The President General of Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze, John Nwodo, has said Nigeria is ripe now more than ever before for restructuring.
Mr. Nwodo stated this during his lecture at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, London, on Wednesday.
He was responding to a question from the chairman of the occasion and the Editor of African Business Magazine, Lanre Akinola, on the imperatives of the restructuring.
According to him, never in the history of Nigeria has there been unanimity for the reshaping of the country as it is now. He said that the entire Southern Nigeria and parts of the middle belt in the north have all backed calls for restructuring of the country.
He also said that the disenchantment in the country over the existing structure was such that it would be gloomy if the desires of the majority of the people were not met or continue to be deliberately ignored.
The Ohanaeze boss berated the federal government for declaring the Indigenous Peoples Of Biafra, IPOB, a terrorist organisation, saying its activities do not merit such status.
He said, “The declaration of IPOB as a terrorist organisation is in my view hurried, unfair, and not in conformity with the intendment of the law.
“Whereas I am not completely in agreement with some of the methods of IPOB like its inappropriate and divisive broadcast, the uncontested evidence given by the Attorney General of the Federation in an interlocutory action claiming that IPOB attempted and/or actually snatched guns from law enforcement agents are, if proven, merely criminal offences.”
He argued that such crimes “do not constitute enough evidence to meet international law definitions of a terrorist organisation.”
He expressed happiness that the United States government through it Embassy in Nigeria had refused to recognise IPOB as a terrorist organisation.
“This same unarmed IPOB that is being stigmatised by the Nigerian government had its members murdered in Asaba, Nkpor, Aba and Port Harcourt simply for having public demonstrations without the federal government ordering a judicial inquiry.
“Instead, after I called for one and Amnesty International provided evidence that 150 of them were killed, the Chief of Army Staff set up an inquiry composed of serving and retired army officers thus abandoning the rules of natural justice which prescribes that you cannot be a judge in your own court,” he said.
Earlier in his paper titled, “Restructuring Nigeria: Decentralization for National Cohesion,” Mr. Nwodo took a historical look at Nigeria’s political journey and concluded that the structure in operation now has failed because it is not created by Nigerians.
“Our present constitution is not autochthonous. It was not written by the people of Nigeria. It was not approved in a national referendum. In jurisprudence, its effectiveness will score a very low grade on account of its unacceptability. Regrettably, it continues to hold sway and begins with a false proclamation, ‘We the People of Nigeria….’ “
The Ohanaeze leader said “a model based on sharing of government revenue must give way to a new structure that will challenge and drive productivity in different regions across the country. This new model must take into account that the factors driving productivity in today’s world are no longer driven by fossil oil but rather the proliferation of a knowledge-based economy.”
He noted that the restructuring of Nigeria into smaller and independent federating units and the devolution of powers to these federating units to control exclusively their human capital development, mineral resources, agriculture, and power (albeit with an obligation to contribute to the federal government) is the only way to salvage the country’s fledging economy.
Mr. Nwodo expressed regret that those campaigning against restructuring in Nigeria had painted an unfortunate and untrue picture that those in support of restructuring were doing so in order to deny the Northern States who had not yet any proven oil reserves of the ability to survive.
“This is unfortunate. The new model we propose for Nigeria recognises that revenue in the world today is promoted by two main sources: namely, human capital development leveraging on technology to drive the critical sectors of the economy and agriculture.
“Ten years ago the top ten companies in the world were the likes of Exxon Mobil, Shell, and Total. Today the top eight companies in the world are represented by technology related companies. They include Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Amazon”, he added
On the deployment of federal troops to the region, Mr. Nwodo said, “Our endurance has been stretched beyond Hooke’s gauge for elastic limit. The deployment of the Nigerian Army under the guise of Operation Python dance to the South-east was unconstitutional under S. 271 of the 1999 Constitution.”
He said the deployment was intended to provoke the people of the region. Mr. Nwodo finally charged President Muhammadu Buhari to rise up to the challenge and lead the process of restructuring this country.
The discourse at Chatham house was witnessed by a cross section of Nigerians resident in the UK as well as the Obi of Onitsha, Nnaemeka Achese.