Tambuwal: We want restructuring
Ango Abdullahi: Let’s go our separate ways
The move by the North to adopt a common stand on restructuring suffered a major setback yesterday as the leadership of the region failed to reach a consensus on the issue.
While the Committee of Northern States Governors’ Forum and Northern Traditional Leaders Council on Restructuring, led by Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, insists that the region is not against restructuring, chairman of Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF), Prof. Ango Abdullahi, declared that the North is ready for break-up.
Both leaders spoke at the opening of a two-day conference on “The North and the future of the Nigerian Federation” organised by the Arewa Research and Development Project (ARDP) at Arewa House Auditorium, Kaduna.
The Tambuwal team recently inaugurated a technical committee to look at the issues surrounding the call for restructuring and get the aggregate views of the North and present same to the committee for use during the proposed town hall/public hearings across the 19 Northern states.
But the Sokoto State governor, who gave an indication of the type of restructuring the North is comfortable with, said: “If restructuring means taking stock of our arrangement to ensure that no state takes a disproportionate amount of the resources, or most of the available space in the education or job sector, or subjugate the others’ culture or religion, or lords it over the other so that the number of the poor and uneducated whose future is circumscribed by their circumstance is shared proportionately, then we are game.”
He described the belief in some quarters that the North is against restructuring because it benefits most from the current state of things as circumscribed and patently false.
According to him, the fact that some people continue to parrot such a lie only help to give credence to the flawed argument.
His words: “Let us be clear: The North wants restructuring as much as anyone else. However, as a people, we do not easily jump unto the bandwagon because we are always there for the long haul. We believe that any decision we take must be inclusive, and respect procedures and processes, so that the outcome is sustainable.
“We all want a country where there is peace and progress, where justice is a given, where all lives are safe and people can pursue their legitimate livelihoods wherever they choose. I believe each state in this country has areas of comparative advantage and life is a cycle, so that what was once the largest revenue earner can in time become less while something else takes ascendancy. As a country, we must look to the future and agree on what in the long run will benefit us all.”
But Abdullahi, a former vice chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, who said the North is not afraid of break-up, called for the country’s return to pre-1914 arrangement.
He said: “If we can’t go back to 1914, we should go back to 1960, regional governance. North is not afraid of getting its North back, just like those who want East and West.”
He described the call for restructuring as a political calculation, saying: “I see this as a political manoeuvre, but the North will not take it.”
He added that though restructuring means different things to different people, it will not make any difference because the problem of Nigeria is not really about structure, but the managers of the country.
His words: “Restructuring means so many things to many people, but to me, I am not speaking for Paul Unongo or NEF. When I was confronted about this by people from the South, we sat with Prof. Ben Nwabueze and he said Nigeria is unbalanced and that Lord Lugard made mistake by the amalgamation and that North has always dominated, that’s why they asked for National Conference in 2014.
“We reminded him that the North has always sacrificed for the unity of Nigeria. I was a student when we got independence and we saw that each time there was need to unite Nigeria, the North made the largest sacrifice.
“Now, we have 36 states from three regions which existed in 1960. No country has had constitutional conferences like Nigeria, yet it has not created basis for a united country. We ought to have realised from that, that the failure is of operators of the country. If we want to restructure Nigeria, we have to start from the beginning, 1914, North and South, let’s go our separate ways.”
He accused the South of bad blood, saying the clamour for restructuring is not new because it has always been an antecedent of the region whenever a northerner is in charge of leadership.
“Since assumption of the northern leadership, we have witnessed demands like they always occur whenever a northerner takes over leadership,” he said.
The conference, with theme: “The North and the Future of the Nigerian Federation,” is organised in collaboration with the Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation.
Other groups participating in the event are the Northern Elders’ Forum, Northern Delegates’ Forum, Arewa Consultative Forum, CODE Group, Arewa Reawakening, Jam’iyar Matan Arewa and Northern Youth Organisations.
Obasanjo, Jonathan, Dickson harp on true reconciliation, unity
Former Presidents, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, at the yesterday reaffirmed their call on Nigerians to embrace peace and unity for the good of the country. The leaders spoke during a thanksgiving service for the successful groundbreaking ceremony of Azikel Refinery at St. Stephen’s Anglican Church, Otuoke, Ogbia Local Government Area of the state.
A statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Francis Ottah Agbo, quoted Obasanjo as saying that leaders, particularly the political class, must work for unity, peace and genuine reconciliation, irrespective of tribe, religion and political affiliation. Obasanjo, who heralded his speech with one of his favourite hymns; ‘Amazing Grace,’ noted that God had blessed Nigeria with all the prerequisites of greatness. He urged Nigerians to learn from history rather than make the same mistakes and expect to have a different result.
He said: “In a country like Nigeria, unless we preach, teach and practice reconciliation, we will not have peace. And unless, we have peace, we will not have development. And unless, we have development, we will not have growth. “And without growth, we will not come out of poverty. Even if some of us are exceptionally lucky and are able to get out, majority of us will be writhing in poverty and that’s not what God ordained for this country.
“This nation is a land flowing with milk and honey and a land of plenty and prosperity.” In his remarks, former President Jonathan, who corroborated the views of Obasanjo, said God had not made a mistake by bringing people of diverse culture and religion together as a nation. Jonathan, therefore, expressed optimism of a better Nigeria in the near future, stressing that the country was not as bad as it was being portrayed in some sections of the media. Also, Governor Dickson, who appreciated Obasanjo for his time in the state and his fatherly counsel, assured the people that the state would continue to hold him in high esteem for his support.
Onaiyekan to Buhari: You’re not delivering on your promises
The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, yesterday, yesterday told President Muhammadu Buhari that the change he promised Nigerians was becoming a mirage. Onaiyekan, who delivered a homily at the opening Mass of the first 2018 plenary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), also told the president that Nigerians deserved more than they were getting from him. He therefore called on Nigerians to use the 2019 election to effect a radical change for the betterment of the country.
He argued that in the last three years, Nigerians have been hearing much about change, but have seen rather little of it. He said: “Yes, our nation is in a state of uncertainty and confusion. A few things are going well in the society and the economy for which we thank God and congratulate our leaders.
They tell us that they are doing their best. But a lot still needs to be done and too many problems have been left to fester. Our nation surely deserves far better than it is now getting in terms of good governance, social justice and peace and minimum of well being for our people.”
The former President of CAN said so far, government has spent so much time and energy demonizing its predecessor that it seemed to have forgotten its promise of a better life for Nigerians. He added:“It has unfortunately allowed the initial massive goodwill it enjoyed to be depleted, almost to nonexistence.
It is no wonder that many Nigerians are looking for a new political organization that can truly bring about genuine change for the better. Having tried our two major political parties and found none of them up to our expectation, the nation is on the verge of despair….” “Another election is fast approaching.
We must seize this God-given opportunity to radically change things around. We should no longer allow politics to remain business as usual in the hands of the same gang of speculators and opportunists. We must change the rule of the game, not the faces of the players.” However, Buhari, who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, said the CBCN was the only Christian platform that gave the president a listening ear prior to the 2015 presidential election. Mustapha added that the president believed that the CBCN was a strategic partner in building the nation, even as he noted that the CBCN have a lot to offer the nation.
“And for that reason, he remains eternally grateful. And I remember at that engagement, they asked very pertinent questions – direct, bullets to the face. And he provided answers. And because of that reason, he believes that the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria is a strategic partner in the enterprise of growing the Nigeria nation and he believes that they have a lot to offer,” Mustapha said. Also speaking, a former Governor of Abia State, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, maintained that the current administration has done well, particularly in the area of infrastructural development.
Kalu particularly mentioned the Second Niger Bridge; Enugu-Onitsha Expressway; Enugu-Port Harcourt- Okigwe; Aba-Umuahia Expressway, while also saying that the president is doing everything within his power to salvage the economy. Speaking with journalists, Kalu prayed for the good of the country and wished Nigerians well, that they can enjoy the dividends of democracy. “This is not media hype. I am not a spokesman for the president. Everybody knows that I speak the truth. APC have done very well
IBB to PDP: Provide a better choice for Nigerians
Former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, has charged the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to be ready to provide a better choice to Nigerians in 2019. This is as the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, said that the party is set for its eventual return to power in 2019. Babangida and Secondus, who spoke over the weekend, said Nigerians were happy with the rebranding and repositioning going on in PDP.
The former military president, who spoke when members of PDP National Working Committee (NWC) visited him in Minna, the Niger State capital, expressed satisfaction with the rebranding so far achieved by the PDP ahead of the 2019 general elections. “I am happy at your assurances that there will be no imposition in all your primary elections.
It is all about choice and you have promised to provide the best choice,” PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, quoted Babangida in a statement. Babangida told the PDP leadership that not a few Nigerians believed that the elective national convention of the party would hold. “Your ‘reposition, rebrand and regain’ agenda is working and I mean particularly the rebranding.
Some people believed that having been in government since 1999, the PDP will find opposition difficult, but you are carrying on well and providing a better alternative. “You have also not abandoned the people in times of crisis. I monitored your activities in Benue, Taraba and you just said your party has sent members to Zamfara to commiserate with the people. Surely you have made the people the centre of your return and they will not forget you because you were with them in time of sorrow,” he said.
At a meeting with Forum of Speakers of PDPcontrolled state Houses of Assembly, Secondus assured them that what would come out of the reengineering going in the party would make it a formidable opposition ready and determined to regain power in 2019. In a statement by his media aide, Ike Abonyi, the PDP National Chairman noted that many Nigerians were anxiously waiting for PDP’s return to power.
“Our visits to states reveal that only PDP governors are delivering in their campaign promises and their people are happy and supportive. “In Abia, Delta and Bayelsa states where we visited recently, PDP governors are phenomenal in their performance. No wonder the people are trooping back to the party from the wobbling ruling APC,” Secondus said.
He told the speakers that their position is very critical to the mobilization programmes of the party because of their closeness to the grassroots, and urged them to “remain connected to your people because we are taking the party back to the real owners, the people at the grassroots where you are closer.”
The National Chairman told the speakers that the party is planning a deliberate policy that would take the party to the youth through a new programme called “Generation Next” that would soon be launched and called on the speakers to key into it as most of them belong to that generation. He lamented the killings and economic hardships, which Nigerians contend with on daily basis, stressing that “our country has never witnessed the type of division our people are currently facing.
“Today, our nation is drifting and as leaders (we) cannot afford to keep quiet and watch on the sides. Leaders must come together and take a firm position on how to save our nation from the precipice. “PDP remains the only alternative platform based on our experience more so because we have learnt our lessons. We have resolved to play by the rules and operate within the confines of our party’s and the Nigerian constitution.
“We are rebranding and repositioning to make our party open to all and regain the land for the people. We are determined to give opportunities to the youth and our women. We also want to mentor a new generation of young Nigerians that will take our nation to the next millennium,” Secondus said.
Earlier, the Chairman of PDP State Speakers’ Forum, Sheriff Oborevworio, told Secondus that they came to congratulate and identify with the new party executive. Oborevworio, who is the Speaker of Delta State House Assembly, said speakers were ready at all time to assist the party in its efforts to regain power in 2019.
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