By Chekwas Okorie
Nigeria’s 63 years of independence is checkered. I was already seven years old at independence. The celebration was palpable and widespread.
As a pupil in a primary school, we were assured of a glorious future. Civics, a social science subject dealing with the rights and duties of citizens, was part of our primary education curricula during our time. We were nurtured with a high sense of responsibility and patriotism.
At the turn of 1963, barely three years after independence, Nigeria had become a Federal Republic made up of four regions, namely, the Northern region, Western region, Midwestern region, and Eastern region.
The regions enjoyed substantial levels of autonomy. There was healthy competition among the regions. Development was rapid.
At the level of the Federation, Revenue allocation was based on the formula of 50% by derivation. The eastern region became the fastest-growing third-world economy based on the Guinness World Records.
The other regions also recorded impressive developmental strides in education and human capital resources. With the benefit of hindsight, the leadership Nigerians had at that time was the best ever. My generation still refers to that era as the good old days.
Nigeria held great promise. The military coup of 1966, which toppled the Federal Government led by Alhaji Tafawa Balewa as Prime Minister and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, as President, shattered the great promise Nigeria held and plunged the country into what has become an irreversible retrogression in all conceivable respects.
The erstwhile fast-developing Northern Region, which is now made up of 19 States, has the unenviable tag of the poverty capital of the world.
The worst thing that hit Nigeria hard is the imposition of the 1999 Constitution on the people without their consent which a national referendum on the document would have resolved the vexed issue of its acceptability or rejection. Nigeria lost its essence as a Federation since the military incursion in the governance of the country.
The 1999 constitution was mischievously designed to either retrogress or stagnate development with the overwhelming majority of the citizens holding the short end of the stick.
Many well-meaning Nigerians look up to President Tinubu to initiate without delay the process of restructuring Nigeria. The President’s efforts to heal the nation and close the gaping divisions must be sustained to restore a sense of equal citizenship to Nigerians.
Similarly, the National Assembly must prioritize the review of the electoral laws. They must make the full electronic voting system a mandatory provision in our electoral laws.
I urge President Tinubu to use every presidential dispensation available to him as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces to introduce State Police/Community to tackle squarely insecurity from the grassroots. The present arrangement of deploying Police personnel to areas they are resented and suspected of by the occupation army makes intelligence gathering and policing ineffective and unproductive.
The President may start by directing the Inspector General of Police to carry out the immediate redeployment of police personnel from the position of Divisional Police Officers downwards to their respective States or Local governments of origin. This should be treated as a matter of national emergency.
This singular measure will douse the tension of insecurity in the country to the lowest ebb.