Only restructuring can save Nigeria from disintegration — Awolowo Dosumu

•Says country won’t survive by wishful thinking of leaders

NIGERIA’S crisis of nationhood and the wise counsel and practical solutions to the associated problems, as proferred by the sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, took the centre stage in Lagos at the 14th annual Adekunle Kukoyi Memorial Lecture, on Wednesday.

The consensus of dignitaries present at the event was that restructuring the polity is the only way to save the country from drifting towards disintegration and not the wishful thinking of its leaders.

Delivering a paper, entitled: “Nigeria: Redefining Nationhood,” the guest lecturer, Dr Tokunbo Awolowo Dosumu, warned that the earlier the country’s political leaders realised the necessity to restructure the country and follow the example of former Czechoslovakia, rather than go the way of former Yugoslavia, the better for its survival and development.

The former Ambassador of Nigeria to the Netherlands also warned against further creation of more states, saying that taking steps in such direction to assuage sectional agitations would be disastrous.

Instead, she advised on the need to free up resources and the huge cost of administration incurred from running unproductive states, while recommending that states be collapsed into regions.

According to her, restructuring the country would free up resources, cut wastes and resolve most nagging issues arising from the faulty system of government which, she said, had been more problem-oriented than delivering dividends of democracy.

“I, therefore, submit with all the emphasis within my command that the only way is to restructure the polity. Restructuring is the peaceful way of returning the country to the path of growth.

“It is better for the country to toe the way of Czechoslovakia rather than go the way of former Yugoslavia. The best way to go is to restructure the country, put in place a constitution that would address the fundamental issues in the polity and guarantee the survival of the country and its federating units.

“The cost of governance has been out of proportion, but once the country is restructured and those states are collapsed, a lot of resources and funds would be freed up to address more needful things,” she said.

Ambassador Awolowo Dosumu quoted from various writings and works of Chief Awolowo, who had predicted that unless the country was given a kind of constitution that suited the diversity of its constituents, the search for appropriate constitution and unity would continue without end.

She took the audience down the memory lane, explaining how the 1914 amalgamation of Northern Protectorate and the Southern Protectorate laid the foundation of the constitutional problems of the country, including the various efforts made to redefine Nigeria’s nationhood and the contributions of the pre-independence nationalists.

According to her, Nigeria’s golden age featured a federal constitution, a parliamentary system of government and a stellar cast of visionary and selfless leaders, who adopted healthy competition among the regions and delivered true dividends of governance to the populace.

She, however, said the military intervention in 1966 foisted on the country a unitary system of government that conceded so much power to the centre and had, since fraught with problems and distorted the federal structure.

She regretted that 63 years after, what the sage feared eventually came upon the country, adding, however, that it made sense now to return to the old formula by restructuring the country.

“The Nigerian federation will succeed and survive, not by the wishful and thoroughly unscientific thinking of some Nigerians, but only to the extent to which we are able to, through rationally thought-out constitutional arrangements, contain the centrifugal forces at work and subordinate them permanently to the cohesive and centripetal influences of politico-economic union and togetherness,” she quoted Chief Awolowo to have stated.

On how to achieve restructuring, Ambassador Awolowo Dosumu said that would be achieved through a legislative process, with the legislature and the executive arms of government working together to drive it.

She noted that if the nation got a president who is freely disposed to the idea of restructuring and its realities and advantages, he (such a president) might drive the process along with the National Assembly.

In his welcome address, chairman, Nigerian Institution of Surveyors (NIS), Lagos State chapter and chairman on the occasion, Mr Adesina Adeleke, noted that many things had happened and still happening that could only happen in Nigeria, lamenting that the country is the only place where one could have a poultry without faeces.

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