Ogbemudia: How Nigeria Federalism Died

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By Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City

Two-time Governor of old Midwest and Bendel States, Samuel Ogbemudia, at the weekend said the destruction of Nigeria federalism structure began when the position of Chief Justice as head of the judiciary in the regions was scrapped and replace with the position of Chief Judge.

The elder statesman who spoke at a reception to mark his 84th birthday anniversary, where a famous school he built as military governor, New Era College, to compete with the likes of Kings College in Lagos was rebuilt and renamed after him, Ogbemudia College, noted: “Many years ago, regions had their constitutions and CJs were called Chief Justices, but it was at the headquarters in Lagos that the federal Chief Justice told us that they should change the name that there should be only one CJ in Nigeria.

“That was the beginning of the belief that we did not have a true federation because if we have a true federation, changing the word will not be possible because when I was made the governor, the Midwest had a constitution, the northern region had a constitution, the West had a constitution and the East had a constitution and we operated according to those constitutions sometimes when the federal government gave us instructions, we would say no this is contrary to our constitution so we couldn’t do it but now that we have what we call a semi-centralised government, things are different.”

On the rebuilt school, he said: “I am very happy that when Governor Adams Oshiomhole came out, he decided to improve the quality of building to function properly. The appeal I have is that the Principal and the management should take care of the building because one problem we have in this country is that we do not have the culture of maintenance, you can make money out of it and use money out of it to maintain the place.

“I appreciate everything that everyone has done here today because no greater tribute can be paid to a man or a woman than to put your life on line and that you left your homes to come here and the decision was a very courageous and I appreciate that you have done all these things for me.”

Continuing: Ogbemudia said: “My mission here today is to catalogue your achievement so that the verdict of history will be in your favour because you have done wonderfully in this state, nowhere in this region in that you can find a political leader like you so you have done well like it is said it is better to make history than to write it because writing it is a professional job but making history is something of determination. You have made history today and you will always be remembered and your good name will never fade.”