Prominent Nigerians, including directly former General President Ohanaese Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo; Chief Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo and Chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Chief Audu Ogbe, on Thursday said there was an urgent need to restructure Nigeria so that it could reach its full potential.
They made the call at the 18th Daily Trust Dialogue with the theme: ‘Restructuring in Nigeria: Why? How? When?’
The prominent Nigerians suggested that the country should be restructured to make Nigeria work for all citizens.
But in an interview with The PUNCH, the President’s Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said it was only the National Assembly that was empowered to restructure the country.
He, therefore, advised proponents of restructuring to approach the legislature.
On his part, the Spokesman for the Senate, Ajibola Basiru, described restructuring as a slogan.
He called on advocates of restructuring, who had submitted memoranda to the Senate Committee on Constitution Review to meet their senators with a view to educating them better on the type of restructuring they were advocating.
In his remarks at the summit, Nwodo said, “We must restructure to revamp our agriculture. When I speak of restructuring, some of my northern Nigerian friends have suggested to me that I do not want the North to partake in the oil revenue of Nigeria.
“Well, I have just outlined the indisputable fact that oil is a fast-drying resource for earning foreign exchange. The truth is that the reliable source of revenue now is agriculture
The Netherlands is today the largest exporter of food in the world. Its cross-sectional area is about half the size of Niger State. It is the world’s largest exporter of potatoes.
Its revenue from vegetables and dairy contributes more than $100bn annually to its economy. The secret is education, better mechanised farming, growth of green farm technology, drone monitoring systems and land reclamation by building of dams.
“Northern Nigeria is Nigeria’s greatest treasure in agriculture. Northern Nigeria is blessed with diverse livestock production with its capacity for dairy production. It has various tubers of potatoes, yam, cassava and cocoyam.
“Under a restructured Nigeria, Northern Nigeria will earn more from food production than the Netherlands.
We must restructure because our current electoral system is dysfunctional and does not elicit confidence.”
Nwodo also said restructuring would address insecurity in the country.
He stated, “We must restructure to reduce insecurity in our country. While I was working on this speech on Monday, 18 January 2021, I paused to read the news for the day.
I saw the following headlines: Bandits kill octogenarian, 14 others in Zamfara, Kaduna attacks.
Cops arrest Police Sergeant for robbery in Port Harcourt; Robbers kill 22-year-old IT prodigy in Lagos; Gunmen hack Catholic priest to death, kidnap brother in Niger State, Bandits abduct 17 persons in Niger State. All these in one day.”
While making a case for state police, the elder statesman said modern philosophy for security is local policing.
On when Nigeria should be restructured, Nwodo said, “We must do all we can to restructure before the next election in 2023 because the level of dissatisfaction in the country as evidenced by the last #EndSARS protest gives one the impression that any delay may lead to a mass boycott or disruption of the next elections to the point that we may have a more serious constitutional crisis of a nation without a government.
“To restructure, Nigeria we need a constitutional conference of the ethnic groups in Nigeria. To use the current National Assembly as the forum for constitutional amendments grants a recognition of the overthrow of our democratic norms by the enthronement of a military constitution by which they are composed.”
N’Assembly, not Buhari, is empowered to restructure Nigeria –Presidency
Shehu said those agitating for restructuring of the country should approach the National Assembly for a change in constitution.
He said only the parliament was empowered to effect a change in the nation’s structure or constitution.
Shehu urged those clamouring for restructuring to take advantage of the ongoing constitutional amendment in the National Assembly.
He said, “Our position on the call for restructuring has not changed.
“People are calling it restructuring, the ruling party, APC, and the government call it devolution.
Whichever name you call it, the government is not opposed to it. What we are saying is that the parliament is the body empowered by law to effect any change in the nation’s structure.
“The process of constitution review is ongoing in the National Assembly now.
We advise proponents of restructuring to approach the parliament and take advantage of the opportunity that ongoing process offers.