By Vanessa Obioha
A radical historian, who taught generations of students at the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile- Ife, Dr. Olusegun Osoba, has cautioned Nigeria over what he described as the ubiquitous use of the word ‘restructuring’ by the ruling elites, describing it as a recurring and blatant lie that has been used to deceive Nigerians as the solution to the economic, political and social ills in the country.
“They never define what they mean by restructuring. I have not seen any one of them define what they mean. But if you watch their body language and watch their general behaviour in relation to the Nigerian people, you can guess that what they mean by restructuring is either creation of more states so that anybody can have a state at his backyard and employ to his heart content and to denial of his rival and competitors, or resource control particularly the oil rich states,” Osoba explained during the presentation of the book ‘Minority Report and Draft Constitution for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1976’ at the University of Lagos, Akoka.
“When you talk about restructuring in Nigeria, you are talking about sharing wealth and power horizontally among states, ethnicity and region. You are not talking about sharing power and wealth vertically, from top to bottom, that is, to the masses. And that is the most critical point if you are talking about restructuring,” he said.
He further stated that the only way the masses can get the desired change is to develop a strategy that will bring about a revolution.
“There has to be unity in struggle because to get change, you have to create an institution that is conducive for the masses. The constitution we have today cannot give our children better education. Continuous struggle is the solution to our problem, not restructuring.”
Dr. Osoba co-authored the book with the late cerebral historian Dr. Yusufu Bala-Usman, about 43 years ago whose son, Attahiru was present at the occasion, alongside former governor of Kaduna State, Balarabe Musa.
Attahiru said that the presentation of the book is timely given that when it was first written, the military rulers of the time impeded its existence.
“It will add value because there were so many things that were thrown out by the soldiers that forced the 1979 Constitution on Nigerians which we think are relevant. Since nobody is in a position to throw it out, we are bringing it out to the public, let’s talk about it.”
“This is the second time we are presenting this book. And this was made possible by people like Femi Falana who have struggled for this moment over a long period of time. There is no gainsaying that our country is going through deep crisis. Lagos is like heaven compared to the situation in Zamfara State. The situation is very difficult. Travelling is difficult; lives are wasted; economic activities have come to a halt. Our people have sunk to a very deep level of desperation. But every time we analyse we go back to these documents, we find acute analysis of the conditions that have led us to this place as clearly stated in this book,” added the Director of Centre for Democratic Development Research and Training, Zaria, Abubakar Mohammed.
In his review, Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Human Rights lawyer,Falana said that the document would elicit a mixture of some regrets and hope for Nigerians being that General Murtala Mohammed who gave the directive to produce a draft constitution for the Second Republic did not live to see the minority report, which was vigorously rejected by the administration of Olusegun Obasanjo.
“As Osoba and Usman rightly put it, the 1979 Constitution is a deliberate effort at the mystification for the selfish interests of the bourgeoisie.”
Falana however expressed optimism that the publication will be useful to those interested in writing the people’s Constitution.