Northern leaders comprising political and religious leaders, eggheads in the academia and the traditional institutions met in Kaduna yesterday to start the process for adopting a common position, insisting the north is not afraid of restructuring.
The point formed the conclusion for most of the speakers at the opening of the two-day conference on ‘The North and the Future of the Nigeria Federation,’ organized by the Arewa Research Development Project (ARDP), which opened yesterday.
Most of the speakers expressed worry that other sections of the country had given the impression that the North was afraid of any action that would tinker with the current structure.
Sokoto State Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal faulted the idea that the North hated restructuring, saying, “The idea that the North is against restructuring because it benefits most from the current state of things is circumscribed and patently false. Let us be clear: the North wants restructuring as much as anyone else. However, as a people we do not easily jump unto the bandwagon because we are always there for the long haul.”
On his part, the Secretary of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Professor Ango Abdullahi, similarly stressed that the North was not afraid of restructuring, saying, “If we can’t go back to 1914, we should go back to 1960 regional governance. North is not afraid of getting its North back.”
Taking the view that the call for restructuring might just be a reaction by some people to the current leadership at the federal level, Ango Abdllahi said, “We sat with Prof Nwabueze and he said Nigeria is unbalanced and Lugard made mistake by amalgamation and North has always dominated, we reminded him that the North has always sacrificed for the unity of Nigeria… Such clamouring is not new, because it has always been an antecedent of the South whenever a northerner was in charge of leadership.”
He said restructuring to him implied devolution of powers as too much power was concentrated at the center. He suggested that more powers be given to the states. “The North has everything to gain as we have the resources and the people,” he said, adding that those clamoring for restructuring because they believed they had oil should know that oil was fast losing its value as a revenue earner.
Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai who was represented by his deputy, Yusuf Barnabas Bala, said the North should look at the current negative indices in the areas of poverty, education and health care on its population in its quest to take a position on restructuring.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Arewa Research Development Project (ARDP) BOT Chairman, General John Shagaya (rtd), advised that deliberations should be done with all sense of public good.
“I would like to see it end successfully, may God bless the people of Arewa,” he said.
The ARDP Convener, Dr. Usman Bugaje, said, “People who talk about true federalism clearly need to revise their notes because there are no two federations that are the same.”
Sheik Dahiru Bauchi who was represented by his son, Bashir, said the current structure was better as one united country.
Also present at the conference were the representative of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), Bashir Dahiru Bauchi, representative of the Christian Association of Nigerian, Air Commodore Tanko Ato (rtd), representative of the Jam’iyar Matan Arewa, Ambassador Marina Mohammed, representative of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Auwal Anwar, representative of the Sultan of Sokoto.