• Democracy facing great danger –Dogara
By Iheanacho Nwosu, Abuja
Eminent statesman and professor of law, Ben Nwabueze (SAN) yesterday added his voice to calls for restructuring of the country and warned that not doing so will bring doom to the nation.
He said the growing agitations by various ethnic nationalities in the country were an off-shoot of the fractures in the nation’s political structure.
Nwabueze stated this at the public presentation of his book: “Save our constitutional democracy from emasculation” in Abuja yesterday. Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, chaired the well attended event while former Anambra state governor, Peter Obi, was the Special Guest of Honour.
Lamenting that Nigeria has been enveloped by tension, the erudite lawyer praised the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, for taking positive steps towards dousing the tension created by agitations for secession and the quit order given to Igbo by youth groups in the North.
Ennobling as the acting president’s interventions have been, Nwabueze however, insisted that the long term remedy of the nation’s problems remained the restructuring of the country.
He pleaded with Osinbajo to prevail on President Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw his opposition to the restructuring of the country.
He canvassed that Nigeria must be restructured “into six more or less self-governing regions or zones, with the powers of the central government drastically reduced, so as to diminish the fierce contest for its control.”
The former minister of education cautioned that failure to restructure the country may imperil, “the maintenance of the continued corporate existence of the country” especially, as it concerns “the nurturing of the country into a nation.”
He said: “He (Buhari) needs also to initiate moves for national reconciliation by setting up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as has been done in some 23 countries of the world from South Africa to Germany, Paraguay to Canada and Kenya.”
Focusing on how the nation’s democracy can be safeguarded, the elder statesman charged the judiciary to stand up to its responsibilities. He said the arm must act in tandem with the popular refrain that it is the protector of the common man.
He argued that the Supreme Court judgement that declared Chief Rotimi Amaechi as governor of Rivers State in 2007 was “a stain in our judicial system.
“It is obvious that if you look at the Amaechi case and the prevarication of the Supreme Court; today, it says one thing, tomorrow, it says another, the Supreme Court has special interest in perpetuating Amaechi’s case.”
Turning attention to the National Assembly, Nwabueze said like the judiciary, the national parliament must rise up to the challenge and enact laws that would prevent the nation’s democracy from being emasculated.
The Supreme Court, he said, erred on its stand on National Assembly’s inclusion of section 141 in the Electoral Act. He counseled the parliament to always stand its ground on giving Nigerians quality legislations.
Chairman of the occasion, Dogara, decried that the nation’s democracy is facing grave danger and said it must be rescued.
“We have seen a situation where the legislature and the judiciary pander towards the executive because it controls the resources,” he said.
In his short speech, former Anambra State governor, Mr. Peter Obi, differed from the position of Nwabueze as he gave pass mark to the judiciary. He said he was a “great beneficiary” from judicial pronouncements.”
Obi said: “I was the first person to become a governor through the court; I was the first governor who was impeached from office that came back. After me, was Senator Joshua Dairye and Governor Ayo Fayose followed. I was the first person to seek tenure interpretation before others began to benefit from it.
“When some people say the judiciary is corrupt, I don’t believe it because I did not give any judge money. I don’t even know where they live.”