From Tony Osauzo, Benin
A Benin-based legal practitioner, Olayiwola Afolabi, has added his voice to the restructuring debate, saying that those opposing it are lazy.
He also spoke on the recent leadership change at the Edo State House of Assembly and said the impeachment of the Speaker who is from the Central Senatorial District of the state, has left the people of the area short-changed in the affairs of government in the state.
Recently, we saw the impeachment that took place at the Edo State House of Assembly and looking at the ethnic balancing, what is your take?
First and foremost, the members of the House have the right to remove their leadership. That is their internal affair and we cannot go into it, even the court cannot ask why they remove their leadership but the way and manner they went about it was wrong.
We saw them; some were even using punches and something like a hammer. It is not good. What do they want the youth to emulate I said that the House of Assembly members are the ones that need the ‘Competency Test’. But one thing that I have said is that they have the right to change their leadership no one can contend that but the way and manner they went about it was wrong. That is my own point of view.
Now, one ethnic group, the Esan, have lost out. They are not the SSG, deputy governor, Head of Service neither the Speaker. They have lost out completely. This issue should be addressed and allowing it to remain, means the APC hates the Esans. So they need to do something about it because in Edo State, we have Akoko-Edos, Etsako, Binis, the Esans and the Owans.
What is your stand on the issue of restructuring?
I agree with those who are calling for the restructuring of the country. Go to the states that are developed, check their lives, even in Nigeria, if you do not belong to a particular set, no matter how brilliant you are, you will not be encouraged. Like we are saying that each state should have their own state police, it should be.
The state police will still be under the control of the federal government and when this is done, there will be effective policing like we had during the Western region. We were developing. We had the Western House, TV House and Groundnut Pyramid in Kano, each region was developing but now, the federal government has taken over everything and the worst problem is, look at Lagos State, the state is even bigger than Kano State in terms of population but when you look at the local governments, the ones in Kano are more than those in Lagos State.
And much money is even released to Kano than Lagos that generates the highest revenue for the country. What I am saying is that; let each state generate their resources while the federal government should coordinate. So much money is going to the federal government and that is why I am supporting the idea of restructuring.
Restructuring means so many things to different people. Some are afraid. Why do you think they are afraid?
Many people are afraid of restructuring because some of them are lazy. They do not want to develop their own states. They are waiting for the federal government. Some states are afraid because they are lazy. They all depend on oil. Look, even some of them are not producing oil but they are getting more than the areas producing oil and that is why they are afraid.
Beyond restructuring, can’t Nigeria move forward?
Nigeria can move forward but the problem we have in this country is that we do not encourage merit. No merit. Why will somebody in Sokoto score 150 and is given admission into the university when somebody in the South scores 200 in the same course and will be denied admission Let it be on merit. We are all Nigerians. One Nigeria and everything be done on merit and that is the only way Nigeria can move forward.
Are you suggesting the abolition of the principles of federal character and education backward states?
It should be abolished. In APC regime, there is nothing like federal character but Jonathan was there, though we know he had his own mistakes, he balanced everything. There was no agitation like Biafra. When Jonathan was there, an Igbo man was the SGF, Jonathan balanced everything, Yoruba man was the Chief of Staff, he balanced everything but Buhari, no. He abolished federal character and that is why the Igbo are agitating because he refused to give them anything.
So, there should be restructuring. The North are the ones that are looking for federal character but now, the APC has rubbished it. The Igbo will not have reason to say they want to go if they are part of the country but now they are not been taken as part of the country. That is what is happening in Edo State. The Esan tribe has lost out. That is the problem. The agitation for the splitting of the country is coming when the APC is in power which is very bad.
How will you rate the past administration and the present APC led Edo State?
There is no doubt that Oshiomhole laid the foundation. Look at the recent rain that fell, if Oshiomhole had not done the roads, Edo State would have been in a terrible state. He may have his own mistakes but when it comes to infrastructural development, in fact you will give him 100 percent . When it comes to politics, he knows how to play it. You saw the way he ridiculed some political elders. He knows how to play the politics but for our present governor, he is not a politician but a technocrat and that is why he may have some problems in the House because Oshiomhole knows how to balance the equation. He knows what to do because everything was under his control.
Obaseki has tried. He did one thing that interests me most, that is the banning of touts (Agbero). It is good but in the area of roads, he is building on Oshiomhole’s legacy. You cannot fault him because the roads are there and you can see it but there are some areas he needs to look at.
The area is where he says that nobody should do party in public schools. It is not good. The poor men should enjoy and the rich should also do, but now, the rich man can go to event centre, but where will the poor man go?
He has no money to go and rent an event centre.
They pay money for these public places before they could use them. The best thing he should have done is to regulate them because the government needs money. As it is now, poor man cannot enjoy. He has removed food from the tables of those who are into canopy business. The banning of party on the roads is good but not the public schools. The governor should look into it. I wrote him a letter regarding the banning of the use of public schools and he has read it. One thing about him is that he listens to people when they talk.