6 September 2017
By Ugonnabo Ngwu
Ijaw national leader, Chief Edwin Clark, who was once a Federal Minister for Information, on Tuesday dismissed the Biafra agitation led by Nnamdi Kanu as nonsensical.
This was as he condemned the quit notice by the Arewa Group to Igbos in the North as worrisome, stating that “the Igbos have been living in the North for over 100 years”.
Clark, who spoke while receiving the Senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, at his Abuja residence, warned that secession or ethnic agitation were not the way to go on restructuring the country.
According to him, “When Kanu talks about Biafra, he is talking nonsense. We do not want a second war.
“America fought their civil war for a long time and they are not thinking of a second one. Kanu should drop the agitation.
“At the same time, it is arrogant and foolish on the part of some Northern youths to issue quit notice. You do not own the North. It is part of Nigeria and anybody can live there.
The elder statesman harped on the need for Nigeria to be restructured so that there can be equity and balance, stating that there is the need for necessary changes to allow for the reign of social justice.
He noted that although the call for restructuring had been loud in recent times, the country had been undergoing restructuring.
“We have been living together since 1914 and from time to time, we have been changing the way of our lives.
“In 1947, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe said the Richard Constitution was obnoxious; that it was anti-people. In 1950, we had the Macpherson Constitution which created the three regions and in 1963, we had another constitution.
“During all these constitutions, the issue of fiscal federation was very prominent. So, we have been restructuring this country and nobody talked about breaking up the country.
“The war between 1967 and 1970 was an unfortunate one.”
Clark urged the National Assembly to re-visit the issue of devolution of power upon resumption from recess, saying it was one of the ways to properly restructure the country.
He stated that the vote against devolution of power in the recent Constitution amendment exercise is borne out of the fear that it would whittle down the powers of legislators.
“We have reached a stage where states are not paying salaries and something has to be done to gear their minds to see what they can do in their own area to generate money.
“I am happy you believe in restructuring, which can be achieved within a short time but it may take up to 20 years if we do not agree among ourselves.
“So, once more I want to say that when you resume, the issue of devolution of power should be re-visited so that Federal Government will deal with foreign affairs, prisons, customs and a few other things.
On calls to return to regionalism, the Convener of Pan Niger Delta Elders’ Forum, PANDEF, said “you cannot abolish the states now and say you want six regions. It is not going to be easy or possible now.
“I feel we should use the same states as federating units and the local governments should remain with the states.”
He called for the establishment of Revenue Mobilisation Commission to deal with funds that move between states and local governments to sustain them.
Clark promised to convene a meeting of elder statesmen across the country to find lasting solution to the problem of restructuring.
In his remarks, Sani, who chairs the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debt, stated that one of the reasons the devolution of power did not scale through in the federal legislature was the fear that state governments might abuse their powers.
The lawmaker said “the problem we have with devolution of power is how to tackle some of the problems that come with it.
“For example, the present crop of governors might not be able to handle state police in a manner that people who disagree with them can be safe.
“Secondly, the manner in which elections are conducted by state independent electoral commissions where the ruling party in state wins all positions is worrisome.
“So, if we devolve the police, we have to allay the fears of people on the implications. Those who are championing some of these issues need to make clarifications.”
On derivation and resource control, he said it was in the best interest of the country to stop thinking about oil because it was becoming non-attractive globally.
The Kaduna Central Senator went on to describe the now-rescinded quit notice to Igbos by Arewa youths as “embarrassing”.