Immediate past Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the first Executive Governor of Anambra State, Chukwuemeka Ezeife and the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee on Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay, on Friday expressed divergent opinions on the ongoing agitation on the structure Nigeria.
The trio made their position known in Benin, Edo State, at the 20th Wole Soyinka Annual lecture series with the theme, “Nigerian State in the Aftermath of the Centenary: Prospects for its indivisibility,” organised by the National Association of Seadogs.
Delivering the keynote address, Oshiomhole argued that after having lived together for 103 years, what Nigerians need at this moment was not restructuring but quality leadership, adding that Nigerians need the country more than the country needs them and that all they need to do is to make the project called Nigeria work because there is no nation in the world that does not have its own challenges.
“To me, Nigeria is likened to a man who had been married to his wife 103 years ago. He cannot say he is tired of his wife because of a little misunderstanding and therefore he is calling for a divorce. It will not work. What he will do is to look for a solution to the problem and make the marriage work.
“What we should be talking about is how to make the country work rather than calling for division and restructuring.
“I think for me, it is not viable at this moment to be discussing the issue of restructuring but what is viable is how to make the Nigerian project viable as well as make its citizens to remain loyal to the Nigerian State,” Oshiomhole said.
He opined that no part of the country is doing any other part a favour by clamouring to remain as one, restructuring or dividing the country.
Giving a detailed analysis of past efforts at restructuring the country, from the four Regions, 12 States, 19 States, to the present 36 States, the former Governor noted that Nigerians should be concerned with how leaders govern them by ensuring that every Nigerian benefits from the dividends of democracy.
He pointed out that besides leadership, the major causes of the challenges of the country, was corruption, where few individuals steal the resources meant for the majority.
He however advocated for attitudinal, values and character restructuring among Nigerians, contending that with the attitudinal reorientation, there would be peace, patriotism, and unity in the country
In their separate presentations, Sagay and Ezeife who countered Oshiomhole’s position, noted that Nigeria is a land of many nations and that good governance, if it does not satisfy the autonomy of diverse ethnic groups that needs it does not translate to total governance
They noted that restructuring will promote good governance and the return to true federalism and autonomy.
Sagay who called for the return to the 1963 Constitution, noting that with the current Constitution, the federal government only enriches itself with public resources and impoverishes the States with peanuts.
He said it was pertinent at this time in the history of the country to embark on restructuring as it promotes good governance in all its federating units, adding that true federalism will foster development in the federating units of the state rather than centering the entire wealth of the nation at the centre
Sagay said as it is in the current state of the nation, the federating units have been made to suffer and live at the mercy of the federal government.
He said federal system of government being practiced has made some part of the states in the country to abandon cotton and ground nut productions for crude oil.
He said with true federalism, states would be able to determine their own salary structure without waiting for the federal government to do that for them.
On his part, Ezeife warned that if not restructured, Nigeria could go into extinction any moment.
According to him, Nigeria was created by God to be a rallying point to other Africa countries as well as provide it with good and quality leadership.
He noted that people in the northern part of the country will be the greatest loser if restructuring does not take place, observing that restructuring would enable them to adequately utilize the economic potentials inherent in livestocks abound in the areas.
Chairman of the occasion, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, said the State believes in the unity of Nigeria, adding that that is the reason his government is bent of deepening democracy and providing good governance for the people of the state.
The Special Guest of Honour and Governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Tam Brisibe, said Nigerians should preach peace rather than division, adding that if conflicts arise, they should be resolved through dialogue as the unity of the country should be held sacrosanct by all Nigerians.