PARIS, SEPTEMBER 15, 2016: (DGW) FORMER political adviser to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo has for the first time spoken on the ongoing debate over the restructuring of Nigeria in an interview with the DAILY SUN newspapers.
The Prof argued, amid other national issues, that those who remain opposed to it are doubtless benefiting from the current warped system which is causing more problems for the country.
Below is an abridged version of the interview with DAILY SUN newspapers:
*What would you fathom as the reason the North is against calls for restructuring of the country?
It was very clear to me at the National conference. Is there anybody who is benefiting from a system and still wants it changed.
The current system gives Kano State 44 shares from local government funding and Lagos of comparable population, 20, Oyo 31, Imo that’s the largest state in South East, 27, Bayelsa that produces a lot of crude, eight.
It is not fair, it’s not just. It is not that they should have equal number of local government. It is that local government all over the world are removed from the central account. They are not part of the central account. They are part of the federating unit account. And on this, there was an agreement at the last National Conference.
Many of them think that if you remove this kind of unjust system, it will not be to their advantage. But what they do not know is that it may liberate their creative energy. It may make them rise to the challenge. Kano can develop and get the same kind of internally generated revenue as Lagos is getting.
We are seeing what is happening in some states that are challenging themselves. Anambra is existing on its own. They are not having problem paying salaries. The state did several things under governor peter Obi and has maintained to pull itself up to paying salaries, investing and correcting its educational system. It wasn’t like that in 2000/ 2001. So, it’s a case of challenging people to develop. I am sure that people will be challenged. But not everybody in the North is against restructuring. We have heard Atiku talk of restructuring and it is not the first time he would canvass that. When we were going for the conference in 2014, I still remember the back page of ThISDAY newspaper where Atiku had a lenghty article and agenda for the National conference and it was on restructuring and how Nigeria should be structured.
*Would you say this government is confused or lack idea on how to address the current economic challenge?
I am not in government, I’m not a prophet, neither am l Rev. Fr. Mbaka to see through prophecy how it can be done. All I know is that many Nigerians, good Nigerians have said, if something is not working, try to see how it can work. That’s how I see the word, restructuring. Our federation is not working. It hasn’t been working. Therefore, restructuring is the best thing that should be done now to see if it will work. But I’m baffled that a government that says Change cannot understand change, even when it comes to structures.
You said change personnel, we accepted. Nigerians have voted your change personnel. They are saying change structure. You say no way. How and why? Because the same problem is there, you need to change structure. Change structure is restructuring. Economic change is diversification. If government says it wants to diversify, it has accepted change in diversification.
The old people have been changed, what government is finding difficult is change of structure and I don’t know why? Fine, but it is going nowhere until it changes items in the Exclusive List, even in Legislative List.
We must re-examine that item 39 that says petroleum under the liquid, gas and solid are the exclusive preserve of the federal government. We must ask why we are still finding it difficult to pass the petroleum industry’s bill. These are the cob webs government has to remove. Restructuring is not going back to regions. I’m shocked at that kind of ignorance and nonsense. Who says restructuring is going back to regionalization?