The founder of the Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, Aare Afe Babalola (SAN), has said the news of crude oil discovery in the North gladdens his heart, because such a discovery will hasten the restructuring of the country.
This was as he backed the new constitution being proposed by the National Assembly, saying it would ensure rapid development of Nigeria’s federating states and geopolitical zones.
Babalola spoke in Lagos on Wednesday at the maiden edition of the Goke Omisore Annual Lecture organised by the Voice of Reason.
The lecture, with the theme, ‘Restructuring: Building a knowledge-based society,’ held at the MUSON Centre, Onikan and Babalola was represented by the Provost, Postgraduate School, Afe Babalola University, Prof. Kunle Olowu, as chairman on the occasion.
The lecture, delivered by an American-based aerospace engineer and author, Prof. James Fabunmi, was attended by dignitaries including the Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams; the President General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo; a former governorship aspirant in Lagos State, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Mr Jimi Agbaje and Chairman, Toyota Nigeria Limited, Chief Michael Ade-Ojo.
The Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, was represented by his Special Adviser on Drainage and Water Resources, Mr Joe Igbokwe.
Giving his remarks as chairman on the occasion, Babalola said his prayer was that there would be more oil discoveries around the country because “it will make it easier for the country to embark on the process of restructuring and thereby solve the age-long problem of oil-producing states.”
The elder statesman reiterated his belief that the 1999 Constitution was the bane of Nigeria’s prosperity, saying it should be completely discarded.
He said the 1999 Constitution “encourages indolence, lack of creativity, greed, avarice, wanton struggle for positions in the central government and untoward attitude of begging for monthly allocation from the Federal Government.”
Babalola added that as a result of the constitution, politics had become the most lucrative business in the country.
While saying that he had seen the draft of the new constitution being proposed by the National Assembly, Babalola said if it scaled through it would make politics less attractive and pave the way for the emergence of “transformational leaders” in the country.
He said, “The proposed new constitution would make politics less attractive. It will enable Nigeria to have transformational leaders, who will be visionary and enterprising; who will serve for free; who will only earn sitting allowances and who will use government money for the development of the country.
“The new people’s constitution will put a most deserving end to the current prevalence of transactional leaders who are only out to make money for themselves.”
The guest lecturer, Fabunmi, said it was time Nigerians should begin to expect less from government and focus on what they could do as individuals.
He advocated the building of a knowledge-based society to throw up inventors.
But Adebajo demanded that Nigeria must be restructured now as a panacea for the peaceful coexistence of the country.
He said until restructuring was carried out, Nigerians were doomed, noting that currently, the people of Nigeria were under slavery.
He, therefore, made a passionate call to the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and other Yoruba leaders in the APC “to go and either persuade or pressurise the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to restructure Nigeria.”
However, the President General, Ohanaeze, Chief Nwodo, advocated digital education to put Nigeria at par with other countries of the world, saying that “digital companies are today world economic leaders.”