Nwodo, Adebanjo, others reiterate call for restructuring, say 1999 constitution illegal
President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, John Nnia Nwodo, elder statesman and Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo and other eminent Nigerians have reiterated the call for restructuring of Nigeria, saying that the country needs a home-grown constitution that would usher in a regional arrangement.
They spoke at an online zoom conference at the weekend organised by Governance Index, a social enterprise dedicated to promoting purposeful leadership around the world with the topic: “the Coronavirus pandemic, is it time to re-evaluate the political structure?”
Other eminent personalities who contributed in the conversation are spokesman of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, Niger Delta activist, Mrs Ann-Kio Briggs and former governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko.
According to Nwodo, our country is operating on an illegal constitution because the constitution lacks autochthony. We never made a constitution for Nigeria, he said, adding that military government gave it to the country.
“The composition of its legislative body was chosen by a parameter not known to anybody. They wrote a constitution and abandoned the agreement our forefathers had with the British government for a regional based government, in which every region had its own security, economic development and sovereignty over its natural resources and pray tax to the central government. Look at security today. Boko Haram had dug a big hole in our national body.
“It has completely paralysed our military and rendered them incapable to fulfill their constitutional duties of defending our sovereignty. Mutual distrust between the South and the North has become so pronounced that walking through your farm in any part of the South or Middle Belt has become a frightening phenomenon. Our children who agitate for self-determination without carrying an arm are termed terrorist organisation but herdsmen who rampage, loot, main and kill are treated with kid’s gloves.
“Ninety percent of the heads of security personnel in the South East are non indigenes. And we know all over the world that local policing is the trend today. You have to know your local territory and speak the language to be the police chief. Those people don’t speak the language and are not from there. They look like those posted to superintend over the colonial arrangement,” he said.
According to him, this situation is threatening the very fabric of our nation.
He therefore stressed that Nigeria must restructure the country and have a constitution that is autochthonous. A constitution, he said that is made by the people and backed by a plebiscite voted by the people.
His words: “We have to have a proper census of Nigerians, not Nigeriens who cross our borders and go to our national identity offices and claim nationhood when they have no parentage in this country.”
He lamented that our states are economically unviable. According to a report, he said, only four states in Nigeria have average revenue in excess of average monthly expenditure and only nine states have internally generated revenue sufficient to cover interest repayment of their states because we have refused to diversify until now.
Nwodo said: “Our political parties are like companies owned by shareholders where there is no freedom to choose candidates, no transparency in nomination processes. You have to have a Godfather to win a nomination to enter any legislative houses or executive office. Our electoral system is the most corrupt in the world.
“This is the only country in the world where you go for an election and the adjudication of the judiciary on the outcome of an ejection lasts up to one year. And in the process, our judiciary is corrupt. In the process, our police men break into a polling booth and cart away polling bags and papers in broad day light. It is recorded in cameras and nobody does anything about it. It is very often noticed in Nigeria that people lose election and still win because their names are recorded as having won. The confidence of an average Nigerian in the electoral process is gone, to make matters worst and that is the kernel of the point.”
Pa Adebanjo said Coronavirus has just come to re-emphasize the ungodliness of our government. If we are really serious about keeping this country together, and make progress, it is time to restructure the country back to regionalism as we had at independence, he said.
According to the nonagenarian, those who claim that they don’t know what restructuring means like Tanko Yakassai should go and read the 1963 constitution. He stressed that the military created 774 local governments with the majority in the North and minority in the South and use the number of local governments as basis for the distribution of revenue, adding that that was the beginning of the fraud.
He said: “And we at the South say no. Let us work for our money, spend it and distribute to the federal government on a typically federal constitution. That is what is happening in America. What we have is a forced constitution by the Muslim military of the North. Nobody contributed to it. President Muhammadu Buhari is not sincere about keeping this country together. That is why he refused to work with other sections of the country. In all these agitations, he had not find an occasion to say, this is my reaction.
“Even all his former military colleagues have agreed to restructuring, including his party. So he has his own programme. We can never have peace until we restructure the country. We have no hatred or bitterness against the northerners. All we are asking is to have a constitution under which everybody is satisfied. Where there is injustice, there can be no peace. When there is no peace or equity, there will be no development.”
All the contributors agreed that it is time to rework Nigeria.