A Professor of Political Science at Northwestern University, Illinois, United States of America, Richard Joseph, on Friday said despite the myriad of problems facing Nigeria, it should not contemplate breaking up.
Joseph — whose research works focus on African politics, democratisation, political economy, and international security — said this while delivering a public lecture at the University of Lagos.
The lecture was organised by the Public Affairs Section of the United States Consulate General, Lagos in collaboration with the University of Lagos.
Speaking on the theme — “Are Changes in the Federal Structure of Nigeria Required for Better Governance?” — the don said lots of sacrifice had been made by Nigerians which should not be allowed to be in vain.
That democracy had survived for 18 years in the country, Joseph said it meant that things could work better if the people would sit and decide together on which type of federalism would be suitable for the country.
He said, “Nigeria has had by far a modest constitutional government. The democratic governance has lasted three times longer than any of its predecessors. This is a very important achievement.
“Struggles have been made over the years. Many people have put in lots of efforts to make Nigeria work. The country is going through a period of many challenges. But despite all the issues confronting the country, we have got to reduce the temperature, we have got to avoid sensationalism.
“There are problems in every democracy everywhere, including the United States of America. Nigeria has the potential to succeed. So, we should not allow the challenges of today to deter us from surviving.”
Stating that there were different types of federalism, Joseph said the country should decide which one it wanted to adopt that would make things work.
“There have been lots of conversation on having true federalism in Nigeria, but what is true or false federalism? What I know is there are variants of federalism and the type that is suitable for Nigeria will be different from what is suitable for Kenya,” he said.
Advising the people on making Nigeria work and avoid its failure, Joseph said the country was being looked up to by many countries.
“This country represents so much, not only in Africa, but on the global scene. Nigeria’s federal democracy is too important, too vital, too essential to fail. All hands should row towards the same destination: an inclusive, prosperous, and democratic nation,” he said.
Speaking at the event, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Professor Rahman Bello, who was represented by his deputy, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, said heating up the polity should be avoided by every Nigerian.
“We must know that Nigeria represents not only the interest of Africa, but others. Many countries are looking up to us. Therefore, we must not fail,” he said.