By Emmanuel Elebeke
As the country inches closer to the 2023 general elections, eminent Nigerians have reechoed the need for the country to return to true federalism for national unity and development.
The call was made by a former Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria and former Presidential candidate of YPP, Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, Prof. Pat Utomi and Prof. Oluwafemi Mimiko among other participants at the Alumi Association of the National Institute, AANI, conference on National Unity held in Abuja on Monday.
They argued that the national consensus, which is the elite consensus, is something the country must return to, if it truly desires to experience genuine unity and development.
According to Moghalu, Nigerian’s are not disunited and the issue of who owns Nigeria should be addressed, saying that that the disunity Nigerian’s experience was imported by the political class.
‘‘Our problems are fomented by leadership class for their selfish interest. The time to rescue Nigeria is now. As we approach 2023, how to unite Nigeria should be put forward at the front burner for discussion. We should test those who want to be president along that line.
The national consensus, which is the elite consensus, is something we must return to. It was also my view that that national consensus was formed between 1946 and 1951 and that the only way to manage diverse people like Nigeria is through proper federalism and that we must return to that debate.
‘‘Therefore, the call for restructuring or addressing it is the part to national unity. There have been discussions, what we need is changes in the constitution. That the task before the next president and national assembly.
‘‘Several of them have promised they will do it, we must hold them to it. It is for the president not to legislate it but to drive it as a leader.’’
On his part, Prof. Pat Utomi reechoed the need for a return to elite consensus. He said that Nigeria must return to manufacturing and stop the sharing formula that is currently keeping the country underdeveloped, insisting that producing is more rewarding than depending on revenue from the federation account.
‘‘We need to revisit elite consensus and embrace a governing approach to self-rule. The challenge we face today is that the model of regional system of government was not well managed even though, it encouraged competitive development. We must have elite consensus for us to move forward. If every part of Nigeria takes comparative advantage it has we will develop without quarreling.’’
In his own submission, Prof. Oluwafemi Mimiko said the intolerable level of insecurity Nigeria is into was traceable to failure of leadership; he therefore proposed that political institutions should be strengthened rather than individuals if the country must develop and move forward.
‘‘We have not been able to align the country with plural constitution rather with unitary constitution. The structure we have can’t create the kind of leadership we desire.
System failure creates distrust and this emphasizes the importance of service delivery.
The political economy of the country can overrule the entire system.’’
The former Governor of Edo State and Former Chairman of APC, Comr. Adams Oshiomole said, ‘‘we must look back and return to manufacturing.
The Country Director of Action Aid Nigeria, Mrs. Ene Obi said the Civil Society organizations should not be mistaken to be unnecessarily angry with the powers that be because they questioning the operations operation of government principles.
‘‘In Nigeria we are not angry enough. We still have a lot of issues unanswered because the issue of governance is about welfare of the citizens. For us, we must dialogue to achieve unity and the type of answer you want will be dependent on what you do today.
‘‘The issue of transparency and accountability has taken the back seat. The issue of gender inclusion is not acceptable, we must challenge and query the government of the day to get a better service delivery.’’
For her, the issue of Nigeria’s unity will be dependent on the citizens.
Earlier in his keynote speech, Gen. Martin Agwai (rtd) said the issue of ownership of Nigeria must be addressed for the country to move towards unity and development.