Agitators for the restructuring of political and economic structures of the nation on Thursday re-echoed their demand for return of Nigeria to regions and cancellation of the 1999 ‘military constitution’.
They spoke at a colloquium organized by a Think-Tank Group, Voice Of Reason (VOR) at the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Lagos with the theme: Restructuring: A Panacea For Justice and Peace of Nigeria: The Imperative for a People’s Constitution.
In attendance were former president of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, Niger Delta activist, Anko Briggs, Col. Tony Nyiam (Rtd), Secretary-General of Lower Niger Congress (LNC), Comrade Tony Nnadi and son of former Nigerian Prime Minister, Dr. Abdul Tafawa Balewa.
In his paper at the event chaired by co-founder, Eko Hospitals, Olorogun (Dr.) Sonny Kuku, Agbakoba said the real issue was not restructuring but how to ensure that all the sub-nationals in Nigeria are involved in the restructuring process so that there would be a sense of belonging.
He said, “The current federal arrangement is faulty, there is no lie about that but the problem is not the concept of restructuring but how do we ensure that all ethnic groups especially the sub-ethnic groups are involved in this process so that there will be justice and fairness for all.
“There is too much concentration at the centre, Abuja is over concentrated to the detriments of the sub-national ethnic entities. If we want to restructure, our differences in languages and cultures must be accommodated, we need to be cautious of our advocacy so that it will not be on a tripod while we neglect the cries of other sub-national entities.
“Benue State was bombed by Fulani Herdsmen, the Governor could not do anything. Zamfara Governor is lamenting. Earlier this week, the president visited Plateau State, I saw the governor fidgeting, he was scared. This must stop.
“The present law to the best of my knowledge is anti-people and pro-oligarchy. I call on President Muhamadu Buhari to allow Nigerians to debate for the system they want. He campaigned with restructuring; he should tow the pact of honor.
Ann Kio Briggs lamented: “The amalgamation brought burden on Nigeria in a way that suppressed the power to decide whether the different ethnic groups would like to live together or otherwise. The amalgamation foisted the entity called Nigeria on us and today we carry that burden.
“Therefore it is not politics or political that we must address this burden through restructuring and a new constitution to be drafted by the people not the military like that of 1999. It is only restructuring that will resolve this, we need a new constitution that will address this corruption in the real sense of it and it must be now as we approach another election year in 2019’
“We must not accept to go into 2019 elections without commitments from those who want to rule this country. We must demand that they support restructuring and resolve this issue once and for all. This is the way to go, this is the way to heal our wounds’ Briggs opined.
Balewa, in his contribution, stated: “Our constitution needs to address some fundamental errors that we need to expunge from the present constitution. Through restructuring we can address these errors such as security of lives and properties across Nigeria, economy, education and even our social development as a nation.
In his words, Tony Nnadi said the advocacy for a new constitution should not be seen as opposition to the ruling government but a genuine and patriotic advocacy to move Nigeria forward.
Nnadi quipped: “Why is the northern oligarchy scared of restructuring? They should free us. When the motion for independent was first moved in Lancaster house, London, United Kingdom, the North rejected it. Later, Amodu Bellow said he was ready after a Yoruba son, Rotimi Willams and an Igbo man, Ben Nwabueze had done a paper for them for presentation.
“Today, 90% of non-oil revenue is generated from Lagos through the Nigerian Custom Service but since 1960, they have not allowed a Yoruba man to be Comptroller General of Custom. Enough of this injustice”