The Nigerian youths seems to have fond their voices and are beginning to contribute tnational debate on issues plaquing the country. Otunba Damilare popularly known and called King White is one of those youths who have questioned the composition of Nigeria. King White is a youth commander, an activist and a fast-rising agitator for restructuring and believes the only way out of Nigeria’s lingering institutional problems is to restructure the country constitutionally. He spoke to Momentous magazine while he won’t give up in the campaign to get Nigeria restructured…
What do you think should be done to really rescue Nigeria from total collapse?
There should be constitutional restructuring of Nigeria to return our country to true federalism. We can achieve this through an executive bill presented to the National Assembly and the President accenting to it. If I am elected President of Nigeria, this is what I will do. I will meet with the leadership of the National Assembly to come to a broad agreement on the National Assembly’s critical role in constitutional restructuring. I will lobby to get it done.
As the President, I will appoint a high-level Presidential Commission on Constitutional Restructuring. The Commission will be made up of seven members who will be distinguished personalities with unimpeachable records, including a member from each of the six geopolitical zones and its task will be to review previous reports and recommendations on constitutional restructuring.
Don’t you think this is another long politicking considering the fact that Nigeria have gone through this in the past?
What do you expect when there is no genuine political will? For instance, we have positions, arguments and recommendations which supposed to be the bases for restructuring. So, my Commission is to make further recommendations of its own and the exercise will not take more than three months. Then, the report of the Presidential Commission will be followed by a widespread sensitization and consultation by my government with citizens and stakeholders in all parts of the country. The aim will be to “manufacture consent” from our citizens for a constitutionally restructured Nigeria that paves the way for buy-in to an executive bill on restructuring.
Yes, the next step will be the submission of an Executive Bill to the National Assembly. Overall, the process of constitutional restructuring of the Nigerian state will take a realistic period of 18 months. There should be a transitional period of two years that enables the new constitution to take effect and that is it.
Are you aware that a section of this country has refused to hear or may be ignorant of the working of constitutional restructuring?
Restructuring is opposed by two main kinds of people: those who are ignorant of what it really means, and therefore are susceptible to arguments that cast the idea falsely as a “breakup” of the country, and those who know the truth but are wedded to vested interests and self-serving agendas that have nothing to do with Nigeria’s real progress.
There are skeptics. These are persons who validly wonder if restructuring will cure-all that ails Nigeria, and believe that the exercise may create more problems than it will solve. Among them, we can count some compatriots that believe that individual leadership fails more than a structural one. That’s the real problem with our country.
How far have you gone with this campaign?
The case for this argument is that structural changes in a redesigned federation will be inadequate without a “restructuring” of the Nigerian mindset which has become increasingly warped. Truly, had Nigeria developed the kind of competent leadership it needed decades ago, the argument for restructuring would have been less compelling. The reality, however, is that our country is far too gone in the wrong directions – such as an exclusive reliance on oil that fundamentally militated against economic development and transformation. A majority of Nigerians now want the country restructured. There is no alternative to it now. The path to national unity and development lies in recognizing this truth and acting on it with the necessary political will. We must ignore the misguided, military-command-and-control notion of national cohesion that pretends that there can be unity and stability without equity and justice. I believe that restructuring is necessary and inevitable. Some stakeholders may dismiss the prospect because of a fear of the loss of perceived political advantage. But no one has anything to fear in an intelligently restructured Nigeria. There can be no peace without justice.
Don’t you think that Nigeria may lose her design and outlook and may find it difficult to restart as a nation?
The question is not whether Nigeria will be redesigned, but when and who will lead the process of achieving that outcome in which every Nigerian, regardless of tribe, tongue and creed, could be a winner. Let me also warn that there is nothing inevitable about the idea of an indissoluble Nigeria. We know of other countries, such as the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, that broke up into several nations.nigeria is the last ofgicial federation bequeathed by the UK as an imperial power whichi s the one country. Others, such as India (which split to become India and Pakistan, with Bangladesh later breaking off from Pakistan) and Sudan which today is Sudan and South Sudan, are examples. There is no question in my mind that Nigeria will not survive a rejection of constitutional restructuring to cure its inherent ills.
So, the fear of constitutional restructuring is the beginning of wisdom?
And the most likely scenario is one in which this occurs with violence that may not be successfully repressed by military operations such as “Python Dance”, “Lafia Dole”, “Crocodile Smile” (it is really difficult to imagine a smiling crocodile!). I have set out a clear roadmap for restructuring Nigeria. There are too many details in such a historic exercise, should it happen, the country will be batter. But what I have attempted to do, as I always have done with issues facing our dear country, is to bring conceptual and execution clarity and timelines. I have the political will to lead the restructuring of our country in the manner in which it must be done ease in truth and all honesty to save Nigeria. It is easy for politicians to make promises in order to get votes. We know, though, that our experience has been that they don’t keep those promises, or at best in the case of restructuring might be tempted to pull off a surface exercise to fulfill all righteousness while the real issues remain. I am not a politician yet, but am one of Nigeria youth leader. My vision for restructuring Nigeria is not a promise. It is a plan. And I have a plan to execute that plan and work on the 2014 national confab recommendation.