2019 Elections: Southwest And Imperative Of Restructuring

President Muhammadu Buhari. PHOTO/TWITTER/APCng via The Guardian

--Former Chief of Defence Staff, Lt. General Alani Akinrinade (rtd) in an interview with The Guardian on July 24, 2016, accused the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Muhammadu Buhari of deceiving Nigerians to win the 2015 election.

The retired service chief said the incumbent signed to a manifesto of restructuring before he secured the support of the Southwest leaders but rescinds immediately he got into office.

Four years down the line, restructuring is still a matter agitating the region few days ahead of the 2019 general election. Some leaders of the region, especially those holding political offices and are also seeking reelection on the platform of the ruling APC are skating around the subject basically because President Buhari and the national leader of the party, Bola Tinubu have refused to mention the matter the subject.

However, concerned Nigerians in the zone remain resolute and optimistic that until Nigeria’s is restructured, the elections will not bring solution to current challenges.

The subject has sharply divided the zone, as some are rooting for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who have promised restructuring, while followers of Buhari have remained steadfast in their doublespeak.

Recently, a gathering of eminent personalities of Yoruba descent assembled at the Airport Hotel, Lagos, to remind the Federal Government that until plans are set in motion to give the Nigerian people a new constitution that will be fair to all ethnic nationalities and geo-political zones, the 1999 Constitution could only continue to lead the country to a ‘developmental retrogression.’

Speaking at a roundtable with all national and state Assembly candidates of major political parties from the zone, Yoruba Interest Group, Voice of Reason (VOR) with theme: ‘Imperative of Restructuring and the Need For a New Constitution’, majority of the speakers said the federal character principles, as currently stipulated in the constitution has been eroded.

They said those saddled with the responsibility for governance had replaced federal character with ethnic favouritism.

Although, there was slight disagreement on the process through which the country could be restructured, it was a general consensus that something is fundamentally wrong with the present system and it must be addressed.

Chairman of the event and Nigeria’s former envoy to the United Kingdom, Dr. Christopher Kolade, said the restructuring is necessary to bring the country back to her right path.

He said national transformation that is based on discipline, integrity, dignity of labour, social justice, religious tolerance, self reliance and patriotism according to section 23 of the Constitution are what a nation and especially Nigeria needs to manage its structure.

According to him: “Restructuring is only one aspect of what we need to keep Nigeria going, the bigger programme is national transformation. To create a structure that looks good and viable is not a problem, and as we all know that there are many examples of good structures but those structures are only a good beginning, but only good as long as they are properly managed and operated. This is because the structure cannot operate itself but people must operate it, which takes us back to the issue of national transformation.”

Kolade said as things currently stand, the country needs national transformation and only a new constitution could drive that. “Nigerians need to concentrate on creating good structures, which is a good beginning in the quest for the restructuring. Such structures must have faithful people to operate them or else, the whole struggle would become wasted.”

He also charged the candidates to promote regional interest and be patriotic, saying, a representative is an agent of the electorate who own the mandate, therefore, the people must be respected and their interests must be jealously protected.

In his remark, the Chairman of Elizade Group of Companies and founder, Elizade University, Chief Michael Adeojo, who is also a member of VOR, agreed with Dr. Kolade on the issue of national transformation, but emphasized the flaws of the current structure and how it may be difficult for Nigeria to progress as long as the present status quo is retained.

In his paper titled: ‘Imperative of Restructuring and the Need for a New Constitution for Nigeria,’ Executive Director of Aflon Digital Institute, Kuje, Abuja, Dr. Akin Fapohunda said Yoruba culture and traditions must also be strengthened to enhance progress.

Fapohunda, in his draft proposal of a new Nigerian Constitution put together by the organisation to the gathering, maintained that Nigeria as currently constituted, is running a unitary system of government contrary to the lies being perpetrated in the 1999 Constitution.

He berated politicians spending excess money to fund campaign, stressing that such contradict the virtues of ‘Omoluabi’ needed to drive growth and increase development.

He said everything needed to checkmate extravagance spending have been addressed in the VOR Constitution, just as he called candidates to read the document thoroughly and see if it could be proposed to the country on the floor of National and State assemblies after the election.

He warned that only those with uncommon understanding are capable of seeing the dangers that have come upon the Yoruba in the context of unitary system currently practised. “Our heritage and core values have been and are still being eroded before our very eyes while we stand akimbo without a coherent framework of strategic responses.”

He said Yoruba nation has been short-changed in the current dispensation despite the fact that funds largely generated from corporate taxes by companies practically operating in Southwest are being used to run the country, outside revenue from crude oil, which is also generated from the South South.

The Chairman of VOR, Dr. Olufemi Adegoke said that the purpose of politics was to strengthen the society and its people. He maintained that Yoruba land is suffering among other regions of the country, a situation that does not further development in the country.

He said the essence of the roundtable was to groom, educate and sensitise aspiring candidates from Southwest on the need to pursue restructuring based on the proposed VOR constitution.

In a separate event on Thursday, a concourse of Yoruba civic and self-determination groups, under the aegis of Yoruba Summit urged that while the Southwest is insisting on restructuring, there is need to ensure that the coming election is free, fair and credible.

The leader of the group, Prof. Banji Akintoye said Nigerians desire that the next election peaceful.

The group noted that Yoruba nation should be mindful of her safety, security and general wellbeing of families, villages, town and cities.

He warned that it is important to bear in mind the developments that could follow the elections, noting that Yorubaland had suffered much from violent destructions of farms, attack on village, killings, kidnappings and extortion of money for ransom.

The convener of Yoruba Koya, Otunba Deji Osibogun said there is need to reclaim Yoruba heritage and to rebirth the new nation. He spoke against ‘vote buying’ just as he emphasised that the group will expose anything that is unscrupulous in Southwest.