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Nigeria should jettison federal character principle, says Don

….Who’s who celebrate Ofeimun at 60

By Dapo Akinrefon, Charles Kumolu, James Ezema & Chukwuma Nwakanma
NIGERIA has been called upon to have a rethink of the Federal Character clause in its constitution, if there should be any meaningful check of the series of crises and violence that rock the country.

The call was made, Tuesday, by Professor Mahmood Mamdani at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, NIIA, Victoria Island, Lagos, venue of the well-attended public lecture organised by the Centre for Black African Art and Civilisation, CBAAC and Friends of polyvalent scholar, poet, culture and social commentator-activist, Odia Ofeimun, who recently clocked 60.

In his lecture, entitled: “Congo and Sudan: Lessons for Nigeria,” the don described the federal character provision as imitative of  “Mobutu’s geopolitique,” and argued that such a constitutional provision only but helps to polarise the country along ethnic lines.

On the need for Nigeria to take a cue from the Sudan and Congo crises and to avert a repeat of the Jos crisis, he said: “I have often wondered whether Nigeria’s post-civil war constitution did not emulate the substance of Mobutu’s geopolitique, particularly in its inclusion of the federal character clause, requiring that key federal institutions reflect the federal character of Nigeria.”

He argued: “for these institutions to reflect federal character, enrolment is based on a state-based quota system whereby the quota for each state is in proportion to its share of the federal population. The right to compete for this quota does not belong to all those who live in a state, but only to those who can claim to be indigenous to the state in question, meaning that not only they but also their father be born in that state.”

“One lesson of Congo and Sudan is that it may be time to rethink the legacy of both the colonial past and the reforms you undertook to end the civil war,” he stated.

Dignitaries at the event included Prof. Wole Soyinka, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Ambassador Segun Olusola, Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi.


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