Only Amendment to Constitution Will Engender Desired Change in Nigeria, Says Obi Edozien

Only Amendment to Constitution Will Engender Desired Change in Nigeria, Says Obi Edozien

…As Asagba of Asaba centenary activities kick off

By Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba

Ninety-nine year- old Obi Chike Edozien, the Asagba of Asaba, Delta State, has warned that sincere restructuring through amendment to the nation’s Constitution remains the panacea to successfully address the challenges of poverty and insecurity in Nigeria.

Obi Edozien, who noted that ethnicity, which has not abated from the situation it was about 50 years, and pervasive corruption, were at the root of the problems of poverty and insecurity that have greatly undermined Nigeria’s democratic and threatened her very existence with a significant portion of the population practically losing faith in the system.

He asserted that it remains an uphill task to expect to successfully tackle or overcome the country’s multifaceted problems while the traditional rulers and institution were excluded from the nation’s Constitution.

Obi Edozien, who is Nigeria’s first professor of medicine and the country’s most educated traditional ruler, made these assertions while speaking with newsmen in his palace in Asaba, weekend, reflecting on issues of Nigeria’s national, socio-economic, cultural and political growth and development especially since Independence in 1960.

The deep reflective dialogue on Nigeria’s progress and prospects for national greatness is part of a seven-month programme of activities lined up for the Centenary Celebration of the Asaba monarch, who will clock 100 years in July 2024, according to legal luminary, Chief Chuk Nduka-Eze, the Isama Ajie of Asaba Kingdom, who moderated the interview session.

The Asaba monarch said that his greatest wish and prayer for Nigeria and Nigerians in 2024, which coincides with his 100th birthday, was for the country to be rescued for her destined greatness among the comity of nations through a realistic tackle on the cankerworm of “ethnicity and widespread corruption in the country”.

On basic steps to change the country’s current unpleasant narrative, Obi Prof Edozien stressed that amendment to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is inevitable. “If there will be a change, there will be amendment to the Constitution.”

He said that there was need to identify “what are the causes of corruption and how best to solve it, because for now majority of Nigerians cannot do something without seeking first their benefits. That is the attitude we have today. We need to have a change of mind because with this kind of attitude there can never be sustainable development”.

Obi Edozien said, “I believe Nigeria is a great country. We need to have peace and development in Nigeria. But my observation is that an average Nigerian does not have any idea, no trust. Is it truth, is it 419! So, we have come to a stage that anything we hear is false unless proven right. There is need to fight that disease called corruption if we want Nigeria to get out of the problems we are having now.

“We have to fight poverty and improve on the economy. At Independence, two dollars make one naira; but today one dollar is over a thousand naira. Most of the people who are not working need to be engaged.

“The level of corruption in Nigeria is surprising, shocking. Two things we need to do: one is to amend the constitution to bring in the traditional rulers for us to be one because today the traditional rulers and the people are out of the system.

“The ethnic issue is a very strong matter in the mind and heart of the people in Nigeria”, he noted, adding that it would be better if the about 250 ethnic groups in the country would agree to a constitutional amendment that would create multiple ‘nations’ from Nigeria as presently constituted, as an enduring cure for ethnic negativity.

“Perhaps, it is a call for autonomy to deferent units that make up Nigeria. Like the Delta State to become one nation.

“Nigeria should create like 10 different ‘nations’ and (these) can cooperate like the European Union to reduce the tension of ethnicity in Nigeria.”

Asked if he considered the ethnic challenge in Nigeria as better today or worse than previously, noting that a novel introduction or creation of a ‘Faculty or Department of Nation Building’ in Nigerian universities could be the way to go concerning the grave issue.

Prof Edozien said, “From my own observation and watching their interplay of personalities of Federal Government, I think the ethnic issue is as strong today as it was 40 years ago; and, one of the things I suggested in different quarters was university should create faculty or department of nation building. We are trying to put over 250 ethnic group into one nation.

“I think it’s something to study in Nigeria nation building to reduce the problem of ethnicity, because it is a very, very strong problem of putting 250 ethnic groups in one nation.”

Nonetheless, the erudite traditional ruler also had a special message for the country’s leaders in all areas and at all levels, urging them to stand out to be counted by shunning ethnic tendencies and fighting the menace of corruption with courage and candour.

“I believe that Nigeria can be a very great nation indeed. We need to have peace and development in Nigeria. And, one of the major problems and setbacks in Nigeria is corruption. We need to fight corruption resolutely and to create jobs to engage more youths. Then, the Constitution should be revised to bring in the traditional institution, which is currently shut out of the system.”

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