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Obasanjo canvasses restructuring, calls for constituent assembly

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• Says Legislative Arm Cannot Write New Constitution

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said the present National Assembly cannot, and is not in a better position to give the country a new and befitting Constitution that can address the myriads of problems confronting the nation.

Obasanjo, in his keynote address at the first Annual Lecture of the late Dr. Frederick Isiotan Fasehun, the founder of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), therefore, urged the Executive and the legislative arms of government, to as a matter of urgency, work together to establish a Constituent Assembly that will give a new Constitution to Nigeria.

He said: “The exercise must not be compromised like the present Constitution. It must have full legitimacy of ‘we the people’. Talking of a new Constitution, maybe we should try a hybrid Constitution of President and Prime Minister sharing executive power in a Presidential cum Parliamentary system.”

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Decrying the present state of insecurity, Obasanjo warned that unless something critical, urgent and proactive is done to stem it, the country stands the possibility of collapsing. He, therefore, expressed support for Operation Amotekun by the Southwest governors, just as he commended Northerner governors and their counterparts in the Southeast and South-South for having the courage to speak against the rising insecurity across the country.

He said: “And before we descend any further, let me warn, from experience, those beating the drums of war and domination from all quarters. I joined the late Bisalla, under General Hassan Katsina, to write the appreciation and operational instruction for the Civil War. We estimated that the Federal Government would suppress the Biafran rebellion within three months.

“To make allowances for the unforeseen, we allowed six months. But it took us 30 months, five times what we allowed for, and what is more, we nearly lost the war. And as a Field Commander at the end of the war, I can attest that we fought with all Nigerian tribes, including Igbos against Biafra.”

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He noted that while it took Nigeria 30 months to quell Biafra, “Boko Haram has been on for over 10 years with external support and Nigeria is still struggling to address it. What if a region or two decide to leave the Nigeria union with the way things are today? That might be the end of Nigeria.”

The erstwhile military general noted that people have talked about true federalism, restructuring and there seems to be no response. “When we get to the point where each of the regional block would be talking of self-determination, Nigeria may be in for a big trouble.”

Although the former president affirmed his belief and support for one and a united Nigeria, which he promised to defend till the end of his life, he, however, said despite his conviction, “I do not subscribe to a Nigeria, where I will be a slave, or my children will be second class citizens to another race, or where there would not be fairness, equity and justice.” He added that unless these are guaranteed, there is no point in talking of oneness and unity.

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He commended Southwest governors for the bold measure taken beyond political party affiliation to improve security architecture and care for their citizens, “especially Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State for his leadership on this matter and for sharing their thinking with me. Security measures are never static, and security is the responsibility of all of us, but by appointment and elections, some have more responsibility than others.”

He said it was instructive that the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), under the leadership of Sultan of Sokoto, became extremely worried about the level of insecurity in the country and called on President Buhari to declare a state of emergency on security in the country.

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Meanwhile, General Secretary, Arewa Consultative Forum, Mr. Anthony Sani, said the call for restructuring will not solve Nigeria’s problems because of the distrust among the ethnic nationalities. He emphasised the need to address the issue of insecurity first, “after which Nigerians can sit down to discuss the way forward. “Nigeria has been restructured several times,” he said.

In his address, President of Certified Institute of Cooperative and Social Enterprise Management (CICOSEMA), Professor Kehinde Olusegun, while also supporting the new security initiative said, “Amotekun has come at a time as this, but it is hoped that it will not be infiltrated as the OPC has been. The question should be: “Are we all members of OPC? Are we all Amotekun? Can we actually own it, as ours to protect and to defend?”

In his remark, OPC President, Prince Osibote said the organisation as a non-partisan, socio-cultural, socio-economic group crusading for social justice and the rule of law, has come out several times to defend Yoruba ideals, whenever they are threatened.

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