Anyaoku, Nwabueze, others insist on restructuring
For eminent Igbo leaders, the current economic recession, corruption and agitations across the country justify the calls for the restructuring of the polity.
They expressed disappointment that one and half years after, the current government is yet to find its feet and address challenges of governance.
In a communiqué issued in Enugu, the Igbo Leaders of Thought led by constitutional lawyer, Prof. Ben Nwabueze said restructuring is one option that has gathered momentum, as well as received support of prominent northern leaders.
According to them, it is in the best interest of the country to heed the call.
At a different forum, former Secretary-General of Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, backed the call for the restructuring of the country, stressing it is the only way to Nigeria’s development.
Speaking to reporters in Abuja at a book launch and colloquium organised by Ambassador Humphrey Orjiakor and the Savanah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development, SCDDD, Anyaoku said that Nigeria had under-performed due to its current 36-state structure where all the states are dependent on the central government for survival . He stressed the need for the country to revert to regionalism.
“If we had six federating units, you would have more viable basis for planning economic development . The country continues to underperform because of the 36 states we have now. No less than 27 of them can no longer pay the salaries of their workers. The planning of economic development is less efficient on the basis of these non-viable states. If we had six federating units, you would have more viable basis for planning economic development and those who fear that it would mean disintegration of the country are wrong, because the country was doing a lot better at the time of its independence.
‘’It started with three regions and ended up with four regions before the military intervened. Continuing as we are doing now will lead us nowhere in terms of development, and in terms of building a nationhood to which Nigerians will be proud of to belong. We are failing and that is the only argument to present to those who are opposed to restructuring”, Anyaoku said.
The former Commonwealth scribe added: “I think we need to persuade those with positions against restructuring because this country is living in denial of the basic facts of its underperformance.”
Anyaoku observed that the over-centralisation of the federal administration following the intervention of the military in politics led the country to its existing woes.
“The centre was not that powerful, we have the example of the then leader of the biggest political party in the country, the Northern Peoples Congress, NPC.
“Sir Ahmadu Bello chose to remain the premier of the North and sent his lieutenants to be the prime minister of the federation. That was the reflection of the bonds of power and influence between the centre and the region.
“And the country, the Western Region, the Northern Region, Eastern Region and the Mid-Western Region of the country were developing faster than these states have done since the military intervened in governance, “he said.
The Igbo leaders led by Nwabueze in the communiqué maintained that the time has come for the Federal Government to look inwards and pursue policies and actions that could ultimately impact on development and well-being of the people.
The group described as “unacceptable the way and manner the corruption fight is being prosecuted,” stressing, “It is highly skewed against perceived opponents of the party in government.”
They added: “People are arrested and bank accounts frozen without due process. The world news media, CNN, announced that a serving minister has over $700 million in one account in the United States and the Federal Government has not tried to probe him. The current chief of army staff is alleged to own houses in Dubai, to own farms etc and no efforts have been made to ascertain the true source of his wealth.
“Appointments to sensitive positions in the public service so far show a high degree of corruption. As Junaid Mohammed revealed, the Aso Rock is controlled by cousins, nephews, brothers and blood relations of the President.
“It is pointed out that all critical positions in the security services are held by the president’s kinsmen and tribesmen – Chief of Army Staff, Inspector General of Police, Minister of Defence, Minister of Internal Affairs, National Security Adviser, Director General, Department of State Security (DSS), Chief of Staff, ADC to President, CSO to president, Director general, Customs, Prisons, Immigration, Petroleum, FCT, while the Acting Chairman of the EFCC is still on seat, thereby overstaying his tenure of six months in acting capacity.”
The Igbo leaders warned that the country is witnessing the worst economic situation ever, stressing that it has gone beyond the reach of the ordinary Nigerian. They urged government to urgently address the causes of the recession.
Linking the rise in inflation to the activities of the Niger Delta Avengers over alleged injustices, the group stated that the time has come for government to listen to the agitators and put the machinery in motion to address their grievances.
In that regard, the group called for the immediate release of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu from detention, saying that his continued incarceration is a factor that inflames agitation.
It noted that actions of government especially her silence on activities of herdsmen, who have continually raped, killed and destroyed people’s farms are part of the programme for the Islamisation of the country.
The group called on Nigerians to be on the alert to other developments in the country.