By Kodilinye Obiagwu
UNIVERSITIES in the country have been urged to collaborate with other professionals on a national dialogue to seek options in resolving questions that threaten the political health of the nation, instead of shy away from the contentious issues of governance.
Former president of the South East, South-South Professionals of Nigeria (SESSPN) and convener of the Concerned Nigerian Professionals and Entrepreneurs Forum (CNPEF), Mr. Emeka Ugwu-Oju, made the call Saturday, at the 2nd Home-Coming Event of the Department of Economics, University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN).
Ugwu-Oju, who chaired the occasion, noted the auspicious nature of event, where the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele delivered a keynote lecture, “The Dilemma of Monetary Policy and Exchange Rate Management in a Recession: Potential Options for Nigeria.”
Ugwu-Oju stated that in this homecoming, “there are two issues tearing the nation apart at the moment. One is self-determination and the other is political and economic restructuring of Nigeria.
“On the self-determination front, we hear of Islamic Caliphate of Nigeria, Biafra, Oduduwa Republic and Niger Delta Republic. But the two very active movements at the moment are the Islamic Caliphate of Nigeria being championed by the terrorist group, Boko Haram which at a point in time occupied vast swathes of Nigerian territory. And then the Biafran movement led by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, (IPOB).
“In the arena of restructuring, you have the Southern Elders and Leaders on one side of the debate and the Northern Elders and Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) on the other side.
“To make matters worse, the President, Muhammadu Buhari, has been indisposed for a reasonable length of time but luckily we have an Acting President whose handling of issues, courage in the face of danger, humility and patience in the midst of provocation, have combined to create an atmosphere of inclusion, douse the raging inferno of national distrust and hold at bay the looming national implosion.”
Seeking a role for higher institutions at this time, Ugwu-Oju asked, “but in all this national ferment, where are the institutions of higher learning? It is expected that the higher institutions should provide leadership and direction in the current discourse on the national question.
“The UNN was the main center of discourse prior to the declaration of independence of Biafra in 1967. What is the situation now? Has the university’s Faculty of Social Sciences organized any major colloquium on the Biafra question?”
Further illustrating a role of intellectuals and professionals in developing options for national renaissance and growth, Ugwu-Oju explained how professionals in “the 11 states of the South-East and South-South (SESS) zones, recently facilitated a 20-year Development Road Map (DASESS 2035) that will enable the zones to become the leading region of the MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey) economies, by 2035.
“We examined various scenarios that will make the plan realizable with or without major earnings from oil and gas.
“We concluded that the plan cannot be achieved by the SESS region in Nigeria, as presently structured and organized. We also stated that the plan can be achieved outside the Nigerian nation using the appropriate DASESS 2035 governance template and that the SESS region will do much better within than outside Nigeria if the DASESS 2035 governance template is adopted in Nigeria.
“It is with that in mind that some concerned Nigerian professionals and entrepreneurs under the platform of CNPEF to encourage professionals from the current six geo-political zones of the country to engage their peoples to fashion out a governance template that will fast track and diversify the economy of the zones and which can then be aggregated and agreed upon at the national level.
“Already the southern part of Nigeria is in the process of aggregating their economic road-map to be followed by a political structure that can make the plan realizable.”
Anticipating a collaboration between the Forum and the nation’s institutions of higher learning, he charged the Faculty of Social Sciences of UNN to urgently organize a national colloquium on self-determination and restructuring.
According to him, such a colloquium should ponder posers like, “can the status quo, where emphasis is on cake sharing and not wealth production, guarantee sustainable economic development, national unity and political stability especially now that the cake (oil and gas revenue) is shrinking rapidly with the emergence of viable alternative energy sources and the increasing conversion of automobiles from petrol to electricity?
“Can the presidential system as practiced where institutional checks and balances are treated with utmost levity, where impunity is the rule rather than the exception and which produces emperors instead of servants, pave the way for the emergence of genuine constitutional democracy and, by extension, rapid economic development?
“Going by the dictum that those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable, are those who are wont to ignore genuine grievances, who dismiss honest dialogue not saying, ‘To your tents Oh Israel,’ in the face of Biafra, Oduduwa and Arewa republics among many burgeoning fault lines in the present Nigerian federation?”