Nigerians differ on restructuring
By Mary Agidi, Fisayo Akinduro, Adekola Afolabi &Jimoh Ahmed
Divergent views have trailed the way out of the nation’s political and socio-economic problems. While some eminent Nigerians insist that Nigeria should first have a legal structure before restructuring could start, others believed restructuring is the panacea to the country’s woes.
A constitutional lawyer and human rights activist, Dr. Tunji Abayomi and a university don, Prof. Victor Olugbenga Olumekun said the present structure in the country is not only illegal, but also faulty as it was foisted on the people by the military.
However, Dr. Olu-Adeyemi, Head of Political Science Department, Adekunle Ajasin University and the Senator-elect for Osun East Senatorial District, Prince Francis Fadahunsi held a contrary view, saying restructuring is the way out.
According to Dr. Tunji Abayomi, Nigeria has structural problem because the people did not agree on the terms of relationship, noting that it was important to understand the provincial construction of Nigeria.
He was quick to add that the country may not have peace until “we agree on the terms of our relationship”.
He asserted that the military imposed a constitution called 1999 constitution which he said cannot be regarded as a Nigerian constitution because it was not made by the Nigerian people but the military through decrees.
He however blamed members of the National Assembly for their failure to give the country the people’s constitution, saying instead of doing that, the two chambers are too pre-occupied with self-interest.
“First of all, a nation must have structure before you talk of restructuring. I have said this again and again, it is not a government that gives a nation a constitution, it is a constitution that gives a nation a government. Nigeria has structural problem, because the people did not agree on the terms of relationship.
“Nigeria is made up of different nations, located permanently in different geographical areas. The fact that they are located in different geographical areas with different languages affirmed a divine placing of different nationalities.
“Now, the question is when you have some arrangements, different nationalities and you want to form a nation, a union, what is expected is that people will come together and sit around the table and agree on a terms of their union. In Nigeria, when you agree on the terms of agreement, and put it into a constitution, that they call the fundamental law to guide the relationship. In this country that has never happened.
“The military resolved, not us, and forced the constitution on us. It is not a content of a constitution that validates it, it is the procedure of making the constitution. So now, do we have a structure? No. To say we have a structure, we must have a constitution of the people, by the people and for the people.
“So, we don’t need restructuring when we have no structure. What we need is structuring and it should come by way of agreed constitution.”
On his part, Prof Olumekun is of the view that what the country need is a total overhaul of the constitution and no other measure.
According to him, the structure we are operating presently is bad. We need to go down to the basics to fashion out the way forward.
“The constitution is defective, somebody, I mean some people imposed it on us as a people. We didn’t have the opportunity to decide what we want”.
“The people never took any decision on it. That is why we have to come together and decide what we want”.
“The other option is for us to go back to 1979 constitution and build on that structure. A certain set of people cannot sit down and appropriate for the whole of us”.
However, Dr Lanre Olu-Adeyemi called for a return to true federalism as a way forward of the present socioeconomic and political quagmire in the country.
Olu-Adeyemi said the architect of Nigeria took into cognisance, the different culture, religion, ethnicity and ways of life of the people of Nigeria before signing for true federalism.
He said the country should be allowed to have control over the resources in their areas and how to manage them.
Also, the Senator-elect, Fadahunsi warned the federal government on the violence induced restructuring with a slide to regional governments due to emergence of regional commissions
He noted that establishment of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the North East Development Commission (NEDC), the proposed South-East Commission, the current situation in the North West and Central could trigger fresh agitation.
This he noted would gradually force the nation into regional system of government.