Former Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku and a second Republic Senator, Prof. Banji Akintoye, on Monday warned the government on the danger in keeping its current federal structure.
They said Nigeria’s federalism allows “too much power and resources” at the center to the detriment of the country’s ethnic nationalities.
This, they argued, fueled political, ethnic and religious divisions which threatened the country’s survival.
The duo stated these in Lagos at the 2017 Obafemi Awolowo Memorial Lecture organised by the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation (OAF) where Akintoye, an historian and Awoist, spoke on “The Awolowo legacy and its message to Nigerian youths.”
The event, which marked the 108th posthumous birthday of the late Awolowo, was attended by former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, represented by his deputy, Dr. Idiat Adebule, Osun State governor, Rauf Aregbesola and his Ogun State counterpart, Ibikunle Amosun, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Chief Tolu Odebiyi.
Other dignitaries included the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, former governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba and his Delta State counterpart, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, among others.
Gowon, the chairman of the OAF, said his government was able to keep Nigeria one through Awolowo’s expertise and advice which ensured that the country didn’t borrow to prosecute the civil war.
Anyaoku, who heads the selection committee of the Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership, regretted that no candidate was found suitable for the prize in 2017.
He wondered how “Nigeria’s founding fathers,” Awolowo, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Sir Ahmadu Bello would feel about their country if they rose from the dead.
Anyaoku said: “I have no doubt that lamentation and grievous disappointment would be their feeling, especially for Chief Awolowo, who championed the cause of true federalism, and as premier, invented the impressive socio-economic development of Western Nigeria.
“Chief Awolowo would be disappointed to find that instead of a few viable federating units in which effective economic development can be planned and pursued with security, better policed and maintained, we now have what I would describe as a plethora of nonviable federating units with an all-powerful central government.”