Following the common notion that Nigeria’s legislators have underperformed in their duties of creating enabling laws, a PREMIUM TIMES columnist and Visiting Professor of Africa Studies at the University of Ghana, Legon, Pius Adesanmi has advocated for legislators to work part time.
Mr. Adesanmi, who was the lead speaker at the 2014 Obafemi Awolowo’s Commemorative Birthday Symposium held in Lagos, Tuesday, also called for the scrapping of bi-camera legislature for a single chamber legislature.
“Given the fact that to describe our NASS as corrupt and indolent is being nice, we need only one chamber and lawmakers should be working part time,” he said.
Mr. Adesanmi who extolled the legacy of the late Premier of the defunct Western Region, Obafemi Awolowo, popularly called Awo, also pushed for the adoption of independent candidates during elections, an idea Awo criticised.
Mr. Adesanmi argued that with the “idea poverty” within the country’s political parties “is it not time to give consideration to independent candidates? I should be able to rise above the rot and present myself to the people.”
The don said late Awo was the pioneer and the loudest advocate of true federalism in the country. He said, according to Awo’s autobiography, he started his pursuit for true federalism in 1928 when he was 18 years old.
“Awolowo was demagogic and vatic and that made him the loudest of Nigeria’s founding fathers that tried to direct Nigeria to the road path and not the bush path.”
“He spent also about 30 years before the era of independence, developing and applying his mind to the constitutional existence of a country. His effort at getting Nigeria’s constitution framework right was documented in series of essay, books and articles written by him over the years.”
“He championed the federal system of government as a binary opposition to unitary system recommending it repeatedly to Nigeria as the road while otherwise is forest.”
Mr. Adesanmi said what we call federation in Nigeria today is what Awo consistently criticized as unitarism. Awo warned that unitary constitution is always a source of conflict and once a federal constitution is introduced with adequate recognition for all the constituents with regional autonomy, all bitterness and hostility vanishes.
He told the audience at the symposium that Awo backed his call for true federalism with scientific and empirical research claiming that he had analysed the constitutional system of government of all the countries in the six continents of the world and concluded that any country where people with diverse religious groups, ethnicity or tribes, and most importantly, language differences are united, federalism is the best way to live together.
An appreciative South West
Also speaking at the event, the Governor of Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola, said if not for the developmental legacies of Awo, the situation of the South West will be as dire as that of the North East.
Mr. Aregbesola said the late Awo did everything to stamp out poverty and ignorance in the South West.
“Awolowo had no enemies in human beings. His enemies were poverty and ignorance and these were what he fought, for the entire span of his life, as he strove all his life to fight them.”
He said because Awo tackled poverty and ignorance head on, the region was emancipated economically.
“The creation of all shades of middle class by the Awolowo legacy is what is able to sustain our disjointed social structure. If not, what will happen in the southwest will be worse than what is happening in the south-south, south east and north eastern part of the country,” he said.
He praised Awo for initiating a free education policy and several successful economic policies. He however lamented that subsequent leaders in the region have failed to borrow a leaf from Awo’s leadership, thus the erosion of gains of Awo’s legacies.
A motivational speaker and pastor, Fela Durotoye, took a swipe at Nigerian leaders for failing to make commitment for the future like Awo did. He said this lack of future commitment is the reason the country has failed.
“People who benefitted from Awolowo’s free education but won’t let their grandchildren go to such schools having watched and let the schools collapse, are what has failed the country. Did we inherit education as we are giving it today?” He asked in reference to the decay of education across Nigeria.