Current structure canâ€™t deliver development, say Onaiyekan, Ndoma-Egba
Amby Uneze in Owerri
As prominent Nigerians across the country are calling for the restructuring of Nigeria as a way of strengthening the foundation of the unity,
Imo State Governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha, instead, advocated the repackaging of the system, adding that restructuring is not the problem of the country.
This came as the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Metropolitan John Cardinal Onaiyekan, and Chairman, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN), yesterday said Nigeriaâ€™s current structure cannot deliver the needed development to the nation and her citizens.
The duo spoke in Abuja at the launch of a music album by Rev. Fr John Oluoma titled: â€˜His Presenceâ€™ stating that the present quasi-federalism being practised at the moment cannot in any way usher in giant strides and development in all sense.
Okorocha, who made the call while declaring open the 67th annual conference of the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) in Owerri, said Nigeria needs to be repackaged to attract investors, regretting too that only the privileged ones could afford to have access to the services of radio and television stations in the country, while most Nigerians, do not have such opportunity.
He called on proprietors and managers of the radio and television stations in the country operating under the aegis of BON to help repackage Nigeria for consumption by the rest of the world because â€œthat is what is needed now and not restructuring.â€
He also asked them to come up with programmes that could allow the less privileged in the society who cannot afford the high cost of electronic media to also be heard.
The BON members led by its Chairman, Mr. John Momoh, had earlier paid courtesy call on the governor at the Government House Owerri.
Okorocha said: â€œOur nation requires repackaging. It is unfortunate that a great nation like ours has not been properly packaged for consumption by the international communities. Yet, there are more evils in other nations than we have in Nigeria, but the reports going out about our country are such that no one will want to come into Nigerian, unless for those who want to take risk. No nation can grow with this arrangement. I want to charge you today, as you meet, think Nigeria and see how you can repackage it. We are not the worst of them all.â€
He noted: â€œEvery geo-political zone has its own interpretation of restructuring. To the South-east, restructuring means creation of an additional state. For the South-south, restructuring means resource control. For the South-west, it means devolution of power and the North may see it differently, but whatever is the case, we are better off as a united Nigeriaâ€
â€œThe ball is in your court to see how you can project Nigeria and repackage it for public and international consumption. Let me say to all of us here that there is nothing wrong with Nigeria and Nigerians. Nigeria is a great nation and will forever remain a great nation. What we have passed through as a nation, no other country would pass through it without experiencing total collapse. The spiritualists will believe that God has relocated His headquarters to Nigeria and that is why we get away with anything that we do.
â€œI call on all Nigerians that this is a period to dramatise and demonstrate patriotism which is anchored in the spirit of sacrifice. We must accept the fact that this nation belongs to us and we do not have any other nation on the face of the earth outside Nigeria. So, itâ€™s incumbent on us to fix Nigeria and make it better not only for us but for generations yet unborn.
â€œYou have a role to play. The news we have about our country outside Nigeria is not a good one and that has in many ways discouraged our investors. This is the time to speak less of the ugly situation we go through, this is the time to speak more about the potential in Nigeria. People keep destroying this country by what they say. Therefore, today, my plea would be to the national body that you get a space in your programme titled: â€˜Repackaging Nigeria for Better.â€
According to him, this is a time for the country to come together and shun the institutions of ethnicity, tribalism, religion, which have characterised the affairs of our nation.
â€œI wonder and my heart bleeds that at this 21st century, we are still choosing leaders based on ethnicity and zone. We must begin to choose people into offices based on their capacity and capability. What matters is not the ethnic group you come from or the religion you practice, what matters to us is the ability to put food on the table of the common man.
â€œThe wisdom is hidden in the poor on the street. I pray that you create a space in your radio and televisions where people can voice out themselves without having to pay for it,â€ he said.
In his address, BON Chairman, Momoh, said they were in the state for the 67th general assembly and 17th annual general meeting of the organisation to brainstorm on how to change the cause of history by facing the challenges confronting them and looking at how to surmount them to continue to serve as the watch dog of the society.
He noted that they would also discuss how they can keep the political office holders in check as media men and women, adding that â€œit is their responsibility to bring the feelings of the people to the government and at the same time let the people know of their responsibilities towards the govt.â€
Meanwhile, According to Onaiyekan, â€œthough some people are happy with the status quo, but they are many who are dissatisfied with the current structure.
â€œSo there must be room for us all to express ourselves, especially those that are dissatisfied and are calling for restructuring. My own understanding of restructuring is that many things in our country are not going well; they are structurally imbalance.
â€œThere is a big debate now on whether the Nigerian state is negotiable, where we can think of rearranging the structure to make it look in a different way, I definitely believe that we should. Since Nigeria is not perfect, our constitution is not perfect, our constitution is not bible, then, we should be prepared to face it.â€
On his part, Ndoma-Egba contended that the current structure has been systematically aligned to prevent development.
Comparing Nigeria with Brazil, the Asian tigers and other notable nations who were at par with Nigeria in the 1960s, Ndoma-Egba said: â€œThe argument is simply economic. With the current structure, we definitely cannot deliver development, since states were not created on the basis of economic consideration, we must reconfigure the country,â€ the former Senate leader stated.
Also, the Auxiliary Bishop of Abuja, Bishop Anselm Umoren, called for a more robust debate on the issue of restructuring, calling for more central focus on the matter.
Umoren while commending Fr Oluoma on his music album, explained that the Catholic Church will continue to adopt new strategies in evangelisation.
Oluoma further explained that the album has created to appeal to all Christians and non-Christians, â€œthe most important thing is the message.â€