Prominent Nigerians who converged on Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital yesterday urged the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government to heed calls for the immediate restructuring of the country.
They include a former Chief of Defence Staff, Lt. Gen Alani Akinrinade (rtd.), former Governor of Anambra State, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, human rights activist, Yinka Odumakin and former Chairman, Editorial Board of The Guardian newspapers, Professor Godini Darah.
The panel of discussants charged President Muhammadu Buhari to embrace calls from across Nigeria to either restructure the country or allow it to go adrift.
Speaking on Restructuring: The Way Forward For A New Nigeria, they agreed that rejigging the Nigerian project had become a task that must be executed by the incumbent leadership to avoid a more catastrophic agitation, which could lead to the country’s breakup.
Other prominent Nigerians on the panel to mark the sixth year anniversary of the Governor Seriake Dickson administration, were former Petroleum Minister and Chairman, Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), King Edmund Daukoru; leader, Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) and Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Yerima Shettima and a former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Power, Ambassador Godknows Igali.
Akinrinade, who was guest speaker, argued that despite the initial opposition to restructuring by some Nigerians, the agitations seemed to have reached a crescendo and as such the present government should act on it without further delay.
A new era is usually preceded by a dark night of struggle and strife. It was the same with the struggle for restructuring and inclusive federalism. While the battle raged, no weapon known to humanity was considered too vulgar and lowly.
“Blackmail, violence, extortion, religious manipulation, economic sanctions and intellectual persuasion were freely deployed. But at the end of the day, when all weapons of intimidation and coercion seem to have exhausted their capacity, calm reason and rationality appear to have prevailed,” he said.
He wondered why ex-President Goodluck Jonathan did not commence the implementation of recommendations of the 2014 conference, but also expressed anger that President Buhari seem to have confined the report to the dustbin.
Quoting Albert Einstein, Akinrinade said: “Insanity is doing the same thing all over again and expecting a different result,” noting that had the country embraced devolution of power and the decentralisation of the Police, it might have been possible to avoid the fallout of the communal clashes, marauding ethnic militias, violent kidnapping, banditry, cyber-terrorism and religious insurgency.
“President Buhari should go immediately for the clusters of consensus and low hanging fruits by initiating a Bill for the structural unbundling of an overburdened centre through the removal of several agreed items from the Concurrent Exclusive List and their devolution to the constituting states in a way and manner that does not endanger the manifest destiny of the nation,” he stated.
Speaking, Ezeife described Nigeria as a failed state because the country has refused to rethink the terms of its co-existence among the different ethnic nationalities.
He said: “They gave us change that moved us from the frying pan to fire. Since this change came about, some jumped into the Atlantic Ocean in Lagos, some in other ways take their lives and other are travelling out.
Dickson, who spoke to newsmen on the sidelines of the event, however, maintained that restructuring holds the key to preserving the unity, stability and economic prosperity of the country.