Former Akwa Ibom State Governor, Obong Victor Attah, has said that the many challenges facing the country would not be addressed except it returned to true federalism which would guarantee states the power to control their resources.
Attah who spoke in Enugu during a ceremony held to mark the 20thAnniversary of the Igbo Youth Movement (IYM), said that when states were allowed to manage their resources without undue interference by the centre, it would help in their growth and development.
The former governor who presented a paper titled ‘How to Make Nigeria Work’, said that the major problem facing the country was with the system of sharing its resources, as the nation’s resources are not distributed equitably.
Attah who completely disagreed with the various suggestions for states to be merged, maintained that no state as presently constituted would want to relinquish power for any reason.
He said the best alternative would be for regional cooperation by the states to pursue development.
‘’If the various states that exist in the country have control of their resources without consistent interference by the centre, everyone will have a sense of belonging,” he said.
He called on the youths to work with the elders in their various communities in the bid to achieve the much desired true federalism which will guarantee sustainable development for all in the country.
“If we get the new Nigeria we all seek today, it will be in the interest of every one of us. This is the more reason why we need to work together to ensure that our dreams are achieved as a country,” he said.
On his part, elder statesman and First Republic Minister, Mbazulike Amaechi, said that Nigeria was a country made up of corrupt and criminal elements whose activities had over the years, crippled the country.
He said the activities of those criminal elements were capable of sinking the country if nothing was done.
According to him, “Today, we are living in a country that is full of danger. We are living in a country where there is no peace. Today we live in a country where majority live in fear. Today, we are riding in a ship that may tip over and sink any day.”
On the way forward, he said that leaders in the country must meet and objectively look at the country’s past and in a spirit of “give and take”, see where mistakes had been made in the past, as well as pronounce forgiveness where necessary.
“For there to be permanent peace, the country must meet and renegotiate the basis for the union in fraternal way.“ The Afenifere, Ohanaeze, Niger Delta and Middle Belt organisations along with Southern Nigeria Peoples Union, have all met and been demanding a restructuring of the country,” he said.
He noted that the various organisations could not compel the powers that be to agree to the demands for restructuring when the present position put in place by their military leaders and handed over to them suits selfish purpose.
Earlier in his address, founder of the IYM, Elliot Uko, said that there was the need to revisit the recommendations of the National Conference and make sure they were implemented so there could be a new Nigeria where every section would have a sense of belonging.
He regretted that since the National Conference was convoked with the view of dealing with the mounting challenges in the country, leaders had not looked into the recommendations which showed their unwillingness to bring the country together.
“What we want is restructuring that will give everyone in the country a sense of belonging. With that, sections in the country can develop without feeling any sense of marginalization,” he said.
The President General of the mainstream Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Aare Prince Osibote, who was represented at the event by the OPC National Leader, Alhaji Abdulsalam Ambali and Edo State former leader of the organisation, Prince Sylvester Eweka pledged the readiness of the Congress to support the moves to get Nigeria working again.
‘’We believe in restructuring and are willing to contribute in whatever way to make sure that the dreams of having a Nigeria where all voices will be adequately represented is achieved’,’ he said.