A former Deputy President of the Senate, Dr Ike Ekweremadu, has weighed in on calls for ceding the presidential tickets of the major political parties to the South East, saying while it is possible to have a president of Igbo extraction in 2023, the zone must engage the northern part of the country in dialogue.
This was as he tasked the Federal Government on the need to devolve power to the states, saying with the increasing wave of insecurity as well as serious economic challenges, it has become expedient to so do.
Ekweremadu, who still represents Enugu West Senatorial District, gave the advice on Wednesday in Abuja at a book presentation titled: ‘Pitch: Debunking Marketing’s Strongest Myths’, authored by brands strategist, Ikem Okuhu.
According to him, “there is clamour for Igbo presidency today. And I believe it can only be realised if we engage ourselves in conversation with northern Nigeria to buy into our initiative”.
The senator also pooh-poohed the Federal Government over the current economic downturn and increasing cases of banditry as well as kidnapping, accusing it of vehemently acting tone-deaf to the numerous well-thought-out solutions being proffered by patriotic Nigerians.
He lamented that democracy which was supposed to be a people-centered mode of government has been so bastardized by some politicians who tend to distance themselves from the people once they elected into offices.
“Today, Nigeria is in the full grip of widespread insecurity- insurgency, banditry, abductions, armed robbery, and all manner of violent crimes. Nigerians have been offering solutions towards taming the rising wave of criminality.
“These include calls for decentralised policing, which I am a proponent of and also have a Bill to that effect currently before the Senate.
“Unfortunately, it appears the government is bent on doing the same thing over and over but ironically hoping to get a different result.
“In the same manner, many Nigerians, including yours sincerely, have been shouting it on the rooftops long before the current economic downturn occasioned by drastic and protracted decline in oil revenues, that the days of high oil revenues were numbered.
“The West and other developed nations are setting targets to move away from oil. Yet we are not even close to activating other abundant sources of income because our federalism is wired for wealth sharing rather than wealth creation.
“Even in the 7th National Assembly when we listened to the yearnings of Nigerians to amend the constitution to devolve aviation, power, railway, etc. from the Exclusive List to the Concurrent List, it was never assented by the Presidency.
“Now that the chicken has come home to roost, let us hope that the Federal Government will listen to the voices of reason, devolve powers, and not continue with the micromanagement of the nation’s resources”, he stated.
On building national cohesion, Ekweremadu said: “Nigeria is now divided as never before. The chasms are increasing by the day. Elder statesmen and women, writers, and other well-meaning Nigerians have continued to raise the alarm that the nation is drifting apart.
“They have equally continued to proffer suggestions on how we can engender national cohesion, justice, and equity. We will continue to pray that the government heeds their patriotic calls and suggestions.”
While he called for the expansion of the scope of the referendum in the 1999 Constitution and use of public hearing in the appropriation process, Ekweremadu also recommended the Enugu State Government’s Visit Every Community (VEC) and One Community One Project (OCOP) as well as Enugu West Peoples Parliament as laudable models for engendering accountability and people-driven development.
The author of the book, Mr Okuhu, emphasised the need for more citizen engagement in democratic governance as he announced a quarterly initiative, “Conversations on a New Nigeria”, a platform to engineer building a united and prosperous Nigeria.