Some thorny issues afflicting the polity were on the front burner as a private radio station in Ekiti State, New Cruse 92.7 FM, Ikere-Ekiti, on Wednesday marked the first anniversary of its establishment.
The promoter of the station and legal icon, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) identified failure to practise true federalism in Nigeria as the biggest problem afflicting the polity.
Olanipekun who addressed the gathering through a telephone conversation advocated that the Nigerian Constitution must be looked into because the country is running a “hydra-headed unitary system” and not a federal system as being claimed.
Olanipekun and panelists bared their minds at a special panel session in commemoration of the station’s first anniversary under the theme: “Nigeria Now and Beyond: Defining Appropriate Solutions to Nigeria’s Complex Problems.”
The panelists included former Ekiti State Acting Governor, Rt. Hon. Tope Ademiluyi; a lawyer, Mrs. Sade Jegede-Abiodun; Director, Justice, Development and Peace Initiative, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Akingbade and a security expert, Mr. Adeolu Oyebode.
Issues thrashed included independence for judicial and legislative arms, electoral reforms, economic problems, security challenges, governance, among others.
But Olanipekun who maintained that the nation’s Constitution must be reworked expressed worry that the Federal Government was still dictating to state governments how to run their judiciaries.
He said: “The Nigerian Constitution have to be looked into, we have to run a truly federal constitution because we are running presently a hydra-headed unitary constitution.
“The Federal Government has no cause to dictate to states how to run their judiciaries. The Constitution is the ground norm, the fulcrum and the foundation of our democracy.”
Sharing his experience as a lawmaker in the Ekiti Assembly between 2003 and 2007 during which he served as Speaker and Acting Governor, Ademiluyi noted that the present crop of legislators have not pulled their weight and stamped their feet to defend the Constituction.
Ademiluyi revealed that the legislature during his time had to run to the governor for lawmakers during his tenure to attend a seminar in a location as near as Akure, the Ondo State capital.
He said: “The other arms of government must begin to exert their powers to attain full independence. We have legislators in Nigeria that are not pulling their weight and stamping their feet in defending the Constitution.
“There is always the fear of the domineering irascible executive. The executive works on daily basis unlike the two other arms.”
Alluding to the ongoing nationwide strike by judiciary workers, Rev. Fr. Akingbade said the industrial action should be seen as an opportunity to liberate the arm from the stranglehold of the executive.
The Catholic priest noted that a good number of present governors who had served in the legislative arm and should know better are now blocking the independence of the legislature and the judiciary.
He said: “Among our present governors, we have some of them who were in the legislature but now that they have crossed the border, the music has changed.
“The executive is just one arm of the three arms of government, the executive does not constitute the totality of the government. The JUSUN strike is about the liberation of the people from this entanglement.
“The situation is now worrisome; when we have problems, we run to the Judiciary. It should be a matter of concern to all of us that the Judiciary must be liberated.”
Mrs. Jegede-Abiodun called for concerted efforts to reduce poverty level in Nigeria which she identified as the trigger of vote buying in elections.
She also described the nation’s present Constitution as “a joke written for the purpose of having a semblance of democracy.”
She said: “Poverty is an intentional weapon, it has to be eradicated for vote buying to stop. The Constitution is a joke, it was just written for the purpose of having a semblance of running a democracy.”
Oyebode identified the major problem in the polity as the process of electing leaders urging the electorate to be conscious of the choice they make at the polls.
“It appears the solidarity of the people have been purchased and we need to interrogate ourselves on how we arrive at the choice of people we put at the helm of affairs.
“Most of our legislators are loyal to the people in the executive because in many of our states, it is the governors that sponsor the election of the legislators at the primary level and the general elections.”
The station’s General Manager, Mr. Jide Ogunluyi, said New Cruse FM has made positive impact in the last one year of its existence and has defined excellence in broadcasting.
He said the station will continue to be unbiased, fair and objective in reportage of events and content of its programmes.