Says it’s not to break up the country
Current structure does not favour masses— Ukaegbu
By Emeka Mamah, Ugochukwu Alaribe & Dennis Agbo
Enugu—Chairman of The Patriots and Project Nigeria Movement, PNT, Professor Ben Nwabueze, has said Nigeria is a federation in name and not in practice and called for the restructuring of the country to reflect its true status to ensure a new beginning.
He also said the widespread clamour among Nigerians was not aimed at breaking up the country but to ensure fairness and equity for all irrespective of tribes or religion.
He also condemned the unilateral proscription of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, without engaging in dialogue with the group.
Nwabueze, in a statement, in Enugu, yesterday, said: “The object of re-structuring for which there is a widespread clamour among Nigerians, is not to break up the country or to enable agitators to secede from its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“Far from that, the object ive is to reform the governmental structures and attune them to the needs and wishes of the people, to ensure that the immense diversity of ethnic nationalities comprised in the state will continue to co-exist together in peace, prosperity and progress as citizens of one country united by common interests, common aspirations and a common destiny.
“The clamour for re-structuring must, therefore, be seen as a clamour for the setting up of appropriate platforms or fora to renegotiate suitable governmental structures for the pursuit and realization of our common needs for development, good governance and national transformation.
“In short, the clamour for re-structuring is more than a clamour for the reform of our governmental structures. This is only its primary focus. In its wider, more fundamental focus, it is a call for Nigeria to ‘make a new beginning’ under a new constitution approved and adopted by the people at a referendum, a new politico-legal order that will cleanse the country of the rottenness that pervades it and enable it to ‘chart a road map for its destiny’ or what has been referred to as ‘re-structuring of the mind’.
“This aspect of re-structuring, which is as necessary as its primary focus, will need to be led by a President, as the elected leader of the people, imbued with an ardour for national transformation.
“The governmental structure that needs particularly to be reformed by re-structuring is our federal system. Federalism is commonly agreed to be a compelling necessity for the maintenance of peace, stability and development of Nigeria as one country.
“The provision in section 162(2) proviso that ‘the principle of derivation shall be constantly reflected in any approved formula as being not less than 13 per cent of the revenue accruing to the Federation Account directly from any natural resources’ runs counter to resource control as a principle of true and fiscal federalism.
“Fiscal federalism requires that ‘mines and minerals including oil fields, oil mining, geological surveys and natural gas’ should be a residual matter within the exclusive competence of the regions or states.
“Power with respect to these matters should, therefore, be expunged from the Exclusive Legislative List and be made a residual matter in accordance with the requirements of true and fiscal federalism.
“Re-structuring, as it is presently being demanded, seeks to revert our federal system to the true federalism of the 1960/63 Constitutions, to further reduce the powers of the Federal Government as may be thought necessary, and to reverse the specific matters mentioned above.
“The ethnic nationalities, other than those, in the meantime, in charge of the Federal Government, are groaning under the emasculating yoke of federal control, as evidenced by the recent authoritarian proscription of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, without first resorting to dialogue as a means for amicable resolution of disagreements in a democracy, and without a hearing by a court of law.”
Current structure does not favour the masses — Ukaegbu
In agreement with Prof nwabueze, a chieftain of All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, in Abia State, Chief Prince Ukaegbu, has said the present structure of the Nigerian federation does not favour the masses and needs urgent restructuring.
In an interview with Vanguard in Aba, Ukaegbu, who is the APGA National Publicity Secretary, Martin Agbaso faction, stated that the country will collapse if it is not restructured on the path of fiscal federalism to encourage production, competition and merit in the interest of the masses.
He condemned those opposing the restructuring of the country, describing them as working against the interest of the masses and urged President Muhammadu Buhari to expedite action in restructuring Nigeria to save it from collapse.
He said: “The current structure of the Nigerian federation only favours the elite, leaving the masses to wallow in abject poverty. The elite are comfortable with the present state of affairs in this country, that is why some of them, particularly from the North, are against restructuring.
“Nigeria is a rich nation with millions of poor masses. When you go to the Northern part of this country, the bulk of the people live in abject poverty with the elite in affluence. To an extent, it is the same situation in other sections of the country.”
While condemning the approach adopted by IPOB, the APGA chieftain urged the Federal Government to look into the issues raised in their agitations, adding that the agitations would resurface until the contentious issues are given the attention they deserve.