Nigerians need mental restructuring ― Jonathan
• Says NASS can't deliver People's Constitution
Former President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, on Monday, added his voice in support of the ongoing agitation for the restructuring of the country.
The occasion was the 18th Daily Trust Dialogue where he was chairman of the event.
The theme of the event which had the leader of Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, immediate past President- General of Ohanaeze Nd’igbo, Chief John Nwodo and former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Attahiru Jega as Speakers was, “Restructuring: Why? When? How?”
The former President who noted that restructuring was imperative since “a nation is an organic being whose life is characterised by reforms, adaptation and structural changes,” however warned that Nigerians needed a change in their mental orientation before the desired power devolution could be meaningful.
Insisting that Restructuring was not an Eldorado, the former President maintained that those holding elective offices at all levels must purge themselves of ethnic and religious bigotry and lack of patriotism.
He said: “As a country, we have our peculiar challenges and we should device means of solving them, but we should not continue to vent our spleen on the amalgamation as Shakespeare in Julius Caesar said, the fault is not in our stars but in ourselves.
“My conviction is that discussion on restructuring will not help except we restructure our minds because some of the challenging issues at the national level still exist at the state and local levels
“For instance, in some states, it is not easy for some persons to win an election because of the area they come from, the language they speak or their religious belief.
“Take a look at how local government elections are conducted at the state level. Why is it very difficult for an opposition party to win a chairmanship or councillorship seat in a state, despite the fact that the same party probably secured seats in the State Assembly and National Assembly elections, organized by a federal election management body?
“This shows that restructuring alone may not solve all the anomalies in the system.
“I believe that restructuring for a better nation is good but there are other fundamental issues we should also address. We cannot restructure in isolation without tackling the challenges that polarize our nation. These include nepotism. ethnic and religious differences as well as lack of patriotism.
“The issues of tribe and religion have continued to limit our unity and progress, as a nation.”
Dr Jonathan further warned against official pronouncements from aides of President Muhammadu Buhari administration that nothing was wrong with the political architecture of the country. He said such stance promote the impression that discourse on power devolution was foreclosed.
He recalled that restructuring of Nigeria started with the General Yakubu Gowon military administration which abolished regional government and created a 12 states structure and the efforts of his own administration when it convened the 2014 National Conference, inaugurated on March 17, 2014, in Abuja for the specific purpose of addressing some of the issues that have been agitating the minds of Nigerians.
“Like every other nation, Nigeria is a project in progress and should confidently discuss her experiences and fashion out solutions to improve on her performance and the well being of all citizens. We should all do our little best in our little comers to overcome the challenges we face, and work hard to reposition our country for a greater and more prosperous tomorrow for our children,
“This cannot be achieved without a deliberate effort to promote national unity and love of country by all our leaders and citizens. We owe ourselves and the coming generations a duty to reduce the bile and embrace one another so that restructuring for a better and greater Nigeria can be meaningful and guarantee the nation’s economic development and citizen’s welfare.
“We should never lose hope in our nation for the future is bright. With the robust character of our people and the unbeatable resilience of our spirit. I have no doubt that our country will become greater.”
In his closing remarks, Dr Jonathan, however, disagreed with the view of certain speakers who insisted that only the National Assembly could amend the subsisting constitution.
Giving an example of Gambia, he told the gathering that he just returned from the West Africa country where a new Constitution was about to be subjected to a public referendum.
“I have listened attentively to all the eminent speakers here and all the issues canvassed. I don’t think the National Assembly can give us a new Constitution. I just came back from Gambia and they are going to have a referendum on a new Constitution. No, the NASS can’t write a new Constitution for Nigerians, but Nigerians can do that for themselves.”