Convener of the Pan Niger Delta Elders’ Forum, PANDEF, Chief Edwin Clark, has advised former president Olusegun Obasanjo to keep quiet over his criticism of the clamour for restructuring of the Nigerian federation.
Clark, who made this known in a statement on Friday, described the former president as a person who wants to impose his will and authority on Nigeria.
Recall that Obasanjo had during a visit to the palace of Olu of Warri, His Majesty, Ogiame Ikenwoli, said there was nothing wrong with Nigeria to warrant the raging clamour for restructuring or dismemberment, stressing that what needs restructuring is the mindset of Nigerians.
“The answer to most of our problems is mindset change and change of mentality. If we need any restructuring, it is the restructuring of our mindset and mentality. How will anybody in his right senses believe separation in the way out? We have passed that stage. We have problems, there are many ways we can solve them. It is our diversity that make us a great country. I won’t want a Nigeria where we dance same juju, or wear same attire. Our strength is in our diversity,” the former president had said.
Reacting to this assertion, the Ijaw national leader said Obasanjo knows in his heart that Nigeria’s structure is flawed but has refused to say the truth. He said, “Let him (Obasanjo) 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?”
Clark explained that he is advocating for a regional structure where every region was independent in whatever they did, insisting that contrary to what people think, Nigeria is not running a federal system of government.
His words, “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.
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.
“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.”