2023 elections will be boycotted if Nigeria is not restructured – Nwodo

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2013 elections will be boycotted if Nigeria is not restructured - Nwodo

Chief John Nwodo, the immediate past President-General of Apex Igbo socio-cultural group, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, says some section of the country may boycott the 2023 general election if the Federal Government fails to restructure the country.

Speaking at the 17th Chief Gani Fawehimi annual lecture on Friday with the theme “The constitutional history of Nigeria’s dysfunction: Any pathway to indivisibility and common progress?, he said that Nigeria used to be the envy of other nations due to the regional system of government that allowed regions oversee their resources and sovereignty until it was thwarted.

He warned that to stop the impending catastrophe that might doom the country, it has to be restructured.

Others who spoke at the event which was hosted by the Ikeja Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association include the Governor of Borno State, Prof Babagana Zulum, a human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), legal practitioners, and human rights activists, among others, Punch reports.

He said: “There was only one reason why things worked so well then. We had a regional system of government that allowed regions to enjoy sovereignty over their national resources whilst paying royalties and taxes to the Federal Government. Our domestic security was independent and uncontrolled by the Federal Government.

“Suddenly, the army came to power and abrogated our constitution, turned us into a unitary state, and imposed a unitary constitution on us. They seized our natural resources and donated them to the Federal Government to share without adequate respect for derivation.”

Speaking on what must be done to avert “the coming catastrophe”, he said, “Nigeria must restructure and give its component units sovereignty over its natural resources provided they pay a royalty or some form of taxes to the Federal Government to maintain federal responsibilities like external defense, foreign missions, customs, and immigration.

“Emphasis must return to agriculture and education. Domestic security must remain in the hands of the federating units because living safely in Nigeria today is by luck. The secularity of the Nigerian state must be respected. These irreducible minimum conditions are not negotiable. If it does not happen, we will have no alternative but to go our separate ways.

Also Read: IPOB to governors: South East cannot have two regional security outfits

“Processes to begin our restructuring as a nation must be concluded before the 2023 elections so as to avert a situation where sections of the country may boycott the elections and present the country with a constitutional force majeure.”

Nwodo, who was a two-time minister, also decried a situation whereby the President and federal lawmakers exclusively share the appointment into the Independent National Electoral Commission, saying Nigeria could learn from South Africa and the United Kingdom.

He stated, “In South Africa, the Chief Justice appoints the head of the electoral body and he does so first by advertising for those who are qualified to be in the commission to apply. After people have been nominated, he publishes the list of those nominated and those who have been objected to are delisted before the final stage.

“In the UK, the electoral commission is headed by the speaker but composed of all political parties in the ballot, making rigging impossible. That is why results are announced instantaneously after the collation of results. Nigeria must restructure. So long as INEC and state electoral commission members are appointed by the President and governors respectively, there will never be a free and fair election.”

He said despite the country’s abundant human and natural resources, it remained the poorest nation in the world and a major importer of things it produces.

Speaking on education, Nwodo said Israel, the United States, and some other countries were leveraging education to come up with world-class innovations while Nigeria maintained a record of having the highest number of out-of-school children, coupled with some immoral practices, like sex-for-grade, in higher institutions.

He added, “If the source of knowledge is contaminated, like a contaminated water reservoir, can you get clean water. Our higher institutions must be devoid of sharp practices and acts capable of compromising their integrity within and outside our borders. Education, road and agriculture are critical areas in the development of a country’s economic potential.”

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