Restructuring as antidote for Nigeria’s challenges
THE need to restructure Nigeria to a true federal state topped discussions at the 80th birthday anniversary of the founder of the Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) in Lagos recently where many dignitaries expressed concerned over the country’s current democratic practice which in their view is skewed against the people and must as a matter of urgency be made people-centered.
The dignitaries one after the other noted that although Nigeria is currently practising democratic rule “but the country is yet to be out of the woods.”
Prominent among the speakers were Governor Segun Mimiko of Ondo State, elder statesman Dr. Tunji Braitwaite, Chairman of the 2014 National Conference Convocation Committee Senator Femi Okunrounmu, leader AREWA Youth Consultative Forum, Alhaji Yerima Shetima, representatives of Igbo community, Chief Bright Uzocha, former Miss Nigeria Miss Nigeria Mrs Hellen Prest-Ajayi, Ambassador Yemi Farombi, representatives of All African Students among others. Popular juju musician Adeniyi Adegeye popularly called King Sunny Ade.
Apart from the bountiful accolades showered on the celebrant Dr. Fasehun for his contributions to the growth of the country, especially in the fight to free the country from the throes of military rule as well as his struggle for the emancipation of the down-trodden in the society country, the dignitaries reiterated the need for Nigeria to be properly restructured “to enable it achieve its potentials.”
Governor Mimiko faulted the country’s 1999 Constitution, which he said has some poisonous provisions that are not working in the best interest of the nationalities that made up the country.
Although he agreed that everything about the country is not as bad as enemies of her unity wanted people to believe, he was however of the further view that “there is the need to restructure it properly to true federalism for the benefit of all the ethnic nationalities.”
The governor commended Fasehun for founding the OPC militia being used to fight the course of Yoruba emancipation, yet without exhibiting trait of tribalism in the struggle. He was of the opinion that the existence of some ethnic militias across the country, is an indication that there is the urgent need to tamper with, the structure of the country for the purpose of correcting some issues in, the present arrangements.”
Okunrohunmu who chaired the occasion extolled the virtues of Fasehun just as he canvassed seriously for the unity of the Yoruba people, which he said is key to the development of the South West region and Nigeria in general.
He observed that indigenes of Ondo State have always been known for their ruggedness and freedom fighting spirits of which the likes of Fasehun, National Coordinator of OPC, Gani Adams, late Chief Gani Fawehinmi and host of others are well known for.
On the state of the nation, Okunrohunmu said Nigeria is still in the woods.
Drawing analogy from the recent kidnapping of the former Secretary to the Federal Government (SFG), Chief Olu Falae, he said the incident was an indication of a fundamental flaw in the present structure of the country.
According to him, “Those who committed the act are well connected and if not for the likes of Dr. Fasehun and others who cried out, we would have been saying something else by now.”
Fasehun in his remarks described himself and those who have succeeded in living above age 70 in Nigeria where the average life span is about 52 “as unusual creatures.”
According to him, “When I turned 80, you will realise I am an unusual creature in this great country.”
The octogenarian re-echoed the need for Nigeria to be re-organised, saying: “I feel happy that several ethnic nationalities are here present for this event, which I think we should use as an opportunity to stop the imaginary division and ethnic clashes among ourselves.”
According to him, “What we show to the outside world is that Nigerians are hostile to themselves, which is contrary to the real situation at home. This shows that we have characters among us who do not only derive pleasure in the deliberate and imaginary divisions but also benefits immensely from it. These are the bad elements dividing us and we need to face them headlong.”
Fasehun emphasized the for a free and quality education for Nigerian chilsren “we are agitating for free education, which is the prerogative of our youths and the future of any nation.”
While describing Governor Mimiko as one of the rare Nigerians who does not only believe in quality education for all but implemented it in Ondo where he governs “that is the reason Ondo State is the fastest growing state in the country.”
The OPC founder added that one of the aims and objectives of his 80th birthday celebration was to bridge the gap among all the ethnic nationalities in the country. “This event was aimed at bridging gap. I’m a de-tribalised Nigerian for we have representatives from all ethnic nationalities represented here. He enjoined all Nigerians to be committed to building the country.
For this to be achieved, the OPC boss said education is key and is the bedrock of national development. “We must all commit ourselves to the development of education. Anybody who is not educated cannot be committed to national security. Statistics show that criminals are mostly un-educated people. Security of Nigeria has to do with education while insecurity also has to do with illiteracy.
On the 2015 general elections, he commended the non-partisanship spirit demonstrated by the electorates during the elections saying, “it was obvious that most Nigerians were only engrossed by the change slogan.
He however lamented that the people are yet to experience the positive aspects of that change that they were promised “that notwithstanding, I say that 100 days is too small in the life of a nation therefore let us give the government time.
“We agreed with President Muhammadu Buhari when he said he is going to probe corrupt people who have fed fat on what belong to all of us but when he (Buhari) later said he is going to limit his probe to a particular administration, we felt bad and think that is a selective probe, which will amount to witch hunting.
The OPC founder also urged the government to concentrate on governance if probe will or is found to be distracting it from facing governance as we are beginning to notice now “if he must probe he should probe from 1999.”
On a final note, Fasehun promised that: “henceforth I am not going to be partisan in my view. My stand as from today will be neutral politically, culturally and socially.”
Major Hamzat Al Mustapha (rtd), former Chief Security Officer (CSO) to former Head of State, late General Sani Abacha described Fasehun as a rare gem.
According to him, “To any given nation when rare men are needed. My total sum evaluation of Dr. Fasehun is that he has the ability to provide leadership at every particular time; bravery, calmness coolness and confidence, dependability, exemplariness, genuineness, in dependency, modesty and humility, nobility and others are part of his qualities.
The former CSO expressed confidence in the future of the nation as he said that Nigeria is moving towards a good destination.
Reading the citation of Fasehun, former Miss Nigeria, said the celebrant first embraced politics when he helped found the defunct Labour Party and became its pioneer chairman in 1989. He thereafter joined the Social Democratic Party (SDP), where he became a presidential aspirant. However, due to what he perceived as the un-healthy monetisation of the presidential race, he opted out of the contest.
She continued: “After Bashorun MKO Abiola won the June 12, 1993 presidential polls on the platform of the SDP, Fasehun combined forces with other pro-democrats to found the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), an umbrella platform for the struggle for June 12.
“He also formed the OPC in answer to the military annulment of the presidential election of June 12 1993, acclaimed won by Abiola, and adjudged Nigeria’s freest and fairest ever.”