By Chukwudi Nweje
President Muhammadu Buhari has again been accused of failing to restructure the country.
According to the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) spokesman, Hakeem Baba Ahmed, the North is the first victim of President Buhari’s alleged misgovernance.
Ahmed who spoke at the second Annual Ripples Dialogue in Lagos, claimed the president’s refusal to restructure the country is indicative that things may get worse before March 2023.
“The North is the first victim of President Buhari’s misgovernance. We are the first victims of Boko Haram. The North supports restructuring, justice and fairplay. Secession is not a choice, what northerners are doing in the south is as important as what southerners are doing in the north.”
On 2023 and power rotation, he said he was more interested in competence than the ethnic nationality or religion of the next president.
“I don’t care what tribe or religion the next president will be, what we need is a president who can rebuild trust among Nigerians.”
Also speaking at the forum, which had as its theme: ‘Rebuilding trust in a divided Nigeria: Advancing the conversation,’ Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State and Afenifere leader, Ayo Adebanjo, said they believe in a united Nigeria and stressed the need to rebuild trust among ethnic nationalities.
However, former member of the House of Representatives, Uche Onyeaguocha, said ethnic nationalities that wished to leave the union should be allowed to secede.
Okowa identified the absence of a national ideology, lack of political will to fashion a constitution that will promote true federalism, disenchantment of youths in the ability of the country to provide for them and lack of faith in the electoral process as some of the factors responsible for the trust deficit among Nigerians.
“The crux of the matter is that the absence of a national ideology that all the component parts of the country subscribe to is why we are yet to forge that sense of oneness and unity. In the absence of a shared national vision or aspiration, primordial loyalties and sentiments largely hold sway among the citizens. The Americans have the American Dream, the British, Rule Britannia, while in recent times, the United Arab Emirate has developed a vision to be the biggest and the best in everything she does. What can we point to as Nigeria’s overarching vision that motivates the average citizen or that everyone aspires to actualise? How can we have and pursue an overarching vision when we think Fulani or Hausa or Yoruba or Igbo instead of Nigeria?”
He also blamed bad governance at different levels of government as a major contributory factor to disunity in the country.
“Bad governance is what results when a state, based on the principles of democracy and social justice as Nigeria, is described in Section 14 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, fails to uphold, in all its operations, the principles of democracy and social justice”; and (b) when a government fails to fulfill its primary purpose which, according to Section 14 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution is to provide the security and welfare of the people.”
Okowa said the key to building trust among Nigerians lay in electing a leader that can inspire confidence among the people.
“Leadership is key. As 2023 approaches, the focus should be on electing a pan -Nigerian as president, a person with the capacity and charisma to cast a vision for Nigeria and rally all Nigerians behind it. We need a selfless, sacrificial, sincere, broadminded, caring and capable president that will inspire hope and confidence in the country; a leader who values merit over mediocrity, competence over cronyism, while upholding the fundamental principles of fairness, equity and justice.”
In his remark, Adebanjo said he believes in one Nigeria but the 1999 Constitution and President Muhammadu Buhari remain the greatest obstacle to trust building among Nigerians.
“The cause of the mistrust is the 1999 constitution. Until it is changed, there will be no peace. You cannot have peace in a multi cultural, multi religious, multi ethnic society that is ruled by a unitary