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Sunday, 26 June 2016
Nigerians United On Restructuring, True Federalism
There have been calls for the restructuring of the Nigerian federation if the nation will remain one united entity. These recurring calls were loudly re-echoed during the National Conference. Even at other public fora, Nigerians have continued to maintain that the nation must be restructured in the line of a True Federalism, just as the advocates stress that the nation has been running a Unitary Constitution handed over to the nation by the military.
Even as the National Assembly is still tinkering with the idea of amending the constitution, the calls for restructuring of the nation have continued unabated. This has given rise to further calls across board that President Muhammadu Buhari should implement the National Conference Reports as it contains all that are needed for the peaceful resolution of all issues facing the nation.
Let Us Implement National Confab Report
Da Bulus Dareng, a member of the National Conference from Plateau State, has said that the recent calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to implement the recommendations of the conference is timely as it is the only option left now to get Nigeria out of the present problems that are affecting the growth and development of the country.
Dareng, Plateau Chairman of Chambers of Commerce , Industries, Mines and Agriculture (PLACCIMA) said the solutions to the problems staring the country on the face are contained in the Confab reports. He advised President Buhari to dust that reports,, study the recommendations and start to implement them to refocus the country for a better future.
Dareng, who served in the Conference Committee on Politics and Governance, said the solutions to the current happenings in Niger Delta, calls for resource control, grazing reserve or ranching policy are all provided for in the reports.
On the calls for re-structuring of the Nigerian federation, the elder statesman said the government seems not to understand the meaning of restructuring in the true sense of the word. According to him, restructuring is in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, insisting that there is nothing new that the constitution has not made provision for.
Dareng noted that top government functionaries who ought to know what restructuring is all about are shying away from the truth due to selfish interests, hence they want the status quo to remain.
He added that in the real sense of it what Nigerians want the federal government to address has something to do with injustice, lack of fairness in the distribution of the resources and the need to give all segments of the Nigerian society a sense of belong.
According to him, at this state of Nigerian history , no body or ethnic group is talking about disintegration of the country anymore because of the level of integration of the people, saying that both the Yoruba , Igbo and Hausa, which form the majority ethnic groups in Nigeria have their investments scattered all over the country and would want to co-exist with the minority ethnic groups in a manner that all will operate under an arrangement of live and let live.
Barrister Osim Jones of the Advocates Centre, Jos, said the country is long overdue for restructuring, but lamented that those benefiting from the system prefer that things remain the way they are.
Jones lamented that the present administration in this country does not have the interest of the people of this country at heart, saying unless something is done fast to address the problems of imbalances in the system, things will continue to go wrong.
Equity, justice, fairness and not regionalism
Rev. (Dr) Matthias Echioda, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) chairman, Niger State, maintained that what Nigerians need now is not regionalism. He stated that “What we need is for the government to ensure equity, justice and fairness in dealing with all segments and sections of Nigerian society because regional uprising thrives on situations where there is injustice.”
Echioda stated that in Nigeria today, many people are products of inter-ethnic marriages, so the issue of regional government has been naturally taken care of by these inter-ethnic marriages, which he stressed, has successfully bridged existing regional gaps.
“And again, in almost every home, people travel from one part of the country to another and that again cements the bond holding us as one people destined by God to live as one, though with different languages, cultural values and above all, worshiping God in our different unique ways,” he added.
Echioda said those clamouring for regional governments are drawing Nigeria back to the pre-independence era because, “Regional government is outdated and breeds tribal, religious and cultural sentiments.
“Nigeria can use her differences as testimonies by respecting one another’s religious belief, as a multi-cultural country that has existed for over 50 years bonded together by God, what we should be thinking about now is how we can build bridges of understanding across our differences by dwelling more on things bind us as one and less on things that divide us as a people.
“All that is required is for the federal government to be sincere and without sentiments in dealing with some sensitive national issues to ensure that no particular region is left out. Genuine nationalists should be brought on board to formulate policies that would guarantee national unity and not regional champions.
“Nigeria can start true nationalist attributes from their homes. Parents, particularly mothers, should spend time to educate their wards that Shehu from the North is not different from Ayo from the West or Chinedu from the East as they are all Nigerians, even though they have different mode of worshipping God.
“I think we should start from somewhere in evolving this national re-orientation required for us to remain as one indivisible nation, and by so doing, young Nigerians who are leaders of tomorrow will grow with the mindset that there is the need to embrace and respect the religious belief, culture and traditions of one another for peaceful coexistence.”
Nigeria Does Not Need To Be Restructured
Venerable Best Agbolayah maintained that the problem with Nigeria is poor, selfish leadership and unbridled greed by the political class, otherwise the country is not too large to govern successfully. He cited the United States of America which has 52 states and only one president, while Nigeria has only 36 states.
He stressed: “What we need is patriotic, focussed, committed and dedicated leadership by the ruling class. If we can achieve this, then we shall not be talking about restructuring and we can get to where we want to be if we can make politics less lucrative and service-oriented for only those with visible means of livelihood and payment of only seating allowance for lawmakers.
“If you talk of restructuring, you will be creating more domineering majority group and creating very tiny minorities who may soon be wiped off the map of Nigeria. This will be the case in Niger Delta where one ethnic nationality will become the Almighty Lord over the other ethnic nationalities who will be living all their lives under perpetual fear of annihilation.
“But the current structure provides a safeguard and assures of some measures of security and balance of force.”
Agbolayah stressed that a situation where a former student becomes a governor of a state while his teacher remains in abject poverty and the politician now stupendously rich should be discouraged. All politicians, he added, must be made to declare their assets publicly before assuming leadership position and declare same again after leaving office.
“We can then properly assess him to know his current worth after doing the necessary addition and minuses. The anti-graft agencies must be strengthened further to give effective legal bite to their operations”, he stressed.
True Federalism is solution to the nation’s current challenges
Ayo Adesopo, a Professor of Public Administration, has called for the restructuring of the nation as a panacea to the current challenges facing the country.
Prof. Adesopo, of the Department of Public Administration, Obafemi Awolowo University, (OAU), Ile-Ife, maintained that restructuring of the country is the only possible solution to the lingering challenges at present, especially the agitations in parts of the country. Adesopo also canvassed for resource control to liberalise the nation’s economy.
He stressed that what Nigeria is operating presently is not a federation, adding that the country needs a True Federalism whereby federating units will be autonomous and structured in a way that they can stand on their own.
According to him, “Independence and autonomy of the federating units is undebatable in a true federation. Apart from this, the solution to the one-line type of economy being run today is to liberalise the economic system whereby the states will be empowered to extract, develop and export whatever natural resources in their area and make mere economic contribution to the centre as it was early 1960s.
“Restructuring is the best and viable solution at present. What Nigeria is going is because the centre is too strong. Every tribe wants to be president and anybody would want to do everything possible to frustrate whoever is there. In a multi-ethnic society like ours, the best is to allow for true federalism.
“What Nigeria is operating today is not a federation. Independence or autonomy of the political units is undebatable in a federation. How autonomous are the units today when they live on bailout before salary can be paid talkless of delivering the expected social services to the common man out there?
“Apart from this, the solution to the one-line type of economy being run today is to liberalise the economic system whereby the states will be empowered to extract , develop and export whatever natural resource in their area and make mere economic contribution to the centre as it was early 1960s.
“The regions then were committed to the development of their area because they were independent. This is not so today because the priority of each area is different from one another. In fact, when you look at the situation today one will pity the political entity called Nigeria because our thinking is not the same.
“Where an area will believe in making sure that everything work some merely believe in sharing whatever comes in as revenue and it this same people that will be asking for more attention because they are underdeveloped or backward. The best thing is to allow for resource control right as agitated for by some section of the country.
“Fortunately no state in Nigeria without at least one natural resource or another upon which such a state can live in terms of revenue. In fact, it is a feature of true federalism as being agitated for.”
How national potentials will be enhanced
In view of the multiple problems confronting the Nigerian state in recent times, stakeholders in Rivers State have expressed support to the popular view proffered by prominent Nigerians like the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar that the country is due for restructuring to enhance the potentials therein.
Bristol-Alagbariya Emmanuel, Secretary General of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), said that the reports of the National Conference are the best document that could enhance the indivisibility of Nigeria.
“The conference reports discouraged imbalance and the injustice that seemed to have come to stay in the Nigerian polity. Therefore, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration should fish out the document for full implementation for the benefit of Nigeria and Nigerians,” he said.
Comrade Austin Ozobo, an activist and National President, Ijaw Peoples Development Initiative (IPDI) said Nigeria cannot survive the myriad of problems threatening its peaceful co-existence without restructuring.
He listed the Biafra/MOSSOB and Niger Delta agitations for self-determination, the Boko Haram and Fulani Herdsmen killings as situations threatening the existence of the nation. He posited that Nigeria is a marriage that is no longer compatible and except the country is restructured, things will snowball into major crises in the nearest future.
Ozobo described Nigeria as a failed state as it could not live up to its responsibilities, saying the country is at a crossroads and the earlier the leaders adhere to the glamour for reconstruction of the country, the better for the people.
He added that Nigeria is a false contraption and that the 1914 Amalgamation was made to serve regional interest of the North by the British colonial masters.
The activist said the Amalgamation agreement expired since 2014 and except the various regions sit and dialogue or renegotiate, any attempt for force measures on the people in an incompatible marriage would not work.
According to him, “people should not shy away from the truth. Nigerians should speak up and ensure that the citizenry undergo renegotiation for its peaceful co-existence to avoid collateral damages.”
Ohanaeze Ndigbo Backs Restructuring
The Igbo apex socio-political body, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has thrown its weight behind the ongoing calls for the restructuring of the country in order to resolve different agitations in the country.
Dr Joe Nwaorgu, Secretary General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, said Ndigbo stand for restructuring and this has to be immediate. According to him, the restructuring of the country might be the needed panacea to all the agitations in the country, such as Biafra agitation and the Niger Delta crises.
The Ohanaeze scribe made it clear that Ndigbo have never wavered on their belief in the restructuring of the country, adding, “Since 1994, we have maintained our stand on restructuring. Ndigbo have never wavered on that. In 2014, we stood at that during the National Conference. The report of that national conference should be implemented by the President.