Monday 13 December 2021


 The title of this Blog post was the theme of a national discourse in Abuja on the 1st of December 2021. The parley was the brainchild of the 'National Prosperity Movement' (NPM). Prof. Attaghiru Jega (former Chairman of INEC), delivered the keynote address, where he traced the history of Nigeria's federalism and zeroed in on the 1957 McPherson Constitution as the very first truly federalist one. Jega noted the following:

*Nigeria has a distorted/dysfunctional form of federalism, which ought to be reversed.

*There are certain threats to national unity which include ethno-religious and promordial identities, hate speech, misinformation & fake news, lopsided citizenship rights, dangerous and genocidal narratives about e.g. the farmer-herder crisis/the BH insurgency and irredentist militancy.

*Governance at the federal, state and local government levels leaves much to be desired.

*Nigeria is hurting and craving for a better political recruitment process.

Jega recommended the following:

*Communities should uphold and protect the rule of law and citizenship rights: All citizens should have equal rights wherever they reside. A clause may be entrenched in the Constitution, stipulating the qualification for residency.

*There should be focused and targeted programmes of socialisation in schools to instill core values in the students. The content of the 'Civics' curriculum needs to be stepped up. There should also be citizenship and leadership training programmes.

                                                      Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa @ the event

Other speakers were: Dr. Kayode Fayemi (Governor of Ekiti state), Prof. Bayo Olukoshi (Director of Africa & West Asia of the International Institute forDemocracy & Electoral Assistance - IDEA), Dr. Amina Salihu (Senior Programme Officer, McArthur Foundation), Ms. Ene Ede (Gender Activist/VAPP Coordinator, FCT), Dr. Nwosu, Prof. Jideofor Adibe.

In my intervention, I talked about the need to effectively include vulnerable groups like women, PLWDs, etc in the governance process. Safe spaces should be provided for them because the playing field is not level. I also said that the indigene today was the migrant yesterday. Both indigenes and settlers are citizens of Nigeria. Therefore the issue of citizenship rights needs to be further interrogated...

                       L-R: Prof. Bayo Olukoshi (Director IDEA - Africa & West Asia) & Dayo.

Dr. Kayode Fayemi said there's nothing heroic in dying for a cause dialogue can fix. It's better to jaw-jaw than to war-war. No country was created as a united entity at the outset. Most countries are forms of mergers and acquisitions like Nigeria. Initial conditions are never perfect. Disunity is not a fatalistic condition. In the face of challenges, we must put the issues that affect us in better perspective. Unity  benefits from horizontal and vertical solidarity. Solidarity should not sideline professionalism, inter-group or inter-generational cohesion. Fayemi then launched 'The Nigeria Agenda for Unity, Prosperity & Equity'. He gave a red card to all negative agenda in order to stabilise Nigeria on an even keel.

What can I say? If we could all start over, we could indeed have a relatively united Nigeria...

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