The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and a representative of the Yoruba Unity Forum, Chief Dipo Jemileyin, have called for the restructuring of Nigeria’s federal structure in line with the country’s peculiar circumstances.
They spoke during the ongoing 3rd Annual National Summit with the theme, “Reforming the Nigeria Federation Which Way Forward,” organised by Save Democracy Africa in Abuja on Monday.
This is even as a former President of Tanzania, Dr. Jakaya Kikwete, expressed his confidence that “Nigeria has what it takes to deal with its internal issues and uphold the promise of the black race.”
He also said a deliberate policy by Tanzania’s founding fathers ensured that ethnic tensions which led several African nations to civil war were kept at bay.
Dogara, who was represented by Edward Pwajok, called for a proper audit and restructuring of our existing federal system to give a sense of belonging to all Nigerians.
According to him, in order for Nigeria to achieve true federalism, a unique system of federalism which takes into account our local circumstances should be created.
This, he said, should be complemented by visionary, selfless, prudent, intelligent and indefatigable leaders who could uphold the virtues of integrity and honour.
Dogara said, “The talk of Nigeria’s success or genuine federalism can no longer hold waters, given the state of internal insurgencies, divisiveness, ethnic and religious schism witnessed in several parts of Nigeria.
“Efforts at wishing away the problem associated with the Nigerian federation have only resulted into several tribal, ethnic and religious movements that have even metamorphosed into terrorist syndicates.
“One can, therefore, no longer fold his arms but engage some of the issues that have confronted us as a nation and threatened the Nigerian federation. This forum provides one of the opportunities for such interrogation.”
He added, “That Nigeria could survive despite predictions to the contrary by the world powers not only portrays a ray of hope but also demonstrate that the Nigerian federation has come to stay.
“It is therefore incumbent on us to fashion out our own type of federalism that is best suited to our people and to local circumstances. There should be genuine efforts to build the nation.
“Therefore ethnic, religious and sectional agenda should take the back stage. The essence of federalism is to foster unity and development. This has, however, not been achieved.”
Speaking in a similar vein, a member of the Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Jemileyin, explained that the Yoruba race had always vouched for regional autonomy which he said remained Nigeria’s best option to enhance growth and promote peaceful co-existence.
He said, “We agreed that the Yoruba representatives at the (2014) conference should vote for regional autonomy in order to restructure the federation, the system of government which will ensure security and would guarantee the safety, interest, equity and justice for all the component parts of the federation.
“The South-West in addition wanted the elections to be organised and conducted by regional/zonal electoral commissions in order to have free, fair and credible elections.
“The main problem that has led Nigeria to where we are today is the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election.”