• Anyaoku, Afenifere, restate calls for true federalism
• Atiku urges citizens to evaluate leadership requirement
• Tinubu lauds Buhari, heroes of democracy
Calls for the restructuring of the country resounded again yesterday as Nigerians reacted to today’s maiden celebration of June 12 as Democracy Day. The event marks 27 years since the annulment of the June 12, 1993, presidential election, widely believed to have been won by the late candidate of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP), Chief Moshood Abiola.
Former Commonwealth Secretary-General Emeka Anyaoku noted that if Nigeria “is to face its serious current challenges effectively, it has to restructure its governance system. I am strong of the view that, in order to live more effectively with the challenge of development, corruption and insecurity, we need to begin to build a truer nation of more viable federating units that would have responsibility for addressing these issues.”
He said: “Restructuring means a new constitution, adopting a constitution that would be truly people’s constitution, and a constitution that would aim to address these national challenges. If the Executive and the Legislature buy into it, they would take steps to organise a Constituent Assembly that would be genuine representatives of different sections of this country and the Assembly will discuss and agree on the new constitution.
“I don’t think that the National Assembly, as it is presently constituted, can amend or create the constitution that the country needs. But because it is the National Assembly, the process is that they adopt legislation establishing the real Constituent Assembly that will be responsible for determining the new constitution. I do not see it having a proper role in determining the new constitution.
He said further: “A new, more proper constitution would determine the electoral cycle. If we proceed to have 2023 elections without the new constitution, you would just be repeating what exists at the moment. And everybody would agree that, at the moment, the country is not faring as well as it should be.
“I do not believe that the sort of constitution that would meet the need of this country emerged from the 2014 conference. It did go some way but it did not create the constitution that would address Nigeria’s challenges.
Anyaoku added: “What I am saying is the need to create a constitution that would address Nigeria’s challenges. If you look back at constitutions of 1960 and 1962, Nigeria was faring a lot better than it is now. If we had continued with that constitution, Nigeria, by now, would have been in a much-developed and in a better state than we have now.
“We need to return to a truer federation, which was at that time because what we have now is more of a federation in name than reality. My idea of the truer federation for Nigeria is based on more viable federating units. The 2014 conference document did not produce more viable federating units.”
Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, said Nigeria is heading “nowhere on the road of progress except we return to the spirit of June 12 and not the symbolism we are holding at the moment. We have to return the faith of our people in the ballot box like June 12 and restructure the polity so we can make progress under federalism.”
It disclosed this in a statement signed by its leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, in commemoration of the 27th anniversary of the June 12, 1993, presidential election.
Describing the election as a watershed in “our troubled polity,” it noted: “As we celebrate another anniversary of June 12, now, for the first time, at the national level, it’s perhaps the most auspicious moment to do a critical assessment of our journey on the democratic road.
“That it took us 26 years to give partial closure to June is a shame. While we acknowledge the official recognition that was done last year, we insist that repairing the damage the annulment did to the polity is more than a holiday.
“Abiola promised HOPE in the land but we are under hopelessness in the land as we have regressed under all indices. ‘Farewell to poverty’ was the slogan of Abiola’s campaign but we are the global headquarters of poverty today. The ongoing COVID-19 has exposed how totally dysfunctional our society is. Gainful employment for our teeming youths has become a mirage. Our economy, rather than build on the enviable model instituted at independence, has become a contraption in which the quantum of our revenue is eaten up by corruption.
“The persistent ethnic cleansing in Nigeria, especially since 2015 in Agatu land and continuously in Southern Kaduna, and the seeming complicit posture of the government in this evil, marks a significant level in the unbundling of the shaky pillars of Nigeria.
“The present government has not only shown a lack of creative ability to fund governance through federalism but is piling billions of dollars in loans for that purpose with long-term debt burden on generations of Nigerians.”
On its part, the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) enjoined President Muhammadu Buhari to restore Nigeria’s federal system of government, as the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) promised Nigerians in 2015.
It said: “The current centralist and unitary government that has occasioned inequity, unfair play, injustice, discrimination and disrespect for the rule of law within the skewed, warped and lopsided national structure are unsustainable and cannot endure any longer in Nigeria’s heterogeneous society.”
In a statement by Secretary-General Mr Ayo Opadokun, NADECO said the seeming disregard for the APC’s electoral promise constitutes a betrayal of public trust.
Similarly, Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Gani Adams, noted that Nigeria must be restructured into federating units if it wishes to be from “bondage”.
“When the federating units are allowed to develop at their own pace, there will be mutual benefits and progress. The federating states will be geared towards achieving the best for the people at the grassroots. This is possible when there is a healthy competition among the federating units. The issue of security and state police would be taken care of without fear or favour. That is how it is in other climes where democracy thrives,” he said in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Aderemi.