By Dayo Benson, James Ezema & Chukwukwuma Nwakamma
LAGOS â€” CALLS for the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference, SNC, re-echoed, yesterday, in Lagos as political leaders and other stakeholders spoke in its favour at a book launch cum discussion session.
Those who spoke at the presentation of the book entitled: â€œNigeria: Africaâ€™s Failed Asset?â€ written by second republic politician and Afenifere chieftain, Chief Olaniwun Ajayi, include former governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba and NADECO chieftain, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu (rtd).
Others at the event include Prof. Itse Sagay, SAN, Governor of the Central Bank, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, former governors, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of Lagos State; Niyi Adebayo of Ekiti State; Bisi Akande of Osun State who is also the Action Congress National Chairman; former president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Prof. Attahiru Jega; Chief Kessington Adebutu, Prof Akin Mabogunje, the book reviewer; Prof. Adigun Agbaje, among other notable Nigerians.
Speaking on the occasion, Prof. Sagay said the time is ripe for a meeting of ethnic communities and nationalities in a Sovereign National Conference.
â€œI certainly support a national conference. The need for sovereign conference stems from structural imbalance and that imbalance occurred from the beginning. That is what started the problem.
We can confine the centre to five or six subjects and allow the states to keep all their resources and pay some sum to the centre in order to run the centre.
â€œIt is the states that should actually contribute for the running of the centre and not the centre asking the states to come cap in hand every month to collect bowl for the states only to come back for more bowl which the centre does not create.
The federal government is the poorest government in this country economically. Most of the money it is dolling out every month come from the states. So, we must reverse that situationâ€, Sagay said.
Also speaking in the same vein, Rear Admiral Kanu said there was need for the country to be restructured along federal line.
â€œI am very much involved, we have to change Nigeria. We want Nigeria to go back to a federation. Thatâ€™s the only way it can work. We have left being a federal country and become a unitary country over some time.
Any other thing you talk about, corruption, whether you say the north is to blame or not, we are all Nigerians. Nothing will really work until you go back to a federationâ€, Kanu said.
Stressing the need for a sovereign national conference, Chief Osoba said, â€œOf course, we know that over the years weâ€™ve wasted our resources while countries like Singapore and Malaysia, Ghana are developing, we remain static. So, who is to blame?
All of us, we should all stand up in unison and come together and fight for our rights.
According to one of the discussants, Rueben Abati, â€œI agree with the proposition that Nigeria has been mismanaged and terribly too, but I do not quite share the view that it is only the north that should be blamed.
The truth of the matter is that the blame for the mismanagement of Nigeria is a collective one. If Nigeria is a failed state, if it has not been able to realise her potential to the fullest, it is because of the conspiracy of the elite.
â€œFor you to run a good country, for you to have development, you must have a political elite that is driven by the power of ideas, that is enlightened.
Part of the problems we have had in this country is at the level of management, you find that people are anti-intellectual, people go out of their way to surprise the educated person since because they are in fact afraid of ideas.”