Chairman of Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, said on Tuesday, took on those who accuse proponents of restructuring of not agreeing on a proper definition of what they want.
According to him, what proponents of restructuring want is simply a return to the 1963 constitutional arrangement which allowed regions to explore their own resources and contribute a portion of their revenues to the centre.
He said that anyone can use any word or phrase to express the need to change the structure of Nigeria, what is important is that the country is ripe for restructuring to enable both the centre and the federating units run the way they should in a proper federation.
Adebanjo who spoke at the fifth birthday lecture of Hon. Babatunde Oduyoye in Ibadan, explained that words such as restructuring, devolution of power, resource control, state police and others are all embedded in true federalism which Nigerians yearn for.
In his lecture titled “Imperatives for Nigeria’s Survival and Development”, the Afenifere leader stressed that practice of true federalism will enable each region look inward and develop better ways to improve the standard of living of its people rather than taking all that belongs to the federating states and sharing and sometimes squandering.
He said: “Restructuring is not a political philosophy but the language of the moment which expresses what Nigerians want as a matter of urgency. What we simply want is a return to the principles of federalism as practiced in 1963.”
Chief Adebanjo said he supported President Muhammadu Buhari’s fight against corruption in principle, stressing that he will score him 100 per cent for embarking on it but added that he differs with his alleged selective approach. He emphasized that rule of law must reign supreme in a democracy.
Earlier in his lecture, Prof. Bayo Okunade examined the various words and phrases being used to agitate for structural change in the Nigerian governance system.
He pointed out that the nature of Nigeria’s federalism has always been identified as a problem but that the call for restructuring has never been elevated as an issue on the national agenda.
While acknowledging that restructuring is capable of solving the country’s problem to a large extent, Okunade emphasized that unless it is handled properly because of its complexity, it can become counter productive. For him, all components of the country must participate to make it a success.
Prof Okunade supported Chief Adebanjo,’s position that Nigeria does not have to disintegrate or go to war before citizens find better ways to live together in love as one country.
Oduyoye, an Alliance for Democracy (AD) chieftain, in whose honour the lecture titled Imperatives for Nigeria’s Survival and Development”, said the annual lectures were aimed at bringing attention to national issues and finding solutions.