Former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, yesterday, warned that Nigeria will continue to limp and underperform if she fails to revert to the constitution negotiated by her founding fathers.
Anayoku, who was a guest of honour, said this at the book presentation of Yemi Ogunbiyi’s memoirs, ‘The Road Never Fails’, held in Lagos to celebrate the author’s 75th birthday.
In his keynote address, Anyaoku highlighted how Nigeria can make a start while decrying the state of the nation.
The former Commonwealth scribe expressed worry over the current state of the country, saying Nigeria can make a fresh start if she wants to effectively tackle the myriad of challenges.
Urging Nigerians not to vote any politician who is not committed to restructuring the country to fiscal federalism, he said: “The pictures that emerge from the book show that Nigeria has largely been on the decline during the period in question and in Yemi’s words; Nigeria needs a fresh start, new thinking and a new beginning.
“I want to repeat the essence of what I have said in many occasions about how Nigeria can make a start if it wants to effectively tackle the myriad of challenges that I have listed in the indices. Informed by my long association with governance in the 54 Commonwealth countries, some of which are as pluralistic as Nigeria, my view remains that we cannot begin to successfully deal with our challenges with the governance system we currently operate.
“With our present federal structure, the country will only continue to limp along and to underperform with a growing threat of a national disaster.
“To achieve political stability and to unleash the country’s inherent abilities, we need a governance system that is a true federation with appropriate devolution of powers from the centre to more viable federating units as against the current largely not viable 36 units we have.
“The facts, I believe are there to show any observer that Nigeria, notwithstanding the years it was held together by military fia+t at the centre, began its drift and decline to its present, indisputably, perilous state when it abandoned the truer federal constitution on the basis of which our founding fathers negotiated our independence.
“We should return to a governance system that is based on the lines of our constitution.
“If among other challenges we are to arrest the killings of ordinary people, the latest example being the reported killing four days ago of over 80, with the further abduction and the burning of several houses in Plateau State.
“As the country is now gearing up to the 2023 general elections, I urge all the prospecting candidates to commit themselves to prioritizing the reformation of the country’s present governance system and more importantly, I urge the electorate, our people, not to vote for any candidate who fails to pledge to do that.”
Anyaoku, however, commended Ogunbiyi for his contribution to his emergence as the Secretary General of the Commonwealth.
He said: “I am delighted to be part of this memoir by Yemi Ogunbiyi. In his career as a university teacher, journalist, publisher and as what I would describe as a general consultant, Yemi has always performed as a true Nigerian patriot.
“I would like a small diversion to take this opportunity to publicly acknowledge my thanks to Yemi for his contribution to the then Nigerian government’s diplomatic efforts, robustly led by the foreign Minister, General Ike Nwachukwu, retd, to assist me to defeat a former Australian Prime Minister of seven-and-half years in the election as secretary-general of the Commonwealth.”