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‘Restructuring, not constitution review is what Nigeria needs’

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Against the backdrop of the current moves by the National Assembly to amend the 1999 Constitution, the Eastern Consultative Assembly (ECA) has declared that the country needs fundamental restructuring to function well not piecemeal amendment of the constitution.

Speaking in an interview with The Guardian, yesterday, Secretary of the group, Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko said the establishment of regional security outfits by state governments was an indication that the country was sick and needed to be urgently reorganised to function.

According to him, those who wish for the continuation of the present unitary structure does not mean well for Nigeria.

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His words: “The continuous silence of the authorities in the face of the twin scourge ravaging the land, namely, the ruthless brigandage of the Fulani herdsmen and blood-thirsty Boko Haram warriors has become odious. The slaughter, abduction, and rape currently trending all over, is, to say the least, frightening and sickening. That state governors have found the courage to hurriedly establish regional security outfits is a loud confirmation that Nigeria is heading towards the abyss. That 200 million Nigerians have had enough may actually be an understatement. 

“But what is really worrisome is the continuous unhelpful hypocrisy by the central government that a piecemeal amendment of the untidy 1999 unitary constitution would return sanity to the land. Nothing could be farther from the truth. What may be true is the unpalatable fact that people in power today are willing to allow the bloodbath to thrive, so they could hang unto power, deciding the fate of 200 million Nigerians.” 

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Ugochukwu-Uko maintained that the ugly sores afflicting the nation today – hunger, poverty and other economic woes like unemployment, violent crimes and corruption are all as a result of the unitary structure of the country.

He added: “We either decentralise or crash. The unitary structure may have helped win the civil war, forcefully wedge the country as one; but it certainly cannot sustain the edifice today, with the ever-growing population. 

“We are clearly passing through the discomforting season, known by political historians as the calm before the storm. Our prayer: May the storm never arise. 

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“But even as we pray that this destructive cup passes over us, we also know that it is important we sound a note of warning to the obstinate and recalcitrant people of power today. 

“Our people have had enough. Our patience and tolerance point have run over. We can’t take it anymore. We believe the bedlam and anguish visited on the land could be deliberate. It seems lovers and protagonists of unworkable unitary Nigeria are merely testing the ground to gauge the tolerance level of the people they are scheming to enslave forever.  There are no new convincing excuses to why the endless stream of blood flowing all over the land in the last four years must continue. It is obvious, both to the masses of this country and the watchful global community, that it is simply impossible to run the complex behemoth called Nigeria from one unitary structure, sharing monthly allocation to states and issuing directives from Aso villa.

“Everybody knows it is not working and will never work. The signs are so clear; even the blind could see it. The pretense and hypocrisy have become sickening. The gathering storm, though avoidable through immediate restructuring, would be disastrous if it is allowed, due to hubris, to fall on us. Those who have ears let them hear.”

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Asked to react to a recent statement by former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon that “a lot of injustice has been done to Ndigbo”, Ugochukwu-Uko said Gowon endorsed restructuring through that statement.

“Gen. Gowon should kindly make proactive efforts to inspire and influence other leaders from all the regions of Nigeria, especially those who still do not understand that restructuring the polity is good for everyone to join hands and save Nigeria. 

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He should consider the fact that his stature and position would greatly help those apprehensive of restructuring Nigeria to understand that Nigeria would die if restructuring is delayed much longer. 

“It’s not about the Igbo. It’s really about equity, about granting a breath of fresh air to all. It’s about empowering the people of Nigeria, opening up the land and creating new opportunities. It’s about growing the economy, accelerating both academic and economic growth. It’s about opening up the Middle Belt, the North-east and North-west. It’s about freeing ourselves from stagnation and dependence on mono source of income. It’s about creating a new beautiful, rich and powerful Nigeria and time is running out.”

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