…describes 2019 polls as deciding factor for unity
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA- A former Minister of Science and Technology and one time Adjutant General and Commander, Training and Doctrine Command, Major Gen. Sam Momah has warned that Nigeria may cease to be as a country in the next 12 years if nothing was done to restructure it.
General Momah who was a minister between 1995-1999 has also stated that the 2019 elections in the country will be a watershed that will decide the unity of the country.
Speaking in an interview in Abuja, the retired General who has authored many books including Restructuring beyond Oil noted that there were signals that the country would likely break-up if nothing was urgently done to restructure it, adding that the 3015 Climate Change Summit in Paris, France was a pointer to the impending doom if the recommendation at the summit was not followed.
He advised President Muhammadu Buhari not to take the clamour for restructuring of the country likely in order to save the unity and existence of Nigeria.
On what would be his piece of advice to President Buhari if he should win election for second tenure, he said, “Well I believe that Mr. President if he is lucky to have a second term, must make sure that he lays a very strong strategic foundation for a modern Nigeria.
“Nigeria cannot continue to wobble as it is doing now. Mr. President if he is talking or whoever gets there must make sure Nigeria is restructured.
“Restructuring is fundamental. It was Albert Einstein that said insanity is doing the same thing the same way and expect a change. If you do the same thing the same way, you can’t get a change. Nigeria has been doing the same thing the same way in the last 118 years or there about and we are not getting good results.
“So it means that there is need for change either in the way we are doing things or whatever we are doing. That is why some of us have been vehement in calling for restructuring. He has to change and rethink because you don’t put up an edifice on a sandy structure.
“He is trying to build an edifice but he must have a solid foundation for that and that is why some of have been very, very vehement on that.
“Some eight years ago, I wrote my book where I said that Nigeria is beyond divorce and that was why I made my recommendation that Nigeria must restructure. We must try and do things differently.
“For instance we have a situation whereby 36 States are coming to Abuja, ( to collect allocation), 27 states cannot pay salary, 20 states do not contribute to the pension scheme, 32 states cannot survive on their Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, only four states can survive on their IGR.
“We have a situation whereby more than 20 million are unemployed. Against these attributes, must we continue with these problems. If we have states that cannot pay salaries. We have 774 local government areas, we have 360 members of House of Representatives and we have 109 senators, we have more than 600 ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs, so this is a gamut of paraphernalia of government and do we realize that 89 of our revenue is used to pay salaries?
“So there is nothing left to build our roads, repair our generating power housing and build our rail stations, provide water, provide health care, nothing.
“The description that Nigeria is an island of wealth in ocean of poverty is very true. Few people have the money they can buy jets and everybody thinks that Nigeria is rich but what is par capital income? So we are poor and we can’t continue this way.
“Since 2007, Nigeria has been doing this failed state alert, that is, we are on the threshold of being a failed state. So anytime we are gliding into becoming of a failed state. We must pull Nigeria off the brink and to do all these things, we must restructure.
“So I am using this opportunity to advice Mr President this restructure thing is not something that is voluntary, there is no choice about it. The most important thing is on 12th of December 2015, 195 countries assembled in Paris and signed this climate change agreement.
“By that climate change agreement it means that by the year 2030, there will be no more usage of diesel, petrol or coal. And you know crude oil is what is giving us over 80 percent of our revenue today. Now if the whole world now decide not to buy our oil, what do we do? Drink it? if nobody buys what will we do with it?
“Now they are researching on using solar cars, electric cars etc. So if you ride your petroleum cars today, the spare parts who makes them? The situation is critical. I don’t understand why somebody will say we shouldn’t restructure. It is not North verses South issue, it is an issue of survival of Nigeria.
“I believe we must look at it seriously and this is why my second book is on restructuring Nigeria beyond oil. I want to alert fellow country men that this restructuring thing should not be politicised. It is a critical thing that must be done otherwise in 12 years time, in 2030, Nigeria will collapse and we may get into a civil war that might take us up to 100 years to get out to.
“I say hundred years because Sudan has been in war now for 50 years, Eritrea has been in war now for 31 years, Somalia has been in war now for 27 years and these are countries that are less than 30 million in population, less complex Somalia they speak the same language, they are Muslims and yet the war there has lasted for 27 years.
“So can you imagine Nigeria with 200 million people with 350 ethnic nationalities with 50 different languages if a war ignites to civil war, it will be total. It will take us to about 100 years to get over it. So, we must not allow that to happen and this is why I say we must restructure.
“The only solution, the only thing that will make us not to get into this mess or calamity is that we restructure and we do it now that there is little money coming from oil so that we will be able to fast track the system.
“And one thing I have seen about restructuring is that we have to compress our gamut of bureaucracy. If the states cannot pay salary, what are you keeping them for?”
In 2019, he said he was not sure what would happen but noted that he would have liked a situation where there was someone else as the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and not Prof. Yakubu Mamoud to conduct the election.
He also stated that former President Goodluck Jonathan had set the pace in conducting credible elections and expressed the hope that future leaders would emulate him and even improve on that for a free, fair and credible election.
He said that Nigerians should disown anybody that tries to toil with conducting credible election, describing next year’s elections as watershed and a year that would either make or mar the country and as well as a year that would decide whether Nigerians should unite or not.
“We must not gamble with it, it is a most crucial election. It is a year that Nigerians should decide whether to unite or not, anybody that toils with it, we should disown him,” he said.