By Uche Anichukwu, Special Adviser (Media) to Deputy President of the Senate.
The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has called for patience, more enlightenment and dialogue to actualise the restructuring of Nigeria, blaming misconception and ethno-sectional suspicions for the opposition to the idea.
Ekweremadu made the call in Calabar on Friday in a keynote address he presented at the opening of a retreat by the Southern Senators Forum themed “National Unity and Restructuring”.
The Senator likened Nigeria to a vast building expected to accommodate a multiethnic, multicultural, multi-religious, and politically diverse people.
“To ensure equity, justice, and prosperity of the various families and sections; to ensure completive development; and to allay fears of possible domination, our founding fathers settled for a federal constitution or structure after various conferences on the type of building, the architectural design, number of rooms, and rules of cohabitation,
“Sadly, the rain started beating us from that fateful January coup, especially following the violation of the covenant of our fathers by the promulgation of Unitary Decree, 1966. Although the July 1966 countercoup was, among other things, predicated on the need to correct the General Aguyi Ironsi’s misadventure, subsequent regimes after him have steadily and deliberately corrupted the architectural design and undone all the foundations laid by the founding fathers. For more than half a century, we have done every imaginable violence to the federal principles and the results have been disastrous.
“In simple terms, therefore, the quest for restructuring is a quest for a return to the old covenant, the original foundation and master plan agreed on and laid down by our fathers” Ekweremadu explained.
He reasoned that, being the case, “restructuring should unite rather than divide the nation”.
He recalled that but for the wisdom of the nation’s founding fathers in giving more room for more consensus building after the initial motion for self-rule was opposed by mainly northern parliamentarians, the map of Nigeria could probably have been different today.
“Therefore, faced with divided opinions and sentiments on such a fundamental issue as restructuring, we must borrow a leaf from our fathers.
“Whereas restructuring has become inevitable if we are to truly reap the blessings of self-rule, it must be done in a way that brings every part of the country on board and guarantees our unity as a nation.
“We must be patient with one another. We must embark on more responsible and patriotic public discourse and enlightenment to break down the meaning, processes, and gains of restructuring. We need to also address the fears”, he admonished.
The lawmaker also suggested a piecemeal approach to restructuring, noting that people would gradually drop their fears and crave for more restructuring as they begin to reap the gains of each successful restructuring effort.
“If you insist on addressing all the issues at the same time, your compatriots may begin to misread your motives”.
The Senator urged pro-restructuring Nigerians to leverage on the influence of prominent northerners, such as former military President, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd); former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubabar; and President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, who believe in restructuring, to win more converts in the north.