Biafra: Clark lambasts Kanu, condemns Arewa quit notice
Elder statesman Edwin Clark on Tuesday condemned the Biafran agitation led by Nnamdi Kanu.
He also condemned the notice to quit by the Arewa youth group to Igbo in the North, saying it was worrisome.
The News Agency of Nigeria reported that Clark made this known when the Chairman, Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debt, Senator Shehu Sani, paid him a courtesy visit in his Abuja residence on Monday.
He warned that secession or agitation were not the way to go on restructuring of the country.
He said, “When Kanu talks about Biafra, he is talking nonsense. We do not want a second war. America fought their civil war for a long time and they are not thinking of a second one. Kanu should drop the agitation.
“At the same time, it is arrogant and foolish on the part of some northern youths to issue quit notice. You do not own the North. It is part of Nigeria and anybody can live there.
“The Igbo have been living in the North for over 100 years. I condemn all of them.”
The elder statesman, however, emphasised the need for restructuring for equity and balance in the country.
He explained that though the call for restructuring had been loud in recent times, the country had been undergoing restructuring.
“We have been living together since 1914 and from time to time, we have been changing the way of our lives. In 1947, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe said the Richard Constitution was obnoxious; that it was anti-people. In 1950, we had the Macpherson Constitution which created the three regions and in 1963, we had another constitution.
“During all these constitutions, the issue of fiscal federation was very prominent. So, we have been restructuring this country and nobody talked about breaking up the country. The war between 1967 and 1970 was an unfortunate one.”
Clark said making necessary changes to allow for social justice was the way to go, urging the National Assembly to re-visit the issue of devolution of power upon resumption from recess. This, he said, was one of the ways to properly restructure the country.
According to him, the vote against devolution of power by NASS is borne out of the fear that it will whittle down the power of the legislators.
He said, “We have reached a stage where states are not paying salaries and something has to be done to gear their minds to see what they can do in their own area to generate money. I am happy you believe in restructuring, which can be achieved within a short time but it may take up to 20 years if we do not agree among ourselves.
“So, once more I want to say that when you resume, the issue of devolution of power should be re-visited so that the Federal Government will deal with foreign affairs, prisons, customs and a few other things.”
On the call to return to regionalism, Clark said, “You cannot abolish the states now and say you want six regions. It is not going to be easy or possible now.
“I feel we should use the same states as federating units and the local governments should remain with the states.”
He called for the establishment of revenue mobilisation commission to deal with funds that move between states and local governments to sustain them.
Clark promised to convene a meeting of elder statesmen across the country to find lasting solution to the problem of restructuring.
In his remarks, Sani said one of the reasons the devolution of power did not scale through in NASS was the fear that state governments might abuse their power.
He said, “The problem we have with devolution of power is how to tackle some of the problems that come with it. For example, the present crop of governors might not be able to handle state police in a manner that people who disagree with them can be safe.
“Secondly, the manner in which elections are conducted by the state independent electoral commissions where the ruling party in state wins all positions is worrisome.
“So, if we devolve the police, we have to allay the fears of people on the implications. Those who are championing some of these issues need to make clarifications.”
On derivation and resource control, the lawmaker said it was in the best interest of the country to stop thinking about oil because it was becoming non-attractive globally.
On the quit notice, Sani said “it is embarrassing.”Punch