The immediate past president of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, has called on leaders and the citizens to first address fundamental issues of disunity, nepotism and patriotism before any move to restructure Nigeria.
The former president stated this when he presided as chairman of the 18th Daily Trust Dialogue which was held in Abuja on Thursday.
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Dr. Jonathan, who was president of Nigeria from 2010 to 2015 spoke on the theme, ‘Restructuring: Why? When? How?’
He said, “My conviction is that discussion on restructuring will not help except we restructure our minds because some of the challenging issues at the national level still exist at the state and local levels.”
He said at Independence in 1960, Nigeria had a 45 million population and the British colonial government decided that the young nation was too vast and complex to be governed centrally from Lagos and introduced the federal system which changed to a Republican Constitution in 1963.
He added that 61 years after independence, the population has exploded to an estimated over 200 million people.
“In the same vein, the call for restructuring has continued to grow louder. Within these six decades, our political space has assumed many colourations.
“We have gone from three regions to 36 states and 774 local councils.
“Yet, all that did not seem to have provided the answers to the questions on the administrative structure of our country and how best it should be governed,” said Jonathan.
The ex-president, however, opposed a one-party state and unitary system of government to solve ethnic and cultural diversity as was used in other countries.
Jonathan commended Daily Trust for sustaining the dialogue series for 18 years, noting though that some of the newspaper titles’ editorials are sometimes tough on leaders.
“I had my fair share during my time as president. I understand that all was in a bid to guide the efforts towards building a greater country for us all.”
He also lauded the calibre of discussants at the dialogue who included Afenifere chieftain and elder statesman Chief Ayo Adebanjo; Chief John Nnia Nwodo, the immediate past President-General of Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo; and Prof. Attahiru Muhammadu Jega, a professor of Political Science at Bayero University Kano and a former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Former President Jonathan said Nigeria is a project in progress and the people should confidently discuss her experiences and fashion out solutions to improve on her performance and the wellbeing of all citizens,
“This cannot be achieved without deliberate effort to promote national unity and love of country by all our leaders and citizens.
“We owe ourselves and the coming generations a duty to reduce the bile and embrace one another so that restructuring for a better and greater Nigeria can be meaningful and guarantee the nation’s economic development and citizen’s welfare,” he urged.
Jonathan also recommended that the present National Assembly can champion the process for a new constitution.
“All the issues, the National Assembly can still do them. A new constitution can be developed based on what Nigerians want.
“I just came back from Gambia, they have their national assembly now and they are working on a new constitution,” Jonathan submitted.