Governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa; leader of pan-Yoruba sociopolitical group, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; former member, House of Representatives, Hon Uche Onyeagocha on Thursday called for a new constitution for Nigeria.
They made the call at the second annual Ripples Centre for Data and Investigative Journalism (RCDIJ) dialogue on Wednesday.
According to them, the current situation challenging the unity, economy and political system of the nation would not be resolved until the country changed the current 1999 Constitution to a truly federal constitution.
Governor Okowa explained that Nigeria needs a new constitution.
The PDP chieftain ruled out the amendment of 1999 Constitution and recalled the promulgation of a decree by the late head of state, General Aguiyi Ironsi, which brought about a unitary system of government to the country, declaring it as counter-productive.
”The decree ended up becoming the root of Nigeria’s political albatross. It was an exercise that sowed the seeds of discord in the nation till today,” he said.
The governor said Nigeria had continued to battle with issues of mutual distrust, suspicion and prejudice, with the various ethnic nationalities locked in battles for supremacy or minority rights, saying the early attempts to break up Nigeria came from those challenges.
Okowa, who agreed that there were different issues facing the country, said there was the need for reconciliation, not conference to proffer solution to a new constitution.
Also speaking, Chief Adebanjo, commended the Southern governors on their stance on open grazing and stressed the need for a new constitution to rebuild the trust in every citizen.
“Anything outside that, there is no future for Nigeria. If you want to rebuild the country, change the constitution before the election, otherwise it may not be possible.
“The present constitution makes the president the most powerful president in the world, it makes him autocratic,” he added.
Calling on Nigerians to interrogate why the North had more states and local governments than other parts of the country, Adebanjo recalled that the military made it so to favour the region.
He said Afenifere, which he belonged to, once campaigned for President Muhammadu Buhari because he promised restructuring, but had now disappointed the group.
Onyeagocha, on his part, said Nigeria had been unfair to the minority ethnic groups. He said that the leaders must recognise them as federating units, while further calling on past leaders, including General Yakubu Gowon, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, among others, to apologise for the woes they had brought unto the country in the past.
He also called for a referendum to determine how Nigerians wanted to be governed, and demanded for the release of the leader of Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu and Yoruba Nation activist, Mr Sunday Adeyemo aka Sunday Igboho.
“The North has paid the biggest price for the failure of President Buhari and nobody should attribute Buhari’s failure to northerners. The people in the northern parts of the country have the wrong person in office, because they are the first victims of the mis-governance of President Buhari.”
He expressed regret that the country might get worse than it is because there is nothing to show in the present administration that would change the situation between now and 2023.
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