Rotimi Agboluaje, Ibadan
Human rights lawyers and activists, including Femi Falana, Femi Aborisade, Prof. Omotoye Olorode, Jaye Gaskiya faulted the call for restructuring along ethnic lines.
They spoke at the Political Education Forum organized by the Oyo State chapter of the Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond (ASCAB) which took place at NULGE House, Ibadan and as a webinar. The programme had the theme: “Poverty, Restructuring and the National Question in Nigeria”.
Falana, who is the interim National Chair of ASCAB, said various state governments did not need restructuring to provide good governance for their citizens.
According to Falana, “The constitution, as bad as it is, has already taken care of the problems. If you look at the Chapter two of the Constitution, it talks about the Federal Character principle. And that principle is not about ethnicity. It is about geopolitical zones.
“98 per cent of criminal offences in Nigeria are state offences, including murder, armed robbery, kidnappings. You don’t need restructuring to manage your states because they are already restructured.
“If the parliamentary system of government was the best for us, we would not have the crisis we had in the First Republic that culminated into civil war and long years of military rule”.
On his part, Aborisade who is the state’s Vice-Chair of ASCAB, pointed out that Nigeria only needed restructuring within a philosophy of good governance.
Aborisade said: “We need restructuring of philosophy of good governance for it to serve the interest of the people. We need a restructuring that will take back all the privatized public enterprises. We need a restructuring that will transform the citizens. Politicians should not earn more than what is needed to meet his incidental needs. They should be earning the minimum wage”.
A national officer of ASCAB who was a guest speaker at the event, Jaye Gaskiya said: “I’m for fundamental restructuring of governance in Nigeria. I’m not for an ethnic restructuring of Nigeria. One of the arguments of people who are calling for restructuring is basically to create an ethnic federation and that is recipe for disaster. We can have a federation that is more responsible to its citizens than the one we have now. We can even have regions but it should not be on the basis of ethnicity. It must be based on residency, so that if I live in a region, as a resident of the region, I should be able to enjoy good citizens’ rights”.
The state’s Chair of ASCAB, Prof. Omotoye Olorode also said restructuring along ethnic lines might not solve the nation’s problems.
However, the Oyo State Chairman of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Emmanuel Ogundiran, who was one of the panelists, stressed the need for a negotiated constitution where the regions would come together to form a united Nigeria.
Ogundiran said: “The fundamental issue that led to where we are today is poverty. If everybody has food on his table, nobody would question the system. It is the issue of poverty the leaders failed to address that has led to the current situation. That is where restructuring comes in.”
Mogaji Gboyega Adejumo, the Publicity Secretary of the Yoruba Summit Group, who was one of the discussants also stressed the need for the restructuring of the country.