Chief Edwin Clark, Elder statesman and South-South leader, tells a reporter, Obie Okpare of The Punch, when he asked him what he understands by restructuring.
Chief Edwin Clark reply:
Restructuring really is nothing but a re-introduction of true federalism, which was practised in the First Republic (1964-1966) when there was devolution of powers to the regions. There were three regions then: we had the Eastern Region, Western Region and the Northern Region.
The late Chief Obafemi Awolowo was the leader of the West. The late Nnamdi Azikiwe was the leader of the East, while the late Ahmadu Bello was the leader of the Northern Region. There was a truly fiscal federalism guided by three principal guidelines.
The first guideline was that everybody in Nigeria is equal with equal opportunity. The second is that the states should develop at their own pace. That’s why the West was able to develop at its own pace by introducing free primary education, establishing a television station, building universities and industrial estates and magnificent structures like the Cocoa House with money realised from the importation of cocoa beans. The Northern Region did the same thing, but their leaders could not introduce free primary education. They also developed the region through groundnut pyramids. The Eastern Region did the same thing; that was how they were able to build the University of Nsukka. They also built Independent Hotel in Enugu and Port Harcourt (Rivers).
The three regions were moving at their own pace. There was no jealousy. There was no crisis. When we had independence in 1960, true federalism was introduced. It enabled each region to keep half of what they produced in their areas while 80 (per cent) of the remaining half was sent to the Federal Government. The rest was shared among the regions.
For my people in the South-South, restructuring does not mean a call for the division of Nigeria, or one group fighting against another group, or one group taking everything. What we are saying about restructuring is devolution of powers to the states, so that they would have more powers to address the challenges they are facing in sectors like education, agriculture, health, transportation and aviation. Some of the critical sectors, we believe, should be on the Concurrent List, so that the states would be able to manage their affairs using their own constitution. A situation where there are 44 local government councils in Kano State, while Lagos, which has the largest population, shares lesser revenue because allocation is being shared based on the number of local government councils per state, is unfair.