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Give Nigeria a people's constitution, Agbakogba, Brigs, Sonny Kuku, Balewa, others tell FG.

A former president, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), Niger/Delta Activist, Anko Briggs; Women Advocate and Social Entrepreneur, Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji, Col. Tony Nyiam (Rtd), Secretary-General of Lower Niger Congress (LNC), among others on Thursday

The speakers, including also Comrade Tony Nnadi and Dr. Abdul Tafawa Balewa, son of the former Nigerian Prime Minister, Tafawa Balewa, said the demand became imperative because the 1999 Constitution now in use was imposed on the people by the military.

They all spoke at at a colloquium and leadership series organized by a Think-Tank Group, Voice of Reason (VOR) at the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Victoria Island, Lagos with a theme: 'Restructuring: A Panacea For Justice and Peace of Nigeria: The Imperative for a People's Constitution.'

Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji, who first spoke, said that Nigeria was currently ruled by inhuman political leadership who do not have value for the majority of her citizens especially the poor masses, the reason she said the country cannot institutionalize peace when her leaders consistently reaped and milked the majority of the citizens dry.

'Nigeria cannot institutionalize peace when our leaders consistently reap and milk the majority of her citizens dry. Our government is too uncaring that they neglect the masses to suffer unnecessarily; we need to restructure to correct these maladies,'.

Akerele-Ogunsiji, therefore, charged the youth to rise to the occasion and take their place and be strategically involved in governance, saying restructuring had become imperative and was now the trending conversation.

'The youth must rise to the occasion and take their place and be strategically involved in governance. Restructuring has become imperative and it is now the trending conversation, Nigerian youths need to embrace it than ever before, it is our future, our political leaders need to feel the hit of our clarion call,' she lamented.

This was just as she lamented the recent horrendous killings in Plateau State, accusing the country's political class of showing little or no concern about it.

'Only of recent some people in the North Central were ruthlessly killed, the majority of whom were young people yet the political class care less, so Nigerian youths need to embrace restructuring and make it a trend.

'The Northern oligarchy also needs to allow Nigerians to live in peace. the north only has cows, groundnut and tomatoes and they are this domineering, what if they have oil? Enough is enough, we demand a new constitution,' Toyosi Akerele cautioned.

Also speaking through the paper he presented at the event chaired by a renowned Consultant Physician and Endocrinologist and co-founder, Eko Hospitals, Olorogun (Dr.) Sonny Folorunso Kuku (OFR), Agbakoba said the real issue was not restructuring but how to ensure that all the sub-nationals in Nigeria were involved in the restructuring process to bring about a sense of belonging.

'The current Federal arrangement is faulty, there is no lie about that but the problem is not the concept of restructuring but how do we ensure that all ethnic groups especially the sub-ethnic groups are involved in this process so that there will be justice and fairness for all.

'There is too much concentration at the centre, Abuja is over concentrated to the detriments of the sub-national ethnic entities. If we want to restructure, our differences in languages and cultures must be accommodated, we need to be cautious of our advocacy so that it will not be on a tripod while we neglect the cries of other sub-national entities.

'Benue State was bombed by Fulani Herdsmen, the Governor could not do anything. Zamfara Governor is lamenting. Earlier this week, the president visited Plateau State, I saw the governor fidgeting, he was scared. This must stop,' Agbakoba said, describing the 1999 Constitution as anti-people and pro-oligarchy.

'The present law to the best of my knowledge is anti-people and pro-oligarchy. I call on President Muhamadu Buhari to allow Nigerians to debate for the system they want. He campaigned with restructuring; he should tow the pact of honour,' the former NBA president said.

On his part, Briggs submitted that the amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914 brought the current burden, opining that the exercise was done in such a way that did not entertain the voice of different ethnic groups that made the country called Nigeria.

'Therefore it is not politics or political that we must address. This burden must be addressed through restructuring and a new constitution to be drafted by the people not the military like that of 1999. It is only restructuring that will resolve this, we need a new constitution that will address this corruption in the real sense of it and it must be now as we approach another election year in 2019.

'We must not accept to go into 2019 elections without commitments from those who want to rule this country. We must demand that they support restructuring and resolve this issue once and for all. This is the way to go, this is the way to heal our wounds,' Briggs said.

According to Balewa, Nigeria needs to have an understanding of the type of politics appropriate for the country and her people.

'Our constitution needs to address some fundamental errors that we need to expunge from the present constitution. Through restructuring we can address these errors such as security of lives and properties across Nigeria, economy, education and even our social development as a nation,' he said.

This was just another speaker, Nnadi, a lawyer by profession, cautioned that the advocacy for a new constitution should not be seen as opposition to the ruling government but a genuine and patriotic advocacy to move Nigeria forward, wondering why the northern oligarchy should be scared of restructuring each time it was raised.

'Why is the northern oligarchy scared of restructuring? They should free us. When the motion for independence was first moved in Lancaster House, London, United Kingdom, the North rejected it. Later, Ahmadu Bello said he was ready after a Yoruba son, Rotimi Willams and an Igbo man, Ben Nwabueze had done a paper for them for presentation.

'Today, 90% of non-oil revenue is generated from Lagos through the Nigerian Customs Service but since 1960, they have not allowed a Yoruba man to be Comptroller General of Custom. Enough of this injustice,' he said.

Convener of VOR, Prince Goke Omisore, in his remarks, said his group was concerned with issues of public policy.

According to Ile/Ife prince, VOR's objective is to enthrone a regime, promote a culture of development, oriented values in leadership, followership and governance of Nigeria within the framework of restructuring.

'The agitation for restructuring is right; the federal government of Nigeria needs to recognise and take appropriate steps towards this clarion call by the majority of Nigerians.

'At this juncture in our national life, and given the critical need to recover lost ground, as well as the industrial, technological, infrastructural and intellectual capabilities that have systematically and increasingly degraded across Yorubaland in particular and Nigeria at large, Nigeria must be restructured,' he said.

Speaking at the event, Olor'ogun Sonny Kuku said until Nigeria restructured her political system, the country is doomed, maintaining that Nigeria should run from family, village and the government.

'The Federal Government needs total restructuring so that it would not be overwhelmed. We need a democracy that is home-grown that will accommodate our different ethnic cultures. Voice of Reason has drafted a new constitution that Nigeria can adapt and use for restructuring purpose, it is an excellent document on how Nigeria should be run, Voice of Reason is a proactive organization, made up of credible and responsible Nigerians and the organization is going to use her voice and intellect to change Nigeria for good,' Kuku said.

Secretary of the group, Dr. Wale Faphounda, while unveiling a draft of a new constitution prepared by VOR to the gathering, opined that the civil societies across the country should equally join in the call for restructuring to keep the political class on their toes.
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Publication:Nigerian Tribune (Oyo State, Nigeria)
Date:Jun 28, 2018
Words:1445
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