The National Chairman of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), Alhaji Dr. Balarabe Musa has lamented about the backwardness of Northern Nigeria and the need for a structuring of the country.
The Former Governor of Kaduna State, said there was a need for massive investment in education to bridge the gap between the various regions in the nations:
Excerpts of his interview below:
Well, in the first place, let’s determine what we mean by restructuring because at the moment now there are various meanings of restructuring. As far as I am concerned, I am in support of restructuring, particularly in two areas; in return to the arrangement of the First Republic, where we had regional governments which were viable, and we should return to that.
The 36 states are not viable, and everybody now knows it, and it is not in the interest of the country to continue with it. Let us have six regions, the North-west, the North-east, the North-central, South-west, South-south and South-east. This is the way to transfer Nigeria into three regional governments, each with its own constitution and government. Let also be units and not the statutory states, let any financial allocation come directly from the Federal government to the regions. And let the regions establish as many local governments as they cope with them with regard to financial allocation with the centre.
And in fact what they need from centre will be reduced. They will be viable like the former Eastern region, Northern region, the Western region, and even before the Mid-western region, they were viable. They needed the Federal Government support just to ensure even development and national unity. But definitely, even without the Federal Government support, they could survive. This is not what we have now.
The second restructure I want is that let us return to the situation before the military came in where the government played the leading role in the economy to ensure, equality, justice, dignity of the human person and progressive even development of the country.
It is the major restructure, this is economic restructure. So we should have this political and economic restructures. There are other aspects of restructuring that we can tolerate as long as they keep Nigeria united as one nation and capable of equal development because as long as we have one region not having the equality to participate in the affairs of the country, we will not have unity, we will not have peace.
For instance, at the moment now we have major problems which we must face and solve as a country. Free education development is central to any form of national development. At the moment now because of historical development, the North is 40 years behind the South in educational development. If this condition continues, there is no way we can have national unity, there is no way we can have even development, there is no way we can avoid the North being the problem of Nigeria.
It is a fact, and we have to face it. If we have people like the Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Ahmadu Bello and so on, their contributions to development would have continued, we will not have problem of even development, particularly in the educational sector. Let’s not forget that because of the colonial policy, the North was left behind right from 1950. For instance, by the time I left school in 1951, there was no single secondary school in the North.
And therefore, a northerner could not go straight to university. He had to go to the South, that was in 1943 when there were about 100 secondary schools in the South. And this disparity has continued up till today, and we are calling on Nigerian leaders to know that this is a threat to peace, to national unity and even development of the whole country.
But Nigerian leaders, particularly, the present crop of leaders don’t listen to this. But they now have to listen because we want peace and progress, and there is no way we can we have peace and progress if a section of the country does not have equal rights to participate in the affairs of the country, and you can’t have the equal rights to participate in the affairs of your country if you have this disparity in educational development. I always give an example.
Let us say the present government of APC, (just for the sake of mentioning the party) decides to go revolutionary, decides to face the problems of Nigeria in a revolutionary way, in a way that within a short time we can see Nigeria becoming one of the second largest economy in the world. This is possible, it is not a dream.
Take the case of the Soviet Union in 1976, take the case of China in 1949, what are they now, they are the leading countries of the world. Nigeria can achieve this within a short period of time because Nigeria is large in every respect, and it has resources.
Let us suppose, just for the sake of mentioning it, that if the present APC government decides to go and do what these other countries have done to bring them to this present position, if that happens, for instance, the role of the engineers will be very vital. Of course, the roles of doctors, administrators, educationists will be vital. But the roles of engineers will be more vital in the sense of changing.
Let us suppose that that government because of the need to reconstruct the country, to rebuild the nation quickly, wants every one of the 36 States, including FCT, Abuja, to produce 1,000 engineers for the sake of achieving this rapid development, how many states in the North can produce 1,000 engineers instantly without deploying the state engineers to the central pool. Now, maybe, if they can, it is Kwara and Kogi states that can produce such number of engineers, but I don’t think they can. They can’t even produce 100 engineers.
But let us take the South, in the South, even one local government can produce ,1000 engineers to the national pool. How can we expect equal development under this condition where there is an unequal role in the society? So let’s face the problem.