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Can Restructuring Still Save Nigeria? – By Yinka Odumakin

Afenifere is a self-determination platform for the Yoruba.

Yinka Odumakin, an Afenifere Leader, was a delegate at the 2014 National Conference

A freelance American journalist, Brian Hall, was one of the last outsiders permitted to freely take a tour of Yugoslavia during the final days of its existence. From early May to mid-September 1991, he interacted with members of the various Balkan “tribes” in Zagreb, Belgrade, Sarajevo and points in-between, taking notes of their comments on their history, prejudices, superstitions, fears, aspirations and opinions of other ethnic and national groups. He wrote a book titled “The Impossible Country: A Journey Through the Last Days of Yugoslavia” in which he described the last days of peaceful coexistence among Yugoslavia’s religious and ethnic communities and highlighted conflicts that would trigger the horrors of “ethnic cleansing” and war.

In the gripping account of the former Yugoslavia’s decay and collapse in 1991, Hall’s powerful sense of location and mentality is expressed through a blend of close friendships, high-level interviews, and courageous questions. Hall moved comfortably among Serbs who perceived the nation as a “super personality”, Croats who remained ambivalent toward their World War II fascist regime, and Muslims like Bosnian president, Alijah Izetbegović, who claimed only the “freedom to define themselves as a people.” By January 1992, the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia ceased to exist having dissolved into its constituent units.

Murderous Fulani Herdsmen

It is only those blinded by hegemonic desire for domination and control that cannot see today that Nigeria presently is wobbling through its last days regardless of whether a Brian Hall is travelling through it or not. Never in the history of this country (save for the civil war years) has there been the level of bloodletting currently going on along its fault lines. There is hardly any day one opens the newspapers now and don’t read of Fulani herdsmen dispatching innocent souls to the great beyond in the hapless Southern and Middle Belt communities of the country. Shorn of pretenses, these hitherto stick-wielding herdsmen who are now the only group “officially” sanctioned armed group in Nigeria (not one of them has been arrested for wielding AK 47 rifles in public) are out on an expansionist mission as the level of violence they are unleashing cannot be about cattle rearing.

Images of woes from Northern Nigeria, Waves of terror originating from Northern Region put tremendous stress on the pre-existing geopolitical fault lines that negate “unity” of Nigeria

As a child, I remember how we used to run after their forebears who grazed animals in our communities without any harm befalling us. The President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Reverend Olasupo Ayokunle, a few days ago, was moved to deliver a timely warning to the Federal Government on the unhinged monstrosity of the Fulani herdsmen. In asking for the Federal Government to prosecute the herdsmen arrested in connection with the recent killings in Benue and Southern Kaduna to ease tension in the two states, he declared: “We also want the Federal Government to investigate, through intelligence gathering, those unpatriotic Nigerians supplying the herdsmen with weapons being used to perpetrate evil. “If the government fails to stop the provocation by the Fulani herdsmen militia, they should be prepared for war. No ethnic group has a monopoly of violence and no ethnic group should be a monster to others.”

The CAN President summed up the hopelessness and frustration in the country today as there is official indifference to the ruthlessness and criminality that is going on as the marauders have set evil loose on their host communities. Given the happenings in Nigeria presently, rational thinking dictates that those who think that the only possible means of survival is milking others would, at least, be interested in the continued corporate existence of Nigeria by cooperating with reforms that could extend the life span of the entity, but hail no. They would rather become much more insensitive and unfeeling. They have continued to task the long sufferings of patriots who stand in the gap between Nigeria and disintegration by campaigning for restructuring.

On May 2, I travelled in company of some compatriots from the Southwest to Abuja to join our former colleagues at the 2014 National Conference for some reunion. On the eve of the meeting, one Bashiru Dalhatu was circulating a text message to Northern delegates not to attend the meeting as his rebel group of Northern Delegates Forum (NDF) had met earlier to declare the reports dead and buried. Attendance from the North at the meeting, however, proved that Dalhatu was representing only his fraction of the country that he misnamed the “North”. He could not have been speaking for those communities in the North whose killers, instead of being arrested, are being compensated with taxpayers’ money. Neither could he have represented Southern Borno where Elder Paul Bassey told the meeting was still under heavy bombardment from Boko Haram despite official claim by government that it has been degraded.

Minders of the Sokoto Caliphate. Chairman of the Northern Elders Council, NEC, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai

Those who still engage their brains, of course, know that you cannot exchange commanders of a murderous group for innocent Chibok girls if indeed you are not claiming false victory. One poignant message from Elder Bassey to the meeting was that all the reconstruction the Federal Government is spending fortunes on is concentrated only in Northern Borno with total and virtual neglect of the Southern Borno communities, whereas the hegemonists talk of “one North” glibly. We left the Abuja meeting that faithful Tuesday with a beautiful communique signed insisting on the implementation of the 2014 National Conference recommendations under the chairmanship of Alhaji Tanko Yakkasai.

The following day saw the presentation of a book by General Alani Akinrinade in Lagos during which the need to restructure Nigeria came on the front burner from speaker after speaker. By Thursday, Alhaji Yakkasai was already telling The Sun Newspapers that Southwest leaders campaigning for restructuring are envious of the North and are unpatriotic. I had to check “envy” and “unpatriotic” in the dictionary again to be sure the elder statesman cannot be right. Any doubt about Taqqiya (deception) at play was put to rest when Alhaji Yakassai told The Guardian of May 12: “I have always suspected the motive behind such clamor (restructuring). The whole idea is to deny the North its God-given advantage of population and landmass which it has effectively used to earn appreciable allocation from the Federal Government. Those behind it are not interested in Nigeria’s unity and progress.”

This is the crux of the matter for the Yakassais of the North as exemplified also by the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) which met in Kano a few days back. And what it all says is that we are dealing with the deepest contradictions flowing from clash of civilizations which are nonnegotiable. It is like the notorious man, Leo Tolstoy, talked about who said he would do all humanly possible to ease the lot of the fellow he was riding on his back, except getting off it. It is clear at this point that the Nigerian contradiction has gone beyond restructuring.

I watched the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo on Channels TV years back showing his deep understanding of the Yoruba language as he waxed eloquent on the Nigerian situation. He said when something is damaged, the Yoruba would say “o ti ra” (it is rotten). And that when it is irretrievably damaged, they will say “o ti se din” (it is maggot-infested). Nigeria is already maggot-infested. Maybe, it’s about time campaigners for restructuring suspend this appeasement and see how long the hegemonists can run this contraption before it answers the call of nature.

Culled from Vanguard Newspaper

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Reasons North Is Uncomfortable With Restructuring Of The Federal System

By Adamu Abuh (Abuja), Charles Coffie Gyamfi (Abeokuta) and Tunji Omofoye (Osogbo)   

• Agenda is to hurt our region, Yakassai insists
• It’s the way out, say Onadipe, Akande,

The controversy over whether or not to restructure the country continued at the weekend with two elder statesmen, Malam Tanko Yakassai and Chief Bisi Akande as well as former Nigerian Ambassador to China, Olusola Onadipe expressing divergent positions on the matter.

The persistence of the calls for restructuring requires a decisive move by all the citizens to resolve the issue amicably instead of allowing it to breed ethnic suspicion and hostility.

In an interview with The Guardian, Yakassai said the north was uncomfortable with the idea of restructuring the country.

“We are suspicious that the motive is to deprive the north in two important areas – representation at the National Assembly which is on the basis of population, and because there are more states in the north than in the south, when it comes to revenue allocation on the basis of equality of states and local governments, the north is bound to benefit more.“The idea behind the agitation for restructuring is to demolish those two advantages that are naturally due to the north in terms of representation and revenue sharing. What is disturbing is that those behind it are unable to come out with a blueprint on what restructuring means to Nigeria. Anybody who is hiding his motive on an issue that would affect Nigerians has something bad up his sleeves.

“Nobody has told us the benefit we would derive from it. What we are saying is that it is not that the north is afraid, but why should people be inconsistent? This is the reason northerners who know what they are doing and who know the background of the agitation are not comfortable with the call for the restructuring of Nigeria,” the politician said.

Yakassai, who is a founding member of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), shed light on why the north is also uncomfortable with those agitating for restructuring.

“Those of us who were privileged to see through the transformation of Nigeria from a colonial territory to an independent nation, and who are aware of the history of the political development of the country, are surprised at the inconsistency on the part of those who are agitating for the restructuring because the agitation for the creation of more states in Nigeria was by and large supported by some political figures from the South West.

“The Action Group (AG) as a party representing substantial number of people from the South West supported the agitation for the creation of Middle Belt in the north and the creation of the COWA state movement (Calabar – Ogoja – Rivers State movement) and they, at the same time, opposed the agitation for the creation of the Mid-West State which was at the time part of western Nigeria. The leaders of the south-west at the time were supporting the dismemberment of the north and the east, but were opposed to the creation of a state from their own area of control.

“So people started to wonder why they were supporting splitting of other areas and you are not prepared for the split of your own area. That was the beginning of the suspicion. They campaigned and argued that the north was too big to be allowed to continue as it were because it was made up of two-thirds of the land mass in Nigeria and more than 50 per cent of the population and therefore people could see the justification of the argument for the creation of states from the north,” Yakassai said.

But Ambassador Onadipe challenged leaders across the six geo-political zones to summon courage and accept the reality that restructuring is the way out of the socio-economic challenges and others confronting the nation.

Onadipe was of the view that the federal system of government currently being practised in the country would continue to hold it and the people down economically unless power is devolved to the states and then to the local governments, “the sources of economic activities.”

“What is the business of federal and state governments in primary school education? We have been giving the Federal Government so many responsibilities and at the end of the day, nothing to show for it. There is too much power at the centre, power of appointments and others,” he said.

The former envoy, who is a member of the Ijebu Professional Excellence Foundation (IPEF), spoke at the weekend during the 2017 Annual Merit Award ceremony of the group.

Onadipe suggested “leadership with foresight” as another ingredient the country needs to overcome her sundry challenges, particularly in the area of the economy.

According to him, leaders are supposed to break grounds, think for the masses, educate them and understand the fabrics of the economy, the political situation and forge ways to make life meaningful to the people.

He lamented that citizens and residents of some countries, less endowed than Nigeria enjoy better social services from their respective governments.

His words: “If there is no restructuring, this country is not moving anywhere, but some people are saying over their dead bodies would there be restructuring.

“I don’t understand that kind of talk. Are we making progress now, how many years after independent? It is unfortunate.”
Similarly, Akande, a former interim chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), attributed the current national woes to deficiency in the constitution.

The APC leader spoke at the weekend at the 2017 Distinguished Role Model Award of The Wings Schools in Iwo, Osun State in honour of the late Ben Adisa Akinola, an educationist cum administrator.

Akande who was the chairman of the event noted the inadequacies in the 1999 Constitution and said the document had created unwarranted challenges not only to the country but its federating components. “The constitution that can move Nigeria forward is the one that recognises the culture of the people in relation to their occupation.”

The former governor of Osun State noted that no nation is practising federalism in which all or larger percentage of existing power is concentrated on a single hand .

He noted that until the constitution is reviewed to conform to the nation’s needs, the country would remain stagnant.

According to him, power must be properly distributed and devolved from the central to the federating units as being practised in other countries.

Akande said: “ The Nigeria’s constitution (1999) now constitutes a major obstacle to peace. Those who wrote the constitution did not realise that political domination and subjugation breed revolts, community disharmony and national insecurity. The bad constitution of 1999 has now begun to stimulate demand for ethnic self-determination and economic security otherwise being called ‘resource control’ or ‘restructuring.’ Whatever name you call it, community disharmony is a burden on national security and it is dangerous for economic development and peace.“What we are saying, for instance, is that the constitution which (according to 1999 census) gave Lagos State (with 5,725,153 population) 20 local governments, also gave Kano State (with 5,810,494 population) 44 local governments. The same constitution, which gave Anambra (with 2, 796,510 population) 21 local governments, also gave Jigawa (with 2, 875,559 population) 27 local governments.

“Such constitutional provisions seem unjust to some federating components, especially in terms of equal opportunity to access the national revenue allocations. Such agitations may not be healthy for community harmony and national security to influence the change for the better,” he stated.    (The Guardian)

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Voluntary Negotiations May Never Achieve Restructuring, Says Ogunshola

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                                                    Chief Ajibola Ogunshola

Akeem Lasisi

Many prominent Nigerians gained insight into the resolutions of the 2014 National Conference on Thursday when a delegate to the assembly, Chief Ajibola Ogunshola, delivered a lecture on it.

It was at the second edition of the Chief Chris Ogunbanjo Lecture Series, held at the Metropolitan Club, Victoria Island,  Lagos.

In his lecture titled, ‘Lessons from the 2014 National Conference; Ogunshola, who is the Chairman of Continental Reinsurance Plc,  put in perspectives the resolutions of the conference and how the delegates arrived at them.

One of them bordered on the restructuring of the country, as especially discussed under possible re-zoning close to what operated before military incursion.

According to Ogunshola, the position of many delegates, especially those from the North, suggested to him that restructuring can hardly be achieved through conventional deliberations.

He told the audience that included elder statesmen like Chief Chris Ogunbanjo, Dr. Michael Omolayole,  Ambassador Tayo Ogunsulire and Ambassador Dapo Fafowora, “My experience at the conference suggests that it is highly unlikely that the establishment of zonal governments now or in the near future can be achieved through voluntary,  peaceful negotiations.”

He said that while the delegates from the South-West favoured the idea of zonal re-configuration, there were dissenting voices even from the South-East and the South-South geopolitical zones.

Ogunshola explained, “The delegates from the South-West had gone to the conference to demand six equipotent  zonal/regional governments as the country’s federating units with each zonal government being able to decide how many states it finds to be suitable for its own circumstances. The total money which used to be paid to all the 774 local governments will now be redistributed  among the state governments using the formula that is used to distribute money to state governments. Federal allocations would only be to the zonal governments as they would be the federating units.

“Even among the delegates of South-West origin, this position was not unanimous as some delegates preferred more. The South-East delegation also supported the restructuring of the country into six zonal governments but, there too, this stand was not unanimous. Several delegates from Ebonyi  State and a smaller number of delegates from Enugu State that I came across were either against or lukewarm on it. Those Ebonyi delegates said it was the creation of their state that “brought development” to their area.  However, the South-East delegates had complete unanimity on the demand for equality of  states in each of the existing geo-political zones.

“Delegates from all the  three North geopolitical zones were essentially unanimous  in their rejection of any ‘return to regionalism,’ the main reason given being fear of return to marginalisation by dominant tribes in the zones. That it was the creation of state governments that enabled their areas to have direct access to the centre. Most of the delegates from the South-South were also against the establishment of six zonal governments. So, it was only the South-West  and,  to a lesser extent, the South-East, that supported the demand.”

Ogunshola  added that some publications circulated at the conference  argued that the population of  the North-West geopolitical zone and its land area also would qualify it to have more than one zone as they were comparable with those of the South-East and South-South combined.

Yet other delegates, according to him, claimed that the official population figures were unreliable and that population and land area alone had never been the main criteria for state creation

“They claimed that the military governments which created the present states (and local government areas) exercised considerable arbitrariness in their creation. The most powerful argument employed by the South-East was historical,  starting with the former four regions inherited by the first military government. Still, other delegates who spoke against establishing zonal governments argued that increasing the number of layers of government from the present three to four would be  costly and counter-productive,” Ogunshola, who is also a former Chairman of Punch Nigeria Limited, said.

Another important area on which Ogunshola shared intimate information is on the call for the creation of state police.

According to him, although there were some fears by some delegates initially, the conference was eventually able to resolve in favour of state and community policing.

He quoted part of the resolutions, “Any state that requires it can establish a state police for that state, which should operate in accordance with the provisions of the law setting it up, to be passed by the state House of Assembly. Its powers or functions will be determined by such legislation and should not be in conflict with the duties or powers of the federal police. Furthermore, the House of Assembly of a state may also make a law for community policing of that state.

“The demand for state police, which was not widely popular at the commencement of the conference, gained momentum as the conference progressed; in fact, a day or two before they were tabled for decision, word went round in the usually reliable rumour mills that a number of northern states, including Kano, had  instructed their delegates to  vote in support.”

He explained that the conference also okayed rotational presidency  and gave a guideline on what to be done in case a President is unable to complete his or her term.

Ogunshola recalled what the resolution said, “The North  and South of Nigeria shall occupy the office of the President on a rotational basis and the post shall also be rotated among the geopolitical zones within each of them. The occupant of the office shall be educated at least up to first degree level or its equivalent. Consequently, a new subsection is to be added to Section 130 of the Constitution.

“Vacancy can occur in the office of the President through death (as was the case with President Umaru Yar’Adua in 2010),  incapacitation, impeachment or resignation. In the event of any of these, the Vice-President shall act for a period of not more than 90 days within which a new election will be conducted to elect a substantive President.”

While the conference also resolved that groups of states could establish zonal commissions, Ogunshola added,  members were unanimous on the need to make the membership of the National Assembly part-time and the need to remove immunity for the President, governors and other principal political officers.

Apart from the ovation that greeted Ogunshola’s presentation, many of the dignitaries present eulogised him.

Also, Omolayole described Ogunbanjo as a man of many parts.

He said, “He is not just a lawyer, he has a very deep foot in business. He is a great philanthropist and role model to many lawyers.”

While Omolayole noted that Ogunshola was eminently qualified to share his experience with the guests in honour of Ogunbanjo, Ogunsulire read through a long list of the lecturer’s achievements as an insurance practitioner, administrator and role model.

He said, “Chief Ogunshola is an achiever. He made The PUNCH the most widely read newspaper in Nigeria.”            (Punchng.com)

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Nigeria Can’t Progress Under Current Political System – Tinubu, Bozimo

Bola-Tinubu

                                             Asiwaju Bola Tinubu

Fidelis Soriwei, Eniola Akinkuotu and Ted Odogwu

The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and a former Minister of Police Affairs, Chief Broderick Bozimo, have said Nigeria cannot progress under the current political system which operates like a military unitary system.

The former governor of Lagos State said this at the 91st anniversary of Daily Times newspaper and the Times Heroes awards in Abuja on Tuesday, while  Bozimo stated this while speaking with journalists during  the 90th birthday celebration of a former Federal Commissioner, Chief Edwin Clark.

.Tinubu, who was represented by Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State, said Nigeria was only a federation in name but was a unitary state in practice.

He said, “Let us streamline governance; federalism in word and deed. Our constitution declares Nigeria a federation of 36 states however we still grapple with the vestiges of our past under the military rule. In any case, we still function like a unitary state despite the constitution. More power and resources need to devolve to the states.

“The Federal Government is taking on too much. We cannot flourish with over-concentration of powers at the centre. Some of the 68 items on the exclusive federal list should be transferred to the residual list as it was in most federal constitutions.

“In the 1963 Constitution, there were extensive powers granted to regions which allowed them to carry out their immense responsibility as they then saw fit.”

Tinubu said Nigeria’s unitary political system only offered a deceptive and fake economic prosperity which was exposed when the oil price slumped.

He said even if the current recession end, the prosperity that would follow would be short-lived except structural changes were made.

He added, “The fall in oil prices exposed this economic model for the life that it was. Now, we must fashion a new political economy. In due course, the current recession will end. This should come as a relief. In itself however, it is not a cause for celebration, far from it. The end of recession does not mean the beginning of prosperity.”

The APC chieftain said some items which ordinarily should be state matters like police, prisons, stamp duty, taxation of incomes, profits and capital gains, registration of businesses, incorporation of companies, traffic on Federal Government roads passing through states, trade, commerce among others were transferred from the concurrent to the exclusive list.

He said this was at variance with the true spirit of federalism, describing the current unitary system as a ‘monster.’

Tinubu added, “Regarding electrical power we must move beyond limiting states to generate, transmit and distribute electricity to areas not covered by the national grid. Our problem is lack of power yet we preclude states from helping to resolve the chronic problem that stands at the very heart of economic development.

“It is not right to say states can generate power but cannot sell it where they want. Without yielding any contravening benefits, these policies suppresses the generation of needed power.”

Also speaking at the event, the Chairman of the Daily Times, Mr. Fidelis Anosike, said the ceremony was put together to reward and encourage excellence in Nigeria.

He said the newspaper would re-establish itself as a profitable media conglomerate with the potential of contributing to Nigeria’s GDP.

Some notable Nigerians who received awards include President Muhammadu Buhari;  former President Goodluck Jonathan, the Chairman of United Bank of Africa, Tony Elumelu; Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State; Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, his Anambra State counterpart, Governor Willie Obiano; and Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State.

Others include Pastor Paul Adefarasin of House on the Rock; the Chairman, First Bank of Nigeria, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika and actor, Pete Edochie.

Bozimo,  who is the Chairman of the Clark’s 90th birthday committee said that the committee would organise a national discourse with the theme ‘Restructuring, True Federalism, and Resource Control: Panacea for Enduring Peace and Sustainable Development in Nigeria’ on May 25, 2017.

He said that it was important that Clark’s  90 birthday celebration was marked with a crucial discussion on restructuring and resource control which he devoted a greater part of his life to.

He said, “It is obvious. It is the subject matter that is relevant and prevalent in Nigeria today. It is virtually crucial. You know, the chief has been on the vanguard of that struggle virtually all his life.

“Therefore, I think it is befitting and appropriate that when you celebrate his 90 years on earth, that subject will feature and it will be for me the spirit that will move this celebration.”   (Punchng.com)

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I’m Against Changing The Current Federal System, Says Yakasai

An elder statesman and leader of Northern Elders Council, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, on Tuesday in Kano reaffirmed his earlier position against the restructuring of the country, contending that Nigeria will remain indivisible.

While responding to questions on state of the nation in Kano on Tuesday, Yakasai maintained that despite the lingering agitation from some quarters for restructuring of the country, nobody, till date has come out with a blueprint to back up the restructuring.

According to him, as long as no one comes out with a blueprint on restructuring of the country, he will continue to pitch his tent, with proponents for the unity, and stability of the country.

However, he argued that if those agitating for the restructuring of the country came out with a convincing blueprint, he might choose to or not to support the agitation.

He contended that the country would be a lot stronger, and a force to be reckoned with in sub-Saharan Africa if it remains an indivisible entity.

“I do not speak for anybody but often freely express my views, like every other Nigerian, focusing on the unity and stability of the country and do not represent any group, which is the mindset of some misinformed Nigerians.

”Many of those who are agitating for restructuring of the country were not born during the amalgamation of Nigeria by the colonial master in 1914. If they were, they would have a contrary view.”

As leader of the Northern Elders Council, Yakasai stressed that the mission of the Council, among others, is to checkmate the reckless statements of other groups, like the Northern Elders’ Forum.

Similarly, Yakasai disclosed that he does not belong to any political party, adding that he had resigned from the ANPP since 2001, so as not only to have absolute freedom of speech but to enjoy his fundamental human rights.

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We Will Try To Convince Kanu To Embrace Restructuring, Says Ohanaeze

 

NnamdiKanunew

Nnamdi Kanu at his court bail hearing

 

Ihuoma Chiedozie

The leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo has said it will meet with the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, in a bid to convince him to embrace their call for the restructuring of the country rather than secession.

Kanu was released from Kuje Prisons, Abuja, on Friday, after meeting his bail conditions.

The IPOB leader, who is being tried for treasonable felony, has been in detention since October 14, 2015.

The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Chuks Ibegbu, who disclosed the planned meeting in an interview with our correspondent, said the association intends to find a ‘common ground’ with Kanu on the agitation.

He said, “Ohanaeze will definitely discuss with him (Kanu). Ohanaeze has been making efforts to parley with all the pro-Biafra groups and find a point of agreement with them on these issues.

“Even before now, Ohanaeze wanted to send a delegation to see him in Kuje Prison. We planned it before he was granted bail. We will engage him and some of his associates so that we can find a common ground.  He is our son, we understand him and he will understand us. If there are areas of divergence, we will find ways to address it so that we can work together.

“At the planned meeting, Ohanaeze intends to make Kanu understand and appreciate its position, which is the restructuring of the country, rather than secession. Ohanaeze’s position is restructuring and his (Kanu’s) position is secession. We will not tell him to drop his desire for self-determination but we will make him understand that Ohanaeze’s position is the position of the Igbo people.

“He has the right to seek self-determination, but we will make him appreciate Ohanaeze’s position, which is restructuring and social justice. Ohanaeze’s position is the position of the totality of the Igbo people. We will also make him understand that there is no need to insult anybody in the agitation, and no need for violence – of course, he has never been violent.”

“Restructuring is the only solution to the problems in this country. With the restructuring, even the issue of corruption would be addressed. What generates corruption? When the system is suffocating people, when the system is not properly coordinated, people will be stealing here and there. You cannot stop corruption by force. Even the issue of lopsided appointments is corruption. We have to address the fundamental issues.”   (Punchng.com)

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Restructure Nigeria Now, Declares Nyame (ex -Governor Of Taraba)

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Rev Jolly Nyame

By Sylvanus Viashima, Jalingo

It’s been ten years since Rev Jolly Nyame left office as the governor of Taraba state. But he has remained very active in the political arena both at the state and National scene. In this interview, he shares his personal experience of the last ten years and also bares his mind on the current political structure, state of the economy and political developments in the state and the country at large.
Tell us about your experience in the last ten years after serving as the Taraba state governor?
The last ten years or thereabout have been a mixture of experience- you have the good, the bad and even the ugly. I have faced a lot of travail from the federal government through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC, and no one can imagine what I’ve been through in the last ten years or so, going to court. As it stands now, it is difficult to say where my case stands with the EFCC. All I know is that the challenges form part of God’s plan for my life. I don’t take it personal.
As you are aware, I have not received my entitlement since leaving office. All the governments that came after me are aware of my predicament but I don’t know what the problem is. In fact, I contemplated going to the Industrial court this year to seek their intervention but they said there is no need as the government is working on it. I wrote a letter to the government through the SSG and I understand that it is been given serious attention. So hopefully, this administration would pay me.
What is the reason for the nonpayment of your benefits ten years after?
It is pathetic and I can only speculate as they have not given me any reasons. We’ve had other governors and or acting governors and deputies who have left office and are enjoying their benefits. Some even paid themselves before leaving the office but I was been a gentleman and felt paying myself my entitlement before leaving office was not gentlemanly. I wanted someone else to pay me like every other pensioner. I never knew I was cheating myself.
What’s your take on the current wave of defections in the PDP to the APC especially in Taraba state?
It is very pathetic. When you have top PDP members defecting to the now ruling APC, then it calls for stock taking. It is even more worrisome that some people still seat in their offices as party officials and government functionaries and just wave it aside, as nothing. It is a very bad thing for the party, I can tell you that. I’m most touched by the recent defection of the immediate past minister of labour, Senator Joel Ikyena because I worked with him and I know what political weight he has got. He is someone that has his way politically. He is a force you can always count on for results. You know he came from the very bottom of the ladder to the top and that makes him a core grassroots politician. So for him to defect to the APC and you have people in position try to make it look as if nothing has happened, is pitiable. In the last elections, the PDP got a chunk of its votes from his homestead of Wukari, even when someone from the same Wukari was also vying for governorship. I know there must be a reason for his defection and I don’t want to hold brief for him but I passed through the same thing too. For instance, party congresses were held in this state last year up to the zonal congress and no one informed me about it. So when you have people that are not mature enough, they would feel slighted and would simply opt to move on.
In as much as I am not comfortable with the development, I think the PDP needs to move out of her cocoon and do a post mortem of the developments leading to the last general election and up till this time. If that is not done, I can assure you that there is no future for the PDP anywhere. Look at what is happening in the state now preparatory to the council elections. If you cannot organize primaries for local government elections, then there is problem. The issue of consensus candidate is wrong. People are not happy about it. It is as a result of this same issue that the governor is still battling for his mandate at the Supreme Court. Allow internal democracy to prevail. I however believe that the party would put its head together and correct some of these mistakes soon.
What is your take on new Mega party and its implications for the PDP?
Well, the APC itself came up as a mega party. It was a merger of political parties who felt dissatisfied with the way PDP was handling the affairs of this country. In the end we all saw what happened. So this is the same thing that is about to happen. It is no longer something new. That however, is not a guarantee that they would come and take over leadership as the APC did. It would of course provide for vibrant opposition which is healthy for any democracy globally. And like I said, the PDP would also learn her lessons and step up the game to meet the challenges hopefully.
As the longest serving governor of Taraba state and the political leader, you were accused of been silent while things were going wrong in the state. Is that correct?
Well, people who say that may do so based on their level of knowledge. I have been doing a lot just that I am not militant about it. But if my disposition to this position as an elder statesman is taken as cowardice, I may soon become militant about it. A lot of things happen in Taraba awkwardly. The entire money we got in eight years as a government is what Suntai got within a year. Subsequent governments after him too got a lot of funds. Unfortunately, the structures we put on ground before leaving office are still what you see around.
No government has been able to build one more hospital, or any viable project. Some of the projects we started and could not complete before leaving are still there. The structures we put in place are very fast decaying for lack of maintenance.  I’ve always asked people to be patient with those in government but there is a limit to what they can take. People must also understand that my influence is to the extent that they are willing to listen and take corrections. There are times you would make efforts to reach out and nobody would listen to you. You can’t force yourself on the people, you know. And even when you see them and give them your advice, they are not obliged to take it. Of course as someone who ruled the state for about ten years, I should know the state well enough to give viable solutions to those in government and I have been trying my best. Whether they take my advice or not is not within my power. But I’m sure time is going to come when all these would change.
Some of the major structures in the state are suffering serious decay. The Stadium, Motel, Specialist Hospital and several others. How do you feel when you see these projects?
It pains me. I weep each time I see these structures in their current shape. When we built these things, we used the best of everything that was available at the time. Look at the motel for instance, it was furnished with the best furniture we could get at the time but today, things have fallen apart. You have grasses growing in some of the rooms. I was there to visit a guest recently and the main door to his room was not working. I mean, it is a mess.
I did these things because I thought we would have subsequent governments with a maintenance culture. And for everything, we even had the spares in place. There were reserves of all the equipment on ground. The specialist hospital was fully equipped with spare equipment in place. Those spares were all sold. There are no more there. Those on ground are poorly maintained. Look at the stadium, we had hoped that these projects would boost the economic viability of the state and make it attractive to investors. The state government does not have to benefit from it directly. We hoped that they would be handed over to someone with the ability to manage them effectively to run and keep them afloat.
Why didn’t you put in place measures for sustainable maintenance of these structures after you left office, since your successor was seen as just a continuation of your administration?
What happened were my fears. And I was correct when I was afraid to do certain things. Like you said, Danbaba’s administration was supposed to be a continuation of my administration but remember he set up a commission to probe me. So if I had done certain things that one would think it was to my advantage, it wouldn’t have just been a commission that he would have set to probe me. It is the same Danbaba that put me in this mess I’ve been in for the past years since leaving office. So like I said, people may not understand me but all my decisions are based on conviction. I was certain that if I paid a contractor at that time to continue with the maintenance of these things, I would be charged of having interest in it. I paid a contractor N1million for the Jalingo airport through the office of the SSG, and Danbaba was the SSG then, but that is one of the reasons I was taken to EFCC. I have to answer for it. The same airport was done elsewhere costing billions. So I knew that with the kind of mentality we had, if I did some of these things, somebody would come after me. Now that I even avoided these things, I’m been accused.
Your younger brother, Godwin is warming up to contest the governorship of the state in 2019. Are you aware and what your take?
Sure, I am aware of it. He is a mature person and is of age enough to take his decisions. He is my blood brother as you know and my younger brother for that matter. But as far as I am concerned, he is a man and can take his own decisions. For instance, I am in the PDP while he is in the APC. I can’t stop him if that is what he wants. Of course, in this case, I may not support him because he is in the opposition party and I cannot support another party to win my party. But like I said about people defecting from the PDP, you ordinarily wouldn’t want to leave the house you have built and furnished well to go and start a new one, but when you are forced to, you would have no choice. I know that if it comes to it and I am left with no choice, I would go.
If I am going to decamp to the APC, nobody would stop me. I want you to understand that people don’t just decamp to other parties. When Danbaba made it unbearable for us in the PDP we decamped to ACN. There we contested the governorship fronting Joel Ikyena. Danbaba may not be there now to tell you anything but his deputy Sani Danladi is there.  For now, I’m in PDP and I am still working for the PDP but if my hands are tied, there is nothing I can do. Just as we were forced out of the PDP then by Danbaba, if we are forced out now, we still may leave, at their own detriment.
Are you now saying that Joel Ikyena’s defection is such a big blow to the PDP?
It is not good for the party. It is not good at all. Some novice may say that his exit means nothing thinking that there are other people on ground to do the magic but I’m afraid they are wrong. Like I said, I worked with Joel Ikyena so I know what he is made of. You can’t find his kind in the whole area. If there is any, they should come out and let’s see them. There is none. Remember Ikyena started from the bottom to the very top. His exit is bad for the party, very bad. And I don’t think anyone should be comfortable with this
There is suffering across the country and this current administration is still blaming the last administration. Where do you see this leading us to?
I think the blame game is over now. From what I have gathered, the 2017 budget would propel us out of recession and from my little experience as a village economist, the more you encourage people to produce, the better for the economy.  People have to go more into production. Small, medium and big industries have to be put in place to herald a sustainable growth for the economy. We found ourselves in a recessed economy because we have just been buying without producing anything. So basically, this hardship should be over soon. Don’t forget that, now, more than ever, everyone is looking for ways of earning a living outside the government. Most people have returned to the farm and other sectors of the economy. This is good for us. I just hope that we would come out it stronger than we ever were.
What is your take on the current agitations for secession and the call to restructure the country?
To be honest, I would never support secession for any reason. I know that people from various zones have their reason to fight the fights they are fighting, but I want to encourage one Nigeria. Federal government should be sensitive to the yearning of the people across boards. Then, there should be decentralisation of power from the federal to the component states. Of course, there should be a certain remittance to the Federal Government but the states should be made more viable. They should be able to do some things on their own. They should have some level of control over their resources. This would help every state to seat up. There is no state in this country that does not have enough resources to survive very well. They all do but these things are grossly underutilized. Take Taraba for example, just last week, I got a huge lump of stone here. We took it somewhere and they said it is lead, and one of the best qualities. So in Taraba alone, there are so many resources that if the state government is allowed to exploit, they’ll be able to do a lot and still remit to the federal government. What is happening in the South- South and South- East is pathetic. The people have to be taken care of. But I still believe that if we take a referendum now, most of the Igbo would not support it. We have to be one Nigeria but the current structure has to be done away with and the government has to be sensitive to the plights of their people.  (The Sun)

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