By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
CONVENER of the Pan Niger-Delta Forum, PANDEF, and South-South leader, Chief (Senator) Edwin Clark, yesterday, lashed out at former President Olusegun Obasanjo, over his condemnation of restructuring, saying the ex-president knows the truth and should say it.
He said: “If he (Obasanjo) does not believe in restructuring, what were the national conference or political conference and national reform conference, which we all attended for? I was the leader of the Southern delegation even though we walked out, what was if for, was it only for his third term or concern for restructuring of Nigeria? That is a question Obasanjo should be asked to answer.”
Clark stated: “The truth is that he (Obasanjo) is a leader who wants to impose his will and authority on Nigeria.”
Many things to restructure
Contrary to Obasanjo’s submission that there was nothing to restructure in the country, he said: “There is need for restructuring, there is need to go back to the kind of government we had before and after independence until the soldiers struck.”
“What we are saying is that we want the former one where there was devolution of power, where every region had its own constitution even the Midwest region was created based on the demand for restructuring. Then, every region was independent in whatever they did. No one held the other down, which was why western Nigeria government did things that other government did not do and others were not envious of it because everybody had his own government.
“At present, Nigeria is running a unitary government, a situation where every state first goes to the Federal Government for money. That is not federalism. So Obasanjo is not saaying the truth, he knows what to say, but he is not saying it. He is saying there is nothing wrong with the structure of the country, which is not true.
“We want restructuring to correct the defects in the current structure of the country. For instance, Kano has 47 local governments but contributes nothing to the revenue of the country, while Bayelsa, which contributes a lot has only eight local governments. I think these are anomalies that should be corrected,” he added. Chief Clark continued: “There should be devolution of powers to the states if the states are going to be the federating units. Obasanjo is wrong to say that there is nothing wrong with the structure of the country, everything is wrong with the structure of the country.”
“We believe that the minorities in Nigeria, especially in the north, should have a sense of belonging by creating states for them. Like the Southern Kaduna, the people need a state with headquarters in Kafanchan, which is why we need restructuring.
“We also believe that in every state, governorship should rotate from one senatorial zone to the other to give every section of the state a sense of oneness and participation so that in a state like Kogi, where only the Igalas until recently or Benue, where only Tivs have been producing governors can be checked,” the South-South leader said.
According to him, “These were part of the things we discussed at the 2014 national conference, that governorship should be zoned, it is part of restructuring and the conference discussed everything from Obasanjo’s 2005 report, Abacha’s conference, Babaginda’s conference, all the reports were brought before us and the conference deliberated on them.”
He maintained: “The talks that northern Nigeria was not represented at the conference is a lie, it was properly represented. They had 10 men in the three committees from the north, what type of representation are they talking about? Muslim, Christian leaders were at the conference.”
He called National Assembly memebers armed robbers but he was part of the problem there.
“When Senate presidency was zoned to the Igbo during his tenure, Obasanio ensured that it was not stable, so he had about five senate presidents or during his tenure. Let him keep quiet. Is it because we have a country where people do not know their right from left and everybody is being praised as a worthy leader?.”
Osinbajo needs support to stop cabal
I am calling on all Nigerians to support the acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo.
“Therefore, I call on all Nigerians to support his administration. A situation where some few individuals who were never elected by the people of Nigeria would sit down in Aso Villa to manipulate President Muhammadu Buhari’s agenda should not be allowed,” he said.
Condoles Obaseki family, CJN
On the demise of the late Justice Andrew Otutu Obaseki, he said: “The death of Hon Justice Andrew Otutu Obaseki came to me as a shock even though he was quite old. His death is not a loss only to Edo people, but also the entire country, particularly the old Midwest.”
“He lived a humble and dedicated life and was an incorruptible judge right from his days in Warri Division to the Supreme Court in Lagos and Abuja. He came from a very good family background and took over the leadership of his family after the death of his late father.
“I convey my condolences to the Chief Judge of Nigeria, CJN, his nephew, the Governor of Edo state, Mr. Godwin Obaseki and to the family that he left behind and to Gaius Obaseki, the present head of the family,” he said.