Communiqué issued at the Second Biennial Summit of the National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity), held at the Events Centre, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos State on Friday, February 1, 2013
The National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity), NAS, recently organised its Second Biennial National Summit to facilitate national dialogue among summit participants and most importantly, to elicit through brainstorming sessions, profound ideas that would articulate, standardise and lead the involvement of the citizenry in the political process of the nation.
The Summit lecture theme, The Citizen and Indigene: A Case for National Integration was delivered by Dr. Chidi Odinkalu, Chairman, National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, under the chairmanship of Prof. Temi Akporonor, Dean of Student Affairs, Delta State University, Abraka.
Also present at the Summit, were a representative of the Executive Governor of Ekiti State, a representative of the Director-General, National Orientation Agency, a representative of the Commandant, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, leaders and members of Civil Society Organisations, Community Leaders, the Academia, journalists and the general public. For their presence, interest shown, encouragement given and input made toward the success of this Summit, the National Association of Seadogs is greatly appreciative.
The main objectives of the 2013 Summit include:
- Provide an integrated platform for leaders and advocates from across the country to focus on strengthening Nigeria's nationhood through robust engagement in dialogue.
- Develop a proper and holistic understanding of the concepts of Citizen and Indigene as they apply to Nigeria.
- Analyse the impact of these concepts on the integration and co-existence of ethnic nationalities in Nigeria.
- Explore alternative action plan for the development and re-presentation of the private member National Integration Bill, already sent to the legislature by NAS and would also be presented to the Executive arm of government.
- Engage in active advocacy for the continued existence of Nigeria as one united and indissoluble entity with all attendant rights, privileges and freedom.
The Plenary Session of the Summit involved the lecture delivered by the Guest Speaker, Dr. Chidi Odinkalu, followed by robust interactive workshop sessions which drew participants from a broad and diverse spectrum of the audience.
Arising from the lecture and the subsequent workshop sessions, the Summit made the following observations:
- That the boundaries of modern nation-states when viewed against the background of their evolutionary dynamics across the globe, are in most instances artificial; created with very few, if any, having a truly indigenous population.
- That migration over the centuries across both national and international borders has since diluted the effective connotation of the concept, Indigene.
- That considering Nigeria's socio-political situation, the emergence of the concept, Indigene, is largely based on the advantages derivable from resource allocation and distribution, and coupled with the twisted perks of office associated with the insatiable jostle for power in different states of the federation and at different levels of governance.
- That the concept, Indigene, was only a relevant academic socio-cultural concept for reference purposes but which unfortunately has been over-emphasised in our national consciousness causing division and lack of trust between the so-called indigenes and settlers. The Summit agreed that this situation has hindered the potential for collaborative development efforts with the attendant inhibition of nation building.
- That most of the countries that constitute the world's super powers today, are countries that have de-emphasised the concept of indigene and have shifted the focus of its people to the concept of citizen, viewed in terms of the right of everyone to pursue his or her legitimate dreams within the guarantees and limitations provided by the state as well as accepting the "obligations to one another and to future generations", as imposed by the collective desire of all participants to the commonwealth.
- That the present structure of the Nigerian state, runs counter to the theory, concept and practice of true federalism, and that the present accentuation of state or origin or ethnic origin in public and national life does not allow for proper national integration.
The Summit signposted the foregoing situations as those which have widened ethnic polarity and therefore constituted the strongest factors militating against the evolution of a truly Nigerian nation.
Having made the foregoing observations, the Summit recommends and advocates the following:
- That the Federal Government of Nigeria take immediate steps to implement federalism in the true spirit of its theory and practice, and to allow constituent states to exploit and manage their own resources as equal partners in the Nigeria federation.
- That the Federal Government of Nigeria take immediate steps to moderate the influences of traditional and primordial institutions while using credible value orientation institutions like family, education, religious bodies to re-orientate the citizenry to transfer their allegiances from their traditional and primordial roots to the Nigerian nation-state.
- That the on-going constitutional review process should expunge the quota system from our laws while retaining a modified concept of affirmative actions to support weaker sections of the country without sacrificing merit on the altar of appeasement.
- That the constitutional review exercise should ensure that our laws prohibit the requirement of information on "state of origin" in public documents and replace it with "state of residence" and if necessary "place of birth".
- That the said review exercise should give the force of law to the fact that a legal resident in any part of the country who is a Nigerian and has lived, worked and paid taxes for a period of ten years in that location shall, upon application to the appropriate authority, be granted all rights of citizenship in that particular state of residence.
- That the right to multiple residences should be guaranteed by the constitution and that an individual should be free to decide which to adopt between state of birth, state of ancestral origin and state of residence where he or she is qualified by means of years of residence.
- Finally, that a law be enacted to ensure the prohibition of discrimination against any Nigerian based on whether he or she is an indigene of the particular location of choice or state of origin, while all aspects of the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria which support the notion of indigene should be either repealed or expunged from our statute books. In this regard, NAS resolved to re-sponsor a private member Legislative Bill in the National Assembly to actualise this goal (copy of previous draft bill attached for information purposes).
The Summit reiterated its optimism in the possibility of actualising the Nigerian dream and the opportunities for greatness offered by the prospects of a true Nigerian nation built on an integrated citizenry that does not pander to ethnic divisions and indigene-settler dichotomy, which currently holds back the wheels of progress in our chequered journey to true nationhood.
Assy D. Assy
Co-ordinator, NAS Summit