Why ag­i­ta­tions and sep­a­ratist de­mands refuse to die

Kid­nap­pers place N50m ran­som on ACP

Weekly Trust - - Front Page - Tony Adibe (Enugu), Maryam Ah­maduSuka (Kaduna), Yusha’u A. Ibrahim (Kano), Ke­hinde Akinyemi, (Abeokuta), Hope Abah (Makurdi), Eyo Charles (Cal­abar), Lami Sadiq (Jos) & Kabiru R. An­war (Yola) Agon­s­ing trend Per­sis­tent calls for re­struc­tur­ing Strug­gle for n

Ag­i­ta­tions and sep­a­ratist de­mands could be traced to when the Rivers State-born late Ma­jor Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro led a gang of youths in a 12-day ‘re­volt’ against the then fed­eral gov­ern­ment. Boro and his group de­manded a sep­a­rate state that would be al­lowed to have to­tal con­trol of the huge oil re­sources in the Niger Delta. How­ever, his ‘rev­o­lu­tion’ didn’t last be­yond 12 days as fed­eral forces over­ran them. But the trial and jail­ing of Ma­jor Boro and his sub­se­quent re­lease by the Gen­eral Yakubu Gowon gov­ern­ment and his even­tual death in the civil war did not end the ag­i­ta­tion which he set in mo­tion. Nige­ri­ans have seen the likes of nov­el­ist Ken Saro-Wiwa and his brand of ag­i­ta­tion. The coun­try has also wit­nessed ag­i­ta­tions from the likes of Al­haji Asari Dokubo and other Niger Delta mil­i­tant groups de­mand­ing more share of the na­tion’s wealth.

Many peace-lov­ing Nige­ri­ans ag­o­nise on the fact that 50 years af­ter the civil war that fol­lowed eth­nic ten­sions which led to the death of about three mil­lion cit­i­zens, Nige­ria is still strug­gling to pre­serve her na­tional unity, just as her peers in the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity are mak­ing huge eco­nomic progress. Af­ter the 1967-1970 civil war trig­gered by se­ces­sion­ist de­mands by the Igbo in the South­east, there is a cur­rent re­vival of this sen­ti­ment in the same re­gion with re­newed calls for the es­tab­lish­ment of a state of Bi­afra, which is threat­en­ing the coun­try’s unity. Groups like the Move­ment for the ac­tu­al­iza­tion of the Sov­er­eign State of Bi­afra (MASSOB) and In­dige­nous Peo­ple of Bi­afra among oth­ers, re­ju­ve­nated the de­mand in re­cent times, with al­le­ga­tions of marginal­iza­tion and poor de­vel­op­ment. In the North­east, the mil­i­tant Boko Haram group came with an ide­ol­ogy that pro­hibits western ed­u­ca­tion, seek­ing to carve out a Caliphate out of Nige­ria.

In the South­west, the O’Odua Peo­ple’s Congress (OPC) ag­i­tated for and de­manded an Oduduwa Re­pub­lic fol­low­ing the an­nul­ment of the June 12, 1993 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion which was be­lieved to have been won by the late Chief MKO Abi­ola on the plat­form of the So­cial Demo­cratic Party (SDP). The OPC ag­i­ta­tion continued till when the gov­ern­ment, in or­der to pacify the South­west, made an ar­range­ment that pro­duced Chief Oluse­gun Obasanjo as pres­i­dent.

The Na­tional Demo­cratic Coali­tion (NADECO) formed on May 15, 1994 by a coali­tion of Nige­rian democrats who urged the mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment of Gen­eral Sani Abacha to step down in favour of M. K. O. Abi­ola, also re­cently re­grouped with a dec­la­ra­tion of the mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion in the South­east as a grad­ual mil­i­tary takeover and de­manded among other things, a re­turn to the 1963 Con­sti­tu­tion and re­gions to con­trol own re­sources.

The re­group­ing of NADECO came amidst calls by a for­mer vice pres­i­dent, Atiku Abubakar, for the de­vo­lu­tion of pow­ers to the coun­try’s fed­er­at­ing units for Nige­ria to de­velop.

Apart from Atiku Abubakar, other no­table Nige­ri­ans as well as the Na­tional Leader of the All Pro­gres­sives Congress (APC) Se­na­tor Bola Tin­ubu, have openly can­vassed re­struc­tur­ing as the only panacea to the na­tion’s chal­lenges.

Ac­cord­ing to Atiku, re­struc­tur­ing will en­able the 36 states to ac­quire more pow­ers, which will en­able them to gen­er­ate more re­sources for re­gional de­vel­op­ment.

“The ar­range­ment of the coun­try in the last 50 years has not served us very well. I am not a prod­uct of the cur­rent struc­ture of Nige­ria, I am a prod­uct of the First Re­pub­lic. I saw the re­gional gov­ern­ment at work and I have also seen this ar­range­ment at work, and that was why I came out to the detri­ment of my career to ad­vo­cate re­struc­tur­ing of Nige­ria and I still stand by what I said.

“I be­lieve what is more im­por­tant is the de­vo­lu­tion of pow­ers and re­sources to the var­i­ous com­po­nents, whether you want to call them states or re­gions. There are other is­sues that must be tack­led along with the po­lit­i­cal re­struc­tur­ing of Nige­ria; the econ­omy is also a very im­por­tant is­sue.

Atiku de­clared that only lazy states in the coun­try were afraid of re­struc­tur­ing, adding, “I don’t know what fear those who are afraid of re­struc­tur­ing are hav­ing, those who are afraid of re­struc­tur­ing of Nige­ria must be lazy.”

In a state­ment re­leased af­ter a meet­ing in La­gos, the NADECO group said: “It is time once again to rise and de­fend democ­racy in our dear coun­try. We are very trou­bled by re­cent na­tional de­vel­op­ments and are forced to is­sue this warn­ing to all our com­pa­tri­ots that democ­racy is once again un­der threat in our na­tion!”

While con­demn­ing mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions against the In­dige­nous Peo­ples of Bi­afra (IPOB) in the South­east and the plan to take it to other ar­eas in south­ern Nige­ria, the group called for the en­trench­ment of true fed­er­al­ism in the coun­try.

An el­der states­man and tech­no­crat, Ahmed Joda, said the North ceded the pres­i­dency to the South­west in 1999 to pla­cate the re­gion over an­nul­ment of the June 12 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and help keep the coun­try to­gether.

Joda who spoke Thurs­day at the All Pro­gres­sives Congress (APC) North­east zonal public con­sul­ta­tion on true fed­er­al­ism warned Nige­ri­ans against us­ing eth­nic and re­gional sen­ti­ment to plunge the coun­try into a war, say­ing the North­ern and South­ern fed­er­at­ing units were cre­ated by the colo­nial gov­ern­ment for ad­min­is­tra­tive con­ve­nience and not to di­vide the coun­try along eth­nic and re­li­gious lines.

He lamented at­tempts to cause dis­in­te­gra­tion of the coun­try in the name of re­struc­tur­ing and de­vo­lu­tion of pow­ers, say­ing the coun­try could not af­ford the re­peat of civil war hor­rors.

“Some north­ern­ers com­mit­ted a sin against the South­west by an­nulling the most cred­i­ble elec­tion in the po­lit­i­cal his­tory of Nige­ria, so when there was an­other elec­tion in 1999, north­ern­ers clev­erly picked a South­west pres­i­den­tial can­di­date and voted for Obasanjo mas­sively to clean the po­lit­i­cal sin the North com­mit­ted against the South-West,” he said.

The Pro Na­tional Con­fer­ence Or­ga­ni­za­tion, (PRONACO), a Pan Nige­rian move­ment ini­ti­ated un­der the lead­er­ship of the late Chief An­thony Ena­horo and Pro­fes­sor Wole Soyinka to re­solve Nige­ria’s con­sti­tu­tional chal­lenges, re­cently an­nounced plans to re­con­vene its ad­journed na­tional con­fer­ence af­ter per­sist­ing de­mands for the re­struc­tur­ing of Nige­ria.

The group’s spokesman, Olawale Okun­niyi, told news­men in La­gos that the move to re­con­vene the con­fab which was ad­journed in May 2007 be­came nec­es­sary fol­low­ing se­ries of con­sul­ta­tions with em­i­nent lead­ers of thought and well-mean­ing po­lit­i­cal lead­ers in the coun­try over re­struc­tur­ing and self­de­ter­mi­na­tion ag­i­ta­tions.

“PRONACO would not like to watch the coun­try slide into a ma­jor civil strife be­fore in­vok­ing its stand­ing man­date to in­ter­vene in the wor­ri­some po­lit­i­cal ten­sion and eth­nic ac­ri­mony cur­rently em­bat­tling the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal space ow­ing to con­tentions over the con­sti­tu­tional struc­ture of Nige­ria,” he said.

The group how­ever in­di­cated in­ter­est in

meet­ing Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari on the ur­gent need to con­vene a gov­ern­ment driven na­tional con­sul­ta­tive panel to ad­vise him on how to pro­ceed on the is­sue so it does not dis­tract gov­er­nance.

PRONACO said it had fi­nalised plans to re­quest na­tional lead­ers in the coun­try to play key roles to­wards the suc­cess of the pro­posed con­fab ten­ta­tively slated for Jan­uary 2018.

Some lead­ers iden­ti­fied to play key roles at the pro­posed con­fab in­clude; Prof Ben Nwabueze (SAN), Dr Ahmed Joda, Mal­lam Adamu Ciroma, Dr Paul Unongo, Chief Ayo Ade­banjo, Prof Ibrahim Gam­bari, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Chief Ed­win Clark, Chief Bisi Akande, Dr Us­man Bu­gaje, among oth­ers.

Nige­ria and Africa’s rich­est man, Al­haji Aliko Dan­gote, also said re­cently that the rea­son for the cur­rent ag­i­ta­tion for se­ces­sion and re­struc­tur­ing of Nige­ria was lack of eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties. Ag­i­ta­tions as a re­sult of di­verse rea­sons Oth­ers think that the cur­rent se­ces­sion­ist move­ment and clam­our for re­struc­tur­ing has more to do with po­lit­i­cal marginal­iza­tion.

A con­sti­tu­tional lawyer and Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor, Hu­man Rights Mon­i­tor, Fes­tus Okoye Esq. said: “Ag­i­ta­tions, protests, lob­by­ing, can­vass­ing and civil dis­obe­di­ence are in­gre­di­ents con­sti­tu­tional democ­racy. Some democ­ra­cies en­trench right to free­dom of thought, con­science and re­li­gion as well as right to peace­ful assem­bly and as­so­ci­a­tion and right to free­dom of ex­pres­sion and the press in a writ­ten doc­u­ment to pre­vent de­scent to dic­ta­tor­ship and ar­bi­trari­ness.

He added: “In­formed, ra­tio­nal and pa­tri­otic cit­i­zens use con­sti­tu­tion­ally guar­an­teed rights to high­light is­sues pe­cu­liar to them and draw the at­ten­tion of the gov­ern­ment to such is­sues and use the weapon of sit-ins, protests and civil dis­obe­di­ence to force the gov­ern­ment to jet­ti­son un­pop­u­lar poli­cies.

“Other groups lobby their rep­re­sen­ta­tives in par­lia­ment or the na­tional and state assem­blies to at­tract projects to their con­stituen­cies, force them to aban­don un­pop­u­lar bills and or to pro­mul­gate laws that give mean­ing to the wel­fare and se­cu­rity of the peo­ple. In other words, there is noth­ing in­trin­si­cally wrong, ob­nox­ious, ob­scene or trea­son­able in ag­i­ta­tions, protests and civil dis­obe­di­ence.

“Un­for­tu­nately, some of the ag­i­ta­tions in Nige­ria are laced with the in­gre­di­ents of trea­son and strike at the heart and soul of the Nige­rian na­tion, lead­ing to break­down of law and or­der and the loss of lives and prop­er­ties. Ag­i­ta­tions must be con­ducted within the frame­work of rec­og­nized con­sti­tu­tional and le­gal prin­ci­ples that does not cre­ate an at­mos­phere of fear, anx­i­ety, panic, loss of lives and de­struc­tion of prop­er­ties.

Okoye be­lieves that some of the ag­i­ta­tions are a mask by the rul­ing po­lit­i­cal elite to get po­lit­i­cal mileage and ad­van­tage as some of them ma­nip­u­late the fears and ig­no­rance of the or­di­nary peo­ple and sell dummy and mask their per­sonal in­ter­ests with the grab of eth­nic and re­li­gious marginal­iza­tion.

He says sep­a­ratist ag­i­ta­tions would fiz­zle out when the po­lit­i­cal elite in Nige­ria be­comes more pa­tri­otic and na­tion­al­is­tic and be­gin to gov­ern with a sense of jus­tice, eq­uity and fair­ness and use re­sources for the ben­e­fit of the or­di­nary peo­ple.

Po­lit­i­cal ob­servers think it would be dif­fi­cult to end ag­i­ta­tions in Nige­ria, ob­vi­ously be­cause her eth­nic and re­li­gious di­ver­sity. How­ever, it is also be­lieved that one im­por­tant fac­tor that helps the ag­i­ta­tions to defy so­lu­tions is the in­abil­ity of the ag­i­ta­tors to clearly spell out their ac­tual de­mands.

Ac­cord­ing to Al­haji Bashir Oth­man Tofa, a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date of the de­funct Na­tional Repub­li­can Congress (NRC), most of the ag­i­ta­tors do so out of frus­tra­tion on is­sues which con­cern them alone.

He said, “It has be­come clear to­day in Nige­ria that when any group of peo­ple talks about re­struc­tur­ing, they mostly speak in ref­er­ence to their own frus­tra­tions about the coun­try. And the most im­por­tant and pop­u­lar among such frus­tra­tions are three namely; marginal­iza­tion, dom­i­nance, re­source and op­por­tu­ni­ties dis­tri­bu­tion.

“So, if we can sit and care­fully sort out th­ese three is­sues in­tel­li­gently and with love of our coun­try at heart, I am sure we shall be right and Nige­ria can progress in all ram­i­fi­ca­tions and cer­tainly be­come a great coun­try. In my view, if Nige­ria can have pa­tri­otic lead­ers to steer its af­fairs with eq­uity, the coun­try can ex­cels in all hu­man en­deav­ors be­cause gov­er­nance is all about cor­rect lead­er­ship.”

Al­haji Tanko Yaka­sai, a for­mer po­lit­i­cal ad­viser to for­mer pres­i­dent, Al­haji Shehu Sha­gari, said the ag­i­ta­tions could not be ad­dressed be­cause gov­ern­ment was not sin­cere in ad­dress­ing them, adding, “Gov­ern­ment should not al­low such is­sues to com­pound and be­come big prob­lems.”

“Had it been gov­ern­ment paid se­ri­ous at­ten­tion to the is­sue of IPOB, it would not have be­come a big prob­lem for the coun­try. If the fed­eral gov­ern­ment han­dled Nnamdi Kanu very well, the sit­u­a­tion wouldn’t have reached this stage but un­for­tu­nately they did not.”

Yaka­sai said the ag­i­ta­tors for re­struc­tur­ing had failed to give real details of their de­mand, hence, could not get sup­port from across the coun­try, adding, “They have failed to bring out a blue­print for Nige­ri­ans to un­der­stand details of their de­mands.”

Chief Femi Ma­jeko­dunmi, a close ally of for­mer pres­i­dent, Chief Oluse­gun Obasanjo, thinks some of the ag­i­ta­tions are sim­ply to dis­tract the fo­cus of gov­ern­ment.

“There will be ag­i­ta­tors and sep­a­ratist calls year-in-year-out be­cause we will al­ways have those who will want to rock the boat of any gov­ern­ment in power,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to him, the sit­u­a­tion in the coun­try since in­de­pen­dence has been al­ways such that peo­ple in the op­po­si­tion would come up with is­sues ei­ther re­al­is­tic or not, ei­ther fea­si­ble or not fea­si­ble to get rel­e­vance against the gov­ern­ment of the day.

“You go and look back, It is purely for self­ish in­ter­est rea­sons. Give them at­ten­tion now and they for­get their agenda again. The gov­ern­ment of the day should al­ways re­main fo­cused and un­de­terred.”

But, a so­cial com­men­ta­tor and pub­lisher, Chief Wale Ade­dayo, dis­agrees, say­ing it would be un­fair to dis­miss ag­i­ta­tions as “self­ish”.

To him, the ag­i­ta­tions and sep­a­ratist agenda started when the mil­i­tary failed to im­ple­ment the 1963 agree­ment for re­gional gov­ern­ment, which led to the 1966 coup.

“The mil­i­tary should be blamed. The agree­ment was to be that all the re­gional gov­ern­ments would re­main so till the mil­i­tary came in 1966. So, if we still have ag­i­ta­tions, we have to blame it on the mil­i­tary and not even on the in­de­pen­dence we are cel­e­brat­ing.”

Ade­dayo sug­gested that the im­ple­men­ta­tion of that agree­ment would bring lasting peace and sta­bil­ity to the na­tion.

“If we have this re­gional au­ton­omy and we are still hav­ing ag­i­ta­tions and any sep­a­ratist call, then we can be­gin to ap­por­tion sen­ti­ments to such calls,” he said.

So­lu­tion to end­less ag­i­ta­tions

An el­der states­man, Prof. Biyi Afonja, noted that the per­ceived marginal­iza­tion by ag­i­ta­tors might not be un­con­nected to the “an­nual rit­ual” of sep­a­ratist and ag­i­ta­tion calls, adding, “And, yes, I will agree with those who ob­serve that when they are not in power you don’t hear such calls”.

Dr. Ezekiel Izuogu, a for­mer gov­er­nor­ship can­di­date of the SDP in Imo State, be­lieves that al­though Nige­ria is 57, she would prob­a­bly con­tinue to wit­ness ag­i­ta­tions and sep­a­ratist de­mands as long as in­jus­tice and dis­hon­esty re­mained in the sys­tem.

Ac­knowl­edg­ing that Nige­ria has come a long way, he is still wor­ried that it is yet to out­grow such base and triv­ial mat­ters as trib­al­ism, nepo­tism, sec­tion­al­ism and eth­nic con­sid­er­a­tions in the man­ner Nige­ri­ans do their things.

“We’re wast­ing a lot of time fight­ing for noth­ing - trib­al­ism, eth­nic­ity, nepo­tism and sec­tional in­ter­est in­stead of na­tional in­ter­est be­fore other in­ter­ests,” Izuogu said. How­ever, the chair­man of the All Pro­gres­sive Congress (APC) in Imo State, Chief Hi­lary Eke, says there may be no end to ag­i­ta­tions be­cause past lead­ers of the coun­try failed to do what they were sup­posed to do.

“In a sit­u­a­tion where Nige­ria is blessed with abun­dant hu­man and ma­te­rial re­sources and we are still talk­ing of bad roads, poor elec­tric­ity, lack of water sup­ply and other such public util­i­ties, it means the ag­i­ta­tions will con­tinue,” Chief Eke said.

A for­mer Na­tional As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary of the de­funct Nige­rian Peo­ple’s Party (NPP) and a mem­ber of the late Gen­eral Sani Abacha’s Tran­si­tion Com­mit­tee on States, Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Cre­ations and Bound­ary Ad­just­ments, Chief Max­imus Okuta, said all the na­tions needs to do to stop ag­i­ta­tions and sep­a­ratists de­mands is eq­uity and jus­tice.

He said: “Once there is eq­uity and jus­tice, those ag­i­ta­tions will stop, if you look at each of the ag­i­ta­tions, they have good cases. In the east where you have the south­east, the only re­gion, south­east as a re­gion hav­ing five states, is it eq­ui­table? There is a re­gion en­joy­ing seven states. As a mat­ter of fact, if you want to be eq­ui­table, in my view, you make the whole re­gions have seven states. That will solve part of the prob­lems. You come to lo­cal gov­ern­ments, in­ci­den­tally, I served in the then Tran­si­tion Com­mit­tee of Gen­eral Sani Abacha on States Cre­ation, Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment and Bound­ary Ad­just­ment.”

On the so­lu­tion to the ag­i­ta­tions, the 75-years old politi­cian said: “First of all, we have to be sin­cere… If we are sin­cere, is very easy for the par­ties to agree, then the modal­i­ties will be worked out. Gen­eral Abacha, based on the in­struc­tions he gave us, nearly bal­anced up the is­sue of lo­cal gov­ern­ments. The ag­i­ta­tions could have stopped. In that com­mit­tee, based on cri­te­ria…re­mem­ber prior to this time, no cri­te­ria was set up for the cre­ation of lo­cal gov­ern­ments. But this com­mit­tee had cri­te­ria for the cre­ation of lo­cal gov­ern­ments, and tried to ap­ply eq­uity and jus­tice to bal­ance up.

“Sud­denly from the blues, one gentle­man, it was al­leged ap­peared on the scene, who claimed

In a sit­u­a­tion where Nige­ria is blessed with abun­dant hu­man and ma­te­rial re­sources and we are still talk­ing of bad roads, poor elec­tric­ity, lack of water sup­ply and other such public util­i­ties, it means the ag­i­ta­tions will con­tinue

to be Di­rec­tor Gen­eral at Na­tional In­sti­tute of Pol­icy and Strate­gic Stud­ies (NIPSS) in Kuru, had the ears of Gen­eral Abacha and our rec­om­men­da­tions were jet­ti­soned. And the gen­tle man said that the Gen­eral had or­dered 30 per­cent lo­cal gov­ern­ments should be cre­ated across the board.

Se­na­tor Joseph Waku puts it this way: “Ag­i­ta­tions here and there can never stop. Even if ag­i­ta­tions such as Bi­afra even­tu­ally suc­ceed and the Ig­bos leave, there will con­tinue to be ag­i­ta­tions in the Bi­afra they are cur­rently ag­i­tat­ing for. There will al­ways be com­pe­ti­tion but com­pe­ti­tion should not sug­gest that we should part ways. We will al­ways re­main to­gether and re­solve is­sues that need to be re­solved with­out any in­sult to any­body. To­gether, we will achieve bet­ter in this coun­try,”.

He added: “Af­ter that we be­came re­gional gov­ern­ment (at in­de­pen­dence), the western re­gion, the east­ern re­gion and the north­ern re­gion. Later, the re­struc­tur­ing took place in the west by hav­ing mid- west re­gion. Af­ter that, Gen­eral Gowon came and gave us seven states. That was re­struc­tur­ing and Mur­tala later added five to give us twelve states. Is that not re­struc­tur­ing? Ba­bangida came and in­creased the number of state from 12 to 19. Is that not re­struc­tur­ing? And then, Abacha moved it to 36 states. Is that not re­struc­tur­ing? So, to me, I think Nige­ri­ans are busy-body peo­ple.”

A for­mer pres­i­dent of the Coun­cil for Reg­u­la­tion of Engi­neer­ing in Nige­ria (COREN) and PDP gu­ber­na­to­rial as­pi­rant in Benue state, Engr. Felix Atume, tied the is­sue to al­leged in­equitable dis­tri­bu­tion of wealth across the states of the coun­try in fair­ness to the gen­er­al­ity of the com­mon peo­ple.

Atume wor­ried that if the much talked about re­struc­tur­ing does not trans­late into ac­count­abil­ity for the peo­ple, es­pe­cially, at the states level where the ex­ec­u­tive reigns supreme, then there would still be more de­sires to ful­fill.

A first class tra­di­tional ruler of the Sankera King­dom in Benue State, Tor Sankera, Chief Abu King Shu­luwa, won­dered why some Nige­ri­ans are never sat­is­fied by con­sis­tently crav­ing for things to be done in their own way, posit­ing that the var­i­ous forms of ag­i­ta­tions and sep­a­ratist de­mands in the coun­try al­ways height­ened when a north­erner is oc­cu­py­ing the pres­i­dency.

He noted that none of the geographical zones in the coun­try could sur­vive with­out the other be­cause there would still be mi­nor­ity ag­i­ta­tions against the ma­jor­ity in the mi­nor­ity ter­ri­tory.

In the same vein, a Com­mis­sioner at the Public Com­pli­ant Com­mis­sion (PCC) in Benue state who is also a re­tired Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice, Al­haji Abubakar Tsav, em­pha­sised that cor­rup­tion and greed are re­spon­si­ble for the ag­i­ta­tions that have re­fused to die.

Ac­cord­ing to him, the ag­i­ta­tions from var­i­ous quar­ters are rarely of any value to the com­mon peo­ple such as water ven­dors, drug hawk­ers and oth­ers who carry out me­nial jobs ex­cept the po­lit­i­cal class who want to re­main rel­e­vant in the scheme of things in the coun­try.

Tsav cited in­stances with those who have served as gover­nors in the coun­try and have gone to the se­nate yet want to con­tinue to re­main in power to dic­tate the pace, stress­ing, “it is the po­lit­i­cal class who are ag­i­tat­ing for rel­e­vance and not be­cause they have the in­ter­est of the coun­try at heart.”

He added: “The out­cry for re­struc­tur­ing is use­less as far as I am con­cerned. Politi­cians are just ex­ploit­ing us, the ag­i­ta­tions are not worth it. If there are con­cerns, the Na­tional Assem­bly should han­dle it. I’m think­ing that cor­rupt peo­ple un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion are con­niv­ing with the vul­ner­a­ble in the so­ci­ety to ag­i­tate in or­der to cause con­fu­sion and to make the coun­try un­govern­able.”

The ex-po­lice com­mis­sioner ex­pressed con­cern that the ini­tial thought of es­tab­lish­ing the Na­tional youth ser­vice scheme, fed­eral ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions as well as col­leges to fos­ter unity among Nige­ri­ans soon af­ter the civil war was not work­ing much as ex­pected as few vo­cal po­lit­i­cal in­di­vid­u­als are cre­at­ing too much talks for their per­sonal in­ter­est.

The mi­nor­ity leader in the Benue State House of Assem­bly, Al­haji Audu Sule, said the dif­fer­ent ag­i­ta­tions had refuse to die from the mo­ment the coun­try de­vi­ated from the legacy of the found­ing fa­thers which harped on unity.

Sule said the ag­i­ta­tions and sep­a­ratist de­mands were pro­pelled by eth­nic­ity, sec­tion­al­ism, re­li­gion and trib­al­ism among oth­ers in such man­ners that some ap­plied in­tim­i­da­tion in­stead of dia­logue as means to ac­tu­alise their aims.

The Obong of Cal­abar, Edi­dem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V said de­spite such ag­i­ta­tions, Nige­ria would re­main one coun­try.

A for­mer Gover­nor of Plateau State and one time Am­bas­sador to Kenya, Fidelis Tap­gun, says adopt­ing fed­er­al­ism as a sys­tem of gov­ern­ment has been one of Nige­ria’s great­est prob­lems and blames it the per­sis­tent ag­i­ta­tions in the coun­try.

“A lot of peo­ple ex­pected that we should have gone be­yond where we are now.

There are so many things that needed to have been done but were not done, es­pe­cially now that there is this ag­i­ta­tion for re­struc­tur­ing of the coun­try. We have adopted this fed­er­al­ism that has not func­tioned. Be­fore in­de­pen­dence, we were op­er­at­ing a sys­tem that was func­tional, the re­gions were func­tional, the premiers in the re­gion were func­tional peo­ple and even at the fed­eral level, it was a func­tional fed­eral gov­ern­ment but since we adopted this fed­er­al­ism, we call it fed­er­al­ism but it is a uni­tary gov­ern­ment be­cause ev­ery­thing is now fo­cused at the cen­tre and it is caus­ing a lot of prob­lems. It is this thing about cen­tral­i­sa­tion of ad­min­is­tra­tion in this coun­try that is mak­ing it un­wieldy for the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to op­er­ate. If we had re­turned to what we were be­fore in­de­pen­dence, I think we would have moved faster.”

A for­mer Min­is­ter of In­ter­nal Af­fairs Se­na­tor John Sha­gaya, says to strengthen the coun­try’s democ­racy as it stands to­day, cer­tain vexed is­sues must be ad­dressed.

“Ag­i­ta­tions will con­tinue to be part and par­cel of any de­vel­op­ing na­tion but all that is needed is to have sin­cere lead­ers who will at­tempt to en­sure equal dis­tri­bu­tion of na­tional wealth. Look­ing at the is­sue of re­struc­tur­ing peo­ple are talk­ing about, my take is that no part of the coun­try is afraid of it for as long as the re­struc­tur­ing re­in­forces the unity of Nige­ria. The sovereignty of Nige­ria as it stands to­day is not ne­go­tiable so to strengthen our democ­racy and unity, the fol­low­ing vexed is­sues need to be ad­dressed; con­trol of the armed forces, fed­eral po­lice, cre­ation of state po­lice, con­trol of na­tional se­cu­rity or­gans such as the DSS, NIA, SIB, Cus­toms, NIS and na­tion­ally cre­ated Task Forces dur­ing emer­gen­cies. Is­sues of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of states and lo­cal gov­ern­ments must also be ad­dressed as well as re­view of some of the items un­der the ex­clu­sive leg­isla­tive act, for­eign re­la­tions and ro­ta­tion of the pres­i­dency.

“It must be re­mem­bered that we have come a long way. So re­spon­si­ble con­sti­tu­tional mat­ters should only oc­cupy our con­ver­sions on re­struc­tur­ing. Thank God the Na­tional Assem­bly is re­view­ing our con­sti­tu­tion, sub­mis­sions by geopo­lit­i­cal zones will serve a use­ful pur­pose. but noise on oil should not pre­oc­cupy our valu­able time as oil is soon to be out of fash­ion in the next few years. We should as a na­tion look into the fu­ture where agri­cul­ture and solid min­er­als will rule the world.”

Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe

Abubakar Tafawa Balewa


Chief Obafemi Awolowo

Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari

Late Chief M. K. O. Abi­ola

Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB leader

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