A former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Charles Chukwuma Soludo, on Monday called for a single term of six years for the country’s presidents, suggesting also that five vice-presidents should serve at a time — one from each of the geo-political zones.
Soludo made the call at the Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka, Anambra State, while speaking at the South-East summit on restructuring Nigeria, during which the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr Nnia Nwodo described Nigeria’s constitution as a dead document, which needed to be reviewed.
“This constitution with which Nigeria is being governed is dead, so we ask that a new one be enacted. By asking for a new constitution, we are calling for a constitutional conference so that we the Nigerian people can adopt for ourselves a constitution,” Nwodo said.
While positing that having a vice-president from all geo-political zones will ensure the representation of all Nigerians in government, Soludo advocated that: “The tenure of office of the President shall be a single term of six years.
“There shall be five Vice Presidents. One from each of the six geopolitical zones.”
The former CBN chief maintained that to solve the agitations coming from the Igbo, there should a nation “that works” and that gives everyone a sense of belonging.
He said the Igbo demand a new constitution and a constitutional conference — backed by law — “where the people of Nigeria will agree on a new, truly, federal constitution.”
“A constituent assembly should be constituted to agree on a new constitution for a new Nigeria,” he said.
“Such a constitution, the People’s constitution should be approved by the people of Nigeria through a referendum to give it legitimacy and validity.”
The summit was attended by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana; Governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano; Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, former APGA Chairman, Victor Umeh; Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu and Niger Delta leader Edwin Clark, amongst others. Ayo Adebanjo led the South west delegation to the summit while Air Commodore Dan Suleiman led delegates from the North Central.
The Anambra state governor, Chief Willie Obiano, in an address of welcome, said, “We have come together today as a family, to strengthen the ties that bind us to fellow Nigerians in this big federation. Indeed, there is probably no better time for this conversation than now.”
Obiano regretted that in the past 58 years, Ndigbo have worked tirelessly with fellow Nigerians to lay the foundations for a better federation and a more perfect union, and have made the most sacrifices and more often than not, also paid the supreme price for the unity of this country.
He said, “But we have made these sacrifices in the belief that in the contemporary history of mankind, the road to nationhood is often paved with the blood of patriots. Indeed, Ndigbo have paid the price for Nigeria’s greatness. We paid in blood. We paid in full.
“The future summons us to a brighter dawn! And we must walk in the shadows of our fathers. Yes, our fathers played a major role in Nigeria’s long road to independence. And today, we have gathered to dream a balanced federation into existence for Nigeria and Nigerians.
“I have combed the pages of history and our contemporary times. And I boldly declare that I did not find a perfect human society anywhere. Every nation on earth is a work in progress. Citizens of both advanced and developing countries continue to ask their countries hard questions that will lead them to a better federation, a better nation and a better society. Nigeria cannot be an exception to this rule. So, we must ask Nigeria hard questions too!”
The Anambra governor stated that the pertinent question on everyone’s mind should be “what kind of country do Nigerians want Nigeria to be?”, stating that the question will determine Nigeria’s promise; Nigeria’s future and Nigeria’s greatness. He expressed delight that different ethnic groups and geo-political zones have made bold efforts to ask this question in recent times and that Ndigbo were using the opportunity of the summit to also ask same.
The Deputy Senate President, Ekweremadu, in his submission, lent his support to the clamour for the restructuring of Nigeria, assuring that the National Assembly would continue networking with other members in other parts of the country as no zone can effectively champion the restructuring campaign alone.
He pointed out that a restructured Nigeria would be to the benefit of all, and that no zone can truly claim to be the biggest beneficiaries of the restructuring campaign, as doing so would be a win win situation for all zones of the country.
In his speech, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, who chaired the event, said that in the life of any nation, there should be time to pause and reflect on the past, the present and the future. He said: “Today, things are no longer the way we want them. In as much as I believe that the future of the Igbo is great, there are some concerns. In 1966, Igbo didn’t know about the coup, but they were slaughtered in the civil war that lasted 30 months.
“Today, killings are taking place in Benue State, and it may be others in future. People talk about Fulani herdsmen. But we have Fulani people in government as senators, as ministers and traditional rulers, yet the killings have continued. The Federal Government of Nigeria should be grateful to Ohanaeze Ndigbo for coming up with a programme for the restructuring of the country for the benefit of all.”