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Aremu decries regional politics in Nigeria

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Criticises Ango Abdullahi Over NEF Agenda

A chieftain of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Issa Aremu, has stated that the activities of regional leaders in Nigeria has further set it backward and promotes embers of disunity in the country.

Citing the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Afenifere, he insisted that their activities are unhelpful for national development and growth, urging Nigerians to discountenance their antics and join hands together in promoting peace and unity, as prescribed by the 1999 Constitution.

Aremu, who is a member of NLC National Executive Council (NEC) and Vice President (Africa) of Global Industrial Union, told The Guardian in Kaduna that regional arrangement is not known to the constitution, because today, Nigeria has a federal republic made up of 36 states, plus the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

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He said: “Regions were long done away with as far back in 1966, when we had the coup. For better or worse, there is nothing like region. The 1999 Constitution (as amended) talks of 36 states and the FCT (Abuja). So, discussion of a region is more of nostalgia of the past and when you talk of the northern leaders or southern leaders, these are people who lived in the past; they are have a nostalgia for the past that does not exist. In fact, the problem is not just their age, but the age of their ideas, which is always reflecting in their language of discourse.”

Aremu specifically criticised the activities of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), led by Professor Ango Abdullahi, noting that the group has continued to promote disunity and politics of hatred amongst Nigeria without adding any value on issues that would promote development and growth in Nigeria.

He said: “We should go beyond the narratives of regional issues. For example, the northern leaders should be careful of their utterances. In the first place, who elected them as leaders? What makes them leaders? I will give example of people like Abdullahi and his outburst.“He lives in the past; he lives in the decadent past that he was part of. He was a member of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) that ruined Nigeria.

He was a vice chancellor who ruined the university before he was humiliated out. And this is a professor that rusticated a lot of his students on account of unionism and for driving reforms in the university. What credential does he have to contribute to national issues or discourse when he did not leave a good legacy in the north and Nigeria in the past?”

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Aremu also urged Nigerians not to join those promoting regional politics, stressing: “Today, we have 19 states that make up the old northern region. Each one of the states, even in terms of parties, they are not in the same party. Both the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC), they run most of the states and in each state they have their commitments.

“I had my reservation when I had that the states in the Southwest hade a regional security arrangement. My first reaction was that this cannot fly constitutionally, as only each state can constitute its own security organ through the parliament, because there is nothing like regional parliament. So, regional discourse is unhelpful and unrealistic and I dare say unconstitutional. But it could give sentimental emotions to some ancient leaders. 

“Then again, all the challenges Nigeria is facing today are issues that cannot be resolved at the state or local level, not even at the so-called regional level, but nationally continentally or globally. So, Nigeria leaders must start thinking beyond their narrow fortresses if they want to drive the country forward. It is this insular mentality and narratives that have put us where we are today.” 

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He added: “It is because of this insular mentality that Rwanda now left us behind and now has a national airline for itself and the Federal Republic of Nigeria doesn’t have. That is why its President, Paul Kegame, could lead the debate on African Continental Trade Agreement ahead of Nigeria, because we are insular in our orientation and Ghana is now the one hosting the secretariat of the African Continental Trade Agreement. Initially, it was given to us, but we later lost out.

“Again, in relation to the poverty in the north, west or south, I see wealth in Nigeria. The world sees Nigeria as investment destination. We should always interrogate our leaders over unhelpful debates. For example, some legislators are currently debating about immunity for their leaders are living in the past. Immunity or no immunity, there is always a day of accountability.

“Even when there was immunity for former governors, six ex-governors have now been jailed. So, a simple lesson for elected leaders is not to be pushing for immunity, but making sure they are responsible for their actions now, because impunity would not save them. There would be a day of reckoning for them.”

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In this article:
Issa AremuNLC
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