Neither President Goodluck Jonathan nor his major challenger in this month’s presidential elections, Muhammadu Buhari, can make Nigeria better unless the foundation of the country is restructured, the leader of the Odua Peoples Congress, Gani Adams, has said.
Mr. Adams, who spoke on Saturday in Abeokuta, Ogun State, said the constitution upon which Nigeria is governed is defective and should be changed.
“When we are looking for original change in Nigeria, it’s not about the individual or personality,” he said at the Lisabi Day Celebration in Abeokuta. “It’s about the constitution, the system, the institution. You can only change the system through a genuine constitution by the people.”
“The constitution given to us in 1999, no millions of Buhari can move this country forward without a constitutional change; no millions of Jonathan can move it forward, if you don’t change the constitution.
“If you don’t practise true federalism according to the way it should be practised like in the United States, Nigeria cannot move forward.”
Mr. Adams, who supports Mr. Jonathan’s re-election bid, added that “to move this country forward for a change, we must change the constitution first.
“We must change the structure and we must re-orientate our people. But for you to re-orientate our people, the document for running the country, the constitution, must change because when you have a bad book to run the country, there is no way the orientation and psyche of the people can change.”
While mentioning some of the arrangements he considers defective in the Nigerian structure, Mr. Adams said, “You can imagine, the individual state cannot control their own security, the order must come from Abuja; the states cannot control their own electricity.
“You can imagine, cases have to be decided finally by the Supreme Court in Abuja. These are some of the things we corrected in the recent National Conference that ended last year.
“About 633 recommendations were passed to the government and we categorized them in three sectors–the Judiciary, the Legislature and the Executive – so that Nigeria can move forward. There is a limit to which we can blame Jonathan.”
Defending his call for practise of true federalism, Mr. Adams said if Borno State had its own state police, the Boko Haram crisis would not have gotten out of hand as the state government would have checkmated the insurgents before calling on the federal police.
“But in a situation where you are expecting orders from Abuja, only one structure of police with a population of 200 million people and 243 ethnic nationalities, it will be extremely difficult,” he said. “Every nationality will play the game in the interest of his ethnic nationality in the system.”
The leader of the Yoruba socio-cultural group also stated his reason for supporting Mr. Jonathan’s re-election bid.
“The issue of Jonathan is not much problem,” he said. ” Although he has his own shortcoming, based on the issue of the Chibok girls and others, security challenges, but this man has tried his own best and this man has promised that he would implement the outcome of the National Conference.
Speaking on his opposition to Mr. Buhari’s candidature, Mr. Adams said “the problem I have with Buhari is that he was one of the people who criticised that conference when we were being nominated as delegates. And my brother, (Bola) Tinubu was the one that said that it’s a diversionary tactics. Buhari does not believe in the progressive ways.”
Mr. Adams spoke further on his disagreement with former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu, who is a leader of Mr. Buhari’s All Progressives Congress.
“Tinubu was one of the people we learnt true federalism from. I learnt true federalism from Tinubu. We saw him as a hero 12 years ago but a sudden change in his ideology gave me a serious thought,” he said.
“I don’t have any serious issue about them because I’m not a government official but notwithstanding I have the right to defend my own future. I’m leading an organization of millions of people and I will not lead them the wrong way.
“If it is the wish of President Jonathan to implement the outcome of the National Conference, let him be the president for a second term. That’s our position. That’s the position of OPC, Gani Adams, Fasehun. That’s the position of Afenifere. That’s the position of the Yoruba Council of Elders, that’s the position of many self-determination groups.
“Yet some civil society groups have kept quiet on these issues. So, we need to move this country forward on the basis of structure and not about saying Buhari will come to perform miracle. When Buhari was in power, it was Buhari/Idiagbon government, not only Buhari. Idiagbon did much of the job in government. Buhari was just the administrator. Idiagbon was the master-strategist of that government.”
On the teenage girls kidnapped last April from their school in Chibok, Borno State, the OPC leader said he believed the girls were no more on Nigeria soil,and therefore called on Federal Government to beam its search on the neighbouring countries of Chad and Niger
“You are talking of Chibok girls. I believe those girls are not in Nigeria. If they were, they could have got them back. I believe the government should search beyond Nigeria. They should search Niger and Chad. We should look beyond Nigeria. 230 girls within age range of 15 years and you say they are still within our territory. It’s not easy with the kind of security network we have in this country.”
Speaking further on how he believes Nigeria is being governed, Mr. Adams said, “Nigeria has got to a stage that our system is over-rotten. We have got to a stage that we are recycling some families in government since the 60s and we are recycling some Mafia.
“When we are looking for original change in Nigeria, it’s not about the individual or personality.”
On Nigeria’s various culture, Mr. Adams said government was not doing enough to promote it; but explained that since the government could not do it alone,there should be a synergy between the government and private organizations.
“In the whole world, it’s not only government that promotes culture or sustain identity. Nigeria is a complex nation; we have about 242 ethnic nationalities. So, every nationality has to take its destiny in its own hands. You must not depend on the government.
“If you depend on the government, it will be confused. Which one should we promote amongst the others and there is no culture that is inferior. So, it’s a duty and responsibility for individual ethnic nationalities to make sure they promote their culture. When it’s becoming popular, the government, whether state or federal will want to be part of it.
“Outside the shores of Nigeria, when a good thing comes from your compound though it doesn’t belong to your family, you’ll tell outsiders that this is part of my family. But in a situation where you don’t package it well, you don’t organize it well, you don’t inform people about the uniqueness and goodness of it,
definitely they will not align with it. Even if we are doing anything, a person who does not have knowledge of religion will continue to demonize it.”