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Supporters of restructuring pursuing hidden agenda – Tanko Yakasai

As the issue of the need to restructure Nigeria continues to dominate public discourse, Elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, has maintained his stand that the call was suspicious.

In this interview with VINCENT KALU, the Chairman of the Northern Elders Council (NEC), said those agitating for restructuring have hidden agenda. He challenged them to come up with a blueprint on what restructuring is all about.

In an interview with your co-elder statesman, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, he warned that if Nigeria is not restructured that there shouldn’t be 2019 general elections; that restructuring should precede 2019. What’s your view on this, do you subscribe to his position?

Both Adebanjo and I, fought for the independence of Nigeria, and I’m older than him about two years, but we joined politics about the same time, some 35 years ago.

At this age, you don’t negotiate with ultimatum; you can’t give an issue an ultimatum. I’m not opposed to restructuring, and I have never heard that North was opposed to restructuring. However, my quarrel with those clamouring for restructuring is that they are yet to bring out the blueprint for it. What are the blueprints; why are those proponents of restructuring afraid of unfolding their agenda? They have a hidden agenda.

Everybody is afraid of a hidden agenda. Why hidden agenda on this matter?    

This is a matter that affects the lives of all Nigerians. They should put it in black and white and what it should look like.

Going back to regions, personally, I have no problem with that, because they started complaining that the North was so big and bigger than the two regions in the South put together.

This is the creation of God. When the British came and conquered Nigeria, they didn’t know which side was South and which was North, they just started conquering one after the other. After conquering the South, they moved to the North.

There is no issue, if you want us to go back to the three regions, so be it, but put it in black and white and let it be documented that this is what restructuring would look like.

I know what they have and I know why they are hiding it, but I want them to come out with their own plans of how Nigeria would look like in their own conception and then we come out with our own position. We are not one person, we are people, and we can’t react in the same way, but each individual will then evaluate the situation.

As along as Nigerians don’t understand what restructuring means, it cannot be meaningful to them. Even what Atiku and Babangida said is only in respect of devolution of powers, which is different from restructuring. Devolution of powers, there is no problem.

What they said amounts to devolution of powers. Devolution of powers is transferring items from the Exclusive List to the Concurrent List.

There was a time the Kano State Government set up a committee during the constitutional amendment exercise, I presided over a subcommittee of that committee that dealt with the devolution, we also recommended some of the items that should be transferred to Concurrent List. Devolution of powers is a different thing from restructuring.

If you look at the time of the old constitutional conferences in Nigeria, there were two things that are put as no-go areas. The first is the unity of Nigeria and the second is the federal arrangement of Nigeria.

At the time of Sani Abacha, they didn’t say it black and white but at the time of Babangida, he put it there in black and white that you cannot discuss the issue of unity of Nigeria or the federal structure or arrangement of Nigeria. Those ones were no-go area.

Do you mean since the talk of restructuring started, there is yet to be a paper on how it is going to be?

There are yet to come out with paper on how it is going to work. The clamour is suspicion and people are wondering why it is so difficult for them to come up with a blueprint on this matter that affects the future of every Nigerian.

So, if you are advocating for something that affects the lives of Nigerians, why can’t you bring it in black and white in writing for people to see.

Chief Adebanjo said Sardauna supported the Independent constitution and queried whether you that are opposed to it, are more northerner than the late premier?

I think there is a mistake there. We had three national figures – Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Awolowo and Sardauna.

At the 1953/54 Constitutional Conference, Zik went with the programme for unitary form of government, which we were operating at that time. Even members of the National Assembly- House of Representatives were elected through state electoral college because it was unitary.

After the conference, we adopted federal constitution, which we are operating till today.

The difference is that in those days, the regions had their own constitutions, but operated under a constitution that defined their certain powers in the national constitution. That is the difference.

The national constitution didn’t give any region the power to secede from Nigeria.

Secondly, it is not correct that 50 per cent of the revenue generated by the regions were given to them.

The 50 per cent revenue given to the originator regions were in respect of mineral. It was the elements of ground rents and royalty of which 50 per cent were given to the originating region, as against what is obtained now that we give 13 per cent of the total revenue to the bearing state.

The constitution we are operating now is the same constitution with the Independent and Republican Constitutions. If you go through those constitutions, you can see that the items on the Exclusive Lists now were the same then.

What happened is that they created more states, that is, instead of three or four regions; they created 36 states, which we have been operating for more than 20 years now.

In any case, that constitution he is talking about is what is in operation now.  It has not changed; the only thing that has changed is the number of regions that had been replaced by states, from three to four regions and to 36 states now.

Where do we go from here?

We should respect the structures created by democracy in Nigeria.

There is also the argument that the present constitution was forced down our throats by the military and does not represent the wishes of the people?

We have been obeying the military, and nobody revolted against the military.

Ayo is a lawyer, doesn’t he go to court? Who created the court, is it not the same constitution? Is it not the same military constitution that created the court?

The court was created by the constitution done by the military. Why did he recognize it? The same constitution he doesn’t approve is the same constitution he operates with. You can’t choose one and deny the other. Anybody who doesn’t want the constitution promulgated by the military shouldn’t go to court created by the same constitution.

Rotimi Williams and Ben Nwabueze, came up with the constitution that said, ‘we the people of Nigeria …’, and signed by Obasanjo.

When the constitution was promulgated, Nwabueze didn’t go to protest, Ayo kept quiet, and I kept quiet and others. Nobody in Nigeria protested.

Our leaders, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Awolowo, Malam Aminu Kano, and others accorded recognition to that constitution, they didn’t object to it because it was promulgated by the military, and therefore, they contested elections under the same constitution created by the military.

The 1979 Constitution, equally promulgated by the military in the same way Abdulsalami signed the 1999 Constitution, and elections were conducted, where Obasanjo emerged, Yar’Adua emerged, Jonathan emerged.

Why should we accept the result, why should we respect the National Assembly, states Assembly created by the same constitution promulgated by the military.

So, there is no reason whatsoever that you say that you would not recognise the 1999 Constitution because it was created by the military.

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6 Comments

  1. Ezekiel Okeke 12th August 2017 at 6:38 am

    So-called restructuring is empty noise of illiterates, no hidden agenda, no plan, no idea of any blue print etc. As I already said, debates etc. are over. Any who is against God given Republic Of Biafra of the five south east states, should prepare for Biafran bloody engagement of BIAFRAN REVOLUTION WAR from October 1st 2017. Any Igbo man or woman who is against God given Republic Of Biafra of the five south east states, should vacate Biafraland with poor northern bandits before October 1st 2017. God Is With Us!!!

  2. Emmanuel Chukwuma Umeh 12th August 2017 at 9:31 am

    Those that have hidden agenda are those that politically oppose the unavoidably needed all-inclusive democractic restructuring of NIGERIA’S current political system!

    The 1999 Constitution is purely the Military-North favoured Constitution, not the all-inclusive democractically needed Constitution for all NIGERIANS of the diversified tribes and cultures!

    It is referenced as NIGERIA Constitution, but not democractically all-inclusive for all NIGERIANS tribes and cultures, as we all know, very reasonably!

    It contains just some of the 1963 Constitutional statements on the fundermental human rights, just to mix-color it as the Militariocray-Democracy Constitution, which is very undemocratic and Northern poitical cabals’ favoured Constitution against other NIGERIANS of other tribes and cultures!

    This is why all the Northern political cabals and their Southern useful political-slaves, have politically opposed the needful all-inclusive democractic fundamental restructuring of today’s NIGERIA on democractic equality, equity, fairness and social justices, for all tribes and cultures in NIGERIA!

  3. Ezekiel Okeke 12th August 2017 at 12:18 pm

    @Umeh, inclusive democratic restructuring, which has been your language means all to have equal Democratic Capacity- meaning south east to have 19 states like political north’s 19 states. Is it possible? You are in situation you have five votes right with someone with 19 votes right, and you can never have equal votes rights, you kept talking without reason. As I already said, debates etc. are over. Any Igbo man or woman who is against Republic Of Biafra of the five south east states, should vacate Biafraland with poor northern bandits before October 1st 2017.

  4. Emmanuel Chukwuma Umeh 12th August 2017 at 3:04 pm

    Eziekel OKEKE, you are entitled to your own opinion as ever!

    You seemed to want me provoked, you cannot get it from me!

    Wisdom remains supreme, and Global civilization calls for wisdom and adquate maturity, especially when commenting on general public and socio-political issues!

    The present NIGERIA was amalgamated in 1914 as “Southern and Northern protectorates” by Lord Lugard!

    In 1960, NIGERIA gained independence!

    1963, NIGERIANS have a peaceful democractic Constitution in which the present NIGERIA was zoned democractically!

    But the Northern NIGERIA political cabals felt unfavored with the 1963 democratic Constitution, and masterminded the Military takeover of the Government through coup and counter coups, until the 1978 concept of back to democractic rules that brought in Shehu Shagari, and was overthrown by Mahamadu Buhari through another Military coup!

    Babangida initiated back to democractic rules in the 1990s, which he, along with other Northern political Military cabals wanted to favor the North with!

    But when MKO Abiola won the 1993 Election, he cancelled it, and Sani Abacha took over the Military Government!

    Until the 1998 concept of back to democractic rules, which brought in Olusegu Obasanjo through the amended Military Constitution, the said 1999 amended Constitution, socio-political problems of marginalization, militerization, brutality, oppressions and social injustices, among others, continued in NIGERIA Federal Government till date!

    Now, before the 1999, the Northern political Military cabals have started the creation of more States and Local Governments, mainly in favor of the North against the South, which stated with the creation of the 12 States in 1967 by Yakubu Gowon, and with Babangida and Sani Abacha, in which we now have the 36 States and Federal Capital of Abuja, with the 19 Northern States and more Local Governments in favor of their Northern political cabals’ selfishness and self-centeredness, as against the Southern NIGERIANS!

    The All-inclusive democractic fundamental restructuring of NIGERIA on equality, equity, social justices and unbaised fairness to all tribes and cultures in NIGERIA, will not leave any stone unturned!

    There must be unreserved balancing of the political equation democractically in the today’s NIGERIA, especially through all-inclusive democractic restructuring of NIGERIA for the good of all the tribes and cultures, including those minority marginalized tribes in the Northern NIGERIA, without any exemption!

    The British colonial Government amalgamated the Southern and Northern protectorates as NIGERIA, to mutually exist for one hundred years (100), after which all the NIGERIANS of the diversified tribes and cultures, will democractically mutually reappraise and agree whether or not, to continue in the marriage of the said 1914 of the Southern and Northern protectorates Amalgamation, or go on their separate ways mutually!

    This is why the Well-meaning Nigerians of all tribes and cultures are democratically saying that today’s NIGERIA, unavoidably needs to be democractically mutually restructured all-inclusively, in total deviod of any sort of political marginalizations, as the Northern political cabals have since 1966 till date, have been using the Military takeover and all sorts, to promote against other tribes in NIGERIA, just for their own political self-centeredness and selfishness!

  5. Emmanuel Chukwuma Umeh 12th August 2017 at 3:18 pm

    Eziekel OKEKE, you are entitled to your own opinion as ever!

    You seemed to want me provoked, you cannot get it from me!

    Wisdom remains supreme, and Global civilization calls for wisdom and adquate maturity, especially when commenting on general public and socio-political issues!

    The present NIGERIA was amalgamated in 1914 as “Southern and Northern protectorates” by Lord Lugard!

    In 1960, NIGERIA gained independence!

    1963, NIGERIANS have a peaceful democractic Constitution in which the present NIGERIA was zoned democractically!

    But the Northern NIGERIA political cabals felt unfavored with the 1963 democratic Constitution, and masterminded the Military takeover of the Government through coup and counter coups, until the 1978 concept of back to democractic rules that brought in Shehu Shagari, and was overthrown by Mahamadu Buhari through another Military coup!

    Babangida initiated back to democractic rules in the 1990s, which he, along with other Northern political Military cabals wanted to favor the North with!

    But when MKO Abiola won the 1993 Election, he cancelled it, and Sani Abacha took over the Military Government!

    Until the 1998 concept of back to democractic rules, which brought in Olusegu Obasanjo through the amended Military Constitution, the said 1999 amended Constitution, socio-political problems of marginalization, militerization, brutality, oppressions and social injustices, among others, continued in NIGERIA Federal Government till date!

    Now, before the 1999, the Northern political Military cabals have started the creation of more States and Local Governments, mainly in favor of the North against the South, which started with the creation of the 12 States in 1967 by Yakubu Gowon, and with Babangida and Sani Abacha, in which we now have the 36 States and Federal Capital of Abuja, with the 19 Northern States and more Local Governments in favor of their Northern political cabals’ selfishness and self-centeredness, as against the Southern NIGERIANS!

    The All-inclusive democractic fundamental restructuring of NIGERIA on equality, equity, social justices and unbaised fairness to all tribes and cultures in NIGERIA, will not leave any stone unturned!

    There must be unreserved balancing of the political equation democractically in the today’s NIGERIA, especially through all-inclusive democractic restructuring of NIGERIA for the good of all the tribes and cultures, including those minority marginalized tribes in the Northern NIGERIA, without any exemption!

    The British colonial Government amalgamated the Southern and Northern protectorates as NIGERIA, to mutually exist for one hundred years (100), after which all the NIGERIANS of the diversified tribes and cultures, will democractically mutually reappraise and agree whether or not, to continue in the marriage of the said 1914 of the Southern and Northern protectorates Amalgamation, or go on their separate ways mutually!

    This is why the Well-meaning Nigerians of all tribes and cultures are democratically saying that today’s NIGERIA, unavoidably needs to be democractically mutually restructured all-inclusively, in total deviod of any sort of political marginalizations, as the Northern political cabals have since 1966 till date, have been using the Military takeover and all sorts, to promote against other tribes in NIGERIA, just for their own political self-centeredness and selfishness!

    Even the true population of NIGERIA till date, is politically doctored in favor of the North, as the Northern political cabals have always been promoting, just for their own selfishness and self-centeredness!

    Census in today’s NIGERIA does not reflect the all-inclusive democractic truth about the Northern and Southern population!

  6. Ezekiel Okeke 12th August 2017 at 3:32 pm

    @Umeh, there is nothing about provocation in this by asking you questions base on fact around your argument of Igbos in One Nigeria. If you are telling majority Igbos to exist in One Nigeria, wont you answer their questions of their existence securities and freedom in the said One Nigeria? Or do you want the majority Igbos to blindly follow your position of One Nigeria? Majority Igbos do not do that as intellectuals, civilized and democratic society.

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