- Â Clark: Nigeria receding to unitary system
Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, (Rtd) along with his wife, Victoria, yesterday led dignitaries from all parts of the country to the formal opening of the new Governorâ€™s Office built by the Seriake Dickson administration.
Also on hand to lend support to the former Nigerian leader were former Deputy Governor of Sokoto State, Muktar Shagari, a former Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku, Ijaw leaders, senators from Bayelsa State as well as some former military administrators in the state.
Gowon, who had earlier received the traditional title of â€˜Nigeriaâ€™s Benevolent Father, from the stateâ€™s Traditional Rulers Council, led by King Alfred Diette-Spiff, advised that Nigerian leaders should go beyond partisanship in governance, especially after elections.
While applauding the people of the state for the invitation, the octogenarian described the occasion as â€˜historicâ€™, noting that what Nigerian people desire from their leaders at all levels was undiluted commitment to their cause.
â€œThank you (Bayelsa people) for getting your governor to invite me to this great occasion. This occasion is historic. This is a beautiful edifice behind me. It is iconic.
â€œYou (Governor Dickson) certainly did not destroy what your predecessors have done, but you built on them , improved on them. I am sure there will be no abandoned project while you are here.
â€˜â€™You may be a governor from a particular party , but once you become governor, you are governor of all irrespective of political party, so you look after others the way you will your own.
â€œYour commitment is to the well-being of the state. That is the responsibility of any leader . If you do not do that , it will not be appreciated,â€ the former Nigerian leader noted.
In his remarks before the inauguration of the edifice by Gowon, Ijaw National Leader, Pa Edwin Clark, argued that to make Nigeria workable, a wholesale restructuring of the country was unavoidable.
The nonagenarian who served as a minister under Gowonâ€™s administration, recalled that Nigeriaâ€™s federal system had been largely distorted by military rule, insisting that the union must be reorganised if Nigeria must move forward.
He said: â€œWe all agreed that we wanted a federation. And that is what we have today, but unfortunately coups after coups changed the whole concept and we are back into having a unitary form of government.
â€œSo what do we do? It is never too late. Let us restructure this country so that everybody will have a sense of belonging. Whether you are a majority or minority, we are all equal in Nigeria.
â€œSo when people talk of good rulers in this country, the humble son of Nigeria in the person of General Yakubu Gowon had again contributed more than any one else. He can go from place to place, he is not arrogant.
â€œHe is a humble man with good family background. I am happy today that my son, the executive governor of Bayelsa State has thought it wise to bring my former bossâ€.
He congratulated Dickson for bringing Gowon to inaugurate a building he described as the best in the whole country.
â€œI know that this building will generate good governance. I know this building will bring peace and stability in the country. There is no second class citizen in this country. There is no first class citizen in this country. We are all equal,â€ he said.
In his remarks, King Diette-Spiff who started his remarks by re-echoing the one Nigeria slogan, said the former head of state was the architect of state creation.
An excited Governor Dickson, while welcoming the visitors, highlighted the qualities of the former Head of State describing him as the father of the nation.
â€œWe thank you for what you and your colleagues did to give us one Nigeria. Nigeria is not perfect. No nation is perfect. Nation-building is a work in progressâ€, he said.
Speaking on the office complex, he said: â€œI want to enjoin all of you to pray that this office should be a place where governors after me and others will work in peace to lead our state aright with the fear of God and always in service of our people.
â€œToday we are here commissioning a befitting office that will serve our state for a long time to come,â€ he added.