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  • Our lawmakers cannot initiate change, they’re strangers to us, Nigerians lament
  • Our lawmakers cannot initiate change, they’re strangers to us, Nigerians lament
    Southern Govs
    Lawan and Gbajabiamila

    •Say they’re inaccessible to their constituents
    •They’re benefiting from the corrupt govt system
    •Engage in meaningless discussions, centred on their own needs
    •They’re rubber stamp NASS, timid, lethargic
    •Nigeria is bleeding, govt must rise to the occasion
    •We need the president, not presidency to address us, answer questions

    By Dayo Johnson; Samuel Oyadongha;Vincent Ujumadu;Wole Mosadomi; Festus Ahon; Umar Yusuf; Tina Akannam; Peter Duru; Marie-Therese Nanlong; Peter Okutu; Rotimi Ojomoyela; Ugochukwu; Alaribe; Charly Agwam; Dennis Agbo; Femi Bolaji; Ozioruva Aliu; James Ogunnaike; Chioma Onuegbu; Shina Abubakar; Ibrahim HassanWuyo; Steve Oko; Ikechukwu Odu &Chinedu Adonu

    Following unceasing agitations for self determination by some sections of the country, the presidency recently argued that only lawmakers as the representatives of the people have the mandate to effect whatever change they desired in the country.

    Some people are asking for the restructuring of the country or fiscal federalism with full autonomy for the regions. Others are agitating for self rule, or separate nations out of Nigeria. The presidency therefore tasked the various groups to make all their demands through their representatives at the national assembly.

    The residents however did not find the presidency’s advice funny. According to them, although the legislators were elected to represent their constituencies, they pursue their personal interests and not those of the electorate who elected them. The respondents lamented that in as much as they would want a change in the structure of the government in the country, the current legislators can’t legislate themselves out of office as they are currently benefiting from the corrupt political system.

    Their fears were confirmed last week Thursday, about two weeks after they said they had given up hope on their lawmakers when both Senate President, Ahmad Lawan spoke against the restructuring of the country which the agitators have been calling for. The southern governors had , asked the Federal Government to among other things restructure Nigeria. But Lawan faulted the call saying the governors were trying to take the country back to the regional era accusing them of playing to the gallery as they failed to first restructure their own state.

    It will be recalled that the All Progressives Congress, APC, Committee on Restructuring led by Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State submitted its recommendations to the National Assembly but the lawmakers had refused to touch the report. Similarly, the APC as a party had shown no interest in restructuring three years after the El-Rufai Committee endorsed true federalism.

    The people therefore want the government to dust the report of the 2014 Constitutional Conference and similar reports and effect the desired change that will bring smiles on their faces.

    Nigeria’s ex envoy to the Philippines, Dr Yemi Faroumbi said, ordinarily in a normal society, the lawmaker has the responsibility of making cases for the desires and working to reduce the pain of members of his constituency.

    In any other society, given the amount of heat that is being generated in the political atmosphere, the lawmakers would have assembled the wishes of their constituents and would have presented them in the National Assembly. If Nigerians are asking for new constitution, reorganization or restructuring, if they are asking for a new arrangement that will help to protect lives and property of the people, members of the National Assembly need no prompting for them to enact law that will make the situation better for their constituents, but what do we have? Lamentation by the National Assembly, people who ought to aggregate the grief of Nigerians and make laws that will represent that grief and present the new law to the President to accent and now let us see whether the executive will refuse to accept it.

    “These are people who ought to have restructured Nigeria, who ought to have risen in Nigeria beyond the partisan and marginal amendments that they have been making, but they have not done their job.

    “They have opportunity to be remembered for life for being the legislature that gave answers to Nigerian questions, they ought to have taken that step that will be remembered as the legislature that provided solutions for the problems of the people, that removed the tears from the eyes of people and remove the fears from the minds of people. So what do we have? Meaningless chat, meaningless discussions that are centred around their own needs, rather than the wishes and the desires of the people”.

    In his own submission, human Rights Activist, Dr Akpo Mudiaga-Odje, said: “we have always channeled our agitations and apprehensions through our elected Representatives. However, that procedure has largely been unhelpful and ineffective. Our lawmakers really do not put our interests first, rather our collective interests are subsumed under their personal interest and as such, we never get any good results back at all. And that is why we are clamouring openly and directly to the presidency about our plight and current state of insecurity in our land. Even though we are still going to channel our demands through our representatives, we shall not stop there, but move on to pressurize the presidency to do the needful.

    A legal practitioner based in Uyo, Mr Mfon Peters, said “most of our Senators and our House of Representative members are not operating as those sent there to represent their constituents. Most of them are rather promoting their selfish interests. It is so difficult for constituents today to access their representatives. My thinking is that the leadership of this country is not being sincere about solving the problem of the people by pushing people back to their representatives. How many lawmakers visit their constituents with a view to knowing their problems or challenges? Even when your effort to see him or her becomes difficult, and you are asked to drop a letter at the constituency office, you will never get a response because the Senator or House of Representative member never visits that place. It pains that every four years you go to the polls to vote for somebody as your representative, at the end of the day the person is gone, you cannot reach out to him or her again.”

    Similarly, Comrade Joe Jackson, National President of Niger Delta Youth Movement (NDYM) said, “For me that idea that we should channel our demands through our Representatives is not the best approach. The representatives don’t visit their constituencies. Some stay in Abuja, and even when you drop a letter at their constituency office they won’t look at such letters. When they have few bags of rice and tricycles that they want to give out as empowerment they would claim they are engaging in constituency briefing where constituents would not be able to express their opinions or make demands.

    The Presidency should not ask us to channel our demands through our lawmakers because we cannot reach out to them and they don’t hold town hall meetings. What we (NDYM) expect is effective representation where lawmakers come down to their constituencies and hold town hall meetings to find out about the needs of the people”.

    A prominent trader in Minna, Niger state capital, Alhaji Ibrahim Nagogo said Nigerians don’t need to go through anybody including their Representatives before they are governed. The expectation of all Nigerians now is a government that will restore peace in the country, a government that will put food on our tables at minimal cost, a government that will restructure our economy to bring down prices of essential commodities, a government that will stop the incessant strikes in the Education, Health and other sectors among others.”

    Convener of Youthlead in Nigeria, Comrade Mohammed Saidu Etsu also kicked against channeling their demands through their legislators. He said “We were forcefully brought together by Britain some years back, went through military rule until 1999 when we got full democracy and since then, people have been agitating on how to restructure the country so that every Federating unit will know how to take responsibility of its own state but it is very glaring that the Federal government is not prepared for the restructuring. The Electoral Bill passed by the National Assembly during Dr. Bukola Saraki’s tenure as Senate President was not signed by President Muhammadu Buhari because of their selfish interests whereas the document will be of immense benefit to us and so pushing us back to the legislators again is meaningless because it is recycling the same thing that will not be implemented. If actually we are serious, Nigeria need to be restructured and if we want to do it, there is no better time than now because if we don’t do it now, it is like forcing ourselves on each other and there cannot be peace because nobody is comfortable with each other and if we actually want true Federalism, we need to restructure the country now”, Etsu declared.

    Speaking in the same vein, former Spokesman of All Progressives Congress,(APC) and former Commissioner of Information in Niger State, Mr.Jonathan Vatsa said instead of calling on agitated Nigerians to go through their Representatives again, the President should dust report of the last Confab submitted and implement. “There is no need going through the Representatives because their election was not through democracy but rigging so, they are going to be manipulated in whatever report they submit. The manifesto of the party,(APC) alone if implemented is enough to transform this country but unfortunately, the manifesto was dumped by powers that be for their selfish interest:”

    Barrister Iniruo Wills, President Ijaw Professionals Association (Homeland Chapter) submitted that: “We need a democratically constituted sovereign national conference to produce a constitution flowing from “We the People” for the first time in Nigeria’s history, to reform the structure and system of governance in alignment with federalism properly so called, to institute meritocracy, and to make public governance attractive and accessible to serious minded people.”

    Eric Omare, former President, Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) worldwide said: “In any case, how many times has the Presidency even listened to representatives? So from whatever angle you look at it, the statement by the Presidency simply shows that it is not ready to provide leadership by directing Nigerians to direct their grievances to their representatives.”

    Mr. Joseph Ambakederimo, Convener, South South Reawakening Group in his reaction however believed that: “the system is not the problem, the operators of the system are the problem. The followership too are on one hand the problem. What we are experiencing today does not start today, it is the manifestation of decades of rottenness of wrong doing that we have refused to punish. And until we begin to punish wrong doing in this country nothing will change, even the restructuring people shout about today will not cure anything. Those advocating restructuring have not told us what form would the restructuring take.

    The President has started the process of restructuring by executive orders he has signed to make the local government tier become independent in order for us to begin to hold that tier of government to account but no one of us Nigerians stood behind him. He did the same for states Houses of Assembly autonomy no one of us stood with him. Same thing he did for the judiciary no one of us stood with him. We all look at Abuja forgetting that we all come from our local community and a local government and a state yet we call Abuja for everything. We have governors who we must hold to account at all times but the citizens are scared to criticise their governors. There is no form of accountability whatsoever at the state level and we think that is normal? The same governors who are calling for state police does not want local government police. Our lawmakers are partly to blame for the situation we find ourselves because many of them at the state level and at the national level hardly understand why they are even called lawmakers. It is a very sorry situation and the Presidency is saying we should engage people who don’t know their left from their right?.”

    Former Vice Chancellor of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike MOUAU Professor Hilary Edeoga, advised members of the National Assembly to ensure that true federalism is reflected in the proposed constitutional amendment. Professor Edeoga said that the failure of those in power to allow the practice of true federalism in the country was the reason states run to Abuja every month for allocations. He argued that if the federating states or different regions in the country enjoy a level of independence as they should in ideal federalism, the over dependence on the centre and the excess concentration of power at the centre which is often abused would be avoided. Edeoga blamed youth restiveness, agitations and some deviant activities on the deficiencies of the current flawed constitution which he said could no longer be sustained. “Inequality and injustice are the reasons for all the problems bedeviling Nigeria today, and these must be addressed in the proposed amendment, otherwise it will amount to futile exercise”, he said

    Similarly, a Professor of Political Science at the Abia State University Uturu, Professor Harts Ofoeze, said the endemic injustices in the country as a result of the current constitution skewed to favour a particular section of the country must be corrected in the proposed amendment if Nigeria must stay united. He said that mere constitutional review would never bring solution to Nigeria’s woes until the fundamental issues of injustice and lopsidedness were genuinely addressed.

    Ofoeze argued that Nigeria could not be talking of a constitutional amendment without first creating an additional state for the South East to bring the zone at par with other zones. “There should be equal number of states in all the zones for the sake of equity”, he said. He also doubted the ability of the National Assembly as currently constituted to bequeath to the country a workable new constitution.

    According to him those people going to handle the amendment are part of the problems in the country and will still manipulate it in favour of their region because they are in the majority. “The NASS can’t genuinely give us a type of constitution that will solve the Nigeria equation. The Nigerian people must be part of any genuine efforts to review our constitution. Whatever name they want to give it, the various nationalities in the country must be involved to dialogue and decide how they will be governed”. He however said if they decide to forge ahead, key areas of resource control and fiscal federalism have to be addressed.

    In his reaction, former Speaker, ECOWAS Parliament, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa advocated for power devolution, saying that the concentration of too much power at the centre was the cause of the friction in the country. Senator Ohuabunwa said certain issues on the exclusive list should be removed and taken to residual list for states to have absolute control over them. The former Leader, House of Representatives also said return to regional structure could help proffer solution to Nigeria’s woes.

    He advised members of the National Assembly to holistically review the constitution and genuinely address the burning issues, warning that if this last opportunity to avert the looming danger is lost, the country might be headed for implosion.

    Similarly, the President Coalition of South East Youth Leaders COSEYL, Comrade Goodluck Ibem, demanded devolution of more powers to states. COSEYL also demanded the establishment of state police and increase in revenue sharing formula in favour of states.

    “We want states to have Anti-Corruption agency Commissions that will ensure that states’ resources are not misappropriated by political office holders. The states should be in charge of security. Our current security challenges would not have been this bad if states were in control of the police and other security agencies. More powers to the states and local governments will bring government and governance nearer to the people. A situation where every thing must come from Abuja is not good for rapid development of the country. The youths and women should be given more opportunity to participate in the government and administration of the country.”

    Anthony N Z Sani, the immediate past Secretary General of ACF argued that “Nigerians should demand good governance that comes from purposeful leadership in the hope of bringing about a situation whereby politics, economics and morality would intersect for common good. What is more, the term restructuring seems to depend on the agitators. There are those who clamor for true federalism, whatever that means, there are also those who call for fiscal federalism. Yet there are others who agitate for resource control. Still, we have agitators for resource control whereby host communities ask that the 13% derivation be paid to them directly and not to state governments which use it to construct fly overs, five star hotels and airports in the state capitals to the detriment of the host communities of the natural resources. I expect the elected representatives to listen to the demands by their constituents, articulate same and bring to the chambers for effect after deliberations. I understand the concern by some people is in the area of devolution of power through paring down the number of exclusive list in favor of concurrent list,considering some items are better handled by state governments.”

    Rev John Joseph Hayab, Chairman of CAN,Kaduna state said “the Presidency is simply shying away from engaging citizens on a frank dialogue about Nigeria’s problems and how to find a lasting solution. Telling Nigerians to make demands through their legislators is not appropriate at this time knowing that some of them have cut off with their constituency and what about the constituency where no bye election has been conducted to replace the former who will the people make demands through?There are many previous laws or amendment that this present National Assembly had passed and nothing had been done about them. The Federal Government should instead go back to previous reports of different National Conferences and other Committees set up by Government that contain the larger views of Nigerians with people’s representatives to start the process of restructuring this country.

    Nigerians have talked, and have documented their views and all we need now is honest action from Government.

    According to Prima Angyu, “Full autonomy should be granted to the local government system. The same financial independence should also be extended to the judiciary and the legislative arms of government. I also expect the legislators to ensure strict adherence to the federal character principles and putting in place institutions that will truly promote national unity and integration as well as enhancing the secular nature of the nation without promoting one tribe or religion over another.

    Gabriel Yough on his part said, “I will simply ask for true federalism. The system we are operating at the moment where the cost of governance is the priority of government in power is not sustainable.

    The constitution should be amended to put more items on the concurrent list for states to produce what will sustain them. The current arrangement where almost all mineral resources are on the exclusive list is inimical to development. The amended constitution should clearly prohibit nepotism which has created suspicion among Nigerians. In fact, nepotism should be criminalised so that Nigerians will be given equal opportunities.

    Another respondent, Abdulgafar Audu, said “in my humble opinion the real reason behind this uprising isn’t because of distribution of resources or power but lack of law enforcement. The representatives should as a matter of urgency formulate laws that will strengthen enforcement of laws in the country. Nigeria as a country is a place where laws are not enforced, there is no supremacy of the Constitution.

    For Abdulkadir Bashir. “I expect our lawmakers to grant local government Councils autonomy and I also propose that every lawmaker’s office should be situated in the constituency they are representing.

    John Onwuka said, “The system in Nigeria is not ideal and that is why we have not had the best representation at the National Assembly. Our legislators should do more to justify the confidence of Nigerians in them. Also I expect them to know that the position they occupy is powerful and they should exercise that power to make the lives of Nigerians better.

    Donyegga Ben, an engineer and community leader from the Ijaw speaking area of Edo state insists that “resource control and decentralisation of administration is the way to go. We all come from different regions of the country, what affect the south don’t affect the north but every region has its own resources that emanate from there. One of the things we need is to implement the decisions reached at the 2014 constitutional conference and then we have to restructure this country in such a way that whatever you have in your zone, you should have control. The economy should be decentralised. Let the regions have control and then send a percentage to the centre. There are so many countries surviving on agriculture without oil and they are doing very well more than us that have everything.

    What we have in this country as a National Assembly are people who go to sit down in their comfort zone and at the end of the day they are only interested in their wages. Even the constituency projects that people used to depend on to see the dividends of democracy, we don’t see them anymore. Imagine even their aides are being owed, there is nothing that is straight in this country. The lawmakers have nothing to write home about, all of them are afraid to talk because they are all corrupt.”

    Mohammed Auwalu, trader in Dutse, Jigawa state said, “what we need most is a steady power supply. It is one of the problems crippling the economy at all levels. Millions of youths have been thrown to the streets because there is no steady supply of electricity to manage their business and the cost of fuel is high. Babaje Ahmed Malam however said, “Government should reduce the cost of fuel and kerosene. Everything has increased from food items to school fees. We have been crying for help yet nothing has changed over the years. Malam Sai’du Malam said, “Government should address the insecurity in the country. We can no longer sleep with our eyes closed. Youths have taken to stealing and apart from cases of incessant kidnapping, they break into homes every night to steal phones and money

    Respondents in Plateau State were unanimous in asking for restructuring, ending insecurity and ensuring food security. A former Speaker of the State Assembly, Mr. Titus Alams said, “all we need is peace, if there is security, we will do our work effectively. We will go to farms if we are secured. All we need from our representatives is that they should make sure that security is restored, once that is done, we can go about our businesses, we want our security architecture to be put in place and make sure that people are properly protected.”

    A local farmer, Ezekiel Sunday added, “I am appealing to them to talk about restructuring so that every region will be strengthened, that way, everyone will sit up. The issue of kidnapping, killings and insecurity generally should be tackled because as long as they continue, there will be food scarcity.

    “When people cannot go to farm for fear of being killed, even with money in your pocket, where will they see foodstuff to buy, are we going to continue to import? If those countries we import from do not take farming seriously, where are we going to get our own food?”

    Another respondent Benjamin Auta noted, “Our representatives should let the Presidency know that the call for secession is so loud it has never been like this, they should pay attention and find out why everyone is calling for a breakaway. Since one tribe and religion want to have everything, the call for balkanization should be looked into and if that is the best thing, let everyone depart in peace so that there will be no further bloodletting.”

    Yet Ibrahim Danladi added, “We want them to cut the cost of governance, the common man can no longer bear the consequences. Cost of foodstuff in the market is too high, fuel is beyond the reach of the common man, political office holders should be paid less and small businesses encouraged so that jobs can be created. The era of getting free money in Abuja should come to an end while youths should be directly involved in large scale crops and animal farming. This will give us goods to transport and our citizens gainfully employed.”

    Comrade Emmanuel Bankole, NLC Chairman, Ogun State said “the Presidency is only playing on the intelligence of Nigerian knowing fully well that ours is an abnormal setting where most of the so-called lawmakers are strangers even to their constituents. The moment many of them are elected, they become inaccessible only to wait for election period when they resurface again and because of the level of poverty and impoverishment, the masses are easily cajoled and exploited. The current governance structure in the country can only lead us to underdevelopement, unbridled corruption, impunity and chaos. The political system has been so monitized that not many sincere and patriotic citizens can survive it. There can’t be a meaningful development and progress in the country until we change the entire governance structure, make it service-driven and more participatory.

    READ ALSO: Secessionist Threats: You can’t bully or intimidate Buhari — FG

    Unfortunately, those that are supposed to initiate the process of change are the beneficiary of our dysfunctional system, hence their reluctance to listen to the wishes of the masses. As a Nigerian, my expectations from the lawmakers and everybody at the helm of affairs of governance is that our leaders should change their attitude and life style first. They should change from their deceptive approach and think well of all Nigerians. The rule of law should prevail in all they do. At this moment, to douse the tension of the agitations from all regions, Nigerians need the “President” and not the “presidency” to address them live and answer some few questions where necessary. This will clear many doubts that had made Nigeria look like an organization without a manager.

    Pan-Igbo bodies, such as Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Aligbo Development Foundation, ADF, in their separate responses, said that all agitations have already been collated through the 2014 national conference, and directed the federal government to start with implementation of the report.

    National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Alex Ogbonnia said: “What the Presidency said that agitators should go through their representatives is wrong. Every democracy gives room for interest groups, what you call interest aggregation; from there you enter into interest articulation. Interest groups as a matter of fact are called civil societies. We have the fourth arm of the government which is the civil society that is given the opportunity because they are the pressure groups that place demands on government. So what you call secession agitation and so on are all interest groups. The truth is that they are making demands from the government. Any group that makes demand from government is simply an interest group. So to say that interest groups should go through their representatives is not right in a democracy. The interest groups should be allowed to come up with their opinions and the government will see from them among the demands the ones it can implement”.

    Spokesman of Aligbo Development Foundation, ADF, Abia Onyike in his contribution said that the volume of surgical work demanded in restructuring Nigeria was beyond the national assembly as mere representatives, but lies squarely on the Nigerian nationalities through convocation of a national conference. He further said that what was needed in Nigeria today to resolve the current anomalies was a return to regional structures as federating units, but should now be expanded to six regional governments instead of the three structures that existed in the 60s.

    Onyike said: “For us in Alaigbo Development Foundation, ADF, we propose a return to genuine federalism. We want the federating units (the regions) to be autonomous and independent with elements of fiscal federalism. The federating units in 1963 were the four regions, namely: North, East, West and Mid-West.

    But now we can make do with the six geopolitical zones, namely: North-West, North-East, North-Central, South-East, South-West and South-South. Under such arrangements, the powers of the central government shall be as agreed and collectively delegated to it by the autonomous regions, provided that it shall be confined to Defense, Foreign Affairs, Currency/Central Bank and Citizenship. Each Autonomous Region should have its own constitution, Anthem and Flag. Each Autonomous Region shall be in charge of the natural and mineral resources within its geopolitical space. Each Autonomous Region to be self-governing as far as the control of its security and resources are concerned”.

    A secondary school teacher in the metropolis, Adamu Nuhu said “We expect the legislative arm of government to hold the executive accountable for their actions. Year after year, budget after budget, we don’t see the dividends of democracy. They should be able to tell us what they are using our money for. Every year monies are budgeted for security, empowerment, power and a host of others, yet we don’t see these projects. We want a functional and effective Federal system of government where all federating units will be autonomous to make decisions for themselves,” he noted.

    Another respondent, Salman Sadiq blamed the current state of the nation on nepotism. He said: “I think that the solution goes beyond reforming the structure of the government. The buck stops at the president’s table. Look at the way he has sacrificed competence on the altar of nepotism. How will the country work when a president who should be president of all the people is guilty of nepotism? I don’t want to annoy myself talking about the legislative arm of government. What we have now is a rubber stamp National Assembly whose members are just there to feed their bellies. We’ve never had it this bad.”

    Pastor Edafe Brutus in Abakaliki, said, “what we need now is constitutional review. The 1999 Constitution is no longer meeting the current needs and expectations of Nigerians. Only a few persons are benefiting from the lacuna in the Constitution. The present administration should initiate this process, if it actually means well for Nigerians.” Another respondent, Mrs Chinwe Peters, a federal civil servant stressed that the Electoral Act must be reviewed to accommodate the present challenges facing the country. According to her, “the Electoral Act as amended needs a complete overhauling, in order to capture the genuine interest and expectations of Nigerians. The present Electoral Act does not provide justice of Nigerians nor tackle electoral fraud”.

    A senior lecturer at the Department of Psychology, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, Dr. Aaron Adibe, in his contribution tasked the president to articulate his own ideas and send it to the National Assembly which will form the foundation for further discussions by Nigerians. “After all, he was elected by the entire Nigeria, while representatives were elected by smaller constituencies. So Nigerians are looking up to him to lead the way. The National Assembly on its part should collate the submissions of Nigerians in existing documents and make necessary adjustments”.

    Another senior lecturer in the Department of Linguistics, UNN, Dr. David Wayas said “People are dying at exponential rate, economy is going down everyday, our leaders are wasting the resources meant for our development, the country is doing nothing significant in creating jobs for our teaming graduates, our public educational sector is now being taken over by politicians cum business people in the name of reforms, our political office holders are stealing our commonwealth every second, our values are now truncated by the actions and inactions of the government.

    Corruption, religious bigotry and ethnicity have dominated our system. Nepotism has taken over merits. These and many other factors are responsible for the growing insecurity and poverty levels in Nigeria. Most of our lawmakers shouldn’t be channels for airing our genuine opinions. The financial recklessness of our politicians should be curtailed to pave way for development. They should quickly initiate a process of decentralization of powers thereby allowing states and local governments control over security and some resources within their respective domains. Most of our security challenges are rooted in poor governance and over reliance on federal allocation.”

    A political analyst, Mr. Josephat Aguoha said that hanging the 2014 Confab report and asking people to make suggestions on similar issues amounts to deceit. According to Aguoha, the conference looked at many thorny national issues and made far –reaching recommendations, recalling that such issues as resource control, derivation principle, land use Act, national security, rotational presidency, among others, were properly handled and agreed upon by the delegates.

    He recalled that before the 2014 national conference, previous administrations in the country also convoked conferences such as the Abacha constitutional conference of 1994/1995 and the Obasanjo National Political Reform Conference.

    He said: “What else will the people demand from their lawmakers? The 2014 national conference recommended creation of 18 new states and even gave states option to merge. That conference recommended that a certain percentage of the nation’s revenue should be set aside to address issues of reconstruction and rehabilitation of areas ravaged by insurgency and internal conflicts.

    “It recommended that sharing of funds from the Federation Account among the three tiers of government should be Federal Government – 42.5%, State Governments – 35% and Local Governments 22.5%. There was also a recommendation that presidential power should rotate between the North and the South and among the six geo-political zones, while the governorship will rotate among the three senatorial districts in a state. All these recommendations are enough to make a peaceful nation and our best bet is to implement them. That is the restructuring Nigerians want. Our leaders should stop taking the people for a ride.”

    A university teacher, Dr. Modilim Okeke, in his contribution said he also believed in the implementation of the 2014 national conference, but added that there was need to reduce the number of federal lawmakers and their emoluments because the economy of the country could no longer sustain their astronomical wage bills. “We do not even need two parliaments in this country. The senate should be scrapped, while the House of Representatives should be retained. Even at that, lawmaking should be made part time and members paid according to the number of sittings they attend,” he suggested.

    According to a Public analyst, Zadok Akintoye “lawmakers must go back to their constituencies to discuss with their people on what they want within the Nigerian state. This can then be scaled upwards to the state, the geopolitical zone and then to the National Assembly wherein a decision can then be made as a product of such consultations.

    Former South West Zonal Publicity Secretary of PDP, Ayo Fadaka said, “The Presidency is in deep slumber, the Buhari presidency remains dysfunctional, lethargic and puerile, it is completely unable to stem the darkness that is lurking, therefore we need help, very urgent help that will deliver our nation from this obviously impending strive that will ultimately lead to a fratricidal war, immediately. To think the current National Assembly that is very timid and equally lethargic can save us from this crisis is to indulge in day dreaming. Nigeria is back at that same bus stop it was in Abacha days until God miraculously helped us, we again crave divine help and intervention seriously.

    The obvious catalyst for the degeneracy confronting Nigeria today is President Buhari himself, he is no longer able, capable and alert enough in all disciplines to govern our nation and unpatriotic aides, largely anonymous, with no iota of competence too have taken over, pursuing agendas of their own.

    Apagun Kole Omololu- Organising Secretary of Afenifere said, “it is so unfortunate for the black world that some gang of political bandits seized the reign of power in 2015 in Nigeria. They ganged up for power without a clue of what to do with it. They lied their way through, abused the sensibilities of Nigerian citizens.

    They run a government by deceit with reckless abandon. Can you imagine the countless of time the national assembly has called for memorandum for the review of the constitution?

    Their party, APC set up El Rufai constitution review committee, they did nothing about it.

    In 2014 all the best brains from all strata of human endeavour came up with 607 resolutions by consensus on how to move this country forward, this inept and clueless and incompetent set of political gangsters jettisoned it. Now with sophistry, they are telling the beleaguered citizens to request from their lawmakers the form of government they want.

    Yemi Aladejare (Public Servant) Ado-Ekiti said, “new constitution that reflect true federalism is the answer to all these imbroglio in the country today. The 1999 constitution is promoting inequality, injustice and unfairness. Restructuring is never the answer, on what basis are we restructuring? Something can not stand on nothing, let President Muhammadu Buhari convoke a national consultative council through an executive order.

    Representatives to the council would be through election and selections , the body would move round the six geo-political zones to listen to the views of the people on how they want to be governed. Let’s formulate these views into a new constitution that will reflect and accommodate our collective desires, views and aspirations. Nothing tangible can come out of the current group of legislators, they can’t legislate themselves out of office, it is not possible. Besides, we don’t need bi-camera legislature. It’s very expensive to maintain and current economic reality can’t sustain this bogus system we are running.

    Mrs Eunice Oloruntoba, Management Consultant said, “issues that are urgent now are Security, unemployment, decay infrastructure and wobbling economy. No doubt, the country is going through its worst security challenge. We are living in fear, we are not safe anymore. The current security architecture has fallen apart, because of undue religious and ethnic sentiments. We need help, let the President solicit for international assistance. Majority of Nigerian youths are unemployed, this is a time bomb and government must find ways of boosting industrial growth.

    Uche Nnorom based in Makurdi said, “Nigerians are passing through the worst economic challenge we have ever witnessed. The government must as a matter of urgency tackle the economic challenge because it is also fueling insecurity in the country. Nigerians are finding it very had to feed themselves and no mater what this government does, it has to address the economic difficulties Nigerians are going through. We also demand that steps be taken to tackle the worsening insecurity in the country. Nigerians now live in fear wherever they find themselves. Nigerians are also now scared of traveling on the road because the government has allowed criminals take over our roads. It is pathetic that we watch helplessly while criminal gangs kill, maim and torment our people while the government whose primary responsibility is to ensure the safety of lives and property fails woefully to discharge that responsibility.

    On his part, Hembadoon Orsar said, “I think it is time for Nigeria to try out the parliamentary system of government because the presidential system we copied from the United States is obviously too expensive. Secondly, the level of insecurity in the country has become a source of concern for everyone because we have never had it this bad. The country is bleeding and the government must endeavor to rise to the occasion. Thirdly, there is urgent need to restructure the country to deal with the imbalances in the system. More powers should devolve to the state and governors as Chief Security Officers of their states who should have commanding powers over the police and the armed forces. This would help them tackle insecurity in their respective state.

    President General of Mzough U Tiv, MUT, worldwide, Chief Iorbee Ihagh said, “it is time to restructure the country. Nigeria is also ripe for local government and state police to help tackle the worsening state of insecurity in the country. If we are copying the American presidential system of government, we should do it to the fullest to enjoy its benefits. Apart from the economy that is in terrible state, insecurity has become a cog in the wheel of progress and if it is not dealt with decisively we may remain in the woods for a long time. We must also ensure equity, justice and fairness in the distribution of political office in the country. The principles of power rotation should also be adhered to in order to assuage the agitation in parts of the country.

    UMUAHIA- National Coordinator, Concerned Advocates for Good Governance, CAGG, Mr Olusegun Bamgbose, said that Nigeria must be restructured to address marginalization and injustice meted on some sections of the country. Bamgbose blamed the agitation for secession on the marginalization of some parts of the country and bad leadership and warned that Nigeria was doomed if such anomalies were not addressed. He said, “the entire system must be totally overhauled; we want equity and federal character.

    There must be justice and no ethnic discrimination in Nigeria. The Constitution should be amended to accommodate restructuring. With the level of marginalization and agitation, restructuring has become inevitable. If there is no restructuring, Nigeria can’t make progress because we have the problem of bad leadership and weak institutions. Our institutions are not working; we need a total overhauling of the system. We need to rework the 1999 constitution as amended. There must be fairness in appointments; no ethnic group should be promoted above the other. Rotation of the presidential position must be inserted into the Constitution.

    We must avoid a situation where one ethnic group will dominate the presidency because they have the numbers. These are some of the key areas we should restructure. We can only check agitation if there is good leadership that accommodates every group. There was no agitation during the Gen. Ibrahim Babangida era because almost every part of Nigeria was represented in the leadership.

    It was the same thing with President Yar’dua. The problem we have today is bad leadership and it is increasing the tempo of agitation in the country. If the Igbo are taken care of in appointments and other areas, do you think there will be agitation for Biafra? No, Biafra would have died a natural death. It is the feeling of discrimination and non accommodation that feeds agitation.

    You can’t mistreat people and expect them to keep quiet. Nobody is happy with the present structure and bad leadership in the country. The Yoruba are agitating because they are not happy with a stranger taking over their land, killing them and raping their women.”

    Vanguard News Nigeria

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