……. Other Stakeholders Canvass For Restructuring Of Nigeria, Peoples’ Constitution
Family, friends and associates of Comrade Linus Ezeala Okoroji on Wednesday gathered in Lagos to celebrate him on the occasion of his 7oth birth day celebration.
The occasion which took place at the JDPC Hall, Yaba featured paper presentation with the theme, “Nigeria: True Federalism Key To Unlock Her Destiny And Release Her Potentials,” delivered by Comrade (Dr) Dele Ashiru, chairman of ASUU, UNILAG chapter, and also had in attendance Pa Ayo Opadoku, former Secretary General of National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) and Poet, Pa Fred Agbeyegbe.
Others include Comrade Nelson Ekujimi, Comrade Tesy Irabo, members of the June 12 coalition, the Catholic church members from St. Matthew, Amukoko and a host of others.
Earlier in his remarks, Pa Ayo Opadoku who chaired the occasion, paid glowing tribute to Comrade Okoroji for his resilience, passion and commitment to a better Nigeria especially in the NADECO days and wished him many more years of celebrations and sound health.
Chief Opadoku used the occasion to renew his call for restructuring of the country, adding that Nigeria does not practice democracy yet but a civilian government. He also noted that Nigeria does not have political parties but political platforms through which candidates emerge for electoral positions.
He took a swipe at the military for their incursion into the body polity of Nigeria, a development he said disrupted the socio-political and economic development of Nigeria.
He insisted that the issue of federalism remains topical and relevant in Nigeria and as such all serious-minded people should continue to pay attention to it, stressing that restructuring remains the solution to Nigeria’s myriad of problems.
The former NADECO chieftain maintained that Nigeria is a creation of the British government for their convenience at the time it was created, adding that ethnic nationalities had been existing before the British empire forced them to cohabit without their consent and when they were leaving, they handed “us over to their local colonizers.”
“The British colonial masters deliberately handed over power to their local colonizers until the military intervention in 1966. When the military took over in 1966, they abrogated the constitution and replaced it with their decree, military organogram then became operational. All the activities of the military from 1966 has remained illegal. Unfortunately, the Nigerian people are not willing to fight for their rights,” he stated.
The elder statesman lamented that Nigeria today is a great disappointment to the black nations of the world.
He described Nigeria as a country of opposite-exporting what it does not have and importing what it has.
On his part, Dr Dele Ashiru, lecturer in the department of Political Science, University of Lagos who presented a paper titled: True Federalism, key to unlock her destiny and release her potentials,” chronicled the political developments in Nigeria before, during and after the amalgamation of 1914 and the events culminating in her political independence in 1960 without addressing all the inherent structural imbalance.
All of these perhaps, laid the foundation for further political instability in the country.
“Unfortunately, within a few years of political independence, all the structural malformation at the foundation of the country began to play itself out. In deed, political leaders began to question the authenticity of the entity called Nigeria. Chief Obafemi Awolowo once described Nigeria as a mere geographical expression as there are no Nigerians in the true sense of the word while Tafawa Balewa opined that Nigeria was the mistake of 1914,” he stated.
He noted that ever since, harmony, cooperation and unity had manifestedly not characterized social and political life in post independence Nigeria.
The university don also noted that the Nigerian state has been recklessly mismanaged with regime instability, the lack of or inadequacy of rational planning and deployment of resources by centrifugal politics; primitive accumulationists inclinations of state officials, pervasive corruption and the absence or ineffectiveness of state institutions of oversight of all of which have combined to produce a situation where there is pervasive insecurity, huge unemployment, excruciating poverty, nepotism, mass hunger, illiteracy, infrastructural decay, epileptic power supply and the spread of preventable diseases across the country.
The political scientist maintained that Nigeria must consciously focus on and develop its human capital and capacity to improve her competitive edge.”It is for this reason that the nation’s decadent educational system deserves urgent attention,” he added.
Ashiru insisted that for Nigeria to make notable progress on the socio-political and economic spheres, there is an urgent need to replace the current constitution with another constitution that will be people-centred and democratic in all respects.
He further said, “Nigeria since 1999 is said to be under democratic rule even though it is yet to fully imbibe the tenets and principles of democracy. The various political actors and agencies still, to a large extent, demonstrate authoritarian temperaments and military orientation.
“The democratic norms of tolerance, civility, dialogue and accommodation of alternative views have not found root in the political practice. Politics has consequently remained a zero-sum game.
“As a lasting solution to this, the political process must be demonitized such that the current winner takes all orientation in politics would be replaced by a win-win consensus political orientation informed by proportional representation.
“The people should be brought back into the centre of political action as the supreme sovereign.
“The Nigerian politicians should be made accountable for their actions and inactions in government. This therefore calls for the institutionalization of the rule of law and constitutionalism as the kernel of political action within the context of devolution of powers to the grassroots without which true federalism cannot be achieved.”
The celebrant in his remarks expressed profound gratitude to God for attaining the milestone of 70 years inspite the vicissitudes and challenges of life just as he also expressed appreciation to those he called “Pillars in my life” for making the event a reality.
Okoroji who has been an advocate of good governance and a better Nigeria also used the occasion to call for restructuring and the replacement of the 1999 constitution.
His words, Nigeria as a country needs a befitting constitution in order to give citizens and nationalities confidence and trust, remove suspicion based on domination. Truly, the 1999 constitution was never the peoples’ constitution. A military Decree promulgated by Rtd. General Abdulsalami Abubakar GCFR in 1998 which eventually was turned into Nigeria constitution.
“What kind of economic elites do we have in Nigeria and Africa at large? For over 30 years, the military dictatorship of the ‘evil genius’, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (Rtd.) imposed on Nigeria the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) with the full compliments of the famous IMF/World Bank Loan conditionalities which Nigerians vehemently rejected in 1983.
“I mean the economic policies based on privatization, Devaluation of the naira, Deregulation of the downstream of Petroleum products, Retrenchment/Down-sizing and Libralization of imports, etc. The country has been retrogressively monetized.
“Unfortunately, this SAP policies have promoted serial inflation and poverty. The cost of living has jumped beyond the ordinary citizens. That after 21 years of civilian democracy, our economists and our National Assemblies continue to promote these IMF/World Bank theories that have continued to endanger our economy, just producing a few extremely rich and majority living in extreme poverty!
“I had expected that through experience and research, our economic elites should by now have developed or designed an indigenous or home grown economic theories that will be peculiar to and suited to our own environment.”
He called on the government to urgently come up with a plan that will address rising cost of living especially for the average Nigerian.