Participants at the maiden edition of the biennial Dipo Famakinwa Colloquium have demanded that immediate steps be taken to restructure Nigeria’s centralist governance structure in accordance with the principles of true federalism.
The event which held over the weekend in Ibadan was organised by the DAWN Commission, Yoruba Academy, and Afenifere Renewal Group to immortalise the lifetime of the pioneer Director General of DAWN Commission, Dipo Famakinwa, who passed on last year. The theme was “Restructuring: ending the talk and starting the walk.”
According to a statement released on Sunday and signed on behalf of the organisers by Ade Adeagbo, the participants, who cut across artisans, scholars, traders, politicians, self-determination groups, and university students, were unanimous in their demand for immediate actions from the executive and legislative arms of government towards restructuring the country. Many of the speakers at the event demanded concrete actions before the next general elections in 2019.
Festus Ogun, a student of Olabisi Onabanjo University said “Nigeria will continue to be a risk unless it finds the courage to restructure” while a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Niyi Akintola, said “Those that still believe so much in the corporate existence of Nigeria should know that the present governance structure cannot sustain this country for another 25 years. It is totally impossible judging from global trends. This country will not move forward unless we restructure it.”
Mr Akintola said the demand for restructuring will require appropriate confrontation because “the Nigerian governance structure is oppressive and the only language understood by an oppressor is confrontation”.
Another speaker, Yemi Alabi said Nigeria is overdue for restructuring because there is an agreement that the current administrative model can only bring more harm than good. She called for advocates of restructuring to stand for elective positions.
“Government regulates our lives from birth to death. How then can we leave such important organ in the hands of those who do not share our ideals? Let us push forward our best restructuring agents into elective positions. That is when we can be walking our talk,” she said.
“Agitation for Restructuring will only begin when our political leaders, particularly the legislators and governors, start calling for it. If we cannot vote the right people who believe in restructuring into position, we cannot escape this doom bedeviling Nigeria.”
Mr. Ogun buttressed this point saying “restructuring will best be achieved through the instrumentality of law. Therefore, we must ensure that only men of goodwill represent us in the National Assembly.”
Adekunle Olaiya, a barrister at law and Baale of Makoko community in Lagos State recommended the conduct of a referendum, even if informal, to prove that restructuring is indeed the desire of the people who have a right to determine how they want to be governed.
Other speakers at the event included Bamidele Ademola-Olateju, Adeyinka Bello-Olarinmoye, Habib Olalekan Hammed, Dotun Hassan and leaders of various trade associations.