The Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, has said a return to the 1963 constitution and regional governments will save Nigeria from break up.
This was as he backed the statement that the crude oil in the Niger Delta belongs to the region and not Nigeria.
The statement was earlier made by the National Secretary of the Ijaw National Congress, Ebipamowei Wodu, who at a forum said the Ijaw were being treated like second-class citizens in Nigeria despite producing the oil and gas resources that are sustaining the country.
Reacting, Nigeria’s former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, at a peace and security parley convened by the Global Peace Foundation and Vision Africa a few weeks ago, attacked Wodu, stating that oil belongs to the entire country and not the region by virtue of Nigeria’s structure.
Joining his voice with others’ like the leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, Chief Edwin Clark, who disagreed with Obasanjo, Adams, at a press conference in his Lagos residence to celebrate his four years as Aare Onakakanfo, said Obasanjo was wrong.
Adams said, “I will be the last person that will be against Niger-Delta when they call for resource control. It is their rights and their resources. I don’t know how some Yoruba people now speak about it and say the resources do not belong to them, but Nigeria.
“Resource control is just like restructuring. It has been like that before the existence of Nigeria in 1914. The people of Niger-Delta have been in existence before 1960 and the agreement that brought us together as a nation is about true federalism, that every region should develop at its own pace.
“If the Niger Delta people now realise that they have been deprived of their resources, which have been taken away from them to develop other areas and that there is a level of injustice in their place, then it is well in their rights to call for resource control.”
Adams, therefore, called for a return to the 1963 constitution to save the country from destruction.
He said, “At the level we are now as a nation, Nigeria is surviving on oxygen. The country is like a patient that has got to the state of death and needs oxygen to survive. That is the level Nigeria is now economically, security-wise and in every sector of government.
“For us to save the country and we don’t want the country to split, I think the only option for the Nigerian government is to go back to the basics – how we got our independence in 1960. There was a document prepared by our political fathers then which was highly discussed and agreed upon by the political players. That was what gave birth to the 1963 constitution.
“The government should amend the content of this present constitution (1999 as amended) and make it the constitution of the people so that we can move Nigeria forward on the basis of regionalism. I think all the regions now should clamour for regionalism so that it will settle all ethnic nationalities in the country.”