Being paper presentation by Annkio Briggs on July 14, 2017 in Abuja
Before l start l want to acknowledge that most argument in favour of restructuring is captured in the paper of H.E. Atiku Abubakar on the rights for the citizen to agitate peacefully for restructuring, restructuring will allow each state and region to develop at their own pace this is what we in the Niger Delta have ever asked for.
On the question of where is the future of oil is sad for the Niger Delta who have given away 87 % of our oil, only to hear today that we may not get to use oil for our own development as Nigeria will us the last drop to quickly diversify for Nigeria and most likely against us. Our % may be less than 13% eventually.
No matter how difficult it has been over the years that we are here shows some still believe that there is hope for Nigeria, the question is HOW.
On the 14 of June 2016 Sylvester Ugwuanyi of the Daily Post reported that Prof. Itse Sagay the Chairman of the Presidential advisory Committee Against Corruption faulted Nigeria saying that Nigeria is operating a unitary system of government which he says is affecting the states.
In my view the states are affected negatively that each region ought to enjoy a measure of autonomy in true federalism (and we know Nigeria claims to be a federal state.)
The Professor emphasised on this point by expressing the need for the 1999 Constitution to be amended to reflect Nigeria’s historical development, Prof Sagay disclosed that the independence and autonomy of the regions were destroyed by the military government in 1966.
Prof Sagay stated that the country’s federalism is too centralised and impeding the development of the country, and that the states in Nigeria are placing too much burden on the Federal government.
In my opinion if there is a burden on the FG it is self-inflicted. As federation in truth does not allow you to take 100% of the resources of a section of the country and share it unequally giving the owners less.
Prof. Sagay further stated that “Nigeria has deviated from an ideal federalism because of over centralized institutions.
The over centralisation is why we are calling for the practice of federalism that Nigeria claims to be and for restructuring.
A few Nigerians who benefit from the status quo want it to remain, and pretend not to know or understand the definition of Federalism and Restructuring, well if they truly don’t know we the people must tell them.
The people particularly of the Niger Delta region agree with Prof Sagay when he says that ” there should be respect for the nationalities and the basis of our association should be explained”.
This is what we in the NDSDM mean when we say if Nigeria wants us to continue we must agree on the terms.
The Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s conviction that Nigeria is not a nation but a mere geographical expression, remains true today as when he said it decades ago, as Nigeria till date can’t show her nationhood or desire to build a nation.
The few Nigerians strangulating Nigeria are not God and therefore cannot speak nationhood into existence, we all have to discuss it into existence and work together in the framework of justice and equality to keep Nigeria alive.
Under regional government of the past, before the military periodic interference in the process of democracy, the regions as we all know, but for some people who pretend not to know and want to rewrite our history.
Sagay said the regions North, East, West and later Mid-West kept 50%, central government 20% and went to the centre pool to be shared by the states.
He stated that ideally Lagos state should control Apapa and Tin Can Island ports, of course the same goes for Calabar, Warri, Burutu, Port Harcourt and Onne ports.
He claimed that Nigeria is the only Federal Republic without a State police.
These are some of the basis of the call for restructuring.
It is the refusal and resistance to the long term clamour of the people for Nigeria to live up to its name federal republic of Nigeria that have led to the call for restructuring, and even the call for referendum.
At the 23rd Anniversary of the annulment of the June 12 1993 Presidential elections the Gov. Of Lagos State Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode represented by SSG Lagos state Tunji Bello said and l quote.
“We must ensure that we install a viable federalism in Nigeria, that is the only way to build and enjoy our democracy as well as honour the memory of Late MKO Abiola.”
We in the Niger Delta agree with the former military Governor Lagos state, that practise of true federalism is the solution to the challenges facing the country. Whatever that is happening in the country will not stop until we go back to the build a Federal Nigeria.
Federalism, Restructuring, Referendum, Self-Determination or even Secession are what they are, the mean what they mean, a few Nigerians deceive themselves in an attempt to deceive all Nigerians that they mean different things to different people, no they don’t.
The answer to Nigeria’s problems is Restructuring, Federalism, Referendum, Self Determination which l emphasis is not TO BREAKAWAY FROM NIGERIA, though only to the extent that restructuring means, Liberty, Equity and Justice through unadulterated and pure Federalism.