CONFAB: Majority Of Wealth Should Go To Regions That Produce Them –Ganiyu AdamsLatest News, National Conference 2014, News Saturday, March 29th, 2014
Otunba Gani Adams, national coordinator of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), said if a delegate in the conference will get N12m then the delegates should justify the money they are to be paid through quality contributions and final reports that will eventually emanate from the conference. Adams also spoke on various issues like resource control and true federalism. He spoke with airport correspondents at Ikeja, Lagos. Excerpt:
Barely three weeks in the national conference, what is the cause the confusions?
The confab is a starting point. It’s a mode of agreeing on certain issues, we want to agree that a certain percentage should be the starting point for any issue. There is a rule for you to start the conference, so, when we get to the section of that rule, the rule reflects on the voting patterns and most of the fundamental issues. Universally, there is no country that holds this kind of a conference that gives rule for 75 per cent decision. It is simple majority. That was the situation. The rule was proposed to us by the government to agree on. Apart from that rule, we have also agreed on many sections of the proposed rules. So, there is nothing like confusion so far in the national conference.
What caused the disagreement on the adoption of the rules?
There is a difference between confusion and disagreement. We can disagree when we are holding meetings. That doesn’t mean we are confused. We have to agree on certain things, it’s a conference and we have to appreciate our diversity. We have people from different backgrounds and different ethnic nationalities. In Taraba, there are about 200 ethnic nationalities. It’s only the Yoruba and Igbo that have homogenous regions. So, in this kind of situation, we should expect that and there is a lot of problems on ground in the country. Apart from 1963 conference, which gave birth to the Republican Constitution, Nigeria has never had an opportunity to have this kind of conference in our history. A conference that allows every section of the country to be represented, every relevant organizations to be represented except that the traditional religion is not represented, which they have already complained against. Most of the people close to them have told them to send a memorandum. So, this conference is different from most of the past conferences that had been held in the country. So, you should expect serious participation. It is either the problem is solved now or we all return to our bases. We can’t afford to waste Nigerian money. A delegate in the conference is being given about N12m and for a Level 8 officer who spent about 35 years in the civil service, if he’s retiring from the system he can’t get up to N12m. we are just to sit down for a period of three months and get the sum. So, we cannot just waste the resources. We must ensure that we build a new Nigeria.
I want to say it here that the conference is not an advisory committee to the federal government. We are not politicians and we were never inaugurated in the villa. We are there to solve the problem of Nigeria. If there is no problem, there is no need for a conference in the first place. If there is no problem, the President will not call the entire nation since October 1st, 2013, to talk on how to resolve it. You can see the process, an advisory committee was set up, which went to all the geo-political zones in the country and forwarded their recommendations to Mr. President. We have to put that at the back of our minds.
I was so pissed off with the comment of Dr. Ken Nnamani. We are not in the conference to rob arms with the National Assembly. For the fact that he is a former Senate President and he seems to be representing the interest of the parliament. What we have there is a quasi parliament. It may not be a parliament by which people are being voted for by the public and the National Assembly has never had the history of solving most of the problems we’ve been having in Nigeria in the past. In 1979 to 1983, they could not solve our problem; from 1999 to date, our problems are still not being solved. Our problems are being solved through the national conference. You remember vividly, in 1995, the core Yoruba people boycotted the Late Sanni Abacha, conference of that year, but the conference gave birth to the recognition of six geo-political zones of the country today and a lot of recommendations came out from the conference.
The military constitution of 1999 given to President Olusegun Obasanjo, caused confusion in the system and there is a clause in that constitution that if there is no three-quarter majority, you can’t amend it. It’s even difficult for most of the people in the National Assembly to amend it. What we should do is to ensure that we build a new Nigeria, recommend a new constitution for Nigeria, which should be subjected to a referendum.
Are you comfortable with the ‘No go areas’ set by the government for the confab?
We will abide with the no go area, which is the unity of the country. The unity of Nigeria must be sustained; it is a no go area, but we have to negotiate it. If we want unity, we need to restructure. We agree with Mr. President on this. Nobody will want Nigeria to break, but we have to negotiate Nigeria. When you have a relationship with some people for 100 years, you are not moving forward and you are gradually becoming a laughing stock in the comity of nations, you need to negotiate your existence. How do we move forward if we want to remain a nation? What kind of system must we use to remain in Nigeria? But anybody who says the status quo should remain does not want the unity of Nigeria. We must learn to live on the principles of justice, equity and not be selfish. We have equal citizens in USA, but the reverse is the case here. If you go to some places in this country, if you don’t speak their language, you cannot get a job or even get promoted. All our appointments are usually lopsided.
If we don’t live based on justice and fair play, there is no way we can have peace. People will always be suspicious of their leaders. The local governments’ structure is not balanced. Local governments from three states in the north are more than the entire local governments of the South East. All these things have to be readdressed.
We are not going to the conference for a jamboree. I have a lot of things to do in Lagos. I’m in Abuja because I love my nation. The Yoruba people should put all of us on the watch list because some of us there are sabotage.
The middle belt should look for a way to have their own identity. You said you are a northerner, and your people are being killed regularly in the same north.
We should go back to regional government. Majority of the wealth should go to the regions that produce them while only 25 per cent should go to the centre. The zone should determine how many states and local governments it will create by itself. Then, you can use that money to develop your zone and build airport or whatever you want to do with it. Federal government for instance does not have anything to do with power supply, water, road and others. Let each zone develop at its pace.
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