A member of the 1976 Constitution Drafting Committee, Prof Olusegun Osoba, has said rather than restructuring the country what Nigeria needs is a struggle by the people to free themselves from the hold of the corrupt ruling elite.
Osoba said while the proponents of restructuring had failed to give a clear definition of its concept, their body language had suggested that they were either advocating the creation of more states or resource control.
According to the septuagenarian, those advocating the creation of more states want to gain access to the treasury and steal money with impunity while the advocates of resource control are doing so for their self-interest.
Osoba spoke on Tuesday during the public presentation of the Minority Report & Draft Constitution for the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1976, which he co-authored with the late Dr Bala Usman.
The event at the University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos, was organised by the Centre for Democratic Development Research and Training, Zaria.
Describing restructuring as “a lie”, Osoba faulted the sincerity of those advocating resource control, adding that, in spite of an additional 13 per cent federal allocation, the oil-producing states were not faring well because the leaders of the region had been diverting the money.
He said it would take a struggle by the masses for Nigeria to experience any positive change.
He said, “The minimum agenda for change cannot be brought about automatically; it cannot be wished into existence; the people have to struggle. The classes of people that are short-changed by the present regime have to find a way of developing a common strategy and it can only be done, if the truth must be said, by overthrowing the existing order. There is no other way.
“In fact, all the nations of the world today who stand tall and proud have, at one point or the other in their history, undergone a revolutionary transformation and they have removed the hands of looters from their treasury and put themselves in the hands of reliable and working honest people.
“So, there is no ambiguity about it, a continuous struggle is the only solution to our problems, not restructuring.”
Lagos lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), who reviewed the book, said the Minority Report & Draft Constitution for the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1976 resulted from the failure of Osoba and Usman to agree with the other 47 members of the constitution drafting committee set up by the Murtala Muhammed regime in preparation for the take-off of the Second Republic in 1979.
He said after Muhammed was killed in a failed coup, Gen Olusegun Obasanjo, who took over from him, simply adopted the majority report by the 47 members and discarded the minority report put together by Osoba and Usman.
Falana said the minority report had long addressed some of the issues in the country today, including the minimum age requirement to contest the office of the President.
The Director, CEDDERT, Dr Abubakar Siddique, said none of the challenges identified 43 years ago by Osoba and Usman in their report had been surmounted by the country.
He said, “Our people have sunk into a very deep level of desperation. Corruption level is unbelievably high. We live in a country that is extremely unjust.”
Among those on the occasion were a former Kaduna State governor, Balarabe Musa, and the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba.