Agbakogba, Anko Brigs, Sonny Kuku, Tafawa Balewa, others to FG at VOR Colloquium: We are tired of Military Law, Give us a People’s Constitution
…demand a return to regional government, says North oppressing the south
…says Amalgamation of 1914, a burden on Nigerians
Again, the agitators for the restructuring of political and economic structures of the nation of Nigeria on Thursday converged in Lagos, the commercial city of the country to take a stand on the debate for a new Nigeria. However, unlike the previous speakers, the agitators were more explicit, plain and unequivocal.
Speaking at a colloquium and leadership series organized by a Think-Tank Group, Voice of Reason (VOR) at the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Victoria Island, Lagos with a theme: Restructuring: A Panacea For Justice and Peace of Nigeria: The Imperative for a People’s Constitution, the speakers such as former president of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, Niger/Delta Activist, Anko Briggs, Women Advocate and Social Entrepreneur, Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji, Col. Tony Nyiam (Rtd), Secretary-General of Lower Niger Congress (LNC), Comrade Tony Nnadi and son of the former Nigerian Prime Minister, Tafawa Balewa, Dr. Abdul Tafawa Balewa unanimously demanded for restructuring of Nigeria, first by repelling the 1999 constitution of Nigeria as amended, which according to the speakers, were imposed on the people by the Military and give the country a new law that will be drafted by the people.
First to fire a first shot was Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji who said that Nigeria was currently ruled by inhuman political leadership who do not have value for majority of her citizens especially the poor masses.
In Akerele’s words ‘Nigeria cannot institutionalize peace when our leaders consistently reap and milk the majority of her citizens dry. Our government is too uncaring that they neglect the masses to suffer unnecessarily; we need to restructure to correct these maladies.
“The youths must rise to the occasion and take their place and be strategically involved in governance. Restructuring has become imperative and it is now the trending conversation, Nigerian youths need to embrace it than ever before, it is our future, our political leaders need to feel the hit of our clarion call.
Only of recent some people in the North Central were ruthlessly killed, majority of whom were young people yet the political class care less, so Nigerian youths need to embrace restructuring and make it trend.
“The Northern oligarchy also needs to allow Nigerians to live in peace. the north only has cows, ground nut and tomatoes and they are this domineering, what if they have oil? Enough is enough, we demand for a new constitution.” an emotion-laden Toyosi Akerele averred.
In his paper at the event which was chaired by a renowned Consultant Physician and Endocrinologist and co-founder, Eko Hospitals, Olorogun (Dr.) Sonny Folorunso Kuku, OFR, the NBA chief, Agbakoba said the real issue was not restructuring but how to ensure that all the sub-nationals in Nigeria involved in the restructuring process so that there would be a sense of belonging.
Agbakoba opined “the current federal arrangement is faulty, there is no lie about that but the problem is not the concept of restructuring but how do we ensure that all ethnic groups especially the sub-ethnic groups involved in this process so that there will be justice and fairness for all.
“There is too much concentration at the centre, Abuja is over concentrated to the detriments of the sub-national ethnic entities. If we want to restructure, our differences in languages and cultures must be accommodated, we need to be cautious of our advocacy so that it will not be on a tripod while we neglect the cries of other sub-national entities.
“Benue state was bombed by Fulani Herdsmen; the Governor could not do anything. Over 900 killed within six months. Zamfara Governor is lamenting. Governor Yari of Zamfara said his people should stop calling him Chief Security Officer because he’s helpless. He said he does not have any control over the security. He said the security people do not listen to him.
“Earlier this week, the president visited Plateau State, i saw the governor Simon lalong fidgeting, he was scared. He was behaving like a kindergarten student. Is thgis how we are going to continue? This must stop”
“The present law to the best of my knowledge is anti-people and pro-oligarchy. I call on President Muhamadu Buhari to allow Nigerians to debate for the system they want. He campaigned with restructuring; he should tow the pact of honor.
Ann Kio Briggs submitted that the amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914 brought the current burden. She opined that the amalgamation was done in such a way that did not entertain the voice of different ethnic groups that made the country called Nigeria.
“The amalgamation brought the burden on Nigeria in a way that suppressed the power to decide whether the different ethnic groups would like to live together or otherwise. The amalgamation foisted the entity called Nigeria on us and today we carry that burden.
“Therefore it is not politics or political that we must address this burden through restructuring and a new constitution to be drafted by the people not the military like that of 1999. It is only restructuring that will resolve this, we need a new constitution that will address this corruption in the real sense of it and it must be now as we approach another election year in 2019’
“We must not accept to go into 2019 elections without commitments from those who want to rule this country. We must demand that they support restructuring and resolve this issue once and for all. This is the way to go, this is the way to heal our wounds’ Briggs opined.
Balewa in his contribution to the debate said that as a nation, we needed to have an understanding of the type of politics appropriate for us. Balewa said ‘Our constitution needs to address some fundamental errors that we need to expunge from the present constitution. Through restructuring we can address these errors such as security of lives and properties across Nigeria, economy, education and even our social development as a nation.
In his words, Tony Nnadi said the advocacy for a new constitution should not be seen as opposition to the ruling government but a genuine and patriotic advocacy to move Nigeria forward.
Nnadi said “why is the northern oligarchy scared of restructuring? They should free us. When the motion for independent was first moved in Lancaster house, London, United Kingdom, the North rejected it. Later, Amodu Bellow said he was ready after a Yoruba son, Rotimi Willams and an Igbo man, Ben Nwabueze had done a paper for them for presentation.
“Today, 90% of non-oil revenue is generated from Lagos through the Nigerian Custom Service but since 1960, they have not allowed a Yoruba man to be Comptroller General of Custom. Enough of this injustice” Nnadi, a lawyer, said to the applause of the audience.
In his remarks, the convener of VOR, Prince Goke Omisore said his group was concerned with issues of public policy. The Ile/Ife prince said VOR’s objective is to enthrone a regime, promote culture of development, oriented values in leadership, followership and governance of Nigeria within the framework of restructuring.
Omisore said “the agitation for restructuring is right; the federal government of Nigeria needs to recognise and take appropriate steps towards this clarion call by majority of Nigerians. He added that “at this juncture in our national life, and given the critical need to recover lost ground, as well as the industrial, technological, infrastructural and intellectual capabilities that have systematically and increasingly degraded across Yorubaland in particular and Nigeria at large, Nigeria must be restructured.” He said.
Olor’ogun Sonny Kuku in his remark said until Nigeria restructures her political system the country is doomed. He maintained that Nigeria should run from family, village and then government.
“The federal government needs total restructuring so that it would not be overwhelmed. We need a democracy that is home-grown that will accommodate our different ethnic cultures. Voice of Reason has drafted a new constitution that Nigeria can adopt and use for restructuring purpose, it is an excellent document on how Nigeria should be run, Voice of Reason is a proactive organization, made up of credible and responsible Nigerians and the organization is going to use her voice and intellect to change Nigeria for good’ Kuku said.
The Secretary of the group, Dr. Wale Faphounda while unveiling a draft of a new constitution prepared by VOR to the gathering, opined that the civil societies across the country should equally join in the call for restructuring to keep the political class on their toes.