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It’s Rubbish For Ohanaeze To Ask For Slots In Lagos Cabinet – Lateef Femi Okunnu

Categories: news on April 15, 2019.

“These 12 states were created with the agreement of the political leadership at the time. So if we had allowed the 12 states structure to endure, Nigeria as a country would grow beyond its present sorry state.”

Lateef
Femi Okunnu, a former Federal Commissioner for Works and Housing, says
it is “rubbish” for members of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo to ask for slots in
the cabinet of the Lagos State government.

He also said Nigeria must return to the 12-state structure for proper power balancing and effective restructuring.

The 86-year-old elder statesman said this in an interview with The Sun newspaper.

Okunnu,
who served between 1966 to 1975, under the regime of Yakubu Gowon,
Nigeria’s former military head of State, said Gowon created 12 states
after the civil war to create balance across the region.

“Gowon
created 12 states from the existing four regions. Let me say this
quickly about the 12 states structure, which I have been advocating
should be restored in our effort to restructure the country.

“Part
of the agitations that led to the civil war was the size of the North,
that it was too large, not only in size but also in population. For true
federalism to endure, you need proper balancing and that was what Gowon
did, following agitation for state creation.

“He created six
states out of the Northern region in concurrence with the political
leadership of the North. I was privileged to be a member of the ad hoc
Constitutional conference in late 1966 after the second coup, which
Gowon set up to bring all the regions together.

“There was the
North Central State-Kaduna, Katsina and the likes and there was the
North Western State- Sokoto and the likes, so six there, right, and then
six in the South.

“We had the Western State: Osun, Ogun, Oyo and
Ondo. So, the Afenifere shouting for Oduduwa State lost the chance by
allowing the Western State to be broken into pieces.

“We also had
the Eastern State. They also lost their chance to have a state for the
mostly speaking Igbo Nigerians. We had the Rivers State and the
Mid-Western State.

“These 12 states were created with the
agreement of the political leadership at the time. So if we had allowed
the 12 states structure to endure, Nigeria as a country would grow
beyond its present sorry state.”

He also rejected the involvement
of cultural groups in Nigeria’s politics, stating that the Arewa
Consultative Forum (ACF), Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Afenifere have no business
in politics.

He said these groups should revert to their roles in nation building and not dabble in politics.

“People
exploit ethnicity for political power. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, one of my
heroes, was elected on the platform of a democratic party, NCNC alliance
in Lagos, first Lagos member not on the platform of Igbo state union
which was at its infancy at the time but as a Nigerian. Azikiwe was
above ethnicity; the Yoruba elected him.

“There was the Igbo
state union, Ibibio state union which concentrated on educating Ibibio
students, through award of scholarship. Dr. Udo Udoma was awarded
scholarship to study law by the Ibibio state union.

That was the role state unions were playing at that time.

“Chief
Awolowo founded Egbe Omo Oduduwa in London in 1946, 47 or thereabouts
and established a branch in Nigeria in 1948. Again, in fairness to him,
although he was strongly for regionalism, he didn’t use the Egbe Omo
Oduduwa platform when he was in government. There was Action Group and
there was Egbe Omo Oduduwa, a cultural group awarding scholarship. To
me, ACF, Ohanaeze, Afenifere should all revert to that role. They have
no business in politics; no place for them in politics.

“Some
characters were speaking to the press sometime ago on behalf of Ohanaeze
saying they want slots in the Lagos State cabinet. Rubbish! How many
Lagos people are asking for cabinet slots in Imo, Abia, Enugu and the
like? You leave that to local politics and local politicians. They
should join political parties and fight for a space.”

Source:- Saharareporters

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