Reconfiguration not meant to divide Nigeria, Nwabueze explains

Benjamin Obiefuna Nwabueze

Elder stateman, Prof. Ben Nwabueze has explained that the agitation for restructuring is not to divide the country.

In a statement yesterday to mark the country’s 57th independence, he said the object of the demand is to reform the governmental structures and attune them to the needs and wishes of the people.

He said: “The demand is to ensure that the immense diversity of ethnic nationalities comprised in the state will continue to co-exist together in peace, prosperity and progress as citizens of one country united by common interests, common aspirations and a common destiny.”

Nwabueze, who is the chairman of The Patriots, urged the authorities to use the clamour to establish appropriate platforms to renegotiate suitable governmental structures.

This, he said, was needed for the pursuit and realisation of the common needs for development, good governance and national transformation.

The Patriot comprises Nigerian elderstatesmen who have been at the forefront of the agitations for restructuring.

Nwabueze stressed that the clamour is more than a demand for the reform of our governmental structures.

“In its wider, more fundamental focus, it is a call for the country to ‘make a new beginning’ under a new Constitution approved and adopted by the people at a referendum,” he said.

He described it as a new politico-legal order that would cleanse the country of the rottenness that has pervaded it and enable it to “chart a road map for its destiny or re-structuring of the mind.

This aspect of re-structuring, which is as necessary as its primary focus, would need to be led by a president, as the elected leader of the people, who is imbued with an ardour for national transformation.”

The constitutional lawyer added that the governmental structure that should be particularly reformed by re-structuring is the federal system.

He said: “Federalism is commonly agreed to be a compelling necessity for the maintenance of peace, stability and development of Nigeria as one country. The 1960/1963 Constitutions of Nigeria established a federal system with three (later four) regions each invested with sufficient autonomy to govern itself.

“The governance was in matters that concerned it alone – internal self-government – without undue control by, or interference from, the centre, thus giving each region the impetus and incentive to develop optimally in healthy competition with the others. The federal system under the two Constitutions (1960 and 1963) may fairly be described as a model of true federalism.”

He lamented that the intrusion of absolutist military rule for 28 years after 1965 has brought about the accretion of a vast amount of additional powers to the centre, over and above what they were under the 1960/63 constitutions.

He said this resulted in the system being turned virtually into a unitary system, which is still tagged federal, but it is so largely in name.

“Re-structuring, as it is presently being demanded, seeks to revert our federal system to the true federalism of the 1960/63 Constitutions, to further reduce the powers of the Federal Government,” he added.

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Ben Nwabueze


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