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Ooni Of Ife, Bishop Onaiyekan Add Voices to Calls For Nigeria’s Return To Parliamentary System

The monarch and the cleric made their positions known on Saturday on separate occasions in Abuja.

The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, and the Emeritus Catholic Bishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, have expressed support for the push by 60 members of the House of Representatives for the return of Nigeria to a parliamentary system of government.

The monarch and the cleric made their positions known on Saturday on separate occasions in Abuja.

Ooni made his position known while addressing a delegation of lawmakers led by the House Minority Leader, Hon Kingsley Chinda and Hon Abdulsamad Dasuki who visited him in Abuja at the weekend.

The lawmakers visited the monarch to solicit his counsel, blessings, and support for the three proposed bills which seek to restructure elections at local, state, and federal levels.

The bills are: Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2024 (HB.1115); Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2024 (HB.1116) and; Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2024 (HB.1117).

Oba Ogunwusi commended the lawmakers, saying that there was a need to create healthy competition among the six geopolitical zones in the country.

He added that the parliamentary system would effectively unlock and harness the country’s huge natural and human resources for effective development.

He described the current presidential system as accidental, regretting that the parliamentary system of government practised after the independence was short lived because of military incursion which toppled democracy.

The monarch said, “It’s a mistake of the past that people are saying it’s the northern people that are holding it, they want to. It’s a lie, if the people see data of what is in the north now, I am very sure they would be the ones that will say let us do that thing now.

“Some people call it restructuring, some people call it true federalism, some people call it devolution of powers, all in all, it is the same thing.

“The white elephant, we don’t want to talk about it. It has got to the time unless we want another problem for us in this country. We have got to the wall but you have made a name for yourselves,” Ooni explained.

Speaking on the issue, Onaiyekan, also threw his weight behind the parliamentary system of government, saying that it was time for Nigeria to change to a system of governance that would reduce corruption and bring government closer to the people.

Onaiyekan stated this during the weekend at a policy dialogue on the new governance structure for Nigeria, organised by the Abuja School of Social and Political Thought (ASSPT), in Abuja.

“It is time for a change. One thing is definitely sure, we cannot continue the way we are going.

“If we decide to retain the system we have now, it must change the way it is practiced.

“If the easiest way to change is to change the system, then let’s go ahead and change the system to parliamentary, with all its advantages and disadvantages,” he added.

According to him, anything that will bring the government closer to the people, and reduce discretion for stealing and corruption will be good for the nation.

“My understanding is that the parliamentary system is built in such a way that it will not be so easy to steal such humongous sums of money, and misuse of our natural resources legally.

“The problem of this nation is that government people are stealing legally, they don’t even feel that they are stealing.

“According to my own understanding, if you take more than you deserve, you have stolen.’’

Onaiyekan cited the provision of pension for governors, saying it was not fair after being well paid to be legally entitled to houses, cars, and other things, while a retired police officer goes home with a meagre sum as pension.

He also said that restructuring, not constitutional amendment, will save Nigeria.

The Cardinal said that the Nigerian Constitution has consistently failed to provide a clear framework for governance and religious affairs, resulting in confusion and inefficiency within the governance system.

He also advocated for the decentralisation of power to allow for effective governance and decision-making at the local level.

On its part, a representative of the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Dr Akin Fapohunda, called for the provision of a clearly defined process for the restructuring of the country.

“The bottom line is that we have no process. We are seeing the good but we have not defined the process, milestones, and timelines that’s what is missing.

“We agree that the house is rotten and it needs to be pulled down and we should design an alternative model, which you are now selling,” Fapounda said.

Juliet Akoje

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