-No Part of Nigeria is doing Nigeria a Favour – Oshiomhole-
Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, former Governor of Edo State, has stated that Nigerians need Nigeria more than Nigeria needs Nigerians. He stated this yesterday in Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria, when he delivered a keynote lecture during the occasion of the 20th Wole Soyinka Annual Lecture. The theme of the lecture was “Nigerian State in the Aftermath of the Centenary: Prospects for its Indivisibility”.
He said, “There is no part of Nigeria that is doing Nigeria a favour. Who? ….Let no one try to say, ‘O, Nigeria diversity’. Is there any country that doesn’t have element of diversity? Some may be more diversified than others.” According to him, Nigeria’s diversity is a blessing because bigger markets and better economic benefits should ideally arise from this.
He recalled the growth of the textile industry in Nigeria and regretted that this was reversed because “We get our policies wrong…. We have sustained an incoherent industrial policy and what we had achieved before we have lost and today we are net importers of everything that we wear and a lot of the things that we consume. I think that these are the things that ought to engage our attention as people.”
Comrade Oshiomhole stated that it is improper to dwell on the issue of restructuring at Nigeria’s age, adding that any discussion on it is akin to a discussion on divorce between a couple that have reaped good benefits from decades of a mutually agreeable marriage.
He said, “If Nigeria was a human being, after one hundred and three years of marriage and both the man and the woman are in their menopause, the man can remember what used to happen when he was a man, the woman is still there for all biological purposes or obviously all the essential parts that define a man and woman.
And then at that point they have produced children, many of whom have become professors, engineers, politicians, and they are asking, ‘This our marriage, is it still realistic?’ I think that in my view, it bothers on senility at that age to begin to debate whether a marriage of 103 years old, whether it is realistic to try to sustain it or whether we should approach the customary court to see whether a divorce is possible. I submit that it is not a viable conversation.”
He suggested that rather than dwell on such a conversation, Nigerians should seek solutions to “the deficit in terms of the gap between our expectations and our reality and ensure that our primary purpose the day we said ‘I do’ one hundred and three years ago however it was done, that we learn from the past and make the future better.’’
Comrade Oshiomhole attributed most of Nigeria’s economic problems to poor quality of leadership, adding that the country’s dependence on oil has led to a pattern of consumption on the part of leaders that does not meet the expectations of the mass of the people. He said, “As we speak, some of the oil-producing states with huge derivation are not able to pay salaries as at when due, they are not able to pay pensions as at when due. But they service their aircraft as and when due. Is that any issue of viability? It is about creativity of leadership and their own biases in terms of whether they put themselves first.’’
He alluded to Mrs Allison Madueke, former Minister of Petroleum Resources as an example of a political appointee that attended to her personal needs rather than the interest of the citizenry, when she held an eminent position at the Federal level.
In his words, “…She found a partner in Kogi, and another partner from Ondo, Aluko. Aluko is from Ondo. Jide is from Kogi. And the woman who is coordinating is Ijaw. Even at the level of corruption, there is no resort to Federal Character or where you come from. It is who do you trust to loot with. How does Nigeria’s structure explain this paradox? How does restructuring solve this problem?’’
As an answer to this, the former Governor of Edo State submitted that: “What we need is to restructure our attitude, character and our value system. When that is done, I believe Nigeria will have peace, it will have unity founded on justice and fair play. The time is not too late. Somebody said if you wake up at 4:00pm you can still do 8 hours work. From 4 plus another 8, you close at 12…. So let nobody say it is too late. But the time to start is now. ”
However, Professor Itse Sagay (SAN), Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, differed from Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s position on restructuring, stating that although good governance is extremely important, there will be no peace and no good governance if you do not satisfy the autonomy of a certain group who feel that decisions are being taken for them by other groups.
Similarly, Dr. Chukwumerije Ezeife, former Governor of Anambra State, stated that although Nigeria is enormously blessed with natural resources, there is need to restructure the country. He said “Unless we restructure this country, we will not have Nigeria.” The former Governor cited the Nigeria Police Force as an example of what deserves restructuring.
He advocated that there should be a structure of having zonal police. To him, “Every Governor of state and some of the leaders of the zone will be part of the police zonal command. Today, it is no longer tenable to leave police of the state to the federal government.”
It would be recalled that the 20th Wole Soyinka Annual Lecture was attended by dignitaries including Prof Wole Soyinka, Nobel Laureate, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State who was represented by his Chief of Staff, and several others.
The event was powered by the National Association of Seadogs.
- Cornelius Ellah
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