THE staunch anti-restructuring position of the Northern part of Nigeria has been described as being in line with an alleged deliberate historical design to ensure that most parts of the North remained more advantaged than other sections of the country in the allocation of resources.
It was also observed that the All Progressives Congress, APC, had become too disposed to the interest of the Northwest geopolitical zone at the expense of other zones.restructuring
These were the submissions of two eminent Nigerians, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, and Col Tony Nyiam, retd, who played key roles in Nigeria’s march to nationhood at different times.Chief Mbazulike Amaechi
While the former is one of the few surviving nationalists, who fought for the country’s independence, the latter was among those, who attempted to topple the regime of Gen Ibrahim Babangida, retd, in 1990 on the account of their belief that the country was structured to favour the north in all aspects.
The duo, who made these disclosures in separate exclusive chats with SaturdayVanguard, were unanimous in their submission that the Northwest geopolitical zone may continue to oppose restructuring given the huge allocation it derived from the current socio-political configuration of Nigeria.
On the strength of the argument, they noted that the current calls for restructuring affirmed that only rejigging would stop the worsening North-South dichotomy in the country.
Only Buhari, Katsina, Sokoto and a few others
Amaechi, a former Minister of Aviation in the First Republic, said: “The position now is that Nigeria must be restructured. We have to renegotiate the basis of our coexistence as a country. What we have now is what the military from northern Nigeria imposed on everybody and that is not a constitution and it will never work. People are getting conscious of what is going on. Now, we had a country where the wealth which is derived from southern Nigeria, especially the Niger-Delta area is being used to develop the north at the expense of the people who own the wealth.
‘’ Look at a place like Kano which has 44 local government areas which are what about two states put together in the South have. How can somebody from Abuja collect the wealth of the country from the customs in Lagos, the customs in Port Harcourt, the customs in Ondo, in Warri, and in Calabar to develop Abuja, Kaduna and the rest of the North and the people that produced the wealth are left in the dark? It cannot work. It is either we renegotiate the basis of our association or we are not serious. The Eastern region wants the renegotiation, the Western region wants it and the Middle-Belt wants it. It is only Buhari, Katsina, Sokoto and a few others that don’t want it and that is not acceptable because we cannot continue like this.”
On his part, Nyiam said: “The Northwest created a structure which gives them some advantages. In other words, they have, for example, Kano which was split into Jigawa and Kano. They presently have the highest number of local government areas. They have about 70 local government areas compared to Lagos 20.
“When you add what Lagos gets, you will know that Lagos is disadvantaged. When you add what Kano and Jigawa get, it is much higher than what Lagos gets. In fact, Kano, Jigawa and Katsina get more money than the whole of Southeast. These are the advantages they are defending. And that is why I have asked some critical questions in a paper I wrote.
I am asked why most APC leaders are allowing themselves to be disgracefully controlled by a small minority of APC governors from a particular geopolitical zone. Why are the APC leaders from the Southwest, Northcentral, Southsouth, Southeast allowing their party, APC to be turned into a Northern party? I am saying that the APC is being turned into a party that is serving the Northwest.
Gombe, Nasarawa and Jigawa are states
“ Why are most members of the APC permitting members of their National Working Council (NWC) to be dictated to by a well-known Northwest governor, who is now against restructuring? Why are they allowing Mallam Nasir El-Rufia to be the head of the APC panel that will define restructuring which he is opposed to? That means giving El-Rufai and his Northwest political zone another undue advantage.
“Did the APC leaders from the South and the Middle Belt realise that they have been hypnotised by their counterparts in the Northwest? Why are they against returning Nigeria to fiscal federalism? Isn’t it true that the geopolitical zone which has benefited most from the existing imposed system are being allowed to dominate the Nigerian political system?
“If Gombe can be a state, why can’t Ijebu be a state? Ijebu is much more populous than Gombe, and it is much more economically viable. Why is Ijebu not a state? Why is Ibadan not a state?
My place, Ogoja, which is one of the old provinces, is not a state. Yet, Gombe, Nasarawa, and Jigawa are states. These are places I have commanded units. These are places I wouldn’t say are up to Shagamu in size.”