Former General Secretary of National Democratic Coalition, Mr. Ayo Opadokun yesterday said Nigeria was living in a borrowed robe as it was not a creation of the Nigerian people but that of the British colonial empire for their personal political and economic interests at the expense of Nigerians.
He made the statement yesterday in Yaba, Lagos, during the 70th birthday celebration of Comrade Linus Ezeala Okoroji.
He lamented that the ethnic nationalities that make up Nigeria had been living in their territories hundreds of years before the British invaders subdued them with their superior gun power and forced them into cohabitation. “We never voluntarily came together to say we wanted to be Nigerians. Up till today, Nigerians have not been asked whether they want to belong to Nigeria. What we have today is a forced collaboration by the British colonial powers and when they were leaving, they handed us over to internal local colonisers, who have retained their forced authority on us whether we like it or not,” he said.
He submitted that the only way out of the present socio-economic and political predicament in Nigeria is to restructure the country along regional divide as it was before the military coup in 1966 and allow states or regions to control their resources and develop at their own pace.
In his opening remarks, Comrade Okoroji stated that Nigeria needs to have a befitting constitution in order to give her citizens and nationalities confidence and trust, as well as remove suspicion based on domination.
Speaking on the topic, “Nigeria: True federalism key to unlock her destiny and unleash her potential, the guest lecturer, Dr. Dele Ashiru of the Political Science Department, University of Lagos, traced the country’s problem to its structural foundation. He said the British colonialists up until when independence was achieved had always conceded to the north in the matters that affected the entire Nigeria state.
He argued that for Nigeria to fulfill its destiny and be relevant to the existential conditions of her citizens, it must be renegotiated through a conscious dialogue otherwise known as the sovereign national conference.
He stressed that there was an urgent need to devolve and de-concentrate powers to other components of the state as prescribed by the extant federal principle, saying, “A situation where the central government controls everything including the construction of roads and houses in every part of the country is unacceptable in a true federal arrangement.”
The university don equally noted that at present, too much power and resources are concentrated at the centre; a development he said has caused so much crises and conflicts in the country. He, therefore, suggested that every state or region should control its resources to avoid unending cries of marginalization.
He again attributed the country’s problem to the dependent on mono-cultural economy, saying that the country’s economy needs radical transformation and reconstruction. He also suggested the demonetization of the political process as a way to ensure that the current winner takes all orientation in politics is replaced with a win-win consensus political orientation informed by proportional representation.
For Dr. Fred Agbeyegbe, the Federal Government has no power to devolve to anybody because power belongs to the people. “You cannot devolve what is not yours to somebody else. The notion of a federation is that the states agree on what they are going to cede out of their rights and powers to the Federal Government for the purpose of carrying out those functions which the members of the federation wants to give to the FG to implement for the benefit of the whole country,” he argued.