Elder statesmen, Chief Ayo Adebanjo and the President-General of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, John Nwodo, as well as a former Governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, on Sunday demanded for a new constitution for Nigeria, describing the current one as illegal.
Adebanjo, Nwodo and Mimiko spoke during a video conference organized by Governance Index titled: “Coronavirus Pandemic: Is it time to reevaluate the political structure of the country?”
Nwodo, who opened the session, said politicians went into the 1999 elections without knowing the parameters that would guide the democratic process because the military, an unelected government, drafted the constitution
Nwodo, who further claimed that the military wrote the constitution and abandoned regionalism, said Nigerian political parties operate like companies owned by shareholders, adding that there is no freedom to choose candidates.
He also declared that Nigeria’s electoral system was the most corrupt, while the judiciary appears incompetent.
Nwodo said: ”We have never made a constitution for Nigeria, it was given to us by the military government, which was not elected, the composition of its legislative body was not chosen by any parameter known to anyone.”
“They wrote the constitution and abandoned the agreement our forefathers had with British when we got independence, for regional based government in which every region has its security, its own economic development, with each exercising sovereignty over its resources and paid taxes to federal government to run common services for the federation, but today it is no longer the case.
“Boko-Haram has completely paralysed our military and rendered them incapable to fulfil their Constitutional obligation to defend our Sovereign, there is mutual distrust between the South and North, I mean far North, excluding middle belt. Working through your farms in any part of Southern Nigeria or middle belt becomes a very frightening.
“Our children who take up self-determination exercises without carrying arms are called terrorist organization, but herdsmen who are on rampage, who loot, kill, and rape are treated with kid gloves while their leaders threaten us on the Social media.
“98 percent of heads of security personnel in the South East are non-indigenes.
“Some of us that were trained in Europe and America, we know that in global parlance, local policing is the basis for any territorial. You have to know your territory, you have to speak the language, but if you post people on our area who do not know the terrain of the place, cannot speak the language., this situation is threatening the very fabric of our nation, that is why I am very happy to be part of Southern and Middle belt forum.
“We have got to restructure this federation and return to Constitution that is top notch, a Constitution made by the people, validated by a plebiscite, voted for by the people. We must have proper census of Nigeria, not of Nigeriens who crossed our borders and go to National Identity Management and claim our nationality. They have no parentage in this country.”
Adebanjo, who agreed totally with the position of Nwodo, argued that if Nigeria was serious about its unity, it is time to embrace true federalism.
“The Constitution is an imposed constitution by the Muslim Military in the North. Nobody contributed to it. Even General Abdulsalami said he did not know what is in the constitution before he swore-in Obasanjo.
“I will say without any hesitation we are all deceiving ourselves , Buhari is not interested in keeping this country together that is why we are having this problem, that is why we are putting square pegs in a round hole, and that is why will tell him to keep to the constitution by the appointments he is making, but he said; no, I can only work with people I have confidence in, which is against the Federal Character Principle that the whole country is talking about. Buhari simply turn deaf ears to the agitation for restructuring that has been on for over five years.
“All these arrangement we talking about now, he (Buhari) has never found an occasion to address it, even his military colleagues have now agreed that we should restructure. All his predecessors have agreed, all political parties have agreed, even his political party has agreed and yet Mr. President who says he is sincere has not said anything.
“There is no sincerity on the part of the far North in putting this country togethe. When people like me talk about the unity of this country, we know what it means. ”
Adebanjo, a leader of the Yoruba sociocultural organisation, Afenifere, also noted that what was in the independence constitution was for each federating unit to be autonomous and that through the independence constitution, Chief Obafemi Awolowo was able to do a lot for the western region like free education, free medical services.
Adebanjo also said that elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai was being hypocritical by saying that proponents of restructuring have not explained to Nigerians what restructuring entails.
It would be recalled that Yakasai, who participated in last week’s edition of the video conferencing, had challenged agitators for restructuring to avail the nation of the modalities.
The Adenifere leader however argued that they attended the 2014 constitutional conference with Yakassai where the case for restructuring was carefully marshalled out, adding that what they are asking for is a country where everybody is satisfied and where there is no injustice.
“Once there is injustice there can be no peace and when there is no peace, no equity, there will be no development. All things we are doing now is to play up to an individual.”
Former Governor Mimiko, in his own contribution, concurred with the position of Adebanjo and Nwodo on the restructuring agenda, adding that if Nigeria wants to remain united there is need for restructuring.
He said: ”I associate myself with the positions of former speakers, he said whether we like it or not in this country, restructuring is an idea whose time has come.”
The video conferencing also featured other speakers as Yinka Odumakin, the spokesman for Afenifere, Ms Ankio Briggs, and Mr. Chido Onumah among others.
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