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From Petrus Obi, Enugu
FORMER Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme and former Minister of Information, Professor Jerry Gana are among eminent Nigerians calling for immediate restructuring of the country in line with the principles of true federalism.
They made the call yesterday at Nike Lake Resort Hotel, Enugu, during the 17th Annual Convention of the Igbo Youth Movement (IYM) headed by Evangelist Elliot Ukoh.
Others prominent figures who joined in the request for restructuring include Yoruba leader, Ayo Adebanjo, former Anambra governor, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife; resource control protagonist, Ankio Briggs; and immediate past former governor of the state, Mr. Peter Obi.
They advised President Muhammadu Buhari to begin the immediate implementation of the 2014 National Conference report as a first step towards restructuring the country.
The leaders, who spoke on the theme of the convention, “Still in search of true federalism”, noted that the current protests and demands for separation by various groups in the country, as well as other socio-economic crises could be reduced by half if the national confab report was implemented.
Ekwueme stated that every disappointment was a blessing and noted that his incarceration in 1984 at Kirikiri prison by the military afforded him the opportunity to reflect deeply on Nigeria’s problems.
The former vice president said he came out with the idea of six geo-political zonal structures, which he pushed for in a national conference much later and it became a convention, which has taken care of minorities in the South and North.
Ekwueme stated that what Nigeria negotiated for and agreed with colonial masters before independence was a regional government where each state would have a constitution annexed to the Republican Constitution of 1963. According to him, the republican constitution then provided 50 percent revenue sharing formula for the regions, 30 percent to a distributable pool, and 20 percent to centre.
“There is need for us to return to the basics from what we inherited from our founding fathers,” he said.
On his part, Adebanjo who went down the memory lane to trace the origin of federalism in Nigeria to various pre-and post colonial constitutional conferences, insisted that Nigeria must be restructured to correct the humongous damage done to the nation’s constitution by the military and to put a stop to various acts of uprising in the country today, including those of Niger Delta Avengers, MASSOB, and IPOB.
On his part Prof. Jerry Gana noted that the nation’s founding fathers were right by agreeing to a federal structure, which he described as the best governance structure to guarantee peace, equity and justice.
Ankio Briggs, who received the award of “Amazon of Truth” by IYM, stated that true and fiscal federalism must be truthful and justifiable, adding that she believes in resource control and that as much as she doesn’t believe that Nigeria must break, she believes that if the nation continues on the current path, then disintegration would be inevitable.
On his part, Obi stressed that he supports restructuring the country on the basis of fiscal federalism, but, while that was being addressed, there was need to urgently address the high cost of governance in the country, insisting that any governor who said he can’t pay salary should give way for other persons with better ideas.
Dr. Ezeife, who also received award of “Igbo People’s General” stated that the 2014 national conference report recommended additional 18 states to make for 48 state-structure in order to address some inequalities created by the military.