Elder statesmen warn: Nigeria on the precipice

Say restructuring only way out

Disturbed by the multifaceted problems confronting the country, without solutions over the years, elder statesmen from across four geo-political zones declared yesterday that the “nation is on the edge of precipice, requiring national emergency.”

The leaders, who made the declaration while on a courtesy visit to the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, said a restructured Nigeria anchored on devolution of powers and functional fiscal federalism “is the only way out of the crises bedeviling the nation.”

 Nwodo speaks Speaking, on behalf of the elder statesmen, under the aegis of Leaders of South and Middle Belt Forum (LSMBF), the President of Ohaneze, Chief John Nwodo, said the way out for the country “is for the National Assembly to effect devolution of powers through Constitution amendment.”

According to him, systemic dysfunction is the worst of all the problems confronting the country and in fact, the precursor of most of the crises in the land He said: “Our problems emanate from the constitution being presently run in the country as against the ones operated between 1954 and 1966 which gave room for decentralised federation with attendant development-driven or healthy rivalries among the federating units.

“We have been kept down by the kinds of constitution we run which, to a large extent , provides for over-centralised federation by way of concentrating powers and resources for running the country at the centre alone to the detriment of the federating units, i.e., the 36 states.

“In a nutshell, our system makes the tail wags the dog rather than the dog wagging the tail. Continuing, he said: “Escalation of disunity and wanton killings in the land not in any way matched with required equal reaction by security forces, have only one destination which can only be salvaged by restructuring the country so as not to end up singing the nunc dimitis for the nation.”

Nwodo’s submissions were corroborated by Chief Ayo Adebanjo, who spoke on behalf of South-west; Air Commodore Dan Suleiman, on behalf of the Middle Belt and Chief Edwin Clerk on behalf of South-south geo-political zones. Adebanjo, in particular, said “a word from one is a statement from all” and urged the National Assembly to use the report of the 2014 National Conference in effecting the required change.

Saraki responds Responding, Saraki assured them that the Senate, and by extension, the National Assembly, would revisit the rejected devolution of power items in its constitution amendment exercise.

“We will consider report on devolution of power immediately after the passage the 2018 budget as a way of addressing issues raised. “We are determined to address the issues frontally because they are very fundamental to the growth and development of our country. You can count on us,” he said.

He, however, advised them to help in the required consultations and engagement across the various zones to get the items passed when revisited by both chambers of the National Assembly.

The Senate President also urged the elders to lend their voices against violation of the Rule of Law and, in particular, weakening of the legislative arm of government since as submitted by them, the arm characterises democracy.

Other members of the delegation are Chief Olu Falae, Senator Stella Omu, Senator Bassey Henshaw, former governor of Akwa Ibom state, Chief Obong Victor Attah and former governor of Anambra state, Chief Chukwumeka Ezeife, etc.

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