Eminent Nigerians, including Imo State governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma; his Bayelsa State counterpart, Douye Diri; former Deputy National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George; Aare Onakakanfo of Yoruba land, Iba Gani Adams, among others, on Tuesday, July 18, 2023, in Lagos stressed the need for a new constitution that would reflect the wishes and aspirations of the people of Nigeria, declaring that the citizens desired good governance.
They expressed this view at a public lecture organised by Freedom Online newspaper themed: “2023- 2027: Nigerians, Elected Leaders and Expectations,” stressing that further reliance on the 1999 Constitution as solution to Nigeria’s problems was a waste of time that would spell doom for the country.
This was just as they demanded for establishment of State Police, saying such is key and crucial if Nigeria was determined to end the problem of insecurity it was currently facing.
Imo State governor, Uzodimma, who was the guest speaker, and represented by his Commissioner for Information, Declan Emelumba, said expectations of every Nigerian was good governance, adding that they were increasingly demanding for it.
The governor, however, said the lapses in the 1999 Constitution prevent state governments from performing up to expectations, noting that the large size of the country made governance difficult as the centre had been the one deciding affairs of states in areas of policing and other issues that should be the exclusive responsibility of states.
According to Uzodimma, the common language Nigerians understood perfectly irrespective of tribe, or tongue or religion is good governance, asserting that when governance is birthed “in town, poverty, unemployment, and insecurity will take flight.”
He posted that, with good governance, there would be economic boom, abundant empowerment opportunities, good healthcare delivery, good quality and affordable education, abundant infrastructure provisions and security of lives and property, adding that with all these in place, Nigerians would boast of an improved quality of life and a higher average life expectancy.
“This is a common language that does not need to be spoken but yet can be heard clearly. Once Nigerians see these, they will know the country is working and that their expectations are being met.
“So, what Nigerians expect is for the country to work. That is what they need and that is what they desire,'” the governor said.
“This makes our task very easy. All we need to do is to list those things that make up good governance, those things that will make the country work, and we have the expectations of Nigerians from elected leaders for the period 2023 to 2027.
“As I said earlier, these expectations are not farfetched. They are the same things Nigerians have been clamouring since Independence 63years ago,” he added.
Governor Uzodimma, while listing indicators of good governance to include participation, rule of law, consensus driven, equity and inclusiveness, effectiveness and efficiency, transparency and accountability, among others, expressed the hope that the recently inaugurated National Assembly would help come up with bills and motions that would complement President Bola Ahmed Tinubu ‘s courage and vision.
“So, yes, I can hazard the guess that the expectations of good governance between 2023 and 2027, will be reasonably met. I expect that Nigerians will have less poverty, insecurity and unemployment to deal with in the next four years,” Uzodimma assured.
The keynote speaker, the Bayelsa State governor, Diri, said inability of state government to control their resources had created setback for many states, stressing that if the state were empowered like the regions to control their resources in the First Republic, a lot of advancement would have been recorded in the states.
Diri, who was represented by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Mr. Daniel Alabrah, said for Nigeria to rise to the great height envisaged by her founding fathers, she needed to come up with the constitution that would empower the state to control their resources.
Chief George, in his speech, while lamenting poor leadership in the country, declared that a stop be put to the present deceit and rottenness in the financial management of the nation, adding: “Let us put an end to the economic inequalities, injustice, unfairness in the distribution of our God given resources and our financial wealth.”
George, who is also the Atona Oodua of Yoruba land, likened Nigeria’s current situation to that of then Judah as told by Prophet Micah, a contemporary of Prophet Isaiah in his prophecy, and condemned totally a situation whereby a sitting senator collects N23 million monthly and a retired Federal Permanent Secretary collects N1million per month, while a retired General collects N250,000 as pension per month, describing such as despicable, shambolic nonsensical and outright systemic failure.
This was just as the PDP chieftain, who said he was “not talking as a member of any political party but as an elder statesman who seeks the peace and progress of Nigeria,” equally condemned the planned palliatives to be distributed by the Tinubu-led administration, demanding that a quick reminder of the N500 billion previously collected monthly and supposedly distributed without data and accountability under the immediate past administration headed by former President Muhammadu Buhari called for in-depth investigation and punishment.
“Enough of this deceit: Enough of this rottenness in the financial management of our Nation.
“Let us put an end to the economic inequalities, injustice, unfairness in the distribution of our God given resources and our financial wealth.
“A situation where a sitting Senator collects N23 million every month, a retired Federal Permanent Secretary collects N1 million per month and a retired General collects N250,000 as pension per month is despicable, shambolic nonsensical and outright systemic failure.
“How will the palliatives be distributed? A quick reminder of the N500 billion previously collected monthly and supposedly distributed without data and accountability calls for in-depth investigation and punishment,” he said.
George said he wept for Nigeria, but quickly prayed God to forgive the nation’s leaders’ transgressions and direct their minds “in ensuring a good life to all our people in Nigeria,” expressing the belief that the country would rise again if like Prophet Micah said, “We put the fear of God before all human endeavours.”
“May God forgive our transgressions and direct the minds of our political leaders in ensuring a good life to all our people in Nigeria.
“I weep for my country Nigeria but if like Prophet Micah said, our nation will rise again if we put the fear of God before all human endeavours.
“Nigeria will rise again. We will rise again. In Jesus Name, Amen,” he prayed.
Speaking further, George also condemned the 1999 Constitution now in use, describing the document as military compliance, which he said would not take Nigeria out of her present situation.
He charged Nigerians to come up with a new constitution that would state clearly best way to govern the country, pointing out that leaving the Federal Government with enormous powers of deciding for the entire country would not work, as he noted that every state of the federation was blessed with enough resources to take good care of itself.
The PDP chieftain again reiterated his call for establishment of State Police, saying that it was the best way to secure the country.
“Please, Nigerians, we must revisit how we want to govern ourselves. Going to Abuja to share monies for states and local governments won’t work,” Chief George said.
Also speaking, the Aare Onakakanfo of Yoruba land, Iba Gani Adams, said it was high time the government told the home truth that Nigerians were suffering across board and without exception, occasioned by the removal of fuel subsidy.
According to the Yoruba generalissimo, who was represented by Yinka Oguntimehin, a lawyer, price of litres of petrol or diesel to fuel one’s vehicle on weekly basis is now very exorbitant, saying that the country’s currency was now becoming valueless, but quickly prayed that it would not become ordinary paper.
“The government must come in quickly to address the matter. I pray that Nigerians would not be back on the streets again,” he prayed.
Adams equally reiterated his call on need to revisit the reviewed 1999 Constitution, just as he charged the Federal Government to tackle the insecurity ravaging the nation.
Chief Tola Adeniyi, former Managing Director of Daily Times, in his short remark, declared pointedly that Nigerian politicians lacked integrity to make any positive impact on the country, saying based on that “you cannot expect any posterity in Nigeria.”
On State Police, Chief Adeniyi said it was a dream that would not come to pass, alleging that the present structure had become a cash cow for those who were feeding fat on it.
“To expect anything from Nigerian politicians is to be postponing the doomsday. I don’t see how an Okiro will police Akure. Nigeria Police is the cash cow of those who held Nigeria down. I don’t expect anything from those who have nothing to give”, he said.
Earlier in his welcome address, the publisher of Freedom online, Gabriel Akinadewo, noted that unless Nigeria had a constitution, which reflects the wishes and aspiration of the citizens, the country can never have a breakthrough.
He posited that the Federal Government can’t continue to use federal measure to tackle local challenges, recalling quickly that such was not the situation in the First Republic.
“In the First Republic because of the constitution operated, the centre was less attractive. We should make the centre less attractive like we have it in America. Nigerians want State Police between now and 2027. The world is moving forward, we can’t afford to be stagnant,” he said.
Also in his own remark, a former military governor of Bayelsa State, Navy Captain Omoniyi Olubolade (rtd), said for a country to move forward, it should not be an island to itself, adding that there should be a constitution that would address the challenges of its citizens and as well tackle the issue of insecurity.
Benson Enikuomehin, an Abuja based lawyer, made a passionate plea to Ondo State government and President Bola Tinubu to come to the aid of his Ilaje people of Ondo south senatorial district, to avert a looming disaster that perennial flood may wreck on them.
Enukuomehin, who contended that “Ilaje area gives Ondo State its oil producing status”, maintained that something must be done urgently “before they are wiped off”.
Present at the lecture were the President, Nigeria Guild of Editors, Eze Anaba; Mr. Richard Akinnola, Mr. Bola Bolawole, former Editor of Punch Newspaper, Mr Lanre Arogundade, Dr. Omoniyi Fagbemi, Mr. Gbenga Omotosho, Mr Benson Enikuomehin, Ogbeni Lanre Banjo and a host of eminent journalists, among others.