Aare Ona Kakanfo-designate, Otunba Gani Adams, has declared that the only solution to the crises in Nigeria “is restructuring to take out the cancer of disintegration currently ravaging the country one very side”.
“Nobody is calling for the disintegration of Nigeria but a lot of things are wrong with our democracy back home and to address these anomalies, we must restructure the country along regional lines”.
Adams, who will be installed as the 15th Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland on January 13 by the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, spoke on Saturday at the launch of United Arab Emirates (UAE) chapter of the Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Oodua Progressive Union (OPU), in Dubai.
The Landmark Hotel venue of the event was filled to the brim as members of OPU in UAE, led by the Coordinator, Owoseni Akindutire, stormed the hall in their hundreds.
The Head of Chancery of Nigerian Embassy in UAE, Mrs Kemi Ogunbanjo, could not but express her happiness over the colourful appearance of the OPU members, attired in a special red cap. She said: “I am always proud of you in the way you conduct yourselves as good ambassadors of Nigeria”.
UAE is the 79th country where Adams has launched the Union.
At the epoch-making event were the Coordinator of OPU in Europe, Akinrogun Victor Adewale; Secretary, Nigeria Community in Dubai and Managing Director of Gatewind Management, Mr. Austin Edeko; President, Nigeria in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO), Kuwait, Alhaji Abdul Wasiu Elu; the Guest Lecturer and Managing Director of Freedom Online, Gabriel Akinadewo; Gbobaniyi of Arigidi-Akoko, Ondo State, Chief Femi Davies; Chief of Staff to Adams, Segun Akanni, popular Nollywood actor, Odunlade Adekola and Dr. Layo Adeniyi, among others.
Speaking in his characteristic frank manner, Adams, who lamented that Nigeria, as it is presently constituted, is not sustainable, declared: “It is our belief in OPU that the time is now for the country to take the optionof restructuring. We also warn that any restructuring that is not tailored along regional line, reflecting the six geo-political structure of the country, would be a mere wasting of time and resources.
“Regionalism is most suitable for the country at this time as each region will be governed by laws that best suits it and, I think, the experience and success recorded in the defunct Western Region best register the need for a return to regionalism.
“Already, groups such as the Indigenous People of Biafra and the Niger Delta Avengers have, more or less, shattered whatever illusions we may retain, regarding the Nigeria we are living in. While Nigeria will obviously be better off remaining a nation, it is also true that a surgical operation is required to take out the cancer of disintegration currently ravaging the country on every side.
“Nigeria is supposed to be a Federal Republic but it operates a unitary constitution where the states, like children, simply go to Abuja at the end of every month to collect food. They cannot even feed themselves.
“Is it not an utter shame that the descendants of Oyo Empire, Kanem-Borno Empire, Benin Empire and others have to go, cap in hand, to Abuja, collecting allocation that cannot even pay workers’ salaries when the traditional system, which guaranteed full employment and a decent standard of living, can be recreated through proper federalism like we had in the First Republic?”
While inaugurating the chapter, Adams urged the officers and members to “become exemplary men and women, not only of OPU, but of Yoruba race and Nigeria as a country. You have a duty to protect the integrity of OPU, our enviable Yoruba race and our country, Nigeria. I challenge you, not only to lend your voice but to ensure that you play your parts in the restructured Nigeria that will emerge soon, by the Grace of God”.
The Guest Lecturer, in his submission, declared that Nigeria, blessed with human and material resources, can only be great if it changes its orientation from being a consuming to a productive nation.
Citing insecurity, lack of infrastructure, series of agitation and lack of direction to drive the economy, as some of the challenges Nigeria is facing, Akinadewo told the audience how other countries, with similar challenges in the past, surmounted the obstacles.
“Nigeria cannot sustain a system in which the Federal Government controls the least mineral product in the remotest part of the country. States and regions should be allowed to mine resources, remitting a fixed percentage to the centre.”
He enlightened the audience on how Singapore, who got independence in 1965 and Japan, after the Second World War, were able to put their past behind them “to become first class countries today”.
“This is the time for us to reorder our value system. Is it possible to restructure Nigeria without crossing the red line? And if the red line is too risky a venture, for how long are we going to suffer in a land filled with milk and honey? A major challenge in Nigeria is that leaders at federal, state and council levels are not listening to what the people are saying. The government is working outside the people. We must do away with our retrogressive system by consuming what we produce. Nigeria is destined to be great but if the attitude of leaders to development is wrong, the country is going nowhere”.
All the leaders of OPU in various countries also addressed the gathering, with a message of hope for Nigeria but with a warning: Nigeria must be restructured.