Mimiko Insists on Restructuring, Say Call Is Not Anti-North

The immediate-past governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko yesterday rieterated his advocacy for the nation’s restructuring, while some other cerebral leaders from across the country also lent their voices to the call.

Mimiko spoke in Lagos at a colloquium organised by the Island Club, Lagos alongside a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Alani Akinrinade (retd.); Afenifere chieftain, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; a former Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku; a Niger Delta activist, Ann-Kio Briggs; and a former deputy governor of Ebonyi State, Prof. John Ogu.

The President of Ohanaeze-Ndigbo, John Nnia Nwodo, was represented on the occasion by Dr. Amos Akingba.

Prof. Banji Akintoye, a senator who represented Ondo State during the Second Republic, delivered the lead paper at the colloquium, which had, “Restructuring: Challenges, implications and the way forward,” as its theme.

In his contribution, Mimiko said the agitation for restructuring should not be viewed as an attack on the North but an attempt to decentralise power.

He said, “Restructuring is not about the North against the South. Restructuring is decentralising power to make way for distribution and consumption arrangement so that every federating unit can increase its fiscal resources for development.”

Mimiko, who said any country that could not protect its citizens and their property, was not worth being as a country, also made a case for state police.

“We need to have state and local police to protect the lives of citizens and property. Let the states control their resources. We must restructure,” the ex-Ondo governor said.

Briggs, in her contribution, described Nigeria as a fast-moving train without a break, stressing that the need for restructuring was urgent.

She said, “We are still going on that train handed over to us by the British and we will soon crash. In order not to crash, we need to restructure. All the regions must come together and agree on restructuring and everybody must say what restructuring means to them and we must agree on restructuring before 2019 election.”

Briggs said there was an imbalance in the country, noting that “while there are 365 local government areas in the South where oil is produced, the North had 419 local government areas, thus getting more federal allocation.”

“Niger Delta is producing more and getting less. We must have a new constitution or we can use the 1963 Constitution and work in it. We can have a new constitution that will take care of these injustices like the issue of Fulani herdsmen and religion. We must have a political and economic restructuring. If we cannot restructure, we will call the regions together to call for referendum,” Briggs said.

On his part, Adebanjo argued that the kind of restructuring that Nigeria needed was for each region to have its own constitution, in order to guarantee autonomy.

Adebanjo said, “Nigeria is running a unitary system of government; you cannot run Nigeria as a military system of government considering the ethnic groups. We have passed that stage. Don’t let anyone tell you anything about restructuring. It is not new.”

In his remarks, Maku said, “Nigeria offers Africa and Africans a great hope if we can reform the structure and its internal powers. The majority of us believe that restructuring will make Nigeria a great country. These kinds of debates are needed to ensure that restructuring works.”

Lead paper discussant, Akintoye said restructuring had become inescapable in the country.

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