Nigeria must come back to true federalism to avoid secession – Ozekhome
Segun Ayinde, Abeokuta
A constitutional lawyer and human rights activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) on Thursday revealed that Nigeria must come back to true federalism to save the country from imminent collapse of secession.
Ozekhome stated this following the call for break-up of the country by secessionists who are agitating for Biafra and Oduduwa Republics respectively.
The pro-democracy campaigner said that, unless the country went back to true federalism, it might be difficult for it to live together in peace and harmony, as one Nigeria.
He spoke as a guest speaker at the Second Edition of Ladi Adebutu Good Governance Symposium held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, OOPL, Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital, on the theme “Local Government Autonomy: A Panacea for National Development.”
According to him for the country to stay together as an indivisible entity, there was need for a referendum to re-negotiate and come to agreed terms saying “it is a lie that Nigeria is indivisible.”
Ozekhome maintained that devolution of power, proper restructuring as well as brand-new constitution should serve as leeway to attain a true federalism.
He said that, until Nigeria practises true federalism, the local government autonomy might not become a dream of reality and would affect the division of democracy at the grass roots.
Ozekhome faulted the large number of members in the National Assembly whom he said were draining the wealth of the nation and should be made a part-time engagement.
The lawyer noted that no amount of amendment of the constitution could solve the problem of the country unless Section 4 of the constitution should be used to make law at the National Assembly.
He said “It is a lie (to say) that Nigeria is indivisible. We must come back to true federalism to remain as one. There is need for referendum to re-negotiate and come to agreed terms”
“If we give it one million amendments, it will not solve Nigeria’s problem. Section 4 of the constitution should be used to make a law at the National Assembly.
“360 House of Rep,109 Senators are too much we don’t need them. They are just draining the nation’s purse but sitting on part-time should be encouraged for our National Assembly,” he added.
Adebutu said the theme of the symposium was well spoken on by the speaker, saying that the basis of growth depended on the grassroot and that, if it failed, everything in the country had failed.
He added that both the federal and state governments had killed the local government administration in the country for various reasons as its revenue had been hijacked by the states.
According to the lawyer, “We need to go back to access the local things we have to development our nation. A collective responsibility at the grassroots, with the inclusion of traditional rules.
“All governments have killed local governments for various reasons because of revenue hijack. Revenue coming from FG are being hijacked by the states, making sure they do not get to the local government level,” he said.
The chairman of the occasion, Prof. Ayo Olukotun, in his opening remarks, called on all Nigerian political leaders to go back to think-tank table. No leader can capture it all; therefore, all development is local.