Deputy President of the Senate, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, says restructuring Nigeria is inevitable for all-inclusive advantages it will confer on federating units and enhancement of national unity.
Ekweremadu stated this at a two-day Retreat by Southern Senators Forum in Calabar on Friday, and dismissed the fear in certain quarters that restructuring would cause the break-up of the country.
He explained that restructuring was not the same as exclusive resource control as the renewed and aggressive search for oil around the Lake Chad, Sokoto and Benue River Basins in recent times appeared to suggest.
According to him, whereas federating units will have more control over their resources in a restructured Nigeria, there would always be an Equalisation Fund to ensure that every region thrives above a reasonable threshold.
“In fact, oil and gas is among the least strategic endowments of the nation today and in the years ahead. Oil is fast losing its import in the global economy.
“Many of the heavy buyers are not only finding alternatives to oil, but are also setting deadlines for the phasing out of oil-powered engines and automobiles.
“But, what else can cure our fixation on oil except a return to the original master plan – the quest for a return to the old covenant and original foundation laid by the country’s forefathers.
“This quest is to revive the original master plan, removing those ugly and excess weights introduced by successive military regimes.
“It is an admission that we cannot continue to do the same thing that has failed us for more than half a century and expect a different result.
“If you are driving to Abuja from Ibadan and you face Lagos, you can only end up in Badagry or the Atlantic,’’ he said.
The lawmaker pointed out that the subject of restructuring appeared to have had divided opinions.
He recalled that Nigeria’s independence was delayed till 1960 to give room for more dialogue and ensure that no part of the country was left behind.
He explained that it was wisdom of the founding fathers that ensured that the current map of Nigeria was retained.
Ekweremadu said that there was no other viable option than restructuring if Nigeria must reap the blessings and promises of self-rule.
According to him, it must be done in a way that every part of the country will have a true sense of belonging.
He urged Nigerians to embark on more responsible and patriotic public discourse and enlightenment to break down the meaning and processes of restructuring, saying that the fears inherent in restructuring needed to be addressed.
The deputy senate president said the Nigeria Police Force needed to be decentralised as a significant component of the envisaged restructuring exercise.
Ekweremadu said that restructuring could only be addressed by adopting a piecemeal approach rather than seeking to do everything or so much at a go.
According to him, as the people begin to reap the gains of gradual restructuring, they will drop their fears and crave for more.