Obasanjo is Nigeria’s Problem, He Killed True Federalism, Says Okunnu

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Segun James and Shola Oyeyipo

Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has been told to stop parading himself as democrat as he was accused of being responsible for the death of true fiscal federalism in the country.

The accusation was made by Alhaji Femi Okunnu, the man who handed over to Obasanjo as the Federal Commissioner for Works in the government of General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) at the launching of former Akwa Ibom State Governor, Obong Victor Attah, book, ‘Attah On Resources Control’.

According to him, it was the 1979 constitution which Obasanjo midwifed that turned the country into a unitary state even though the country had rejected it in the past.

Okunnu, who was the chairman of the occasion, said the crisis that still rages in the country till date over fiscal federalism can be traced to that constitution which placed all resources in the hand of the federal government instead of the existing system whereby the producing states get 50 per cent of the resources while the remaining 50 per cent is shared between the federal government and the federating states.

He disclosed that this was what was enshrined in the 1963 republican constitution, “and this was what the 1978 Constituent Assembly recommended but was rejected by Obasanjo.

“Nigeria ceased to be a federation in 1979. Federation was killed by Obasanjo military government. He is the problem of Nigeria, not the solution. The 1979 constitution killed federalism in Nigeria; it introduced unitary system of government into the country.”
Okunnu disclosed that under the military regime of Gowon, both General Samuel Ogbemudia of Midwest state and Commander Rufus Diette-Spiff of Rivers State enjoyed the 50 per cent derivation from oil revenue throughout their time, but lamented that Obasanjo killed the system.

He lamented that it was this “anomaly” that has prompted all the constitutional and national conferences held to correct the system without any success, suggesting therefore that the country should go back to the 1963 constitution which he insisted is the best model for Nigeria.

The author, Obong Victor Attah, recalled the harassment he endured from Obasanjo because of his stance on the issue of resources control, regretting that it was a phenomenon that was most misunderstood.

He said the main problem associated with call for resource control was that those who knew what the agitation was all about don’t want to associate with it, and those who don’t know, don’t want to know.

Attah concurred with Okunnu that if Obasanjo had been a democrat, the country would have been better than it is now.
The former governor said he supports the call for restructuring, but that the country cannot have it without fiscal federalism warning that without it, Nigeria cannot make any progress.