Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
A non-religious and non-partisan organization, Cosmos Endowment Foundation (CEF), is advocating for the abolition of Nigeria’s quota system as one of the ways forward in building the country’s capacity.
Discussants at a one-day national conference on “2018 National Question: Nigeria in the 21st Century”, organized in Onitsha, Anambra State at the weekend, stated this, saying that it would also encourage proficiency and excellency in governance and administration.
They also called for aggressive industrial and agricultural establishments by various tiers of government as a major source of foreign exchange earnings, employment generation and self reliance, adding that true federalism does not entail state commissioners of finance going to Abuja every month to share federal revenue allocation.
The discussants included Prof Wole Atoyebi, a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Management (FNIM) and Chairman of the Governing Board, (LAUTECH) Teaching Hospital, Osogbo, Osun state; Prof James Epoke, former Vice Chancellor of University of Calabar, (UNICAL); Prof. Bashir Ajala, a lecturer in the Department of Plant Science and Biotechnology, University of Jos, (UNIJOS); Prof. Femi Ogunbiyi, a Professor of Pathology and Architect Ikechukwu Nwajiagu, a retired Colonel in the Nigerian Army, while Prof. Chike Okolocha served as the moderator.
Other participants included Dr. Sunday Kolawole, the Executive Director of National Rubber Association of Nigeria, (NRAN); Prof Alex Asigbo and Prof. Obioma Pogoson, an Associate Professor at the Institute of African Studies, University of ibadan, (UI), served as Rapporteurs.
The organizers, CEF, which is chaired by Omo Oba Sumnade Akin-Olugbade, with Mr Roland Paul-Ebiai as the Secretary, seek to provide a platform to express and champion the rights of society’s underprivileged, promote unity in diversity amongst black and ethnic minorities worldwide, promote the pursuance of excellence amongst all the people of the world, especially the black race, as well as act as a catalyst for positive innovative and social change.
In a communique issued at the end of the conference, the participants called for the redefining of Nigeria in the context of Section 147 of the Constitution, to enable citizenship by residency, adding that the National Orientation Agency (NOA) should be revamped, re-positioned, restructured and funded adequately to ensure effective and efficient discharge of their mandate.
In the 14-point communique read by the Chairman of Cosmos Endowment Foundation, Omo Oba Sunmade Akin-Olugbade, the participants also urged government to show more than casual interest in the alarming population growth rate, adding that government should avoid policy somersault and provide adequate infrastructure.
“We recommend that the economy be diversified: in this regard, Nigerians are to be encouraged to participate actively in the non-oil sectors, for example in the agricultural sector and cottage industry. Government should put an immediate stop to payments of salaries and other entitlements to ex-governors and ex-legislators and to desist from any interference with the judiciary,” the communique stated.
“As a matter of urgency, government must address the issue of internal and external security threats and deal with the current issue of herdsmen and other politically-related killings, while governors take full charge of security in their respective states. Government should urgently address the issue of youth unemployment through government-led industrial revolution program. We recommend digital policing for the enhancement of investigation of crime.”
In his paper entitled: “The settler/indigeneship question as influenced by individuality, nationality and citizenship factors”, Prof. Bashir Ajala noted that in spite of the pockets of conflicts and violence in some parts of the country, majority of the people still feel that this period of democratic rule is better than several years of military dictatorship, adding that Nigerians ought not to lose their political and social rights by moving from one jurisdiction to another, as according to him, through residency, they should enjoy the same package of rights and benefits which the residents within the jurisdiction hold.
In a paper titled “Poverty, Corruption and Underdevelopment”, Femi Ogunbiyi described poverty as the state of being extremely poor, where thousands of families are living in abject poverty and the state of being inferior in quality or insufficient in amount, the poverty of her imagination, the renunciation of the right to individual ownership of property as part of a religious vow.
Ogunbiyi noted that many reasons have been adduced for the endemic nature of corruption in Nigeria, including weak institution of government, poor law enforcement and poor reward system with low remuneration for public servants, adding that with the attendant belief that you could go unpunished and get away with unwholesome acts, sacred cows syndrome, untouchable or so-called cabals, corruption has unfortunately eaten deep into the fabric of the country.
On his part, Dr Jude Rotilu, a retired medical director, Ikorodu Hospital, expressed skepticism toward the recently introduced hate speech legislation in the country which, if it passes both chambers of the National Assembly, would carry capital punishment as maximum penalty for offenders. Dr Rotilu mentioned the potential for abuse of so-called hate speech laws, whereby free speech and strong opinions could effectively be outlawed, and that such laws can easily be politicized.