Nigerian activist and prominent cultural leader Chief Gani Adams believes the only way out of Nigeria’s lingering institutional problems is to restructure the country constitutionally.
Adams, is the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland (a chieftaincy title last held by Moshood Abiola before his death in 1998 and was a factional leader the Yoruba socio-cultural group, the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC).
He spoke to ARISE News on Sunday where he discussed various issues in the aftermath of the peaceful #EndSARS protests by Nigerian youths, and the subsequent carnage perpetrated by hoodlums across the country.
“We have to know the genesis of the grievances of the youths regarding EndSARS,” Adams said. “Part of their demands included a change in the constitution.”
According to Adams, the youths have sacrificed a lot to push positive change in Nigeria.
“After they were attacked by the military on Tuesday, a lot has happened,” Adams continued, explaining that the realisation that Nigeria’s constituent units are too dependent on the federal government for security hit hard, with the Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu admitting he was not in charge of the situation.
“If we continue like this, the future of Nigeria is bleak,” he insisted. “That’s why I’ve clamoured for restructuring.”
Adams suggested going back to Nigeria’s 1963 republican constitution because “it was the only constitution written by the leaders of this country”.
“If Nigeria doesn’t restructure, it will break as soon as possible,” he repeated.
In Adams view, if Nigeria were to revert to regionalism, it shouldn’t go back to the three regions of 1960 but the current six geopolitical zones under the 1999 constitution.
Among other things, Adams blamed a lack of education and unemployment for the arson and looting witness across the country over the past week.
“Most of the kids committing these atrocities are not up to 20 years old, most of them are not employed.”
Adams went down memory lane to when he benefitted from free education and free health while growing up.
“If you have education till secondary school, you will know the implication of engaging in crime. If you take education away from your children, you will have problems.
“Most of the urchins that were destroying property live under the bridge. They know they have no future,” Adams explained.
Adams revealed the role he has played in deescalating the civil unrest in Lagos, even though the political leaders of the southwest region didn’t reach out to him.
“Of all the southwest governors, none of them has called to ask what I can do. Even if I was not Aare Ona Kakanfo, as someone who headed an organisation of about six million (OPC) people, they should have contacted me.”
He recounted how he cautioned against ethnic jingoism, by dousing tension that was building between different ethnic groups in Lagos as by warning against civil war.
“You cannot try to douse tension without proceeding solutions. We can’t move forward without going back to our constitution,” he said. “Nigeria is a country of many countries. You should not run a unitary system in a country of 200 million.”
He used the example of the US that operates a federal structure.
“Every region should develop at their pace. You bring 70 to 80% of power to the centre, but all crimes are local.”
Adams revealed that the OPC has helped with providing security. “The police stations that were not burnt were jointly protected by the police and the OPC. I’ve been receiving calls recently as many leaders requested for protection from the OPC.”
Adams had harsh words for the present crop of southwest leaders. “Most of them put on the cap of Awolowo but they don’t follow the ideology of Awolowo.”
He alleged that the wanton destruction of property by hoodlums in Lagos State was sponsored by politicians.
After being told by an ARISE anchor that it was an allegation that can’t be proven, he doubled down on his statement, claiming he could prove it.
“The burning of Orile station was the excuse to bring in a curfew. Were there protesters at Orile before the police station was burnt down? he asked.
He suspected that brute force would be used on the peaceful protesters before it happened, which was why he declined, he said.