By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan
The Managing Editor of This Day Newspaper, Mr Bolaji Adebiyi on Tuesday declared that solution to the challenge of national integration in Nigeria lies in the restructuring and rebalancing of the federation.
Mr Adebiyi stated this in Ibadan while delivered a guest lecture titled: “Nigerian Journalists and the search for national unity”, at the launch of N100m Journalists Estate of the Oyo State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) held at its Press Centre, Iyaganku,
According to him, the rising agitations for self-determination in the South-west and South-east as well as the threat of resurgence of militancy in the South- South coupled with the insurgency in the North-east, banditry in the North-west and farmer-herder conflict in the North-central are clear indications that Nigeria is struggling to achieve national integration despite the efforts of successive political leadership.
” Analysts have apprehended the skewed federal structure of the country for the crisis and argue that the way forward is to restructure and rebalance the federation through a wholesome constitutional re engineering that would that enable the constituent units to control their economic resources for the benefits of their citizens”, he said
Adebiyi added, ” this proposition has generated intense debate. The media needs to moderate this debate by highlighting the salient points that would assist the citizenry and the political elite to arrive at the appropriate conclusion that facilitate the process of national integration.”
The This Day Managing Editor noted that, while many analysts insist that the economic underdevelopment of the country arising from its political mismanagement remains a constant source of tension and an incentive to disintegration, the current think is that the solution to the challenge of national integration lies in the restructuring and rebalancing of the federation.
Emphasizing that though , opinions are divided over this panacea, virtually along ethnic-cum religion lines of the North and South divide, he stressed, ” but it is significant that many Northern political elites are beginning to find some merits in the clamour for restructuring as a counterweight to the rising agitations for self-determination and resource control in the Southern regions of the country”.
” The main argument for restructuring is that the best time-tested system of government for an heterogeneous country like Nigeria is federalism, which was what was inherited at independence, the advantages of which were evident in the works and achievements of the founding fathers of the nation, including Bello, Awolowo and Azikiwe”.
Mr Adebiyi maintained, ” with its inherent propensity to guarantee the autonomy of the federating units to develop at their own pace, the healthy competition this would generate, it is argued, would facilitate a more even and rapid development of the federation”, saying, ” this had happened in the past. It was the military incursion into politics in 1966 that deformed the country’s federal structure, imposed a quasi-federal system that, enshrined in the subsequent post-military constitutions, has continued to engender national strife.
Speaking further, the Managing Editor said, ” the basic argument, therefore, is that the current unitarized federalism has failed and that it is better to return to the federalism that we inherited at independence that was working for us.”
” This was the point Chief Obafemi Awolowo made way back in 1947 when he said in his book Path to Nigerian Freedom: “If rapid political progress is to be made in Nigeria it is high time, we were realistic in tackling its constitutional problems. Nigeria is not a nation. It is a mere geographical expression.
“There are no ‘Nigerians’ in the same sense as there are ‘English’, ‘Welsh’ or ‘French’. (The English, Welsh, French etc wear their nationality with patriotic pride unlike the Nigerian who sees himself from the ethnic lens).”
Oyo state governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde, while speaking at the programme commended the NUJ leadership in the state for their vision and commitment to the welfare of their members
Represented by his Chief of Staff, Hon. Segun Ogunwuyi, Gov Makinde described journalists estate, ” as a laudable initiative which is in tandem with what Oyo state is known for”, saying, ” having an estate by journalists in this state falls within the dream of Oyo State Governor. I encourage people to key into this initiative as it is going to be beneficial in the future”.
Chief launcher and Chairman of the Ilaji Hotels and Sport Resort, Engr. Dotun Sanusi who was represented by his Manager, Mr Azeez Ayansola, also described the estate initiative as that which will secure the future wellbeing of journalists and other stakeholders, while promising to assist the Council financially.
NUJ President, Comrade Chris Isiguzo, was also represented on the occasion by the Lagos NUJ Chairman Comrade Adeleye Ajayi.