By Cletus Opukeme, Warri
Roman Catholic Church Nigeria has joined the advocacy of restructuring, true federalism, justice and development for peace, unity for a greater Nigeria.
The Most Rev. John Okeoghene Afareha of the Catholic Church of Warri, through its organ Justice Development and peace commission (JDPC) presented a lecture under the theme ‘‘ Restructuring on the basis of federalism and emergence of a new Nigeria’’ said, ‘‘ God created man and endowed him with power to develop himself and his environment. These potentials deposited in man are expression of God immeasurable love. Jesus himself brought that love to its fullness as he went everywhere doing good and hearing all who were sick. While on earth, he was indeed an apostle of development. And realizing that there can hardly be development without peace, he preached peace and called on all to live in peace with one another. ‘’
The clergy said that fundamentals and primary activities did not benefit just Catholics or Christians alone, but all humanity, regardless of cultural backgrounds, religious beliefs, political parties or ethnic affiliation. ‘We are involved on the various aspects of human development such as Democracy and good governance, peace building, and conflict resolution, dialogue and reconciliation. Early warning, emergency preparedness and response, civic education, agriculture, science and technology and so on.’’ He stated.
On his part, Ijaw National leader, Chief Edwin Clark, chairman of the occasion who was represented by Alaowei Brodrick Bozimo lamented that ‘’ The nation cannot move forward, if the system does not undergo proper restructuring and allow true federalism to come to play in real terms’’ He noted that Nigeria is full of blessings and potentials, but further said those potentials, natural endowment human resources could benefit the nation only when the people decides the future of the nation by themselves on how it is going to be governed.
The governor of Delta state, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa who was also represented by the Commissioner of justice and attorney general of Delta state, Peter A. Mrakpor Esq.lauded the Church in Nigeria for their role for peace building and development. He said the Catholic church in particular in the state had came up with very laudable programmes that had played greatly in the growth and unity of the nation. He promised to always support the church to achieve the ideals of peace, unity and development of the state.
Professor Sunny Awhefeada of the Delta state University, joined in the same voice, lamented that it was long overdue Nigeria should be restructured. He noted that the current constitution was written by the Nigerian military in favour of a section of the country. He said the presidential system in place is a deception and fake, noting that the ideals of a presidential system of government is disguised with the barrel of the gun where the beneficiaries of the faulty system would continue to hold unto power with no of thought on restructuring and true federalism which the other parts of the nation clamour continuously.
His words, ‘‘The world is moving fast and we must deepen our commitment to technology even if it is homegrown. Our human capital will drive the new Nigeria that will thrive on innovation as we now talk about knowledge and digital economies. The fourth industrial revolution is here. So we must invest in literacy and technological education.
Economically, we have a lot of thinking and work to do. We need to diversify our economy, promote agriculture and harness all our potentials so that we can enjoy the wealth of nations. Our export profile is low and disturbing. This is the reason we suffer economic recession whenever the price of crude oil deepens. Our currency needs to be strengthened. The idea of denominating all our local economic transactions in dollars must be stopped. We need to come to terms with the international ill will against Africa with Nigeria as a target. We must therefore look beyond Europe and America in working out our economic salvation. We must be ready to take tough decisions and make sacrifices in order to evolve an economically stable Nigeria.
‘’It is not enough to close our borders to rice importation. Let us also close the borders to foreign medical attention and foreign education. Let us build our hospitals and schools and save the nation capital flight running into hundreds of billions annually. Our borders should also be closed to foreign fabrics, foreign cars, foreign food and other items manufactured overseas that we can manufacture here. We need to be serious as a people. Nigeria is where we have the economic illogicality of exporting crude oil and importing refined petroleum products. There is nothing in the world that Nigerians cannot manufacture. We only need the enabling support. The Nigerian civil war unlocked the Nigerian genius which for now is in bondage at home, but free and thriving in the diaspora. Many inventors celebrated all over the world today are Nigerians. Let them come home.’’
Continuing ‘‘China, Japan and India, countries that were less endowed and less promising than Nigeria in 1966, took the hard decision to look inward, be productive and self-sufficient. They have come out to be in contention as leading economies. We are often deluded as Africa’s biggest economy, but the reality is that we are the poverty capital of the world. We must change this narrative.
‘‘A frightening phenomena is our foreign loans and the tendency for China to recolonize us economically. The rush for foreign loans and aids have taken on a dangerous dimension as we are being plunged into acute insolvency. China, a country that had a more harrowing experience than Nigeria, has become our new creditor. China’s bilateral loans to Nigeria are a staggering US$2.6 billion and we hear that Niger Delta oil is the collateral. Nigeria is also heavily indebted to France, Germany and Japan. Nigeria’s national debt is US$88 billion!’’ he stated.
General Alexander Ogomudia (rtd), the Church has a lot to do issues concerning peace, justice, human rights , development and unity of Nigeria. He pointed that ‘‘Restructuring on the basis of true federalism in line with the best international practice. Restructuring is so scared to some section of Nigeria. Nigeria needs restructuring because the system is flawed. Restructuring has been in existence for time immemorial. There should be socio-political restructuring. If we do not restructure, we will live on borrow time’’ he stated.
His Royal Majesty, Charles Ayemi Botu, the paramount ruler of Seimbiri kingdom spoke in-line with the earlier speakers. He said the beneficiaries of the faulty presidential system refused the word restructuring in the country. He said that the only unifying factor of the country is the Niger Delta oil/Gas wealth which the North controls through a faulty system of government that favours them.
The traditional ruler asserted that during ‘‘ the era of cocoa, groundnut, the owners (Northern states) had 50% by 50% arrangement with the federal government. But in the time of oil and Gas in Niger Delta, federal government takes it all. This sharing formula does not favour the people of Niger Delta and therefore, the only solution for peaceful co-existence is restructuring and true federalism’’