Restructuring: will make Nigeria powerful, Tinubu says as Atiku says only lazy northerners fear

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National leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) Senator Bola Tinubu has warned against attempts to break Nigeria into smaller pieces, saying such move would make the nation more vulnerable to outside influences, adding that it was important to restructure the nation.

The former governor of Lagos State, argued that there are numerous benefits Nigeria and her people would enjoy if the nation was restructured to create balance.

Speaking at the weekend in Lagos as the Keynote Speaker at the 2017 Annual Dinner of the King’s College Old Boys’ Association (KCOBA) at King’s College, the former governor urged separatist groups to desist from attempts to separate Nigeria into smaller units, reinstating his quest is for a better Nigeria.

Tinubu, who was represented at the event by his former commissioner for Finance, Wale Edun, said while nations more powerful and developed than Nigeria seek to pool their wealth and might, some Nigerians are seeking to whittle the nation into smaller pieces.

“It would be better to restructure things to attain the correct balance between our collective purpose on one hand and our separate grassroots realities on the other.

“Moreover, not every split solves a problem. The political mentality, either good or bad, that defined a group before the split will remain after the divide. If one is imbued with factionalism, that perspective will remain even when the immediate problem is surmounted. Division will manifest differently, but manifest it will.

“A new factional bigotry will arise to replace the old. The cycle of tension and unrest will take its inexorable toll. Just ask the people of South Sudan if their woes ended when they left Sudan.

“When your heart is geared toward division, you will seek it within a single tribe, even a single family. The gossamer of ethnic unity will be ripped apart by sub-ethnic squabble. An angry man outside his home remains angry inside it as well and a thief steals from both stranger and friend.

“Driven by such a mentality, even someone you once called your brother becomes a nuisance, then a burden, and ultimately your enemy in short order.

“Thus, I oppose talk of break-up and all other exotic political arrangements tantamount to it.”

Meanwhile, former Vice President and chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has said that lazy northerners were the ones afraid of the much talk about restructuring of the county, adding that if it will cost him his political career so be it.

Waziri Adamawa, who has been in the fore front calling for re-arrangement of Nigeria’s co-existence, explained that he came out to advocate for restructuring even when some people think he was doing it at the detriment of his political career, saying “I still stand by it.”

Atiku, who delivered a keynote address at a youth forum organised by Coalition of Civil Society Groups under the auspices of Play Forum, at the weekend in Abuja, blamed the current political structure on the military government failing to implement on the Constitutional Conference of 1994/1995 recommendation of a single term of six years for the President to rotate among all the six geo-political zones.

“So, I don’t know what those who are against restructuring are afraid of. Those afraid must be lazy. We fought the civil war with the Igbos. Today, the Igbos have been completely rebuilt, but we still find mud houses in the north. Is it the fault of the easterners that the north is like that?” he said.

“So, there are more fundamental issues that we need to deal with after which we would have settled on what basis we want our federation to be. How do we draw the boundary because even the Ijaws are not contiguous to each other. I come from a state where we are minorities. In Adamawa, whether you are Hausa, Fulani, Christian or Muslim, you are from the minority. It is the same thing in Taraba.

“I think that what is most important is the devolution of powers and resources with the various governments whether states or regions. How do the people hold those in power accountable for the resources handed over to them.

“We are not as educated as we are today in the first republic, yet it beats my imagination how those in charge of the Local governments were more efficient, honest and transparent in accountable administration.”

While assuring that he would no longer be in politics in the next ten years, Atiku explained that: “There is this impression that about disconnect between the youths and the older generation. But I don’t think it is quite correct because the age range of Local Government elected Councillors, Chairmen and State/National Assembly members is within the bracket of the youths. So, the disconnect is not such that it is total. There is a continuation and a phase out. I don’t expect to be in politics in the next 10 years, absolutely not.”

Continued: “I want to agree essentially that there is every need for us to sit down and talk about our future,” he quipped, adding: “This is because the arrangements in the last 50 years or so have not served us very well.

“I am not a product of the current structure of Nigeria. I am a product of regional government. I saw the government at work and I have also seen the current arrangement at work.

“That was why I came out, some people even said to the detriment of my political career, to advocate for restructuring or rearrangement or whatever you call it of the present structure of the country. I still stand by it. But we cannot determine the nitty-gritty of this restructuring until we are able to dialogue and agree on how we want to continue to live together as a country.

“It is good that all the representatives of the ethnic groups agreed that we should continue to live together, I believe it is imperative. But I also don’t believe in the current arrangement which I have always referred to as unitary federalism which was a creation of a prolonged military rule.

“It all started after the civil war, when General Multala Mohammed set up the Constituent Assembly of 1978 and specifically instructed the Assembly to recommend a very strong federal government which no component can challenge or try to secede.

“He was understandably coming from the perception of Biafra civil war. He felt that the war was caused by the region which felt that it was too independent to pull out of the country. Subsequently, they kept amending the constitution centralising more and more power at the centre,” he said.

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