The Eastern Consultative Assembly (ECA) has faulted former military president Ibrahim Babangida over his call for restructuring of Nigeria.
In a statement in Enugu signed by its Secretary, Evang. Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko, the group said Babangida belonged to the club of the elite who bluntly refused to accept that the style, manner and format of the creation of the existing 36 states were a huge source of grief to millions of Nigerians and therefore, the real bone of contention.
Gen Babangida (rtd) had on Monday said the time had come for Nigeria to be restructured.
Babaginda, who urged leaders across the aggrieved parts of the country to show maturity, insisted that war is not a “joke anyone should toy with.”
Reacting, however ECA noted that any restructuring that tended to maintain the 36 states as federating units, would not serve any useful purpose whatsoever.
Uko declared that “whereas, General Babangida’s endorsement of the deafening cries for an early restructuring of our polity seems commendable, a closer look at his version of restructuring reveals that it is not yet uhuru.
“General Babangida belongs to the club of elite who bluntly refuses to accept that the style, manner and format of the creation of the existing 36 states is actually a huge source of grief and sorrow to millions of Nigerians, and therefore, the real bone of contention.
“Accordingly, any sort of restructuring that seeks to sustain the current 36 states as federating units, would not serve any useful purpose whatsoever. It would not assuage the agitators; neither would it bring peace to the troubled land.”
He added that “it seems needless arrogance has beclouded the sense of judgment of the designers of the current unworkable structure. They seem too proud to accept the self-evident truth which is: that the unitary structure they created can no longer carry the building.
“Any change of the format they designed while in power as military rulers seem to hurt their pride. They simply desire, that the states and local government councils, they created through military fiat, remain that way till thy kingdom come, whether the country is failing or not. Even as 70% of the states cannot pay staff salaries.
General Babangida’s support for restructuring therefore is both jaundiced and belated.
“Jaundiced, because he is struggling to avoid the reality, which is that only a return to regional autonomy can calm the storm now. No section of Nigeria will loose out, when we revert to six regions. The states will function as administrative units, under the regions, whilst the regions remain the federating units. IBB is running around the truth, because he knows that devolving more powers to the existing states will not bring to an end, the agitations for secession, only a revert to regions will.
“Belated, because, he should have endorsed restructuring a lot earlier than now. He didn’t have to wait until the secession movement grew into a hurricane that is difficult to contain, before identifying with the truth.
“General Babangida is not sincere, the whirlwind that is blowing today, could have been averted, had he spoken up earlier.
“When you add this to the fact, that IBB contributed immensely to the war of attrition and scorched earth policy visited on Ndigbo since 1970. You will agree that Babangida is either hoping to deceive us to see him as a man of peace who wants equity for all, or that IBB is confused, hoping to diffuse the mess they created, by trying to sound reasonable, either way, his intervention is coming a little too late in the day. Now, check out his past wicked acts that led to the frustrations and bitterness, that finally built up the anger in the land today:
“IBB unilaterally created two additional states 30 years ago (September 1987), Akwa Ibom and Katsina.
“On his desk, were the reports of past head counts, he knew that the Igbo constituted over 63% of the old Eastern region, and the the Eastern minorities about 37% yet, Babangida gave the Eastern minorities 3 states (Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Cross River) while leaving the 63% Igbo population struck in only two states (Anambra and Imo) talk about man’s in humanity to man.
“As the window to save Nigeria continuously winds up to a very narrow and tiny leeway, which is: an early reversal to the 1963 constitution, where each region grew in its own peculiarities, we warn that, panicky calls for restructuring, based on devolving more powers to the existing 36 states as federating units, will not solve the problem.
“Only a return to true fiscal federalism, anchored on regional autonomy may save Nigeria now.”