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Labour unions, rights groups seek a restructured Nigeria

By Paul Adunwoke
12 October 2017   |   5:16 am
The group, which also include student unions, commercial motorcycle operators, academics, doctors, artisans among others, that the wrong use of the country’s resources have inflicted hardship on the masses.

President Muhammadu Buhari

Members of organised unions, including professionals and non-professionals across the country are beginning to join their voices to the rising number of agitators demanding for the restructuring of the Nigerian federation. Their concern, according to them, was to avoid any impending crisis in the country if the subject is not addressed.

They advocated for system change and peaceful resolutions that would lead to overhauling in governance to create human and capital development for the country. According to them, such step would provide solution to the number of setbacks weighing down Nigeria.

The group, which also include student unions, commercial motorcycle operators, academics, doctors, artisans among others, that the wrong use of the country’s resources have inflicted hardship on the masses.

Speaking during a national discourse titled ‘Economic Crises and Ethnic Agitations, which way forward, Secession, Restructuring or System Change,’ organised by the Joint Action Front (JAF) in Lagos recently, the various groups said after 57 years of Nigeria’s independence, the country could not boast of substantial and working infrastructure or a viable economic or political stability.”

Taking their turn to speak, chairman, Lagos State chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Isaac Oyewumi, said there is the need for all organised unions in the country to get necessary preparations ahead of what the country is most likely to face should the agitations to restructure Nigeria becomes inevitable.

According to him, “We need to sit down and ask ourselves questions and determine way forward on how to solve Nigeria’s problems. What we need is continuous non-violence agitations until we achieve our dream.

“In terms of mismanagement of our resources it is the masses that suffer the hardship. The ordinary man on the street, workers, community members, artisans among others need to feel impact of government. Today there is no steady electricity supply in the country and many other problems so, I believe it is time for us to take our destiny in our hands.”

In his contributions, the chairman Constitutional Right and Peoples Development Advocacy Initiative (CRAI), Barrister Ikechukwu Ikeji said what Nigerians need is system change and not restructuring.

He lamented that most Nigerian leaders traveled abroad for medical treatment because there is no healthcare structure in the country.

Ikeji suggested the need to introduce a new law on the Code of Conduct for elected public officials whereby they will be compelled to patronize and make use of local services and public adding, “these should include medical facilities and education among others. The aim should be to encourage those travelling abroad to seek such services.

“We are calling for a new law to make it compulsory for every public officer, elected or appointed, to make use of hospitals in Nigeria for whatever ailments and to send their children and wards to only Nigerian schools.”

Ikeji noted that there is high level of corruption in Nigeria within the ruling cabals, whom he accused of sharing the collective patrimony and commonwealth among themselves to the detriment of the Nigerian masses. He insisted that there must be equity in the distribution of the country’s natural resources among Nigerians.

On the 1999 Constitution, which has been roundly condemned by protagonists of restructuring as nothing but a failed document incapable of leading Nigeria out of her present predicament, Ikeji described it, even as amended, as a fraud of the most irredeemable proportions.

Said he, “We insist that any genuine change in Nigeria will have to start from correcting the fraud inherent in the constitution, such as not being autochthonous and lacking the imprimatur of the people it seems to constitute. We call for a pure and adulterated people constitution that will be subject to a genuine process of referendum.”

In another comment, Pan Africanist, Ms. Affiong Affiong noted that the essence of democracy is good governance but where the masses cannot boast of quality life and assurance of future “there is the need to take a critical look at the system.”

She however advised against any actions that would militate against the peace, unity and progress of the country, saying: “the essence of the various agitations was to ensure progress and development of the country.”