Nigeria is operating illegal Constitution -Adebanjo, Nwodo, Mimiko

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Buhari not sincere in keeping country together, says Adebanjo

.. Financial autonomy to states legislature, judiciary key to deepening democracy – Shehu Sani

ADEKUNLE ADESUJI, Abuja

President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, John Nwodo, Elder statesman and Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo and former Governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko,  at the weekend disclosed that Nigeria is operating an illegal Constitution forced on the people by the military regime.

They spoke at video conference organized by Governance Index, tagged, “Coronavirus Pandemic: is it time to re-evaluate the political structure of the country”.

Speaking at the session, Nwodo lamented that the current Constitution was forced on Nigerians by the Military government which was not elected adding that in 1999, politicians went into the election without knowing the parameter that will guide the democratic process.

He said the Military wrote the constitution for us and abandoned the agreement that our forefathers had with British before the Independence which was to operate a regional government.

At the video conference which was the fifth in a series of the weekly conference series: ‘Covid-19: Turning a crisis into opportunities’, being sponsored by the Governance Index, the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo said  that Nigeria’s political parties operated like companies owned by shareholders where there is no freedom to choose the candidates of your choice.

He said the Nigeria electoral system was the most corrupt; the judiciary is compromised, while Nigerians have no confidence in the electoral process.

Nwodo said, “We have never made Constitution for Nigeria, it was given to us by the Armed Forces Ruling Council of the Military government, which was not elected and the composition of its legislative body was not chosen by any parameter known to anyone.

“They wrote the Constitution and abandoned the agreement our forefathers had with British when we got independence for a regional based government in which every region has its security, its own economic development, with each exercising sovereignty over its resources and paid taxes to Federal Government to run common services for the federation, but today, it is no longer the case.

“Boko-Haram has completely paralysed our military and rendered them incapable of fulfilling their constitutional obligation to defend our Sovereignty; there is mutual distrust between the South and North, I mean far North, excluding Middle Belt. Working through your farms in any part of Southern Nigeria or the Middle Belt has become a very frightening phenomenon.

Nwodo lamented that “our children who take up self-determination exercises without carrying arms are called terrorist organization, but herdsmen who are on rampage, who loot, kill, and rape are treated with kid gloves while their leaders threaten us in the Social media”

He added that “98 percent of heads of security personnel in the South East are non-indigenes,” and as a consequence, there is poor security in the region.

“Some of us that were trained in Europe and America, we know that in global parlance, local policing is the basis for any territory’s security. You have to know your territory, you have to speak the language, but if you post people to our area who do not know the terrain of the place, cannot speak the language, the situation is threatening the very fabric of our nation, that is why I am very happy to be part of Southern and Middle Belt Forum, which is saying we don’t have a very valid Constitution in Nigeria.

“We have got to restructure this federation and return to a Constitution that is top notch, a Constitution made by the people, validated by a plebiscite, and voted for by the people. We must have a proper census of Nigerians, and not of Nigerien who crossed our borders and got to National Identity Management and claimed nationhood and that have no parentage in this country.

Also, speaking at the session, Chief Adebanjo, the Afenifere leader agreed “totally” with the position of the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, and added that “if we are serious about keeping this country together, it is time to restructure back to true federalism”.

He said, “The present Constitution is an imposed Constitution by the Muslim Military in the North. Nobody contributed to it. Even General Abdulsalami said he did not know what is in the Constitution before he swore in former President Obasanjo.

“I will say without any hesitation we are all deceiving ourselves, (President) Buhari is not interested in keeping this country together, that is why we are having this problem, that is why we are putting square pegs in a round hole, and that is why we tell him to keep to the Constitution by the appointments he is making, but he said; no, I can only work with people I have confidence in, which is against the Federal Character Principle that the whole country is talking about. Buhari simply turns deaf ears to the agitation for restructuring that has been on for over five years.”

“All these arrangement we are talking about now, he (Buhari) has never find an occasion to address it, even his military colleagues have now agreed that we should restructure, all his predecessors have agreed, all political parties have agreed, even his political party has agreed and yet Mr. President who says he is sincere, has not said anything, he (Buhari) has private programme, he has a programme of his zone.

“Buhari ignored the recommendations of the 2014 Constitutional Conference; he ignored the manifesto of his own party, and even ignored the recommendations of his own party, that is why I say we are not practising democracy in this country.”

“There is no sincerity on the part of far North in putting this country together when people like me talk about the Unity of the country, I have gone through it.”

He said there is nothing in Nigeria Constitution that created 774 local governments in the country, that is the beginning of the fraud in which majority of the local governments are in the North while the Minority are in the South.

He explained that what was in the independence constitution is for each federating Unit to be autonomous, adding that through the independence constitution, Chief Awolowo was able to do a lot for us in the Western region  like free education, free medical services.

Adebanjo accused elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, of hypocrisy for saying that proponents of restructuring have not explained to Nigerians what restructuring entails.

It would be recalled that during last week’s 4th edition of the video conference also organised by Governance Index, Yakasai had said the agitators of restructuring should come up with modalities for their proposal for proper scrutiny.

But Adebanjo said they attended the 2014 Constitutional Conference with Yakassai where the case for restructuring was carefully marshaled out, adding that what they are asking for is a country where everybody is satisfied and where there is no injustice, adding that where there is injustice, there can be no peace.

According to Adebanjo, “Once there is injustice, there can be no peace and when there is no peace, no equity, there will be no development. All things we are doing now are to play up to an individual.”

He wondered how we could have a democracy in a country where the party that is ruling is not democratic, citing the issue of Ondo and Edo governorship elections where the Expression of Interest Form costs N22 million.

In his contribution, former Governor of Ondo State, Dr Mimiko, concurred with the position of Adebanjo and Nwodo on the restructuring agenda, adding that if we want to keep this country together there is need for us to restructure.

He said, “I associate myself with the positions of former speakers, and whether we like it or not in this country, restructuring is an idea whose time has come.”

Other speakers at the video conference included Afenifere spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, Ms Ankio Briggs, and Mr. Chido Onumah.

 In another development, former Senator Shehu Sani has stated that Financial Autonomy for states legislature and Judiciary is the key to deepening, protecting and preserving democracy and justice at the state level.

Shehu Sani, who was reacting to the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to grant autonomy to states legislatures and Judiciary through Executive Order, said Governors frustrated efforts to grant financial autonomy to states legislatures and Judiciary through constitutional amendment.

He said, “Financial autonomy for the states legislatures and judiciary is key to deepening, protecting & preserving democracy and justice at the state level.

“Achieving that through constitutional amendment always failed because the state Assembly were blackmailed by Governors to vote against it.”

The governors had been opposed to the autonomy bill which was passed by the 8th National Assembly and signed by the president.

But, Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures in the country had on Saturday described the approval of financial autonomy granted the legislative arm by President Muhammadu Buhari as the best Sallah gift from him.

The Chairman of the Conference of Speakers, Mr. Mudashiru Obasa, said this in a statement that the body was excited by action of the President.

He said: “No doubt, this order will further make state legislatures independent of the executive arm of their various governments.

“It would also boost healthy competitions among state legislatures in pursuit of advancements and developments.

“This is the best gift the President, His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, has given the legislative arms of state governments at this Sallah. And coming at the end of the Ramadan, it means God truly answered the prayers of the member state legislatures through the President.”

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