The Chairman of the Southern Senators Forum, Senator Hope Uzodimma, Imo West, has called for the abolition of the state of origin provision from the nationâ€™s statue books just as he suggested that a referendum on restructuring could be the best way to handle the growing calls by Nigerians for restructuring.
In an explosive lecture as guest speaker at the NUJ press week Saturday at Sheraton Hotels Abuja, Uzodimma who is also the Senate committee Chairman or Customs, Excise and Tariffs, said the abolition of the state of origin provisions will help foster national integration
Speaking on journalism and the nationalism question, Uzodimma who was also conferred with the NUJ award of the best senator of the year (2017) called on the press to champion the need to abolish state of origin clause in the constitution and settle for its replacement with state of residency
According to him step will ensure that Nigerian citizens will have the same rights anywhere they live in the country, irrespective of their state of origin Uzodimma is of the view that the press should champion this course to ignite the citizenry with the deep patriotic zeal that will unite Nigerians more and close the divisive flames threatening to engulf the nation.
On the need for a referendum on the restructuring debate, the senator said since the issue had become dominant in national discourse with opinions divided, it may be appropriate to subject it to a referendum for the people to decide â€œone of the democratic ways of settling contentions issues in through a referendum. This will afford leaders the opportunity to canvass the pros and cons of restructuring before the public and allow them to vote on the issues,â€ he argued.
Speaking specifically on restructuring he admitted that there were clear signals that the present federal structure might not be working â€œletâ€™s face it, is our present structure really working? I have my doubts. If it were my state Imo could not have held back local government elections for seven years without consequences, even when section 7 of the 1999 as amended guaranteed that local government must be democratically selected.
He also wondered why states where depending solely on federal allocation for survival if they were really federating units.
He made it clear that restructuring should not amount to negotiating the countryâ€™s unity because the nation has come a long way and her unity was no longer in dispute adding â€œfor many of my generation we can proudly say we dare not forget yesterday. We have been tempered by war made better by the discipline from the ruination of war, and satisfied that all sides have learnt their lesson and that we have everything to gain by remaining together.â€
Recalling the laudable contributions of journalists to nationalistic struggles, from the colonial era to the military years, to the present democratic dispensation, Uzodimma said the press has done very well and deserves to be commended.