Balarabe Musa, Akintoye, Obi, others harp on restructuring as IYM holds convention
Calls for restructuring of the current structure of Nigeria Federalism topped agenda yesterday as the Igbo Youth Movement, IYM, held its 16th annual national convention in Enugu.
All the speakers at the event, including second republic Governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, foremost historian and prominent Chieftain of Afenifere, Prof. Banji Akintoye and former Governor of Anambra State Mr. Peter Obi, insisted that true Federalism was the way to go for Nigeria.
They all expressed opinion that even the northern part of Nigeria was not against true federalism, adding that doom awaits Nigeria if it did not make haste to restructure the country.
Speaking on the theme, ‘Still in Search of True Federalism,’ Balarabe Musa acknowledged that the emphasis on true federalism and a reversal to regional structures was indeed highly welcome.
Musa in a paper at the event observed that there were little doubts over the marginalization of Ndigbo in the security apparatus as well as top political positions in the country.
While blaming the situation on the civil war, he expressed worry that successive governments had not pursued the “no victor, no vanguished” decision with honesty, even as the ideals of rehabilitation, reconstruction and reconciliation have not been seen through.
On restructuring, he said: “As presently constituted, the states are virtually all unviable entities which are incapable of continuing to exist as viable constituent units of a true federal structure.
“Secondly, reverting to, say, a six regional structure would reduce the competitive pressure for power at the centre and redirect more attention to regional political competencies.”
In his own speech, Prof. Akintoye charged the Igbo Youths to make practical moves in restructuring the country.
He said: “The Yoruba has been calling for restructuring. It is not an ethnic struggle and if we don’t call ourselves to order, we will suffer for it. For anybody to think he can bring the huge ethnic nationalities without a proper structure is insanity. The civil war was caused by an attempt to create a single power, the colonial masters did not try it. All our problems revolve around centralization of government.
“Regionalism was the basis for growth of Nigeria but they abandoned it for central government and problems set in. Oil belongs to Niger Delta, grandnut to the north and so everyone should take care of its resources for overall prosperity of the country. It is impossible to succeed with the present structure.”
Former Governor Peter Obi said that all Nigerians must resolve to put the country the way it should be and objected to the call in some quarters for local government autonomy.
Obi said he was of the opinion that if the local government was granted the same status as the states, it would mean that the local governments would form its own structure which could be recipe for chaos.
“Let’s not add the local governments to the burden because no federation exists as such. It is always between the federal and states.
“I’ve always believed in restructure and people should ask what their money is being used for”, he stated.
The National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumaki noted that the Yoruba declined going to the last National Conference because it considered it an academic exercise, noting that the south west has always believed in true federalism.
The head of department, political science, in the University of Nigeria, Prof. Obasi Igwe called for opposition to corruption, noting that it is either Nigerians come together to discuss or face eminent break up.
“The Hausa/Fulani are not opposed to restructuring and if Igbos don’t think well, they will regret it. We support the six geopolitical zones so long as you assent who the Igbo is. Oppression of the people is the reason for agitation of Biafra,” said Igwe.
Earlier, the convener of the summit, Elliot Ukoh noted that his group had continued to hold the convention every year pursuant to creation of a more united Nigeria.