is that the state is a historical growth. We shall now discuss the causes of the decline of the theory.
In the first place, when a more acceptable theory like the social contract theory came out, the divine theory was dashed to the ground. The new theory suggested that the state is a handiwork of men, not a grace of God.
In the second place, the Reformation that separated the church from the state debased the coin of the divine theory. The post-Reformation period is a period of non-religious politics. Thus, the secular outlook made the divine theory totally unacceptable.
In the third place, the emergence of democracy was a big blow for the autocratic dogma of mixing religion with politics and thereby it blunted the edge of identifying God with the King. Democracy not only glorified the individual but shattered the divine halo around the origin of the slate.
Last but not the least was the growth of scientific enquiry and materialistic view of the political mechanism. The result was that the erstwhile blind faith and superstition was no longer acceptable. The people began to accept only those things that stood the test of logic and reasoning and in line with their material and social existence, which in turn defined their consciousness.
- CONCEPTUAL ELUCIDATIONS
- The Concept of State
There is no academic consensus on the most appropriate definition of the state. The term “state” refers to a set of different, but interrelated and often overlapping, theories about a certain range of political institutions (Cudworth, 2007). The act of defining the term can be seen as part of an ideological conflict, because different definitions lead to different theories of state function, and as a result validate different political strategies (Barrow, 1993). According to Jeffrey and Painter (2009), “if we define the ‘essence’ of the state in one place or era, we are liable to find that in another time or space something which is also understood to be a state has different ‘essential’ characteristics”.
Different definitions of the state often place an emphasis either on the ‘means’ or the ‘ends’ of states. Means-related definitions include those by Max Weber and Charles Tilly, both of whom define the state according to its violent means. For Weber (1948) the state “is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory” (Politics as a Vocation), while Tilly (1973) characterizes them as “coercion-wielding organizations” (Coercion, Capital, and European States).
An ends-related definition emphasizes instead the teleological aims and purposes of the state. Marxist thought regards the ends of the state as being the perpetuation of class domination in favour of the ruling class which, under the capitalist mode of production, is the bourgeoisie. The state exists to defend the ruling class’s claims to private property and its capturing of surplus profits at the expense of the proletariat. Indeed, Marx claimed that “the executive of the modern state is nothing but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie” (Karl Marx and Engels, 1848).
Liberal thought provides another possible teleology of the state. According to John Locke, the goal of the state/commonwealth was “the preservation of property” with ‘property’ in Locke’s work referring not only to personal possessions but also to one’s life and liberty. On this account, the state provides the basis for social cohesion and productivity, creating incentives for wealth creation by providing guarantees of protection for one's life, liberty and personal property (Locke, 1690/1990).
Jinnah favoured a state with the least functions. He was of the opinion that until society becomes self-regulative and self-evolving and until the individual becomes perfect, the state, so long, would be necessary.
The most commonly used definition is Max Weber’s (Dubreuil, 2010; Gordon, 2002; Hay, 2001; Donovan, 1993; Shaw, 2003), which describes the state as a compulsory political organization with a centralized government that maintains a monopoly of the legitimate use of force within a certain territory (Cudworth, 2007). General categories of state institutions include administrative bureaucracies, legal systems, and military or religious organizations (Earle, 1997).
Another commonly accepted definition of the state is the one given at the Montevideo Convention on Rights and Duties of States in 1933. It provides that “[t]he state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: (a) a permanent population; (b) a defined territory; (c) government; and (d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states”. And that “[t]he federal state shall constitute a sole person in the eyes of international law”.
According to the Oxford Concise Dictionary of Politics (2003) the state is a distinct set of political institutions whose specific concern is with the organization of domination, in the name of the common interest, within a delimited territory.
Confounding the definition problem is that “state” and “government” are often used as synonyms in common conversation and even some academic discourse. According to this definition schema, the states are nonphysical persons of international law, governments are organizations of people (Robinson, 2013). The relationship between a government and its state is one of representation and authorized agency (Crawford, 2007).
The concept of “governance” is not new. It is as old as human civilization. Ozigbo (2000) cited in Okpaga (2009) opined that before one discusses good governance, it is first necessary to examine the context of the term governance. According to him, governance denotes how people are ruled and how the affairs of the state are administered and regulated. Governance refers therefore, to how the politics of a nation is carried out. Public authority is expected to play an important role in creating conducive environment to enhance development. Simply put "governance" means: the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented). Governance can be used in several contexts such as corporate governance, international governance, national governance and local governance. On this premise, Ansah (2007) viewed governance as encompassing a state’s institutional and structural arrangements, decision-making process and implementation capacity and the relationship between governmen t officials and the public.
Generally, governance, according to the World Bank Report (1989) is the exercise of political power in the management of a nation’s affairs or the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for development. This definition thus implies that governance encompasses the state’s institutional and structural arrangements, decision-making processes and implementation capacity, and the relationship between the governing apparatus and the governed- that is the people in terms of their standard of living.
Thus, governance simply implies the art of governing a people within a given territory or a state. It consists of two essential elements of the state, namely the structure of the state and the procedures of the legislative, judicial and those of the executive and administrative bodies at all the tiers of government. Hirst and Thompson (1996) defined governance as “the control of an activity by some means such that a range of desired outcomes is attained”. Thus, governance in a political sense is a more complex activity. Secondly, political governance is service oriented. Governance is better conceived from Lasswell traditional definition of politics as who gets what, when and how and perhaps how much? Thus, governance has a lot to do with the allocation of values in the society, which to a large extent is political in nature. Although governance is related to politics, it is conceptually different. However, as a human phenomenon, governance is exercised within a given socio-cultural context and belongs to a broader department of politics. While politics is the authoritative allocation of values or who gets what, when and how? Governance is the process and mechanisms of allocating the values without jeopardizing the principle of equity, justice and fairness. Therefore, it is through the practical application of the authority and the processes of governance that the powers of the state acquire meaning and substance.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP, 1999) sees government and governance as being synonymous. Accordingly, it defines governance as a complex mechanisms, process, relationships and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their legal rights, meet their obligations and mediate their differences. Governance emphasizes a government that is open and responsive to civil society, more accountable and better regulated by external watchdogs and the law. A strong role is proposed for “voice” and for civil society “partnerships” through non- governmental organizations (NGOs) and community participation. Governance models thus tend to focus more on incorporating and including citizens in all their stakeholder roles rather than simply satisfying customers, a theme that echoes the notion of “creating public value” (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affair-World Public Sector Report, 2005, pp.12-13). It is important to note that government and governance are interconnected. Government, as an art of governance, enjoys four important attributes which include sovereignty, power, authority and legitimacy (Ekei, 2003). All these elements or attributes are the instruments of effective governance in the sense that they provide the necessary anchor and legal/moral justifications to the government.
Governance in the context of this work is defined as the process of allocating resources, through the instrumentalities of the state, for the attainment of public good. Thus, governance includes institutional and structural arrangements, decision making processes, policy formulation and implementation capacity, development of personnel, information flows and the nature and style of leadership within a political system. Hence, governance is largely about problem identification and solving. It is also about social, economic and political progress or advancement. Consequently, governance has social, economic, administrative and political dimensions (World Bank Institute, 2003).
Economic governance includes processes of decision making that directly or indirectly affect a country’s economic activities or its relationships with other economies. Generally, economic governance has a major influence on societal issues, such as equity, poverty and quality of life. Political governance refers to decision making and policy implementation of a legitimate and authoritative state. The state should consist of separate legislative, executive and judicial branches, represent the interests of a pluralist polity, and allow citizens to freely elect their representatives.
Administrative governance, according to the World Bank, is a system of policy implementation carried out through an efficient, independent, accountable and open public sector. These elements constitute the governance system, that is, the formal institutional and organizational structure of authoritative decision-making in the modern state. Systemic governance encompasses the processes and structures of society that guide political and socioeconomic relationships to protect cultural and religious beliefs and values, create and maintain an environment of health, freedom, security and with the opportunity to exercise personal capabilities that lead to a better life for all people (World Bank Institute, 2003). Ikpi (1997, p.19) defines governance as “the total ability to organize, synthesize and direct the various actions of the working parts of government machinery in order for such a government to perform meaningfully, creditably and acceptably.
This means that governance involves both the governing class and the governed people. In essence, good governance must of necessity be democratic, entail popular participation by the people, be accountable and ensure basic freedoms. Akpotor (2001, p.12) argued that governance clearly covers all aspects of the complex and myriad relations that exist between a government and a people. He went further to state that the extent to which the people’s affairs are managed depends on the class of people in power. Thus, governance could be good or bad. Democratic governance is good governance while an autocratic government is bad.
By governance therefore, we mean the manner in which power is exercised by governments in the management and distribution of a country’s social and economic resources. The nature and manner of this distribution makes governance a bad or a good one. Thus, when resources are distributed to promote inequality or to achieve personal or group ambitions, the essence of governance which coincides with the essence of politics and essence of the state is defeated. Therefore, resources must be distributed responsibly, equitably and fairly for the realization of the essence of the state. This brings us to the idea that governance can be aptly described as good or bad. It is significant to note however, that good governance as a norm cannot make sense unless it is predicated on the presupposition that the experience and knowledge of bad governance is possible and real. On this basis, the norm of good governance is the political ethic that intends to challenge and replace the reality of bad governance (Mogobe, 2003).
- THE CONCEPT OF GOOD GOVERNANCE
The African Development Bank views good governance as one that embodies and promotes effective state, mobilized civil societies and productive private sector (Ogundiya, 2010). It is important to note that a governing authority does not determine if it is good or bad as the case maybe. It is the governed that does so, which is why governance must be people-oriented and not self-serving. In other words, any governance that fails to actualize or work in consonance with this or works contrary to this cannot be termed ‘good governance’. To sum this up, Ogundiya (2010) rightly said that “to describe governance as a good one and to determine whether it is a bad one requires the understanding of the essence of the state, which are not only embedded in the constitution but also a function of the religious ideals and the nature of current problems confronting the state”.
Good governance is a difficult concept, as it is not always easy to define. Good governance mostly is all about being participatory, transparent and accountable. It is also effective and equitable; it promotes the rule of law. In Nigeria, good governance could be attributed to the situation whereby political, social and economic priorities are based on broad consensus in society and that the voices of the poorest and the most vulnerable are heard in decision-making over the allocation of development resources (UNDP, 1997). Good governance is described as the government of the people. It entails the just exercise of authority, the ability for problem solving and conflict resolution, the capacity for efficient management of resources for development, and high level of responsiveness to the needs and the interest of the general populace. Good governance revolves around the structure and functioning of the state, its relationship with the civil society and its role in development (Nnamdi, 2009).
Good governance involves: enthronement of a democratic government, which guarantees equal participation of all citizens in governance; provision, promotion and sustenance of the rule of law; provision and protection of the constitution; promotion and protection of the fundamental human rights of the citizens; provision and sustenance of the freedom of the press; availability of a transparent, accountable and participatory governance at all levels of government; regular, free and fair elections; as well as provision of basic amenities, such as, portable water, electricity, qualitative education, healthcare delivery, good roads, among others. Good governance has several characteristics. It is participatory, consensus-oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective, efficient, equitable, all inclusive, and follows the rule of law (Haaga & Kanu, 2012). At the minimum, good governance requires fair legal frameworks that are enforced impartially by an independent judiciary, and its decisions and enforcements are transparent or carried out in a manner that follows established rules and regulations.
The concept of good governance is undoubtedly linked with the citizens’ right of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. This could be secured in a democracy only through the rule of law (Ogundiya, 2010). The rule of law is expressed through the axiom that no one is above the law. One has to clearly understand that the rule of law is different from the rule “by” law. Under the rule “by” law, law is an instrument of the government and the government is above the law while under the rule of law, no one is above the law, not even the government. It is under this framework that the rule of law not only guarantees the liberty of the citizens, but also limits the arbitrariness of the government and thereby makes government more articulate in decision-making (Ogundiya, 2010). The rule of law is equality before the law and this is secured through formal and procedural justice which makes independent judiciary a very vital instrument of governance.
A very important aspect of good governance is the provision of infrastructure to the people to enhance their welfare and social existence. These include good transportation and communication facilities, health and educational institutions as well as recreational facilities for their leisure and relaxation. Part of good governance is also the caring of the weak and disabled as well as the vulnerable.
Good governance helps create an environment in which sustained economic growth becomes achievable (World Bank, 2006). Conditions of good governance allow citizens to maximize their returns on investment. Good governance does not occur by chance; it must be demanded by citizens and nourished explicitly and consciously by the nation state. It is, therefore, necessary that the citizens are allowed to participate freely, openly and fully in the political process. The citizens must have the right to compete for office, from political party and enjoy fundamental rights and civil liberty.
Good governance is accordingly associated with accountable political leadership, enlightened policymaking and a civil service imbued with a professional ethos. The presence of a strong civil society including a free press and independent judiciary are pre-conditions for good governance (Aguilera & Cazurra, 2004). When these factors are in place, good governance will help create an environment in which sustained economic growth will be achievable in Nigeria if it allows citizens to maximize their returns on investment (Ani, 2011).
From the opinion of Nwekeaku (2014) good governance is an indeterminate term used in international development literature to describe how public institutions conduct public affairs and manage public resources. However, when we remember that the modern state is a human creation, according to the social contract theorists, namely, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes and Jean Jacques Rousseau, one can hazard on what constitutes good governance. Generally, the social contract theory, believes that the terrible, violent, unsecured and unpredictable state of nature compelled men to come together, under a social contract, and surrendered their rights to security of personal lives and property of the state. The state is expected to protect the personal lives and property of the citizens, as well as their general welfare. The state, as an amorphous entity, cedes this power to a smaller and proactive agency called the government. Good governance, therefore, includes the processes and products of the government towards the fulfillment of the social contract it has with the people.
- THE APPLICATION OF THE THEORY OF DIVINE ORIGIN OF STATE IN NIGERIA
The oldest theory about the origin of the state is the divine theory. It is also known as the theory of divine right of Kings. The theory of divine origin of the State outlines the fact that the State has been established by an ordinance of God and so its rulers are divinely ordained and are accountable to no other authority but God (Anifowose, 1999: p.95). The exponents of this theory believe that the state did not come into being by any effort of man. It is created by God. The King who rules over the state is an agent of God on earth. The King derives his authority from God and for all his actions he is responsible to God alone. Obedience to the King is ordained to God and violation of it will be a sin. The King is above law and no subject has any right to question his authority or his action. The King is responsible to God alone.
Furthermore, according to Shareyouressay.com, the theory of divine origin so enunciated, believed in and accepted, thus:
- That God deliberately created the State and this specific act of His grace was to save mankind from destruction;
- That God sent his Deputy or Vice-regent to rule over mankind. The ruler was a divinely appointed agent and he was responsible for his actions to God alone whose Deputy the ruler was. All were ordained to submit to his authority and disobedience to his command was a sin for which there was divine punishment.
This notion of the divine origin of the State strongly prevailed in the oriental Empires where rulers regarded themselves as the descendants of God. The early Hebrews, for instance, as shown in Shaapera (2009, p.24), believed that their government was created by the Lord. The theory of divine origin of leaders was used to support the absolutism of James I of England who, like others of his era, governed absolutely without any accountability to his people. Meanwhile, the divine origin perspective on the State was also strongly adhered to by rulers throughout the middle-ages (Ebenstein, 2000).
In the Nigeria context, although Nigeria as a nation-state is a collection of people of different origins who came together, joined by the British Empire based on their own selfish interests, it is obvious that no one could say or give account of its origin from God. Musa and Hassan (2014) supports the above assertion when they reiterate that “before colonialism, the area that is now known as Nigeria comprised of different kingdoms, empires, caliphates and chiefdoms, that evolved complex systems of government independent of contact with Europe. Most of these kingdoms were heterogeneous in culture, traditions, norms and religions”. Based on this, it is quite obvious that the emergence of Nigeria was never of God single-handedly.
The application of the theory of divine origin of state in Nigeria thus started with the colonialisation of the Nigeria-state by the British. Just as James I of England governed with absolutism during his era, Queen Elizabeth also did in the era of colonialisation of Africa. The amalgamation of the northern and southern protectorates to establish Nigeria was only a means for the British ruled by Queen Elizabeth towards the fulfillment of their own selfish interests. Queen Elizabeth being the figure head or the Monarch then was revered as God’s deputy; her words were final; no one challenges her authority. This is because it brought slavery into Nigeria and all sorts of ills. Moreover, due to the reverence of the monarch, the British did not hesitate to shoot at sight anyone who objects or makes any protest against their decisions. This brought about anarchy, doom, ills, etc to Nigeria.
Subsequently, the rule of various “military and democratic” leaders in Nigeria could not suffice, as they all heeded and practiced autocratic rulership over Nigerian citizens. From late General Sani Abacha, to President Muhammadu Buhari, who through the sayings of prophecies from a Clergy - Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka has pronounced himself the saviour of Nigeria, without anything to show for it. President Buhari who started as a military dictator in democratic dispensation could not help but start adjusting to reality (that it never works in Nigeria). This is because Nigeria is a complex and diverse ethnical colony who can only be ruled by someone who understands the times and seasons. Therefore, it suffices to say that the applicability of the divine origin of state in Nigeria could not establish bad governance instead of good governance among the populace.
From the foregoings, it has been established that the theory of divine origin of state prospered in the olden days before and in the 18th century. Its relevance then could not be overemphasized as there was a state of confusion, anarchy and doom. Just as the case of Mahabharata, that “there was anarchy in the world and the people prayed to God for a leader and God gave them Manu”; this is a vivid explanation of the case of divine origin of state. It was a universal belief with the ancient people that the King is the representative of God on earth and the state is bliss of God. Thus the King had both political and religious entity.
It is quite unfortunate that these have reprisals as the institutor is God but the executor is human. Although the government has been instituted to respond to the plight of the citizens and the environment in which it is instituted as stated by Putnam (1993: pp.8-9) that the political role of ‘government institutions’ is to receive inputs from their social environment and produces outputs to respond to the environment, it is obvious that the Nigerian situation of governance is quite unlike what Putnam postulates. This obviously is because of the type of governance being run in Nigeria. The Nigerian system of governance in a way practices the divine origin of state theory which was quite active years ago during British imperial ship, but obscene now. In this kind of governance, there is no room for active or autonomous government institutions, institutions which are the sectors that have direct relationship with the citizens. It is obvious that in good governance, where the government put forth quality representations for the citizens, it is through institutional performance that societal demands are transformed into political action or devices for achieving purposes.
According to Putnam (1993), he says that it is clear that government evidently is an essential organ through which the state achieves its moral duty and obligation to administer and render service to the citizens of the state. Having noted this, it is quite obvious that Nigeria’s failure in leadership and governance has been because of the nature and calibre of men that sit on the seat of governance in this country. Just like as it had already been mentioned before, that bad leadership and bad governance in Nigeria were further aggravated by the autocratic military rule of over thirty years; and also that there is no evidence of leadership performance to differentiate civilian leaders from military rulers in Nigeria (Lawal, Imokhuede and Johnson, 2012). Furthermore, it suffices to note that this autocracy came as a result of colonialism and the deceit from the British who cared much about the filling of their own state coffers from Nigeria rather than the betterment of their colony.
The replica of the application of the theory of divine origin of state was the military regime. The military regime in Nigeria according to Okene (2011) was a period when there were lack of justice, transparency, accountability, responsible leaders, public participation in government, efficiency and effectiveness, freedom and civil liberties. In other words, it is only the ruler’s decision that makes way none others. It was a period where the leader’s decision is final whether good or bad. It was a period when the parliaments have no say in governance; a period of sufferings, fear, and turmoil, etc. The then Heads of State were seen as gods but they were tyrants. Although, biblically, God appoints leaders, but one would always ask if these ones were actually appointed by God. The above challenges posed by military rule reportedly made the military era a period of bad leadership and poor governance in totality. It is as interesting as it is curious to note that the first and second republics in Nigeria were not so different from each other apart from some of the dramatis personae. The same political scenario played out in both republics, meaning that there was no clean and clear break in the political process between the two republics, despite the thirteen years of military rule in between them. The conduct of affairs in both republics was observed to have engendered non representativeness, political authoritarianism, intolerance, endemic corruption, electoral malpractice and economic exclusivity (Jinadu, 2011).
Another typical example of this application is the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari which was said to have come as a messiah to save Nigeria from her demise. President Buhari has done lots of things which to him are the keys to the solution of the nation without having any tangible result. He violates freedom of expression, human rights, etc. He disobeys court orders; his anti-corruption fight is witch-hunting and corruption of the highest order. The known catholic priest Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka, in his New Year speech in 2015, condemned the previous administration led by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and endorsed and tagged messianic the present administration as God sent. This clamour led to the massive failure of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan during the 2015 General elections. The same Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka in his New Year speech in 2018 condemned the governance of the present administration and has asked that he be voted out come 2019. Had Rev. Fr. Mbaka heard from God? YES; did he say what God never said? NO. Did God say he will use President Muhammadu Buhari? Yes, because God calls all the rulers his sons. But in as much as God has chosen these ones, He is not the one in charge; rather humans who are weak, covetous etc.
It is quite obvious having noted all these aforementioned, that the application of theory of divine origin of state will never curb the ills of governance and bring about good governance in Nigeria. It would rather worsen the already bad state of the economy and governance. God who appoints and institutes leaders is all good and strong but humans who He uses as his tools to execute governance are weak, self-centred, and covetous of power and cannot be relied upon for good governance especially in Nigeria, where the divine theory did not originate from.
From the fore goings, it has been established that the theory of divine origin of state is obsolete, unfruitful in this present state of Nigeria and should not be implemented in the course of governance. This has been noted by Okene (2011) that the military era, which is a vivid replica of the nature of leadership in the theory of divine origin of state, was a period when there were lack of justice, transparency, accountability, responsible leaders, public participation in government, efficiency and effectiveness, freedom and civil liberties. This which according to UNDP (1997) is quite an opposite as they reiterated that good governance is, among other things, about being participatory, transparent and accountable. It is also effective and equitable. And it promotes the rule of law. Good governance ensures that political, social and economic priorities are based on broad consensus in society and that the voices of the poorest and the most vulnerable are heard in decision-making over the allocation of development resources.
Furthermore, Nnamdi (2009) opines that good governance revolves around the structure and functioning of the state, its relationship with the civil society and its role in development. Good governance in a nutshell has been described as the government of the society. It encompasses the just exercise of authority, the ability for problem solving and conflict resolution, the capacity for efficient management of resources for development, and high level of responsiveness to the needs and the interest of the general populace. It is so unfortunate that governance in Nigeria is characterized by high rate of poverty, unemployment, lack of transparency and accountability, inefficiency and ineffectiveness, lack of equity, fall in the living standard of citizens, social injustice and most worrisome, organized corruption. This is because of the failures of governance in Nigeria.
- CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
This study clearly exposed the ills of the theory of origin of state. It however, explains the relationship the theory of divine origin of state has with governance. It was made clear that from origin, there has been leadership in existence. This leadership was more of a king and his subjects where there is no room for suggestions, arguments, counter arguments etc. But the word of the Leader (King) stands unquestionable. He is not answerable to any man but God who it was believed was the one who chose him for the leadership. The study disclosed the principles and international indices of the measurement of good governance and juxtaposed them with the governance in Nigeria to find out whether there is really good governance in practice in Nigeria. But unfortunately, the assessment clearly showed evidence of poor governance in Nigeria. It was disclosed that through this assessment with these guiding principles that the reason for poor governance in Nigeria was as a result of poor political leadership and observable flaws in the political leadership recruitment process in Nigeria.
Furthermore, the study disclosed the extent the application of the theory of divine origin of state in Nigeria worked citing the military rulership era. From this example, it was discovered that then the parliaments have no say in governance. The era was a period of sufferings, fear, turmoil’s etc. although the then Heads of State were seen as gods but they were tyrants. This is a typical exploratory example of bad governance. The study, having established these, ended up revealing that the theory of divine origin of state is a typical example of tyrannical governance which although worked out for a season when ignorance was the rule of the day, is now obscene and can no longer make good governance in this era. The study having disclosed the aforementioned concludes that no matter what, good governance does not exist in Nigeria. Rather, bad or poor governance is the order of the day as none of the governments that hitherto had come to power from independence ever conformed to the principles of good governance. The government in its pursuit for the attainment of good governance in Nigeria has a lot to do to gain the trust of the citizens it governs. This is because the people do not feel the impact of the government in their lives, because the policies of the government are geared towards the benefits of the elites, the politicians and those in positions of power. The masses do not benefit from the policies because they are of the opinion that government makes policies for their selfish gain/interest. It is hereby recommended that;
- Governance in Nigeria should be reformed to reflect the principles of good governance
- The Nigerian government should involve the masses in the affairs of the country in order to ensure their sense of belonging.
- Corruption which is one of the major ills of the Nigerian society should be reduced to the barest minimum if not eradicated.
- The electoral processes in Nigeria should be reformed in order to help check the selfish leaders who would want to find their way on the seat of governance in Nigeria.
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