Nigeria: Why Northern Leaders Fear Restructuring - Ekweremadu

23 January 2019

Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, has urged proponents of restructuring to engage northern leaders so as to assure them of the benefits that await them if the nation is properly 'restructured'.

He said the northerners fear that if the country gets restructured, the oil revenue generated from the south "would no longer get to them".

Restructuring, in recent times has been the major focus in Nigeria's political space, with many politicians taking diverse, usually opposing positions.

Mr Ekweremadu, in an exlusive interview with PREMIUM TIMES, said restructuring must be adopted if the country wants to move forward.

He explained the need to engage leaders and stakeholders, "including the ordinary citizens in the north on the importance of restructuring."

"The issue of restructuring is something I think we must have to do if we want this country to move forward," he said. Unfortunately, we have not been able to do that. We are just taking it that everybody is on the same page with us on it which is not true."

He said more parleys need to be held between northern and southern leaders to reach a consensus on the thorny issue.

"We need to sit down and explain with the leaders in the north and then including the ordinary people," he said. "Especially about how it would benefit everybody because for me there is something in it for everybody. What they think is that the oil revenue would not come to the north any longer; that is what they understand as restructuring."

He also explained that not every state is equally endowed in terms of resources, adding that the leaders of the country must cater for every citizen equally,

He suggested the country adopt the Canadian government policy of "Equalisation Fund" which helps states deal with their resources and also allows them pay tax to the government.

He explained the Canadian government uses the revenue generated from the tax collected from states to help build physical infrastructures such as schools and hospitals.

The opposition Peoples Democratic Party chieftain noted that if the concept of restructuring is "not properly explained to the northern leaders, they would never buy into the idea of restructuring the country".

"In every system, people cannot be endowed equally. Look at the fingers, they are not equal. The society is not equal but as leaders you must take care of both the big and the small.

"So if you are talking about restructuring and you are not telling them how you are going to take care of those who are less endowed of course they are going to oppose you," he said.

"If we have that kind of system (Canadian) and the people are sure that whether they have oil or not they will still be able to go to school and have access to security and other facilities, with all that explanation, yes, they would be able to listen to you," he added.

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