‘The Fear of Losing Petrodollars is why Government is afraid of Restructuring – Cardinal Okogie
The Archbishop Emeritus of Lagos, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, has given his thoughts on the real reasons Nigerians are reluctant to consider restructuring the current federal system.
In a piece published on Vanguard, Cardinal Okogie says those who wrote the Constitution appeared to have in mind only a Nigeria awash with petro-dollars, and this constitutes impediments to meaningful discussions on charting a way forward for the country.
Nigerians are witnessing two scenes of a drama. Scene one is the drama of clamour and resistance – clamour for restructuring and resistance to restructuring of the federation, that is, if Nigeria can be called a federation in the proper sense of the word,” he wrote.
Scene two is the drama of accusations and mutual accusations. The party in power today accuses the party in power yesterday of corruption, and the party in power yesterday accuses the party in power today of the same offence. These two scenes cannot be ignored. What is going on, underscores the need to be truthful about our past and our present, so that our future will not be a continuation of falsehood and the corresponding failure to build a just society.”
The erudite cleric, who maintains the concept of restructuring remains vague even to its proponents, insists that the constitution must be reviewed before the country can rise above economic deprivation and instability.
“This Constitution was written by persons who appeared to have in mind only a Nigeria awash with petro-dollars. The number of government offices provided for by the Constitution can only be maintained by a stupendously rich Nigeria. That was the Nigeria of the 1970s, the era when the 1979 Constitution was drafted. And the 1999 Constitution is substantially identical with the 1979 Constitution. They both reflect the squander mania and prodigality of the period of their birth. The size of government we have is such that government is the largest employer of labour. It is extremely difficult, almost impossible, to prevent political office holders from placing men and women of their ethnic, religious and political affiliation on government payroll, even when they lack requisite intellectual, moral and technical competence.”
While taking the government to task on citizenship and its role in protecting it, Cardinal Okogie said that actual restructuring “is a call to reduce the power of government and its officials, a call to return the land and its wealth to the people, a call to make being in government a lot less lucrative than what it has always been. Given the fact that access to political power in Nigeria is access to Nigeria’s wealth, given the enormous privileges of enormous powers, it is going to be very difficult to convince people in power to have their power reduced. They are afraid of relinquishing power. That is why they are afraid of restructuring.”
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