THE NIGERIA QUESTION AND THE SINGLE TERM CONTROVERSY
The recent announcement that President Goodluck Jonathan would soon forward an executive bill to the National Assembly for the amendment of the Constitution to provide for a six year single term for the office of the President and Governors of the Thirty Six States heralds the beginning of an intense and expectedly acrimonious debate on the future of this geographical entity called Nigeria.
For too long, there had been persistent calls by many well meaning individuals in the country for a round table conference or by whatever name called, be it a sovereign or national conference where all the various ethnic nationalities will sit down together to decide the future of the country once and for all and fashion out a truly peoples' constitution that will satisfy the yearnings and aspirations of the entire people of Nigeria.
The present 1999 constitution which was the product of the military regime had undergone series of tinkering and piece meal amendments at various times in the recent past by the military themselves and later, the national Assembly under the present democratic dispensation. It is pertinent to emphasize here that no amount of selective amendments or tinkering of the 1999 constitution which was an imposition by the military on the people will ever satisfy the wishes and aspirations of the Nigerian people.
It should be noted however, that the military since their unconstitutional seizure of political power in January 1966 had always manipulated the Country's constitution including the 1999 anti-people constitution simply to suit their peculiar central command structure which in effect is Unitary System as opposed to the Federal System originally conceived and operated by our founding fathers. Our founding fathers had wisely adopted the Federal System of government as necessary safeguards and adequate guarantee for the unity and peaceful coexistence among the diverse ethnic nationalities that make up the entity called Nigeria.
The unitary system of government which the erstwhile military regime had adopted under the guise of Federal System and eventually handed over to the successive civilian administrations in the country was clearly an aberration which unfortunately, culminated in the present State of instability and serious threat to the continued unity and peaceful co-existence of the diverse ethnic groups in the country, thus calling to question the desirability of the country remaining as one United entity.
The current question in the minds of Nigerians however, is for how long will the people continue to live under the illusion of one united country when all available empirical indices on the ground continue to point to the fact that the basis for the so-called united country no longer exists. The reality of the present situation in the country therefore calls for sober reflection and soul searching on the part of our leaders.
The country is presently at a crossroads and as such urgent and concerted efforts must be made to rescue the nation from her continuous drift. Our leaders must as a mater of utmost urgency summon up the courage and take up the growing challenges posed by the very grave situation in the country by setting into motion immediately the mechanism for convening a national conference of all the diverse ethnic nationalities in the country to fashion out a new constitution that will satisfy the yearnings and aspirations of the people and thus put to final rest the continuous instability and drift in the country.