By GBEMIGA OLAKUNLE
In case the increased tempo of clamouring for restructuring of the country is the main political reason for this recent frantic search for oil in the Northeast despite the fact that the area is yet to be fully secured, we want to categorically say that there is no need to undertake such a suicide mission. As far as we are concerned, those agitating for restructuring are not calling for the balkanization or break up of the country. Rather they are only asking for a more judicious devolution of power, especially giving adequate economic power to the federating units to enable them have some level of control over their resources.
Th is may be the answer to secession tendencies among the federating units, especially the Biafran agitators. If people are calling for a more equitable distribution of resources that are domiciled in their areas, the political authorities should listen to them and not give any room or occasion for the enemies of this country (within and outside) to increase the tension that is already in the land.
Our military may be battle weary owing to the several security challenges they are forced to confront on a daily basis across the country. Th e National Assembly should utilise the ongoing constitution amendment exercise to proff er the needed political solution and douse the tension in order to give the military some respite. It is rumoured that Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB boys are planning to carry their mission to the Southwest and shut down Lagos. Of course, he can instruct his kinsmen trading in Lagos to close their shops but he has no right to shut down Lagos by staging a rally on the streets of Lagos. To do so will amount to trespassing on another people’s territory.
Or is Kanu claiming that Lagos is also part of his Biafran Republic dream just because Lagosians are very accommodating to other Nigerian ethic groups being the former federal capital of the country? What has Lagos in common with any Biafran dream? He may as well carry his campaign to Kano and shut down the Northern city. Some of these boys are rabble – rousers, but they may attract sympathy to their cause if the federal government does not take heed and provide some soft landing to these agitators.
And one of the veritable ways to do is to consider the 2014 National Confab report with a view to restructuring the country into a true federal republic. Th e country may be called a federal republic but we are actually practicing a unitary system of government. Th e time to act is now. In fact, every federating unit that constitutes this great nation is blessed with potentials and endowed with both human and natural resources in various degrees.
On the discovering of oil and its exploration, the country shifted its mainstay from agriculture to oil, thus relegating cocoa, groundnuts, cotton, palm oil, rubber and timber, hide & skin, etc to the background. In those days, the regional governments in the country were able to make use of the agricultural produce to develop their respective regions. During the period that preceded the fi rst 1966 military coup led by late Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu, the regional governments were very eff ective since they were allowed to explore a large percentage of the resources in their respective regions.
In other words they had some measure of control on the use and utilization of their respective products or agricultural produce while they contribute some quota to the federal pursue to run the government at the centre. And so participation in the government activities at the Federal level was less attractive to the politicians at that time except for those who were really serviceoriented and were determined to serve the people rather than looking for avenues to enrich themselves at the expense of the masses or the electorate.
In the same vein, the abandoned potentials of the federating states can be revisited and developed with modern technology to boost regional economies if the issue of restructuring is well understood and properly executed in the best interest of the nation. From 2001 -2003, I was privileged to serve as a member, Basic Metals Sector Steering Committee (BMSSC). It was a presidential committee that was inaugurated by then Vice President Atiku Abubakar with the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) serving at the secretariat when Mallam Nasir El-Rufai was the director general.
Th e committee exposed me to the potentials that abound in our metals and solid minerals sector, especially in iron, steel and aluminum sub-sectors. For instance, instead of being designed to produce only iron rods or bars, our iron & steel industry located in Ajaokuta, Kogi state should also be designed to produce fl at sheets for our automobile industry. Th e same goes for the aluminum smelting industry at Aladja, Delta state whose products could have been useful in the making of aircraft. And if we shift our focus in using cement in our road construction technology now, the limestone deposits in some parts of the country other than Southsouth and Southeast will be put into more use instead of limiting them to building industry and construction of bridges. With restructuring in place, other solid mineral deposits can be tapped, developed and utilized by federating states hosting them while royalties of about 50% can be paid into the national treasury to maintain the government at the federal level.
Th e same attention should be given to our tourism potentials which can be veritable source of income to the local communities and the federating states. AdoAwaye in Araromi, Oyo state is hosting the only Suspended Lake in the whole of Africa. Th is site has been attracting scores of foreign tourists including Europe and America for decades without any form of revenue to the community or Oyo state government. Th ere are only two of its kind in the world – Ado-Awaye and the United States.
Recently, Oyo state government advertised the site with some selected sites, calling for Expression of Interests (EOI) from investors who can manage the sites in line with world’s best practices. Th erefore, with proper sensitization and understanding, restructuring will be in the best interest of our beloved nation and will immensely contribute to the growth of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP).