Former Head of State Abdulsalami and Leader of Yoruba Adesanya Weep for Anambra

Posted by Daily Champion (Lagos) on 2003/07/25 | Views: 650 |

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Former Head of State Abdulsalami and Leader of Yoruba Adesanya Weep for Anambra

TWO more international personalities yesterday joined the army of dignitaries grieving over the political confusion in Anambra State, which so far, seems not anywhere near resolution.

By NDIDI OKAFOR, and THOMAS IMONIKHE
Lagos

TWO more international personalities yesterday joined the army of dignitaries grieving over the political confusion in Anambra State, which so far, seems not anywhere near resolution.

United Nations Special Envoy and former Nigerian Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, said he feared for continued national peace.

Gen. Abubakar was the military ruler who midwifed Nigeria's current democratic experiment, culminating in his historic handover to an elected government in May 1999.

And, leader of the Yoruba, Senator Abraham Adesanya, said the drama in Awka was giving him sleepless nights.

Pa Adesanya is also leader of the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere.

Both expressed grief yesterday in Lagos, at an event marking the 81st birthday anniversary of Pa Adesanya - the Second Annual Senator Abraham Adesanya Lecture - held at MUSON Centre, Onikan and delivered by Gen. Abubakar.

Gen. Abubakar said the situation in Anambra could not enhance healthy relationships among Nigerians and urged government and citizens to be actively involved in resolving the crisis.

Pa. Adesanya said he was sad at the turn of events in the country, especially the July 10 abduction of Gov. Chris Ngige of the state.

He said the incident called for sober reflection by all Nigerians.

He likened the Anambra imbroglio to the chain of events in the 1960s, which led to anarchy in the defunct Western Region of Nigeria, leading ultimately to the demise of the first republic.

He recalled that the then central government almost as is the case in the current matter, did not act decisively and quickly because it had regarded some of the principal actors as sacred cows as it is the case now.

"When I think of the people of Nigeria and the children coming behind us. I lose sleep. I beg you in the name of God to change our hearts for the better.

"What I am telling you today is the voice of God; don't shun it. If you do, time may be too late.

"We must change our way of thinking for the better. It is that I am demanding of you on the 81st birthday of my life.

"The burden is on the shoulder of everyone of us today. We must learn from our past mistakes; if we don't, we are in trouble," he counselled.

Speaking in similar vein, Gen. Abubakar, when asked if he was bothered by the crisis in Anambra, said:

"Certainly, every right thinking Nigerian should be worried.

"What is happening in Anambra State doesn't make for healthy relationships and I think the authorities and indeed Nigerians should not only leave it to the authorities, we should play our role."

Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, Ogun State Governor Otunba Gbenga Daniel and Gov. Bola Tinubu of Lagos State in separate tributes described Pa Adesanya as an "Icon of democracy; a source of inspiration, a human rights crusader and pro-democracy activist, who fought for the termination of military dictatorship in the country."

However, delivering the lecture entitled: Viable governance in a multi-ethnic State, Gen. Abubakar called for constitutional amendment to evolve true and fiscal federalism in the country.

According to him, a viable governance must manifest itself in improved welfare of the people within its jurisdiction.

"It must provide the people with security and address their fears. It must also give them hope. A viable governance must be able to assist the people and provide the appropriate and conducive environment to attain the height of the goals of their ambitions," he said.

"Good leadership," he said, "is a critical factor in nurturing a healthy tree of polity through governance," saying that "all Nigerians must continue to accept that we are a "multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-ethnic state.

"We have all agreed that federalism is the best constitutional option even though most Nigerians believe it is not yet what we all like, that is true federalism," he stated.

To achieve stability, he said, each of the 374 ethnic groups in the country should be asked what type of federalism it wants.

"When each of the groups submits its proposals, their representatives meet to draw up an outline for the constitutional framework, it will now be left to the legal drafts persons to complete the framework," he suggested.

At the end of such exercise, he said, the National and State Assemblies should be allowed to make inputs, while the final copy should be subjected to a referendum.

Gen. Abubakar said that under such proposed federal structure, our present local government structure must be redesigned to pave way for stability in the polity.

"In redesigning the level we must merge the present local government councils to form city/town councils in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano with mayors, who will be running economically viable entities. The states will coordinate these councils. In rural areas, we will have distinct councils. The villages will eventually grow to become town councils too," he noted.

Gen. Abubakar, who is also president of the African Strategic and Peace Research Group, said such transformation of our third-tier of government into an economically viable government entity should be followed by the issue of fiscal federalism.

According to him, acceptable fiscal federalism is a critical challenge to all federal states world-wide.

He said its attainment would address "power to tax and the ownership, management and allocation of revenue from mineral resources.

Prominent guests who graced the well-attended occasion included Gov. Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State, Lagos State deputy governor, Mr. Femi Pedro, who represented Governor Tinubu and Prof. Sam Oyovbaire, who stood in for the Vice President.

Others are former deputy governor of Ogun State, Chief Gbenga Kaka, former External Affairs Minister, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, Senators Adeleke, Mamora and Olabiyi Durojaiye.

Meanwhile, former Senate President, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, has blamed the Presidency and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the current political crisis in Anambra State.

He also raised alarm that the ultimate game-plan is to declare a state of emergency in the state.

Breaking his silence since July 10 when Governor Chris Ngige was abducted for about five hours, Okadigbo, who is the presidential running mate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) during the April 19 election, alleged that the acclaimed godfather of the governor, Chief Chris Uba, was empowered economically by the Presidency and the PDP.

Dr. Okadigbo made the allegation at a Press conference in Abuja yesterday, where he predicted that the plan to destabilise the state would fail.

Speaking on the vexed issue he alleged that the Federal Government has perfected plans to impose a state of emergency in the state.

Okadigbo claimed that already, the police have been instructed to invade the state, declaring:

"They want to initiate a state of emergency in Anambra State as a cover up. But God forbid!"

"I know that they are trying to force us to react in a way that they will declare a state of emergency in Anambra," he claimed.

He further alleged that the crisis was being fuelled from outside, adding that Anambrarians are peace-loving people, who would not like to see their state destroyed.

Okadigbo alleged that "they gave him (Uba) the money, they gave him the police. They gave him the party. He is an inlaw of Obasanjo."

He maintained that the godfathers in Anambra politics are empowered from outside to destabilise the state and by extension, Igboland.

"The people who are disturbing our state are invented from without. They are tools and mercenaries," he alleged.

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