National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, has decried what he called Nigeria’s continued reliance on sharing the economy rather than developing the productive capabilities of the zones. He said that every part of the country has abundant resources that will make it thrive and urged state governors, especially those in the North to exploit their massive populations and land mass.
There is growing agitation for restructuring today. Why must Nigeria go that route?
I think Nigeria has entered a terminal crisis and we cannot resolve any of the issues confronting the country except we restructure. And, when we say restructuring, what we are saying is that we should go back to the practice of federalism. I want to tell the government of Nigeria that any attempt to run Nigeria along unitary lines will produce exactly what we are witnessing today. What Chief Obafemi Awolowo warned about as far back as 1967, is what is happening today. Talk about security, you can see all the hullabaloo and noise they are making about the informal security measure taken by the South West governors to secure the lives and property of everybody living in South Western, Nigeria, whether they are Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, anybody at all because Nigeria has failed to protect the people. Kidnappings, killings, all kinds of crimes are going on which Nigeria cannot handle. In fact, we have examples where people are attacked and once you mention Fulani herdsmen as the ones perpetrating the crime, nothing will be done; that is what is going on. We have come to that stage where we must have multi levels of policing -federal police, state police and others. We cannot have people who are busy collecting money and say they are providing security; it is a joke. It is only people like members of Amotekun that can go to the forest; they know where the criminals are and they will get results. But because we are not a federal polity, we have this command and control from Abuja and that is why we are having this problem.
Now look at how debt is staring us in the face. In the first three years of this administration, we have borrowed more money than in the last 30 years and we still want to borrow more. President Muhammadu Buhari wants to borrow another $30million. Who will repay it? Unless we restructure, Nigeria will continue to suffer. We cannot repay debt, we cannot make development. Recently, I went to some cities in the South West and what I saw was darkness. Our villages in the 1950s and 1960s are better than our cities today. Nigeria is no longer developing; today we are an under developing country. So, unless we go back to federalism and reset and retool, there is serious danger for Nigeria because we are sitting on a keg of gunpowder. Any day that revolution will come, Nigeria may not survive it. I think it was Mobutu Sese Seko, who used to tell the people of Zaire, now Congo Democratic Republic that ‘after me chaos.’ What these people are telling Nigeria today is after me, it will be chaos. To avoid that chaos, we have to restructure.
Where does resource control come in if we restructure?
Resource control is an integral part of federalism. Under federalism, every part of the federation hosted their resources and then paid rent to the centre; that is the meaning of resource control which is also an integral part of restructuring. During the 2014 national conference, we agreed that every part of Nigeria should exploit their resources and remit a percentage of the revenue to the central government annually. It was agreed that we will give a gap of 10 years for every part of the country to develop their resources. Every part of Nigeria has enough resources, but it is because of the oil money they are sharing now that has made the North ignore their resources. The conference had unanimous agreement on all subjects before it except derivation. The only way Nigeria can achieve peace is to restructure along federal lines where every region will control its resources. The command and control structure we have now will not allow us developed.
How best can resource control be sold to the North to get them on board?
They know the truth, the problem they have is that they are reaping where they have not sown. Because of the sharing they are doing now, they don’t want to tap into the resources they have, they use all the time they should have used in producing to go and share money in Abuja. They are supposed to train their workforce to be productive, but they are using the time to go and share money in Abuja, that is why they pretend as if they don’t know what to do. But if care is not taken, this thing will get out of hand. Look at the way they are sharing money now, because you have a land mass that is big, you want to get more allocation? In economics, the first of the factors of production is land. Niger State for example has more land than the whole of the South East states put together; why shouldn’t they put their land to productive use? You also talk of labour as a factor of production, what happened to the population? They should be put to work.
When we say let’s restructure, what we are saying is that we will take a certain percentage of the 100. But now you want to control 100 per cent of everything? That is what they are doing now. Go to the finance sector and everywhere that yields money, it is headed by a Northerner, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), and the Nigeria Custom Service (NCS) all of them are headed by Northerners. So, they want to through that, continue to control 100 per cent of everything forever. That is why they don’t want to hand over again in 2023 unless we tell them. If we continue this way, very soon you will find yourself controlling 100 per cent of zero.