Former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, has said that Nigeria should be restructured into eight regions.
He identified lack of good leadership as one of the challenges facing the country, but stressed that Nigeria’s present structure is the actual problem confronting her.
He made this assertion in Umuahia, yesterday on the occasion of Chief Emeka Anyaoku lecture series on good governance and book presentation with the theme: “Leadership and Good Governance in Nigeria”, organised the Youth Affairs International Foundation.
He said that the principal issue in the country is the structure of governance, stating, “I do not believe that the best leadership will make Nigeria well. Not even the best in the world will make it well”.
He described the country as an artificial creation that is not like the US where most population are immigrants and is easy to create one country as all immigrants owe allegiance to the US government.
Until 1953 he said, there was no country called Nigeria and the people were with different cultures.
The country, he pointed out is a place of diversity and established cultures that are also diverse, stating, “what we want to do is to create a nation out of diversity”.
“Nigeria is still a country trying to create a nation for itself.
“What do we do? The 1960 – 1963 constitution created three regions and subsequently four regions which were developing at their own pace and competing among themselves. That made the Nigerian economy the one of fastest-growing in the world”.
He continued: “today, the reality of the present information is that we cannot return to the six regions based on six geographic zones in the country”.
Anyaoku who is the Ichie Adazie of Obosi in Anambra state, recommended that the country should return to eight regions based on the six geographic zones of the country “but to be modified by restructuring what used to be mid-west region”.
“So, you have the south-south region, and the old regions as the bases for the creation of mid-western region.
“The killing in Benue, Plateau and Taraba, in my view has made it impossible for one region to be a full northern region.
“So, the eight regions modelled after the 1960 and 1963 constitution will serve.
“I believe that the challenges of Nigeria begin with economic challenges, security, and poverty”, he said, disclosing that the country is among the first 20th poorest countries in the world with less than an average income of less than $2 a day.
The country, he said has the largest concentration of very poor people, expressing his belief that the challenges include health, power, education, stating that these can be solved if the country has true federation of eight regions, where each competes with others.
Abia State, he said, was lucky to have a governor that has managed to pay salaries and pensions, adding that most other states don’t.
On what happens to the existing 36 states, he said that not less than two-third of states in the country are not viable and unable to pay salaries and should therefore be retained as development/investment zones within the regions.
The structure of governance, he also said should be decentralized to take account of the needs of each zone.
Incremental restructuring he said will create more development, urging that all should be clamouring for a major restructuring.
This restructuring, he said should start in one major swoop.
Chief Anyaoku concluded by saying “we must set our goals high in order to achieve more detailed result”.