A former Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku; a chieftain of a pan-Yoruba organisation, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; the President General of a pan-Igbo organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo, and other elder statesmen have said Nigeria is on the verge of imploding if its governance system is not restructured urgently.
This was the consensus at the 10th anniversary symposium of the late Senator Abraham Adesanya held in Lagos.
The elder statesmen described the crises in the country, especially the incessant killings in the Middle Belt, as a reflection of a country on the brink of collapse, Punch writes.
In his speech as the guest speaker at the symposium titled, ‘Leadership and the future of Nigeria,’ Anyaoku said Nigeria had retrogressed since the early 1960s in many areas, including education, health, security and agriculture.
He proposed a return to federalism as a system of governance, as practised in the country in the early 1960s.
“I believe that restructuring Nigeria’s present governance architecture by returning to provisions of its 1960 and 1963 constitutional arrangements will not only help the emergence of a leadership that will pave the way for a national rebirth, but will also put the country on a more assured path to political stability and faster socioeconomic development.”
Anyaoku proposed that the country should be structured into “eight federating units comprising the six geopolitical zones plus a restored old Midwest region and a newly created Middle Belt federating unit.”
The erudite statesman spoke longingly about the period in the country’s history when the old “Northern Region had groundnut pyramids and plantations of cotton, the old Western Region had free and universal education and introduced the first television service in sub-Saharan Africa and old Eastern Region achieved the world scale production of palm produce and the burgeoning industrialisation of the eastern region.”
In his speech, Nwodo described Nigeria as a “federation in name and not in practice”, and he called out a former Interim National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Chief Bisi Akande, for not speaking against the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government, who he described as tribalistic.
He said, “Our patriotism is destroyed when you have a tribal leadership, more worrisome is when I watch statesmen who when issues of this nature exist would rather be diplomatic than confront it.
“If you don’t have leaders who are detribalised to stand up for truth, who have the fearlessness to tell their closest friends and people from their ethnic configuration – you got it wrong here – then something is wrong with our country. If we have people like you, Chief Akande, who cannot speak to power; if because you belong to the APC, you cannot say to our head of state (sic) you are wrong here, then something is wrong.”
Adebanjo, in his contribution, described restructuring as necessary for the country’s growth, while Maj. Gen. Zamani Lekwot (retd.), urged those who were afraid of restructuring to express their fears and be open to discussion.
On his part, a former vice president and presidential aspirant, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, described the current composition of the second schedule of Nigeria’s constitution as not development driven.
The Chairman on the occasion, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd.), and former president Olusegun Obasanjo extolled the virtues of Adesanya.