John Nwodo, former president-general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, says Nigeria must restructure to avoid a boycott of the 2023 elections.
Nwodo, a two-time minister, gave the warning at the 17th Gani Fawehinmi annual lecture organised by the Ikeja branch of the Nigerian Bar Association in Lagos, on Friday.
The event themed ‘The Constitutional History of Nigeria’s Dysfunction: Any pathway to indivisibility and common progress?’ was attended by Babagana Zulum, governor of Borno; Femi Falana, human rights lawyer; among others.
Nwodo said things worked better under the regional government system as the regions enjoyed sovereignty over their national resources while paying royalties and taxes to the federal government.
He warned that to prevent “the coming catastrophe”, Nigeria must restructure and divert attention to agriculture.
Nwodo added that the restructuring process must be concluded before the 2023 elections to avoid a boycott by some sections of the country.
“There was only one reason why things worked so well then. We had a regional system of government that allowed regions to enjoy sovereignty over their resources whilst paying royalties and taxes to the federal government. Our domestic security was independent and uncontrolled by the federal government,” he said.
“Suddenly, the army came to power and abrogated our constitution, turned us into a unitary state and imposed a unitary constitution on us. They seized our natural resources and donated them to the federal government to share without adequate respect for derivation.
“Nigeria must restructure and give its component units sovereignty over its natural resources provided they pay royalty or some form of taxes to the federal government to maintain federal responsibilities like external defence, foreign missions, customs and immigration.
“Emphasis must return to agriculture and education. Domestic security must remain in the hands of the federating units because living safe in Nigeria today is by luck. The secularity of the Nigerian state must be respected. These irreducible minimum conditions are not negotiable. If it does not happen, we will have no alternative but to go our separate ways.
“Processes to begin our restructuring as a nation must be concluded before the 2023 elections so as to avert a situation where sections of the country may boycott the elections and present the country with a constitutional force majeure.”