Joe Effiong, Uyo
The inaugural Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah, has expressed serious doubt about Nigeria remaining as one entity if true federalism is not urgently implemented.
Obong Attah told Saturday Sun in his country home in Uyo that nearly all of the problems besetting the nation are due to adoption of unitary system of government even when Nigeria pretends to be running a federal system.
“I must insist, this true federalism is not something new,” he said. “We had got it until it was interrupted during the military in 1966. It is something we’ve always had and it helped this country to grow because there was healthy rivalry; you could see how the federating units were growing at their own pace. Growth was not uniform; but opportunities were uniform.
“Why should we, so many years after the military had left the scene, and we have let go of many of the military vestiges, still keep this one by continuing to run a unitary system of sharing money instead of generating money? That is the only problem with Nigerian democracy
“The killings we are having now would not have happened if we had federalism. You will conveniently control what is happening in your state. You have your police; you control your resources. If anybody comes in there to cause problem it becomes an invasion.
“My first message to President Buhari was to tell him to stop all forms of agitation for the disintegration of Nigeria. The only way he could stop is if he re-enacts the federal system for Nigeria so that every federating unit will have a breathing space and control themselves.
“And I started with the consequences and told him that if he fails to do it, Nigeria is going to break up; and I say it every day; Nigeria will certainly, indisputably break up if we do not allow these units to exist as they used to in the days of federalism.
“And I am very pleased. Do you know why I am pleased? Because if you listen to what President Buhari said during the visit by the APC governors, he said Nigeria at this stage of development is ready for true federalism. These were words out of President Buhari’s mouth. So I believe the campaign has been accepted now even though it was not accepted before now,” Attah said.