The immediate past President-General of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo, says Nigeria must restructure to avoid a boycott of the 2023 elections.
Nwodo, a two-time minister, gave the warning at the 17th Gani Fawehinmi annual lecture organised by the Ikeja branch of the Nigerian Bar Association in Lagos, on Friday.
The event was also attended by the Governor of Borno State, Prof Babagana Zulum, a human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), legal practitioners and human rights activists.
He said Nigeria used to be the envy of nations, given its pedigree in education, agriculture and well-being of its people because there was a regional system of government that allowed regions to enjoy sovereignty over their national resources until the system was thwarted.
Nwodo added that the restructuring process must be concluded before the 2023 elections to avoid a boycott by some sections of the country.
He said, “There was only one reason why things worked so well then. We had a regional government system 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 abolished 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.
“Nigeria must restructure and give it’s 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 defence, foreign missions, customs and immigration.
“Emphasis must return to agriculture and education. Domestic security must remain in the federating units’ hands 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.
“Processes to begin our restructuring as a nation must be concluded before the 2023 elections to avert a situation where sections of the country may boycott the elections and present the country with a constitutional force majeure.”