• Rejects restructuring

Mohammed Aminu in Sokoto

Former Minister of Finance and Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Alhaji Abubakar Alhaji, tuesday cautioned the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) against overheating the polity, saying secession is not the solution to the problems bedeviling the Igbo nation.

He also opposed those clamouring for the restructuring of the country, insisting that Nigeria only requires a purposeful and competent leader irrespective of tribe and religion to take the country to the next level.

Alhaji made the assertion tuesday, during a chat with THISDAY at his residence in Sokoto.
The elder statesman charged the agitators to sheathe their swords and give peace a chance, stressing that their activities created tension in the South-east region.
He maintained that Nigerians should remain as one and that break up of the country was not the solution to the problems affecting the South-east region.

“I don’t believe secession is the answer to our problems. We should remain united as one country. Sometimes, I wake up and weep for Nigeria. Buhari said late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu visited him in Daura and told him that he is for one Nigeria not Biafra. And that those clamoring for secession are on their own.

“I knew Buhari for a long time and he was my boy in secondary school in Katsina. I was in form six while he (Buhari) and late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua were in form one. In fact, both were in Durbi compound and I was their prefect. So, Buhari will do whatever it takes to unite the country,” he said.

Alhaji also took a swipe at those clamouring for the restructuring of the country, saying they are just playing politics.

He emphasised that only compent leadership would take Nigeria to greater heights.
“You see, people are just playing politics with this issue of restructuring. I strongly believe that we should have competent leadership to run the affairs of this country. We should focus on getting the right man wherever he is to lead Nigeria whether he is Ibo, Yoruba, Hausa/Fulani, Ijaw, Efik or any other ethnic group.

“I don’t believe in the restructuring of Nigeria. And I am against the regional system as practised in the first republic. The states we have now are too many and Nigeria should not have 36 states.

“We should have at least 12 states in the federation. It is just that the military were creating states during series of coups to please the people. We have 36 states, 36 state house of assemblies, national assembly, commissioners, and various public office holders. We spend huge chunk of the nation’s revenue in running government and paying public officials,” Alhaji said.
He described the privatisation of national assets such as NITEL and NEPA as a failure, saying it did not achieve the desired goal.

“I warned the federal government against selling NEPA, NITEL, Nigerian Airways to private investors because we will end up transferring their inefficiency to the private sector.
“I believed then that these six strategic parastatals should not be privatised but the federal government failed to listen to the advice. Now where are we heading to after selling them? NEPA has been sold to private investors but we are still in darkness. There is no electricity and they have transferred their inefficiency to consumers.”

On the way out of recession, Alhaji advised the federal government to cut down on huge amount of money being spent on public office holders.

“We can only exit recession if we resolve as a country to curtail our excesses. We must resolve to cut our cloth according to size. We must cut down the huge expenditure on servicing public office holders. We must stop corruption by putting in a system to prevent people from stealing public funds. That is the only way we can move forward,” Alhaji added.