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Unizik: Stakeholders call for power devolution to strengthen Nigeria’s democracy

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By Gabriel Chy Alonta

The auditorium of Ekwueme Centre for Multidisciplinary Research (ECMR), Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, was literally turned into a debating arena as stakeholders engage in cerebral hobnobbing on measures to devolutionalise power in Nigeria to strengthen democratic practice.

The stakeholders made the call during a round table discussion organized by ECMR on Thursday December 8, 2022. The event was themed, “The Legacies of Dr. Alex Ekwueme and The Politics of Power Sharing in Nigeria”, and was organized as a posthumous birthday commemoration of Nigeria’s first vice-president, HE Alex Ekwueme GCON.

Participants in a group photograph after the event

Speaking during the occasion, a former Secretary to Anambra State Government and governorship aspirant, Mr. Oseloka Obase, stressed the need for Nigeria’s leaders to emulate the political legacies of Dr. Alex Ekwueme to make the country work better. According to him, late Dr. Ekwueme served well and elites should rally round to concretise some of the ideas he has for this country especially in our diversity, resource sharing and power devolution. “If we can go back to the drawing board and implement half of what Dr. Ekwueme recommended, Nigeria will be a better country”, he said.

While commenting on the 2023 general elections, Mr. Obaze expressed optimism that Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi would emerge victorious, noting that “Mr. Peter Obi is the most eminently qualified person to lead Nigeria at this point and incidentally, he comes from the South East that has not had the opportunity to lead”.

Some of the discussants

Other discussants Dr. Hyacinth Iwu, a lecturer with Adekunle Ajasin University, Ondo State, Rev. Fr. Ikenga Oraegbunam, Prof. Frank Maduabuchi Dukor and Prof. Jaja Nwanegbo, took turns to x-ray the political, philosophical and constitutional undertones of power devolution and rotation. According to the discussants, there is need for rotational presidency to accommodate our diversities, while saying that Nigeria’s lopsided leadership retards development and proper harnessing of talents in some regions.

“There has to be a law and constitutional provision before power sharing can take place to avoid reneging on the agreement. Also, we need to amend necessary laws and abide by them in order to have a proper division of powers.

“In addition to the political legacies and egalitarian values of late Dr. Alex Ekwueme, he also promoted devolution of powers, fairness, equity and justice”, the discussants averred, emphasizing the need to pay attention to basic issues of zoning.

Cross section of participants at the event

In a remark, the ECMR director, Prof. Makodi Biereenu-Nnabugwu, said the event represents a fundamental milestone in our quest as a knowledge production centre to interrogate social issues in a multidisciplinary fashion. He said, “this occasion will help to discuss issues that confront Nigeria and Nigerians in the challenge of evolving power sharing arrangement deemed fair, just and equitable to all concerned”.

While declaring the event open, the university vice-chancellor, Prof. Charles Okechukwu Esimone, harped on the need to celebrate late Dr. Alex Ekwueme “as our own”, and disclosed that the university has the tradition of celebrating distinguished Nigerians of Igbo extraction as a way of immortalizing them. He then pledged to continue to support the centre, while commending the centre leadership for successfully hosting the event.

Earlier, the chairman of the occasion, Prof. Steve Ibenta, described late Dr. Ekwueme as an institution, who has shown us a vision of what to become, remarking the need to learn from such Individuals. According to him, we can learn a lot from Dr. Ekwueme, we can learn about his intellectual legacies, leadership legacies, commitment to good governance, community development, interest in education, among others.

Prof. Esimone exchanging pleasantries

Dr. Somtoo Arinze-Umobi, the deputy director of the ECMR and LOC chairman, had a vote of thanks, eulogized late Dr. Ekwueme and commended those who honoured the event, even as he expressed optimism that future events would be more fruitful.

Her Excellency, Dame Beatrice Ekwueme, wife of Dr. Alex Ekwueme, Royal Father of the Day, HRM Igwe Prof. Laz Ekwueme, Eze Ijikala II of Oko, Prof. Obumneme Ekwueme, Hon. Victor Umeh who was represented by Barr. Nnamdi Anagor, among others graced the occasion. Cutting of the posthumous birthday cake formed the highpoint of the occasion.

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