At 55, Nigeria’s Foundation Still Faulty – Odumakin | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Cover Choice, POLITICS

At 55, Nigeria’s Foundation Still Faulty – Odumakin

Posted: Sep 27, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Political activist and National Publicity Secretary of the Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, in this interview with IFEOMA ONONYE, explains why the country keep suffering in the midst of plenty



In few days from now, Nigeria will turn 55, where do you think we are as a nation?

I will relate this question to a song by late Sunny Okosun in 1980 titled ‘which way Nigeria’. Okosun said at that time that 20 years after independence, we are still struggling to survive. He asked how long are we going to continue to live like this?. Now Nigeria is 55 and that song is still green. All we need to change in that Sunny Okosun’s song is the 20 years and replace it with 55 years. The last five years of our democracy was filled with missed opportunities, dashed hopes and potentials. We started as a country in 1960, now we cannot even say that we are a country. The level of insecurity is high, kidnapping here and there. Insurgency and all other insecurity. Our Infrastructure is collapsing. Our economy is in doldrums. It is very clear that there is nothing to celebrate in this country as we turn 55. All these have come upon us because we refuse to build Nigeria along the path of development of progress. In 1967, Awolowo won and he made attempt to run Nigeria along unity lines to be productive. But now Nigeria is so dysfunctional. We cannot function because we are not designed to function.

At 55, what do you think Nigeria is missing? What are we not doing right that is keeping us from getting where we are supposed to be?

The holy book says that ‘if the foundation is faulty, what can the righteous do?’ if you have a house that is built on a sandy foundation and when the wind begins to blow, the house will begin to shake. And everyone begins to blame the windows or the ceiling or the roof, until we go to the foundation, that house will continue to wobble under storm. The foundation of Nigeria is faulty. There is no way you can run a country like Nigeria with all its contradictions in unity line and you think that we will be in Harmony. We must go back to the foundation to restructure this country. We must allow every part of Nigeria to develop at their pace. With all these commander and control center in Abuja will not help us.

This system of if Oyo does not develop, Lagos will be on a standstill must stop, we can’t get anywhere with that. We have to create room for prosperity for all the states. We have to allow every state in Nigeria to prosper with whatever they find in their soil. This idea of Abuja handles the whole funds and with the sharing mentality, we cannot develop or make any progress with it anymore. We have to do a serious paradigm shift. The more we run away from this paradigm shift and continue talking about ‘Change’, it’s just a mirage. There is no change that is going to make sense if we do not shift.

Amongst all the leaders we have had so far since 1960, who amongst them would you say  led by example that other leaders should have borrowed a leaf from?

I think from independence till now, leadership in Nigeria has been amongst very few. There is no way you go to a motor park and say you want to install professors as their chairmen. You have to be a tout for you to be chairman. The kind of system that we are using in Nigeria does not allow the good to make it to the top. There is no way a good leader can emerge in the midst of this rot. Because Today, the cost of securing power in Nigeria is difficult for a good man to afford. If continue to operate in a corrupt environment that we are in, there is no way the good can be encouraged because the system is so dysfunctional. It does not allow good idea or ideas. Most of the leaders have been victims of the contradictions of Nigeria.

So, are saying that the kind of federalism we practice is to be blamed for our nation’s stagnant development?

If we want to move forward as a country, we just have to change the structure of this country. For example, many States are asking for bail out. These states that are asking for bailout has resources under their soil that they cannot touch because the constitution states that it’s only the federal government that has the authority to touch mineral resources. Now, Nigeria is only concerned about oil. Be assured that Nigeria looses not less than N50trillion annually on untapped resources and the oil that we keep fighting for gives us less than N40trillion in a year. If we want to develop, we must ensure that, we will reconstitute Nigeria to allow these states to tap these resources. If we don’t, we will continue to suffer in the midst of plenty.

Do you share the view that our 1999 constitution was foisted on the country by military rule and needs to be changed if Nigeria must move forward?

The constitution was made by late Sani Abacha for Sani Abacha. It was a document packaged by Yadudu for Abacha to use and succeed himself. It solidifies the fact that Nigeria is based on the paradigm of fraud and sustained on the wall of fraud. That constitution is not our constitution. It’s not a federal constitution. It is a unitary constitution that concentrates every power in Abuja and made the federating unit appendages of the center. So, we cannot fight corruption except we throw away that constitution. The constitution itself mandates corruption, it ensures that you have to be corrupt or be leading by corruption to get to power. It denies the federating units the right autonomy because it was derived by the military and the military as we all know is structured in a command structure. So the constitution is part of our problems and until we do away with it, we won’t be able to move forward as a nation.

In view of all these shortcomings, what encouraging words do you have for Nigerians?

In spite all the situation around us, we should not lose hope. This country is potentially great and we must ensure that we do all that is useful to ensure we move this country forward. We should reconstitute Nigeria in a way that all the regions will feel the true federalism. There is a lot of great potential in our diversity if properly harnessed under organised freedom and autonomy, that Nigeria will become great once again. Therefore, we must not surrender; we must not allow what is happening now to kill our spirit. We must keep hope alive.