Former Akwa Ibom state governor, Obong Victor Attah, says contrary to President Buhari’s position, Nigeria’s unity can be negotiated. President Buhari, during the Sallah holiday, had told a group of people who paid him a visit in the state house, that members of the various militant groups and Pro-Biafra group should stop their agitations as the unity of Nigeria cannot be negotiated.
In an interview with Vanguard, Attah said negotiation does not mean splitting of the country …
“You have to renegotiate. If you talk about renegotiation, some people think you want to split the country. No, it is like everytime they tell you to go and investigate somebody, you think it means you must go and find that person guilty. No, do not forget that they investigated Dr Alex Ekwueme and came back and said in fact, he was poorer than when he went in (to government). The people of Nigeria are dissatisfied with the current federal arrangement or whatever is binding them together now and are saying they want to renegotiate the terms of staying together.
The President quoted Gowon. Gowon had said that keeping Nigeria one is a task that must be achieved. That task was achieved by military means. He (Buhari) is not a military man now, he is a democrat, a politician. So, the only means politicians have is to negotiate. ‘So, what did you mean by you won’t negotiate? If you want to keep Nigeria one today, you must negotiate the terms and conditions of the people staying together and it goes back to the conference report, it goes back to the concept of fiscal federalism.
‘You would find out that in the final analysis, that is what everybody would be saying to you. Go and study as religiously as you can, the constitutions of 1960 and 1963. What is restructuring? Several people have used that word and have not been able to say what they mean. The few that have actually attempted to say what they mean either end up talking about going back to the regions as we had them before or adopting the six-zonal structure that had been proposed for Nigeria, which actually is in current usage but has not been sanctioned by the constitution of Nigeria. Others just use the word restructuring because it is almost like a buzz word, it is a popular thing to say now. ‘I do not want to be caught up in the semantics. I will subscribe, absolutely and entirely, to the concept of fiscal federalism. People ask what is the difference between fiscal federalism and restructuring and I will explain. I am convinced that fiscal federalism can be practised with even the 36 state-structure and one federal capital territory that we have today in Nigeria. In fact, I can say, it is a must, for there to be peace and harmony, understanding among the federating units”he said