• Atiku insists power, resources should shift to states
• Let’s return to south, north regions of 1914, says Ango Abdullahi
• El-Rufai flays agitation for resource control
Some Northern leaders and groups yesterday expressed divergent views on whether the country should be restructured. At the ongoing two-day conference on “The North and the future of the Nigerian Federation” organised by Arewa Research and Development Project (ARDP) in Kaduna, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State said the insinuation that the north was against restructuring was false .
Tambuwal, who is the chairman of the forum, said: “The fact that some people continue to parrot such a lie only helps to give credence to the flawed argument. Let us be clear: the north wants restructuring as much as anyone else.
“However, as a people, we do not easily jump into 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.”
“I think we should first, as a country, mutually agree on a definition of the term restructuring. In my view, 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 subjugates 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 agree.
“We all want a country where there is peace and progress, where there is justice, 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 so 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 former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, as always, was more forthcoming. He insisted that power and resources should shift to the states as part of restructuring.
Atiku, who was represented by Dr. Awwalu Anwar, said: “My idea of restructuring is devolution of power to the states with the resources. The Federal Government should only be bothered about the economy while the states should be left to provide education, security and build roads.
“To me, if a state is given the responsibility of providing security, state police will better secure their areas because they will be familiar with the nature and peculiarity of their security challenges.
“In the whole of this, the north has nothing to fear because we have the land, we have the population and we have the resources. The north has nothing to fear because oil will soon become history.”
If Atiku sounded moderate, former vice chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, went extreme. He said: “I was a student when we got independence and we saw that each time there was a 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 conference like Nigeria, yet it has not created the basis for a united country. If we want to restructure Nigeria, we have to start from the beginning, 1914, north and south, let’s go our separate ways.”
According to Abdullahi, such a clamour for restructuring is not new, as it has always come from the south whenever a northerner is in charge of leadership.
“The governor of Sokoto State who is the chairman of the Northern Governors’ Restructuring Committee, and chairman of this conference, we do not want you to rush into committing us, the views of the north should be collected, nobody should stampede us,” Abdullahi said.