- Anyaoku: Nigeria hasn’t been this divided since Civil War Osoba seeks return to First Republic federal order
By Gboyega Akinsanmi
Contrary to the views of some governors in the North, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, yesterday specifically rejected the country’s current federal structure, noting that the present system “is not the best and may not guarantee the future our people desire.”
As a matter of necessity, Ambode asked the federal government “to take required steps to activate the process for the restructuring of the present system with a view to adopting a proactive system that will guarantee the future the people desire.”
He expressed concern about the country’s governance structure at a parade the Lagos State Government organised at the Police College, Ikeja, yesterday to mark Nigeria’s 57th Independence anniversary.
The Independence parade was attended by Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu I; the state Commissioner of police, Mr. Imohimi Edgal; commanders of all military formations in the state and members of the state executive council among others.
Ambode had at the 57th annual conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) lamented aberrations in the 1999 Constitution, and said the legal framework would continue to stunt the country’s economic growth and inhibit capacity of federating units to harness their potential.
The governor had, as a result, argued that the Nigerian federalism was military in nature and skewed to the detriment of federating units, thereby inhibiting the socio-economic progress of the federating units.
He then canvassed the need to institutionalise the principles of true federalism, the kind that would allow each federating unit to contribute agreed percentage of its revenues to the national government as stipulated in the 1963 Constitution.
As a follow-up to his earlier demand for true federalism yesterday, the governor canvassed the imperative of restructuring her present governance structure to meet the people’s aspirations, though stressed the need to uphold the unity of Nigeria.
He observed: “It is becoming clearer by the day that the present system is not the best and may not guarantee the future the people desire. The federal government must take necessary steps to activate the process for the restructuring of the present system with a view to adopting a proactive system.
“There is need for the government to put in place a system which would empower the component units of the federation to meet the yearnings and aspirations of the people for better living conditions.”
He, thus, emphasised the significance of the 57th jubilee, thereby urging the federal government and the people “to take a critical and objective assessment of the current situation in the country and resolve to do the right thing.”
Even though Nigeria is currently undergoing a moment of socio-political turbulence, Ambode observed that such a period “is not a time to call for division, rather, it is a time to uphold what has united the people in peace and love.
“It is a time for each and every one of us to rise against the ills that have for long not only undermined our progress but also our ability to harness our potential as a people to live decent life.”
In 2016, he explained, Nigeria was faced with the challenge of economic recession. However, the country is now on the path of economic recovery. What is now required of every citizen at this time is to remain united, confident and hopeful.
He said: “In spite of all the challenges we faced and still continue to face as an independent country, we have remained resolute to keep alive the dreams of our founding fathers.”
At a thanksgiving service at the Lagos House Chapel, Ikeja, Ambode said a moment of reflection and retrospection “will reveal the need for all of us to be thankful to God for His grace, blessings and mercy over our country. That we still have our own country is a proof of the divine hands of God in our being together as one.
“We must therefore reflect on our journey so far and come to the inevitable realisation that we have more to gain as one country than as different independent entities. Our diversity is strength in itself and what makes our country a truly special place.
“We are a country blessed by God. We have been blessed with enormous natural, human and material resources. In recent times, we have seen terrible natural disasters happen in different parts of the world but our country has been preserved from these adversities.“
Also Former Secretary-General of Commonwealth of Nations, Chief Emeka Anyaoku yesterday lamented hydra-headed challenges confronting Nigeria after 57 years of her existence, noting that the country has never been as divided as it is now since 1967 civil war.
Even though the country is currently passing through hard times, former Ogun State Governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba, observed that all hope “is not lost at all for Nigeria if the federal government can return to the ideals of the First Republic federal structure.”
The two leaders expressed hope in the future of Nigeria in separate statements they issued to commemorate the 57th independence anniversary, though urged President Muhammadu Buhari to decisively address all challenges tearing the country apart.
In a one-page statement, Anyaoku emphasised the need “to celebrate our 57 years of existence as a sovereign country, but at the same time must resolve to deal effectively with the challenges, some of which are existential, facing the country.”
Citing different socio-political challenges currently undermining the country’s unity, Anyaoku observed that the undeniable reality of the current state of affairs in Nigeria “is that the country, since the civil war, has never been as divided as it is now.”
He lamented armed insurgency in the North-east, a threat of secession by some elements in the South-east, rampaging Fulani herdsmen wreaking havoc in some parts of the country, militancy in the Niger Delta, an economy just recovering from recession and incalculable damage being done to the country’s development by massive corruption.
The former cheploment therefore, proffered the need to urgently restructure Nigeria, which he said would effectively tackle the challenges and put divisive country on the road to the stability and its deserved development.
If current challenges facing the country in all geo-political zones must be effectively resolved, Anyaoku said the country should be restructured “from its present nominal federal order to a true federalism. In other words, we must restructure the country’s present governance architecture.”
Like Anyaoku, Osoba said Nigeria “has suffered too much setback which has affected all aspects of our lives – economy, security, education, politics, infrastructure and even the justice system. Virtually all aspects of growth have been affected in the last 57 years.”
However, he said hope “is not lost at all for Nigeria in spite of what we are passing through as a people and a country. A lot must be done about Boko Haram in the North-east; secessionist agitation in the South-east, insurgencies in the South-south and inadequate governance in the South-west. Indeed, all these have really affected the economy of South-west.”
He suggested the need to return to the First Republic federal order, which according to him, would guarantee healthy competition among the federating units and allow each of the federating units leverage on its areas of comparative advantages.
Under the regional system, Osoba pointed out that the economy of each region in the federation was basically built on agriculture, noting that impressive progress was “recorded in all regions. Then, the North depended on cotton and groundnut.
“The South-west thrived basically on cocoa while the South-east raked in so much from palm produce. It is time we back to agriculture. We must go into mechanised farming. We have a lot of potentials to grow our economy through mechanised agriculture.”
Unlike under the old regional structure, Osoba specifically advocated mechanised farming, noting that it “requires so much education and technology. We should take advantage of the new technology to grow our agricultural sector as it is in developed countries. The new world has gone beyond subsistent agriculture. So, mechanised farming is the way we should focus.”