Former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega has warned that Nigeria is dancing on the precipice and may collapse if not restructured sooner than later.
Jega who described Nigeria’s federal system as the worst among contemporary federations, noted that the federation lacks the key principle of a federal system, which according to him, is unity in diversity.
The former INEC chairman who made the remarks while delivering a lecture at the 7th Goddy Jidenma Foundation Public Lecture on Tuesday at the Muson Centre, Lagos, also decried the growing insecurity in the country, noting that Nigeria is a rapidly failing state which could become a failed state if urgent steps were not taken to reverse the trend.
He noted that increasingly Nigeria’s territorial integrity is being challenged, and as today, government no longer has control of large swaths of the country’s territorial space, which according to him, could continue to get worse.
Jega noted that the current security architecture was incapable of of tackling the country’s security challenges, and called for immediate establishment of state police.
According to him, “No reasonable person should oppose state police in Nigeria today.”
Jega also berated the government of President Muhammadu Buhari for, according to him, mismanaging the country’s diversity, noting that the country is today more divided than ever, but cautioned against any potential attempt by his successor to emulate him, which could them drive the country into a vicious cycle of nepotism.
The former INEC boss who presided over the country’s general elections in 2011 and 2015, equally noted that Nigeria’s democracy is becoming increasingly dictatorial, while calling on the populace to wake up and get involved in governance.
He said, “We must use democracy not just a basis for attaining good governance, but also as a basis for ensuring that whatever governance process, we are following democratic norms.
“This is very important because when we review Nigeria’s situation, while we think we are democratising, and while we may be happy that we have 21 years uninterrupted elections, our democratic culture is being eroded and we are confronted with the threat of authoritarian reversal.”
Jega who regretted that the country’s democracy is still dominated by military officers, called for a paradigm shift, while rallying Nigerians to get involved in the democratic process.
He said the country needed a third force, as according to him, the two dominant political parties, the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressive Congress have shown that they are incapable of providing leadership for the country.
Commending the Goddy Jidenma Foundation for organising the lecture, Jega described the late Goddy Jidenma in whose honour the foundation was founded as a worthy Nigerian who contributed his energy and intellect to national development.
In her own remarks, Dr. Nike Akande, former Minister of Industry who chaired the event, said the late Jidenma contributed immensely to national development, especially during his tenure as a commissioner in Anambra State.
Also speaking, Prof Pat Utomi, Chairman of the Foundation’s Board described the late Jidenma as a committed Nigerian who was passionate about improving society.
He paid tribute to his wife, Dr. Ije Jidenma whom he described as an extraordinary person who has never give up spirit.
In her own remarks, Dr. Ije Jidenma, founder of Goddy Jidenma Foundation, called on all well meaning Nigerians to rise to the challenge of rescuing the country from the brink.
She said insecurity has become part of daily life in the country, which must not be allowed to continue.