The All Progressives Congress (APC) came to power in Nigeria in 2015 with the promise of bringing about “Restructuring”. Yet, no sooner than APC sat on the seat of power they reneged and even began to ask “What is Restructuring?”, claiming that nobody knows exactly what they mean by saying they want “Restructuring”.
This “Restructuring Debate” started soon after the military coups of 1966. Those coups terminated that new Nigeria of much promise, created at Independence in 1960, because they abolished the Federating Constitution as well as the four Regional Constitutions, and rule over the people began to be imposed by Military Decrees. The current “1999 Constitution of Nigeria” is Military Decree 24, imposed by stealth and deceit after being renamed. All the Military Decrees including the “1999 Constitution” had one purpose: to hijack the Self-Determination and Sovereignty of the indigenous ethnic nationalities making up the Union called Nigeria.
The Restructuring Debate will not go away until it has been dealt with to the satisfaction of Nigerians. The more the delay in addressing it, the more it is certain that: “No Restructuring, No Nigeria” will become inevitable. The NINAS Movement brings clarity and direction to the Restructuring Debate. It is here to tell the powers that be, that actually, Nigerians do know what they mean by “Restructuring”. It simply means ethnic nationalities having Self-Determination, just as had been agreed they would have before consenting to be in the Union of Nigeria prior to Independence in 1960. What each ethnic nationality would now have to democratically decide is how much Self-Determination they want: is it 50%, or 75%, or 100%? This is so simple to see, that only those who want to be the ones (imperially) determining things for ethnic nationalities are the ones seeing a problem with understanding this straightforward “Restructuring”.
The Restructuring Debate provides for the added benefit of solving the Sovereignty Dispute (aka Union Dispute). The Sovereignty Dispute is over two questions related to the Preamble of the 1999 Constitution, and essentially seeks to establish: who controls the progress and development of indigenous peoples, who controls what happens in their ancestral lands, and who controls the resources in their lands? Is it Central Government? Or, is it indigenous ethnic nationalities themselves? These are very basic, necessary questions that must be asked by anyone sincere in building a Nigeria that is truly for its peoples.
Using international law processes and United Nations procedures, the NINAS Movement has drawn up a well-founded ORDERLY PROCESS that is democratic, and where “we the people” will decide what type of Restructuring they want. As previously mentioned, that means what degree of Self-Determination they want. This is decided by ethnic nationalities via Referendums.
Nigerians are today at a crossroads. There are two roads from which to choose to walk along. There is the road of Corruption, or there is the road of Honesty. Nigeria’s leaders, whether political, religious or business have thus far been walking the road of Corruption, pulling the people with them, so they would feel quite certain that they can continue along that road. However, there is now a growing nationwide and diasporan consciousness that the illegitimate 1999 Constitution, a forgery that creates a Unitary Nigeria, must be abandoned and new constitutional arrangements reflecting whatever degree of Self-Determination the peoples want, be properly obtained.
The right of indigenous people to Self-Determination is a cardinal principle in international law and consequently, also for the United Nations. Thus, there is no question that Self-Determination is an inalienable right of Nigeria’s indigenous peoples in their ancestral lands. Nigeria is a member state of the United Nations, having joined seven days after Independence. Therefore, we can identify the road of Honesty as being the one signposted by the word “Self-Determination”. We have seen this road being followed by the peoples of the Arewa Bloc (core North) when they organised themselves and took up Islamic Sharia as a means of expressing their culture and their future. It is now for the non-Sharia rest of Nigeria to express their own right to Self-Determination. Which is what the NINAS Movement is about, the “S” in NINAS standing for “Self-Determination”.
Upholding or defending an imposed 1999 Constitution that is a forgery is beyond unethical. President Woodrow Wilson once said, “National aspirations must be respected; people may now be dominated and governed only by their own consent. ‘Self determination’ is not a mere phrase, it is an imperative principle of action.” The peoples of Nigeria have not given their consent to be “dominated and governed” by that 1999 Constitution that is a forgery which hijacks their Self-Determination, validating their insistence that the Restructuring Debate be addressed.
Unless the current Buhari-Osinbajo government is hoping that all indigenous peoples either flee abroad in despair, or given the frightful levels of insecurity, get massacred by terrorists and “bandits”, the Restructuring Debate that started when Federal Nigeria disappeared and got replaced by Unitary Nigeria, would remain. Government had been given ample time to consult with NINAS, and the Notice of the Constitutional Force Majeure (CFM) Proclaimed by the NINAS Movement on 16th December 2020 brought up the historical context of the Restructuring Debate and Sovereignty Dispute it raises, including most importantly, also providing the Remedy for it. It is not too late to be responsible and responsive, Government can still choose the Honest road of Self-Determination, and go to dialogue with the NINAS Movement. For the general public and international community, the CFM Notice can be found on the NINAS Movement website at www.ninasmovement.org.
Ndidi Uwechue is a British citizen with Igbo heritage from the Lower Niger Bloc. She is a retired Metropolitan (London) Police Officer, she is a signatory to the Constitutional Force Majeure, and she writes from Abuja.