Leadership (Abuja)

Nigeria: Resist Creation of More States, Gowon Tells NASS

Former head of state, General Yakubu Gowon, has opposed the calls for the creation of more states, saying it will create more wastages in governance.

Gowon made this comment yesterday at a strategy meeting in Kaduna by northern leaders and stakeholders

LEADERSHIP reports that the developmental challenges facing the northern states as a result of constant security challenges forced some northern leaders and media executives of northern extraction to hold a closed-door meeting with a view of finding lasting solutions.

The parley, which had in attendance former vice president Atiku Abubakar, former governor of Kano State Ibrahim Shekarau, former governor of Kebbi State Adamu Aliero, former minister of police affairs Adamu Waziri, former FCT minister Aliyu Modibbo Umar, was also attended by chairmen and publishers of Daily Trust, Blueprint and Peoples Daily newspapers, among others.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the conference tagged "The North and Strategies for Sustainable Development" organised by the Arewa House Centre for Historical Documentation and Research, Ahmadu Bello University, Gen. Gowon (retd) asked the National Assembly to resist the calls to create additional states, saying it would only increase the cost of governance.

He also called for the introduction of electoral college for the presidential election in 2015.

Represented by the chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Alhaji Aliko Mohammed, the elder statesman argued that the new states would not resolve the myriad problems bedeviling the country.

He also urged the north to forge a common front for the region to enjoy progress and development.

He said, "Unless we come together, we will continue to have problems. There is no need for the creation of new states; additional states would mean additional cost of governance."

The former head of state of proposed an indirect election for the post of president, saying that he had met with the Senate caucus in the north in Abuja last week and had asked them "to reconsider the introduction of electoral college in electing the president."

Also speaking at the event, Kaduna State governor Patrick Yakowa expressed dismay at the persistent violence and insecurity ravaging the north.

He lamented that the problem had scared off several investors who had genuine desire to develop the agricultural, mining and tourism sectors in the region.

Yakowa, who called on the people to discourage religious and ethnic intolerance, said the north could be great again if northerners could tap into the abundant resources in the region.

The Kaduna governor then provided posers for the conference to find answers to: "How can we get the north more united, more peaceful? How can we manage our diversity better? How can we cultivate trust and confidence? How do we create hope in the next generation?"

According to him, "The central message is how the north, as an entity, can respond to challenges. The conference is not just to discuss, but to proffer solutions that would reposition the north.

"We have enormous potential in agriculture, solid minerals and tourism that need to be tapped. The potentialities are there for investors in agriculture, mining and tourism but lack of peace and security has been deterring the investors.

"Once we get that right, we would be on course towards transforming the region because the potentialities are there and investors are willing to come. So, the conference should recreate a new north, a new agenda for the region."

He expressed optimism that the conference would provide a way forward for the region, noting that the issue of peace cannot be swept under the carpet "as the whole north has been engulfed in insecurity, Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Bauchi, Plateau, Kaduna, Kano, Niger and Kogi states," he said.

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