By Dayo Adesulu
Former Minister of Information and Orientation and present Pro-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, UNILAG, Professor Jerry Gana, yesterday in Lagos called for a United Nigeria, adding that the Federal Government should practice true federalism and implement the 2014 National Conference’s recommendations.
Gana said 2014 confab will solve our national problems.
“The Federal Government should look at the major recommendations of that conference, examine them and implement those that will help us to move forward.”
Speaking at the 49th convocation at UNILAG, the ex-minister said the federal government should seek sustainable ways of ensuring that the country live together in peace and harmony as citizens of the federal republic of Nigeria.
“Our constitution clearly provided that the security and welfare of the people is the primary purpose of governance.”
” Why we pray the federal government for the restoration of peace in the north east, we realised that there are also agitations in several places in Nigeria.”
“To promote peace and stability in Nigeria, I believe we should have the courage to correct some fundamental defects in our federal systems. As stated by our founding fathers, only a true federal structure can provide a sustainable basis for living together in peace,” he said.
Gana continued, saying, “In a huge country like Nigeria that is full of cultural, religious and historical diversities, it is only true federalism that can work in Nigeria.”
“If the truth must be told, all is not well with the structure and devolution of power in our federation. A true federation must be balance in equitable structure of federating units.”
“You will recall that we started with three balanced regions, later transformed into twelve states in 1967. After the civil war, it was increased to nineteen, then twenty-one, then thirty, and later with the present structure of thirty-six states.”
“Many have therefore argued that the states have become too weak to serve as the effective federating units. Having weak states and powerful centre, hence the call for restructuring to have a fair balance, equitable and function federal structure.”
“We have also agreed together the kind of devolution of power that comes from the centre to the federating units, so that what should be done locally, will be done locally and the ones that will be done regionally should be done regionally. And only a thing at the centre will be done for all of us.”
The former Minister maintained that this is the best way, adding, ” if we over-centralise, then the development of Nigeria will be stalled, because there will be too much tension in the land.”
“Only a true federation that involves the federating units to look after local affairs, can we be sure of unity, peace, progress and harmony in Nigeria.”
On revenue mobilisation, resource ownership and revue allocation formula, he said: “Who gets what, where, when and how will be addressed in true federalism. That is usually a point of tension when it is not balanced. We cannot continue to kill ourselves because of the way we live together. We can live together, because God had brought us together.”
On election, he said Nigeria has to conduct credible election at all times to elect leaders in such a way that no part of the country is left out.
“Every Nigerian is a first class citizen, there is no second class citizens in Nigeria. Therefore, we must regard everyone with dignity, honour and respect. We are stronger when we unite together as one.”
“Since people cannot live together, and they fully agree so to do , then, we need to talk. We need to dialogue, we need to consult. There is nothing wrong about talking in democracy, that is the essence of democracy. We get things done by agreement, not by fighting.”
” When we do so, what’s yours will not be given to another. That is the way of peace. This weighty matter cannot be resolved by force, but only through dialogue and consultation.”
Meanwhile, UNILAG has yesterday honoured His Royal Eminence, Alhaji Abubakar Ibn Umar Garbai El-Kanemi, Professor John Pepper Clark and Professor Ayodele Francis Ogunye with honorary Doctorate degrees.
While the Shehu of Borno and the 7th Chancellor of UNILAG, Abubakar Garbai El-Kanemi received D. Sc. (Honoris Causa) in Public Administration, the great poet, Pepper Clark received D. Litt. (Honoris Causa), just as a dedicated Professor of Chemical Engineering and philanthropist, Ayodele Ogunye also received D. Sc. (Honoris Causa) in Engineering.
Also, Professor Osato Frank Giwa-Osagie was equally honoured with Emeritus Professorship of the UNILAG, while four Professors also become Distinguished Professors.
The distinguished Professors include, Professor Babajide Ibitayo Alo, Professor Olukayode Amund, Professor Mrs Cecilia Ihuoma Igwilo and Professor Jim Ijenwa Unah.