STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS BY DR SINA FAGBENRO-BYRON (Kowa Party Presidential Candidate)

As KOWA party and the SFB2019 campaign has consistently predicted, the Nigerian state is hitting its highest state of fragility and the future is bleak. The recent case of the CJN reflects constitutional contradictions that have led to crises in the Nigerian Judiciary.

The over-centralization of powers at the federal level via bloated exclusive legislative list makes nonsense of our diversity, and promotes an imbalance between the federal government and the federating units.

The absence of State Constitutions has deprived Nigerians of a State-level Social Contract and ensures that the state executive powers and the conduct of governors can hardly be challenged by local citizens. These all speak to a system that is assembled to fail, is failing and is heading for the abyss.

Governance, politics and the management of the Nigerian economy has been conducted in a manner that national interest has been subordinated to short term, narrow interests driven by individual political ambitions and commercial interests even in the face of growing losses of Nigerian lives, land and livelihoods, and ever increasing poverty.

This state of play is enabled by a grossly inadequate constitutional framework that weakens the citizen in favor of the governing and political elite and makes fundamental principles of state policy and protection of the ordinary citizen especially the poor, largely cosmetic.

Since its inception in 2010, KOWA party has identified our imperfect union as one of the grave ills that have plagued Nigeria’s development. Most importantly the poverty and hunger in the land is further reinforced by a constitution which encourages us to procreate without planning or feeling obliged to be responsible for the children we are bearing.

As a result of this we have 13.5 million children out of school; we have a 3.5% – 5 % population growth rate but a less than 1.5% economic growth rate. All these reflect that Nigeria is caught up in a vicious cycle of poverty.

The situation is so frustrating and dire that an appreciable number of Nigerian Youth, both boys and girls, have become produce for the world slavery and human trafficking market. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimate that over 44,000 Nigerians migrants are in Libya, most seeking to travel to Europe. In 2016 and 2017, Nigerians made up the largest single nationality of arrivals through the central-Mediterranean route at 21% and 16% of the total, respectively. CNN, in the November 2017, showed Nigerian citizens being auctioned as slaves in Libya.

How the mighty has fallen, Nigeria which started off as the Giant of Africa and the Hope of the Black race has become the Poverty Capital of the World and a main source of modern slavery. No less than a revolution can reverse this descent.

Our state of the nation is largely as a result of how we have treated the poor and the contempt which we have held the rights of the weak. We have kept people uneducated and in perpetual hunger. We give them enough to eat but not enough to be satisfied.

Our democracy is fed by ignorance and poverty and many politicians know that in order to get or remain elected they must rely on a continuous supply of ignorant and poor people who can easily be lured with a handful of naira and a bag of rice.

Our greatest instrument of suppressing the poor and keeping them poor is the impunity that our constitution constructively bestows on Government officials, political leaders and agencies of government.

Corruption is a by-product of impunity and impunity in Nigeria is aggravated by the over centralization of powers at the center which our 1999 constitution continues to perpetuate. Under the current circumstances, Nigeria is doomed to fail if this generation does not seize the moment and join hands to give ourselves a new constitution, a new direction, a new orientation and a new meaning predicated on the Dignified Inclusion of all Nigerians citizens as well as on a National Interest that is defined as the protection and preservation of Nigerian lands, Nigerian lives and Nigerian livelihoods.

All past Governments since 1999 know exactly what the issues are and why Nigeria is in this mess. Since 1999, all our governments have acknowledged the incongruence of our constitution and its inability to aid our development as a nation. They have included it in their manifestos. Where they have failed is the political will to act upon what they know is true beyond merely talking about it. We have had 3 major reports on political reform in Nigeria which speak to the restructuring question:

  • The Obasonjo Political Reform Report
  • The Jonathan National Conference Report
  • The APC Restructuring Report headed by the EL RufaiCommittee

Nigerians with the political will , working together, can save the country from imminent disaster, we can restructure this nation drawing from these consultations to draft and facilitate the enactment of a truly Federal Constitution that aids development instead of hindering it.

These three reports had the benefit of wide national consultation between 2001 and 2018 and could be largely considered as consultative assemblies. Each of these reports considered every situation or national question that could either aid or hinder political stability, social harmony and economic prosperity. Within these three reports are sustainable solutions provided by Nigerians to address a Nigerian dilemma which will continue to plague us until we address it. Drawing from these three reports we can draft a new and autochthonous constitution that speaks to the development needs of all Nigerians.

Kowa Party and myself wish to unequivocally state our position. As a party that speaks for all, speaks to all, is owned by all, works for all and is responsible to all, we are calling for an urgent democratic revolution for the restructuring of Nigeria through a concerted effort towards the enactment of a new constitution as soon as possible.

Specifically, all political parties know that Nigeria needs a new breath of life and that Nigeria needs to be restructured based on Shared Values and a Defined National Interest.

I am aware that several movements and coalitions that have been established were created to serve as a platform to drive the Restructuring of Nigeria. Significantly, the Nigerian Intervention Movement (NIM), CUPP and the Third Force Group; and KowaParty and I personally have always been at the heart of all these efforts.

The issue in point for this election is Restructuring Nigeria to secure our future as we cannot survive under this current state of affairs. KOWA party and my humble self are ready to lead and join hands with whichever political actors that will agree with us on the following Fundamental Restructuring Commitments to the Nigerian people:

  1. To submit An Executive Bill for a new Constitution within the first three months of the post-2019 Elections legislature. The Executive Bill would have been prepared during the transition period between election and swearing in and will reflective of our political settlement on rule of law, separation of powers, resource control, social justice, inclusion and true federalism.
  2. To set out an immediate plan and agenda to reduce poverty by 50-75% over the next four years. Through direct engagement of Nigerians including private sector and civil society in structured development programs, as well as commit to a Zero Tolerance For Illiteracy and the full nationwide implementation of the Child Rights Act
  3. To the reform of Nigeria’s entire security architecture without further loss to manpower and the total reclamation of Nigeria, inch by inch and life by life from the hands of terrorists, whatever name they may be called including Bringing back girls and others forcefully kidnapped.
  4. A Zero Tolerance to Impunity and Corruption, including taking steps to curtail the abuse of immunity.

We must be decisive and proactive now, and I therefore call on the leaders of NIM, CUPP and the Third Force to adopt a more strategic approach to ensuring that reactionary forces against Restructuring are tactically crowded out of political leadership in the upcoming elections.

A true Federation is born, where no one is held behind and that nation works for and protects all.

God bless you and God bless Nigeria,

Dr. Sina Fagbenro-Byron

Presidential Candidate

Kowa Party

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