• Insist on restructuring of Nigeria
By Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
Notable Nigerians, including Second Republic Vice-President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, Yoruba leader, Ayo Adebanjo, former Minister of Information, Jerry Gana and former Governors of Anambra State, Chukwuemeka Ezeife and Peter Obi, yesterday in Enugu asked President Muhammadu Buhari to commence the immediate implementation of the report of the 2014 National Conference.
They insisted that doing that would go a long way in addressing the myriads of problems confronting the country, adding that the current protests and demands for separation by various groups in the country, as well as other socio-economic crises could be reduced by half if the national conference report was considered and implemented.
Speaking at the 17th Annual Convention of the Igbo Youth Movement (IYM) headed by Evangelist Elliot Ukoh, which held at Nike Lake Hotels, Enugu, the leaders, who also included resource control protagonist, Ankio Briggs, maintained that anything short of restructuring Nigeria in line with the principles of true federalism would not be accepted.
According to them, the contents of the said report prescribed ways of solving most of the country’s problems, adding that the president should demonstrate his commitment to building an enduring legacy by embracing the document as “a working document”.
Speaking on the theme of the convention, “Still in Search of True Federalism,” Ekwueme said every disappointment was a blessing, noting that his incarceration in 1984 at Kirikiri prisons by the military afforded him the opportunity to reflect deeply on Nigeria’s problems.
According to him, he came out with the idea of six geo-political zonal structures, which he pushed for in a national conference much later and it became a convention, and has taken care of minorities in the south and the north.
Ekwueme stated that what Nigeria negotiated for and agreed with the colonial masters before independence was a regional government where each had a constitution, which were annexed to the Republican constitution of 1963.
According to him, the Republican Constitution then provided 50 per cent revenue sharing formula for the regions, 30 per cent to a distributable pool, and 20 per cent to the centre. “There is need for us to return to the basics from what we inherited from our founding fathers,” he said.
On his part, Adebanjo, who went down the memory lane to trace the origin of federalism in Nigeria to various pre-and post-colonial constitutional conferences, insisted that Nigeria must be restructured to correct the humongous damage done to the nation’s constitution by the military and to put a stop to the various acts of uprising in the country today, including those of Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), Movement for Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), and Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Gana stated that the nation’s founding fathers were right by agreeing to a federal structure, which he described as the best governance structure to guarantee peace, equity and justice. Briggs, who received the award of “Amazon of Truth” by IYM, stated that true and fiscal federalism must be truthful and justifiable, adding that she believed in resource control and that as much as she doesn’t believe that Nigeria must break, she believed that if the nation continued on the current path, then disintegration would be inevitable.
Obi stressed that he supported restructuring the country on the basis of fiscal federalism, but while that was being addressed, there was need to urgently address the high cost of governance in the country, insisting that any governor who said he could not pay salary should give way to other persons with better ideas.
Ezeife, who also received the award of “Igbo Peoples General,” stated that the 2014 national conference report recommended additional 18 states to make for a 48 state-structure in order to address some inequalities created by the military.
Highlight of the event was the award of “Liberator” to the detained leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, by the IYM, even as the national leader of IYM, Ukoh, expressed the conviction of his group that if Nigeria was restructured it would take care of the various agitations for break away by various separatist groups.