A former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, has said that his experience working with 54 diverse countries showed that a less dominant Federal Government is what Nigeria needs to achieve political stability and economic growth.
Anyaoku noted that it was wrong for Nigeria to adopt the United States as a model because of the US's largely immigrant population but it should rather model after India, which has a diverse indigenous population.
The former Commonwealth chief made these remarks at the 2021 Awolowo Memorial Lecture: Whither Nigeria, where he was the Special Guest of Honour.
Anyaoku said, “My first point is that there is no section or ethnic group in Nigeria that does not stand to benefit from belonging to the one country of the size and resources of present-day Nigeria. Therefore, it is, and should be in the common interest of all its ethnically and religiously diverse component parts to sustain, nourish and progress our one country.
“My second point is that the current state of affairs in Nigeria is not sustainable if the country is to avoid becoming a failed and broken state. There are undeniable facts about the current situation in Nigeria.
“In addition to the country’s economic under-performance with its evident consequence of growing poverty among the population, there is worsening insecurity of life and property which is now spreading from the North to all parts of the country.
“My third point is to say once again that it has become clear that these national challenges cannot be effectively tackled under our present type of federal system of government.
“After my over 34 years close association with governance in the 54 diverse Commonwealth member countries, I can say with reasonable confidence that from the experiences of other countries, a federal system that is based on more economically and socially viable federating units with a less dominant central government, is what will restore Nigeria to greater political stability and a more assured economic growth.
“I believe that in constitutional governance, the model for Nigeria should be India not the United States of America. US has a mainly immigrant population where it is relatively easier for its leaders to define the country’s national ethos that underpins its constitutional practice.
“In contrast, India is a country of diverse population whose component parts have lived in their separate areas for centuries, but which has succeeded in sustaining a united country and a thriving democracy.
“Nigeria’s national attributes have much more in common with India’s, and so a Nigeria with a governance structure that is informed by its national attributes, can, I believe, aspire to equal if not surpass the level of democratic political stability and economic development that India has achieved with its own style of federal system of governance.”
Anyaoku added that he called on the Nigerian government and the National Assembly to urgently organise an all-inclusive national dialogue.
“The dialogue should take into account the recommendations of previous national conferences, and the many proposals emanating from various major stakeholders, with a view to modifying our present governance structure and producing a consensus Constitution that can truthfully be described as the product of us, the people of Nigeria,” he said.