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KWASAU: For Equity, Nigeria Must Implement The Confab


• Southern Kaduna, A Victim Of Deliberate Lopsided Devt Policy  

FORMER Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Jos, Plateau State, Mr. Sule Kwasau, has rued the fact that the two leading parties in the 2015 elections campaigns  — the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) — have not revealed their agenda on the expected implementation of the Confab Report.   The lawyer, in a chat with The Guardian, described as unfortunate, the quality of the ongoing campaigns, which, according to him, falls below the expectations of many Nigerians.

 The real issues, Kwasau said, have been brushed aside, while non-essential ones are being bought to the front burner. “For instance,” he said, “one of the critical things we expected the political parties to campaign on is the issue of restructuring Nigeria. Nigeria as presently constituted and by its very nature and structure is not a workable state because of the imbalances, the injustices that have characterised the running of the country right from independence.

 “Recently, President Jonathan took the bull by the horn and set up a national conference that came up with far-reaching recommendations to move this nation forward. Unfortunately, he could have scored the bull’s eye by emphasising the need to implement these recommendations. For the APC, they call themselves progressives and I believe any progressive will want this country to be restructured, except you are just using the name progressive for the sake of confusing the citizens. There is nothing progressive about the APC not raising the issue of restructuring this country.

   “Most of the problems associated with this country go to the very foundation, how the federation is being run. In fact, you could call it, a combination of unitary and a federal system, which has led to the confusion we have found ourselves today. Jonathan just made a passing remark about the recommendations of the Confab, when he was campaigning in the South West, where we know is the hotbed of progressive politics in Nigeria. 

  “And some of the elite, the well respected elders in the Southwest, people like Olu Falae, Pa Ayo Adebanjo and the rest have been working together with the other progressives of the Southeast and the Middle Belt in this country. People like Chukwuemeka Ezeife from the Southeast; of course, we cannot forget the constitutional lawyer, Ben Nwabueze (SAN), who have been championing the issue of restructuring in their group called ‘The Patriots.’ Now is the time for Nigerians to begin to ask; who among the presidential candidates has the capacity to ensure the implementation of these recommendations.

  “And for me without sounding biased, I think Jonathan ought to be the person in the driving seat because in the first place it is his brain child. Secondly, the APC refused to even send delegation to the Constitutional Conference and so even if the APC wins at the federal level, there is very little or no chance of implementing these recommendations. They will throw them to the dustbin and so Nigerians should continue to ask, what is the fate of these recommendations as brought up by the conference? If we do not get any convincing answer, then Nigerians should think twice before they cast their votes. It is very dear to the ordinary man on the street. For me, coming from Kaduna State, I want Kaduna State to be split so that my people can attain their god-given talents to the fullest.” 

  Even the conservative north has now realised indeed that it is in the interest of all Nigerians that this country be restructured in an equitable manner where nobody, no tribe will have undue ascendancy over the other members of the polity.”

  He explains what he means by the conservative north. “The conservatives of course, we have members of the Northern Elders Forum, like Ango Abdullahi who has never believed in the conference; who has always been benefiting from the lopsided nature of the federation. And so they will not want the system to change because they are benefiting immensely from the present state of affairs.”

  On why he supports that Kaduna State should be split, the former NBA chairman said, “If you look at the history state creation in this country, they have always helped the major ethnic groups while the minorities have been bundled together in some cases. And in some cases, they have been put under some overlords like in my state. The 2006 census clearly shows that Southern Kaduna is more populous than many states of the federation, talk about Bayelsa, talk about Yobe, talk about Ekiti and we keep asking, why is it that Kaduna has not been split up till today? Nobody has given us any cogent reasons. And so, this confab gave us an opportunity to come and ventilate our grievances. And thank God Gurara State has been recommended for creation, alongside other 19 proposed states by the conference. So, we believe that if states are created in these areas that have been recommended, there will be equity, there will be justice, there will be even development.

  “I have a list of federal government institutions in Kaduna State; there is only one or two of such institutions in the whole of Southern Kaduna. All the other federal institutions, Ahmadu Bello University is in Zaria, Federal College of Education in Zaria, Nigerian College of Aviation Technology in Zaria, Nigerian Military Police School Zaria, ABU Teaching Hospital Zaria, Military School Zaria, Federal Government Girls College Zaria, Command and Staff College Jaji, Division of Agricultural Colleges of ABU are in Zaria, National Institute of Transport Technology, Sheltex in Zaria, Nigerian Defence Academy is in Kaduna town, National Tuberculosis and Leprosy centre in Zaria. 

  “And then in the whole of Southern Kaduna, with a population of close to 3.2 million, there is only Federal Technical College, Kafanchan, then the Federal School of Statistics Manchok. So, you can see the lopsidedness in the distribution of federal government institutions and even state government amenities. Even the state unversity is sited in Kaduna. 

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