- Category: Opinions/Interviews
- Published on Monday, 09 July 2012 12:28
- Written by Admin
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PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan has again been called upon to, as a matter of urgency, convene a national conference as a way to arrest and avert the country’s journey to full-blown civil unrest and possible disintegration.
Chief Ayo Adebanjo, a frontline Awoist, made the call in a lecture entitled “Threat Against the Ship of State,” which he delivered on the occasion of the 50th birthday of Mr Sina Kawonise, Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief, Western Publishing Company, held in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, on Sunday.
Taking an exception to the present constitutional arrangement, he said the problems plaguing the 1999 Constitution were beyond amendment, describing the constitution as fraudulent because it was made by the military and it was unitary in practice rather than the mouthed claim that it was a federal constitution.
In view of the various calls for revenue allocation, based on derivation, the deluge of requests for the creation of more states, Adebanjo called on the president to convene a national conference, saying that, “should he fail to discharge this onerous historical responsibility, posterity will not forgive him.
“It is now a matter of consensus that there is too much power and resources allocated to the Federal Government. The general opinion now is that there should be a drastic devolution of power and resources to the states to reflect a truly federal constitution.
“Issues and ideas, which are very fundamental, are currently being raised against the country’s constitution which, in all honesty, the National Assembly cannot cope with. The constitution requires a drastic review through a surgical operation which can only be done by the convocation of a national conference,” he said.
He, however, said that he deliberately omitted the word, ‘sovereign,’ from his idea of a national conference because of the misconception in some quarters that ‘sovereign in that context would override the sovereignty of the incumbent government.
He described as fallacy the opinion by some people that the unity of the country was not negotiable, saying, “it is a known historical fact that the contraption called Nigeria today is composed of various ethnic nationalities that were colonised and administered separately by the British colonialists until 1914, adding, “to me, our present ‘unity’ is like that of a horse and the rider in which a section of the country is the horse and the other section the rider.”
Alluding to the advice given by the sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, in December 1983 to the effect that the ship of the Nigerian state was headed for the rocks unless those in charge then took steps to reverse the trend, he said the events that followed the advice had become distasteful history to the country.
He noted that corruption, which was the order of the day when Awolowo gave the advice during the Second Republic, had now assumed a more frightening dimension and had been joined by terrorism and failure of federalism.
“Regrettably, that wheel of corruption is still very firm in its grip on the country today and it has acquired other powerful and lethal vices as its partners in the steering of the Nigerian ship of state towards the rocks.
“Today, we are faced with the same situation, or perhaps, a worse situation, that prompted Papa Awolowo to issue that proclamation of national emergency. Corruption has been joined by terror and the failure of federalism in steering the ship of the state towards calamitous destination if urgent steps are not taken to immediately address these issues.”
He listed the problems to include the various scandals rocking the House of Representatives, particularly involving the suspended Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ms Arunma Oteh, the Honourable Farouk Lawan/Femi Otedola face-off over oil subsidy probe and the police pension scam, among several others.
“It is a matter for great national concern that thief catchers are themselves proving to be thieves, or, perhaps greater thieves than those they were asked to catch in the first instance. Where is the hope for honesty and accountability in Nigeria?
“The fear is that values of corruption are becoming so entrenched that it is difficult to find honest people. The more difficult it is to find honest people, the greater the jeopardy of the future of Nigeria,” he said.
The gathering attracted eminent Nigerians, which included President Goodluck Jonathan, represented by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mr Reuben Abati; former governor of Ogun State, Chief Gbenga Daniel and his deputy, Alhaja Salmot Badru; governors of Ondo and Delta represented by their information commissioners, Mr Kayode Akinmade and Mr Felix Ofou respectively. The Niger State government was also fully represented.
Also in attendance was Ambassador Tokunbo Awolowo Dosumu; the Managing Director/Editor-In-Chief, African Newspapers of Nigeria (ANN) Plc, Reverend Sam Adesua; Editor, Nigerian Tribune, Mr Edward Dickson; Controller, Human Resource, ANN Plc, Mr Fola Oke; Pastor Segun Olatunji and his wife, Oyin, Senator Lekan Mustapha, Chief Alex Onabanjo, Chief Lekan Bello and Sir Olaniwun Ajayi.
Others included Professor Kayode Oyesiku; Senator Kayode Amusan; Special Assistant (Media) to the Oyo State governor, Dr Festus Adedayo; Mrs Dupe Olubanjo of Globacom, Segun Okeowo of Mount Zion Films; Mr Dotun Oyelade; Chief Tunde Odanye, among several others.
The Ebumare of Ago Iwoye, who was the chief host, led several other royal fathers to the events.