The Nigerians in the Diaspora Organization, Americas (NIDOA), USA, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to be more proactive in addressing the challenges facing the country.
The group noted that Nigeria’s diversity in religion and culture should be leveraged as a positive force for development.
It added that the president needed to correct the prevailing perception that “terrorists of Fulani stock are treated with kid-gloves,” while “Indigenous Peoples of Biafra and Eastern Security Network members are being eliminated extra-judicially in the ongoing aerial and ground bombardment of parts of South-Eastern Nigeria by the Nigerian security forces.”
The group also said that the 1999 constitution was enacted by the decree of former military head of state, Abdulsalami Abubakar, so it had “no recourse to the Nigerian people whatsoever.”
It, therefore, advocated for restructuring through community policing, allowing states control of their resources as well as decentralisation of federal powers.
Read the full statement by NIDOA below
June 6, 2021
H.E. Muhammadu Buhari
President of The Federal Republic of Nigeria
Aso Villa, Abuja
Dear President Buhari,
As a non-partisan group of incurable patriots fully invested in the continuing corporate existence of our dear nation as an indivisible entity based on equity, justice, harmony, and progress, Nigerians in Diaspora Organization, Americas (NIDOA), USA, wishes to share with you our thoughts on the future of our dear nation.
We are reaching out earnestly to you in view of the recent resurgence in separatist agitations in various parts of the country where tensions have boiled over partly because persistent calls for reconfiguration of our nation as a truly Federal entity has been punted by succeeding administrations.
We note that Decree No. 24 of 1999 enacted by the former military head of state, Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar and his Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (APRC) was the basis for the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria. There was no recourse to the Nigerian people whatsoever. That regime essentially bequeathed a unitary constitution that discountenanced the nation’s diversity in concentrating virtually all powers in the Federal Government which was awarded 68 items under the Exclusive Legislative List, including power, policing, aviation, banking, insurance, incorporation of companies, shipping, ports, railways, telephones, broadcasting and water resources. With states having no control over their resources, there is no incentive to create wealth. Instead, corruption is incentivized amid an endless competition among the states and federating units for power. With the level of poverty in the country and the absence of productive outlets for our teeming youth, non-state actors engaged in banditry, terrorism, and ethnic cleansing have prospered.
Mr. President, as you mark your sixth year in office, please permit us to address you on two important areas of concern to our members: National Security and True Federalism.
Nigeria has been scourged with multiple security challenges including terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, internecine ethnic skirmishes. These phenomena did not sprout up overnight. Causes range from lack of planning, communal distrust, corruption and incompetence to high youth unemployment, poverty, greed, nepotism, and compromised/ill-equipped security agencies. Experts have noted that Nigeria has not conducted a strategic analysis of its security systems and infrastructures since attainment of political independence in 1960. The result is that practices that even the British have jettisoned such as a centralized police force under the command of an Inspector General remain entrenched in Nigeria. Most advanced societies including the UK and the US have police at city, county and state levels so that they can effectively fight crime at local level with local personnel and command structure. Sadly, the systemic failures of our moribund policing and security architecture have enabled Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorist networks to run rampant.
NIDO Americas USA notes that growth cannot occur without security. Insecurity, and the instability it breeds, will continue to scare away potential investors while making it nigh impossible to guarantee the basic rights of Nigerians to life and liberty. We urge you to take immediate action as follows:
1. Move Nigeria swiftly in the direction of graduated level of jurisdictional policing authority predicated on community police philosophy which the Federal Government has sought to introduce since 2016. This is universal best practice. Police officers should be recruited and trained to serve in the localities/communities in which they have vested interest. Security officials should live in their jurisdiction and every local and state government should have a public registry of repeat violent offenders. Customs and Border patrols must be sanitized and overhauled to secure Nigeria’s porous borders and restore some modicum of geographical integrity. The mismanagement of the National Identification Number (NIN) scheme has, unfortunately, not helped in this regard.
2. Corruption continues to have a deleterious effect on our national security from misappropriation of funds budgeted for purchase of weapons to the institutionalization of nativism as a cardinal principle for appointment to sensitive, command positions. The campaign against corruption should be ongoing, total, non-discriminatory, and non-partisan. It should become ingrained in our national consciousness as a people.
3. Poverty and ignorance is another contributor to our national menace of insecurity to our large population of poor and uneducated citizens. Government must move swiftly to reduce and ultimately eliminate the number of out-of-school children by guaranteeing access to education which should be compulsory up to JSS level. Ditto for the unemployment situation in Nigeria which is a ticking time bomb. Government must implement policies that have direct impact on job creation and entrepreneurship development.
4. The diversity of Nigeria in religion and culture should not be viewed negatively but leveraged as a positive force for development. Secularity of the Nigerian state should be protected. Government should not be involved in proselytizing, funding pilgrimages and other acts that could be construed as favoring one faith over the other. Similarly, the federal government must – in addition to merit – always consider the multifaceted structure of the country, ethnically, religiously, and culturally in the appointment of security chiefs and the siting of security establishments, which appear lopsided at this time.
5. A lack of mentorship for the youths coupled with a tendency towards criminality, cultism and the greed for fast money-making by all means has been detrimental to national security: There is a need to mentor our youths and engage them positively in nation building. The government should provide skills acquisition training for our youth and ensure that they are gainfully employed or can start their own businesses after completing their training. Diligent effort should be made to identify and deploy simple inventions by local youth that could be deployed to improve the security situation in Nigerian.
6. Government should be even-handed in handling the multifarious security challenges confronting the nation. The prevailing perception is that terrorists of Fulani stock are being treated with kid-gloves
while suspected Indigenous Peoples of Biafra and Eastern Security Network members are being eliminated extra-judicially in the ongoing aerial and ground bombardment of parts of South-Eastern Nigeria by the Nigerian security forces. Such perceived inequitable treatment also ignited strong protests in the South-Western and Middle Belt regions of the country with Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State alleging that Nigerian security forces are complicit in an “ethnic cleansing” agenda.
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Mr. President, Nigerians in Diaspora Organization, Americas, USA, will continue to play a constructive role in national development. We are mobilizing support of Nigerian-American owned/managed businesses and not-for-profit organizations to invest in scholarships, skills acquisition, entrepreneurship and career development opportunities for Nigerian youth. The Federal Government is welcome to collaborate with us in this respect. We are available to meet with you and designated officials to address the root causes of ignorance, joblessness, and insecurity. We must properly educate our youth and get them engaged in productive work, realizing that an idle youth is the anarchist’s raw material for mischief.
Restructuring Towards True Federalism
No less a personality than Itse Sagay (SAN), the Chairman of your Presidential Advisory Committee on Corruption (PACAC), recently called for the re-adoption of Nigeria’s 1963 Republican Constitution, with slight amendments, to devolve more powers to the states. The solution proposed by Professor Sagay is, incidentally, the same as that of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) which demanded in 1994 that the nation reverts to its 1963 constitution which emerged from direct negotiations between Nigeria’s ethnic nationalities.
A brief recap of Nigeria’s post-1963 constitution-making efforts reveals that much effort and treasure has been invested, by successive governments and civil society organizations, with mixed success. Most of those efforts had been marred by the military domination of Nigeria’s civic space and lingering bitterness from the Nigerian Civil War which followed on the heels of the botched Aburi Accords.
Following sustained agitations for a Sovereign National Conference (SNC) which he resisted, President Olusegun Obasanjo convened the National Political Reform Conference (NPRC) in February 2005. Unlike the 1978 Constituent Assembly which preceded the first republic, none of the members were elected.
Out of 354, the president directly nominated 50 with 218 nominated by state governors and the FCT minister. The remaining 86 members were drawn from various groups, including 12 from the president’s political party. Even though one billion naira was budgeted for the 3-month exercise, there was no enabling law establishing the NPRC. Its work was essentially advisory in nature.
Then in 2014, President Goodluck Jonathan assembled 492 Nigerian delegates organized into 20 committees to deliberate for five months about the future of the country amid a backdrop of Boko Haram terrorist campaign and the restlessness of the people in the Niger Delta area who insisted on “resource control.” Under the chairmanship of retired Chief Justice Idris Kutigi, that national conference passed more than 600 resolutions and produced a 10,335-page report, at a princely cost of N7 billion. As was the case with the 1994/1995 Constitutional Conference convoked by late head of state, General Sani Abacha, those recommendations have never been implemented.
Mr. President, your party – the All Progressives Conference (APC) – raised hopes that this cycle would be broken when, in August 2017, it set up a 23-person committee headed by Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State to review the 2014 Confab report and articulate the party’s position on true federalism.
APC, in 2015 promised “to initiate action to amend the Nigerian constitution with a view to devolving powers, duties and responsibilities to states in order to entrench true federalism and the federal spirit.”
Moreover, Section 7 (2) of the APC constitution had provides for restructuring and fiscal federalism. The El-Rufai Committee recommended state police and devolution of powers to the component units. The Committee recommended that states control natural resources within their respective regions and then, pay taxes and royalties to the Federal Government. The committee also recommended that the 1999 Constitution should be amended to transfer some items such as food and drugs, fingerprint identification of criminals, registration of business names, labor matters, mines and minerals, the Police, prisons, public holiday, and stamp duties should from the Exclusive List to the Concurrent List to enable both states and the federal government to legislate on them.
While noting that the national assembly has set up another committee to review all previous reports and make fresh recommendations, NIDO Americas USA emphasizes the need for Nigeria to adopt a real Federal constitution before the 2023 elections with the 1963 Constitution and the report of the 2014 Constitutional Conference as basis. Such a new constitution should emerge from negotiations and resolutions of Nigeria’s constituent parts and must be subjected to referendum. In the meantime, we advise that steps be taken to assure Nigerians that they are valued stakeholders in the nation-building.
We urge you to play the statesman in promoting constructive engagement and dialogue across ethnicities, creed and class. We believe in the promise of a unified Nigeria where every citizen is treated with dignity and respect. Justice and fair play for all Nigeria’s constituents is an imperative. Let this be your legacy so that future generations of Nigerians will remember you as the president who reinvented Nigeria at its time of greatest vulnerabilities.
Thank you for the audience.
Dr. Eromonsele Idahosa (Edo State)
Dr. Jane Ekwonye (Abia State)
Dr. Yinka Tella (Oyo State)
Public Relations Officer
Dr. Moses Timta (Borno State)
Mr. Norris Giwa-Salvador (Lagos State)
Dr. Raymond Sowemimo (Ogun State)
Assistant Secretary General
Cc: Mr. Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation
Dr. Ahmad Lawan, President of the Senate
Hon Femi Gbajamiala, Speaker, House of Representatives
H.E. Dr Mrs. Uzoma E. Emenike, Ambassador/ Head of US Mission
Hon (Mrs) Abike Dabiri, CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM)