A former Minister of Education, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, says Nigeria risks collapse if it is not restructured.
She said Nigeria must be fixed while the electorate must be determined to elect an efficient political leadership into office.
Ezekwesili, who is also a former Vice-President of the World Bank, Africa Division, said, “The dominant political culture is the monopolistic service that has retarded and stagnated the country. So, we want to produce a value-based political class that understands ethical policies, competence and how to build systems and procedures that enable the growth of the society.
“We cannot afford to be spectators. We all should therefore arise and fix our nation; we are the Nehemiahs. Politics undermines everything; individuals, family, community and governance. If we don’t fix politics we will be wasting a lot of time. There’s nothing about a bad situation that cannot change, but the people must be ready. Only the electorate have the capacity to fix politics.”
Also speaking, former Cross River State governor and presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party in the 2019 elections, Donald Duke, said at Nigeria needed to review its structure so that constituent parts could be economically productive and then contribute to the central.
He added, “The leadership of today is supposed to prepare for the future of the country. What can we do that by 2060, we will be in the committee of great prosperous countries? We are going to have 400 million people within our space and as the population has grown rapidly, the economy should also grow.
“But for all this to happen, we need to look at the structure of our nation. That is why there is clamour that we should restructure the country. It is not to break the country; it is not to frustrate the development of any side or constituent part. It is incumbent so that we don’t restrict our development.
“Between now and 2060, the focus should be that we have a skilled population; a healthy population and the skills must also embrace technology. Then, restructure the leadership so that even if poor leadership is thrown up at the centre, it does not frustrate the constituent parts of the country.”
While calling for the restructuring of the judiciary, he noted that the country needed purposeful and visionary leadership and one that had the will. “We say the right things; we all know the problems. But we do not have the will, not just the political will but the human will. That will is what we need to make it happen,” he added.
Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, in his own contribution, said every region must be allowed to develop at their respective pace, adding that Nigeria’s diversity is its strength.
The monarch pointed out that government must also work towards the diversification of the economy.
Ooni said, “Every region should develop at their respective pace. Let’s use our diversity as our greatest strength. The capacity of wealth is in your state of mind. Emphasis should be on developing and empowering our youths. I want to see a nation where people come out in their 20s to contest elections.
“2060 is around the corner, let’s be intentional about our nation’s growth. The emphasis should be on developing and empowering our youths. Everything in the nation, including the mainstay of the economy, needs diversification. It is very easy for all of us to talk, but to walk the talk is a very herculean task.”
He pointed out that Nigeria used to be one big, happy family, with respect and honour for the different territories as he noted that making the best out of the country should be the focus of every Nigerian.
The Ooni also emphasised that traditional rulers as the closest to the people had important roles to play in nation building but that they had been disregarded constitutionally.
Archbishop Emeritus and former Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, said though Adeboye was entitled to his own opinion, Nigerians were also calling for the same thing.
He added, “I still repeat what I said the last time in my interview with Sunday PUNCH that we need to restructure, whatever you mean by restructuring means that things cannot continue like before. We must find a way of improving the way Nigeria is run so that everybody may feel at home with it because there is a lot of frustration and I think I am not the only one saying it. I do hope the people in government also know this. The question probably is how do we go about it?
“The important thing for us is that we need to agree that we need to change things and if we all agree we need to change this, then we all sit down and find out how we need to change things and this is where the whole issue about coming together to talk in all sincerity is all about. Let us be sincere with ourselves and stop playing games.”
Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Ignatius Kaigama, said, “I want to see restructuring before a restructuring. And what do I mean? There has to be an attitudinal restructuring, otherwise even if we engage in political restructuring, it will only be a political mirage.
“After 60 years, we have matured and perfected the act of greed and corruption and all that the local government chairman or the state governor or the President or the National Assembly members are concerned with is to extract from what belongs to all their constituencies.”
Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Kaduna State and National Vice Chairman of CAN (19 Northern States and Abuja), Rev Joseph Hayab, said the call for restructuring reflected the desire of many Nigerians.
Hayab said, “If you share this country into six groups, you will know over four and a half groups are yearning for restructuring. Even the one and a half that are acting as if they do not want it are only doing that for selfish reasons because they do not care about the progress of this country as they are worried about what they will get.
“We really need to come up with a system that will work for us. The system we have now has caused us more pain than progress. People are tired, frustrated and angry because the country is not moving forward.”
We need clarity to take a position on restructuring — ACF
But Arewa Consultative Forum reiterated its stance that advocates of restructuring need to clarify and define the term in order to get others to buy into it.
National Publicity Secretary of the ACF, Mr Emmanuel Yawe, said, “The term restructuring as it is being used today means different things to different parts of our country.
“To the man in the South West it may mean fiscal federalism, to the person in the south south it could mean resource control to the South East it may mean something else. We need to have a clear perspective on what those calling for restructuring mean to enable us take a stand.
“What we hear from most of those calling for restructuring these days are insults on the north. You cannot continue to insult a people and expect them to clap for you.
“If you ask me, we have been restructuring since 1914. With the amalgamation we had North and South, then we had three regions then four; we now how 36 states. We need to be clear about what we want really.”