Former Secretary-General of Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku has lamented the current deteriorating situation of Nigeria.
He said that in order to arrest the situation the Federal Government and the National Assembly must urgently organise an all-inclusive national dialogue that will take into account the recommendations of previous national conferences, and the many proposals emanating from various major stakeholders, with a view to modifying our present governance structure.
Anyaoku spoke on Saturday during the 2021 Obafemi Awolowo Lecture, themed, ‘Whither Nigeria’ and organised by Obafemi Awolowo Foundation under the leadership of Ambassador Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosumu.
Anyaoku was the Special Guest of Honour at the event that held virtually and chaired by Professor Wole Soyinka.
“My first point is that there is no section or ethnic group in Nigeria that does not stand to benefit from belonging to the one country of the size and resources of present-day Nigeria. Therefore, it is and should be in the common interest of all its ethnically and religiously diverse component parts to sustain, nourish and progress our one country.
“My second point is that the current state of affairs in Nigeria is not sustainable if the country is to avoid becoming a failed and broken state. There are undeniable facts about the current situation in Nigeria.
In addition to the country’s economic under-performance with its evident consequence of growing poverty among the population, there is worsening insecurity of life and property which is now spreading from the North to all parts of the country…”
Speaking further he said, “My third point is to say once again that it has become clear that these national challenges cannot be effectively tackled under our present type of federal system of government.
“After my over thirty-four years close association with governance in the fifty-four diverse Commonwealth member countries, I can say with reasonable confidence that from the experiences of other countries whose national attributes are comparable to Nigeria’s, there is abundant evidence to show that a federal system that is based on more economically and socially viable federating units with a less dominant central government is what will restore Nigeria to the path to greater political stability and a more assured economic growth.
“Although there are the essential ingredients of genuine democracy such as free and fair elections, freedom of speech and association, rule of law and independent judiciary, accountability of the government to the governed, every stable democracy is based on the characteristics of the country concerned.
“I believe that in constitutional governance, the model for Nigeria should be India not the United States of America with its mainly immigrant population where it was relatively easier for its leaders to define the country’s national ethos that underpins its constitutional practice.
“In contrast, India is a country of diverse population whose component parts have lived in their separate areas for centuries, but which has succeeded in sustaining a united country and a thriving democracy.
“Nigeria’s national attributes have much more in common with India’s, and so a Nigeria with a governance structure that is informed by its national attributes, can, I believe, aspire to equal if not surpass the level of democratic political stability and economic development that India has achieved with its own autochthonous federal system of governance.”
On how Nigeria’s problems can be solved, Anyaoku said, “My fourth and final point is what to do in order to arrest the current deteriorating situation in our country. Here, I join in calling on the Federal Government and the National Assembly to urgently organize an all-inclusive national dialogue.
“The dialogue should take into account the recommendations of previous national conferences, and the many proposals emanating from various major stakeholders, with a view to modifying our present governance structure and producing a consensus Constitution that can truthfully be described as the product of “we the people of Nigeria”.
“I would like to conclude my remarks by stressing the view that, with the current challenges confronting the country, it is only a restructured governance system, that is a Constitution which in practice can guarantee the treatment of all sections of the population with equity, justice and fairness, that will secure the integrity and political stability of Nigeria, as well as the achievement of its deserved socio-economic development.”