An elder statesman, Tanko Yakasai, has described the agitation for restructuring as a Yoruba agenda promote by uninformed Igbo people. Restructuring is a topical political issue as Nigeria moves towards the next general election, with top politicians and groups demanding it should determine the choice of voters.
But the outspoken Mr Yakasai sees the agitation as another attempt to foment trouble in the country.
He said most of the socio-political crises that threatened the corporate existence of Nigeria right from the colonial era emanated from the South-west.
Mr Yakasai stated this position on Sunday in Kano at a public lecture organised by Africa Research and Development Agency (ARADA).
The octogenarian added that those clamouring for restructuring are afraid to clearly state what they are advocating.
“Restructuring, as many other problematic concepts, was conceived by Afenifere, an offshoot of Action Group, to destabilise the country,” he said.
“It is upon those who are agitating for restructuring to tell Nigerians the real meaning of restructuring. For example, how will Nigeria look like after restructuring? What is your fate?
“If restructuring means constitutional amendments, there is laid down procedure for constitutional amendment. Because constitutional amendment is being conducted through elected representatives, and the North by virtue of its population has higher number of representatives, that is why they are afraid to call for constitutional amendment,” Mr Yakasai said.
“Some people are advocating we should adopt the 1962 Constitution. To the best of my knowledge, the 1962 Constitution recognised four regions. Now we have six geo-political regions. But they failed to explain which regions should
According to him, “If the Igbo who lost their wealth during the Nigerian civil war emerged prosperous and presently own 70 percent of Lagos industries, the North has no cause to fear any threat from other parts of the country.
“During the civil war, regional governments took over landed properties belonging to Igbos in their respective regions. But in Kano and entire Northern part , the landed properties were handed over to the Igbos after the civil war.
“In Kano, a committee was constituted under the leadership of Dr Uba Adamu who renovated Igbo properties vandalised during the civil war and returned them to Igbos after the war. But their properties in Port Harcourt were not given to them till date,” Mr Yakasai said.
The controversial politician did not discuss on specific issues proponents of restructuring have clamoured for. Proponents like former vice president Atiku Abubakar have highlighted key issues such as devolution of powers, state police, and so on as major components of their restructuring stance.
In his speech, Mr Yakasai advised Northern Nigeria to reestablish relationship with Sahel countries as, according to him, they share similar socio-cultural traits ahead of possible disintegration of Nigeria.
He said during the civil war, Republic of Niger assisted Nigeria with weapons, but later Northern Nigeria failed to to reciprocate the gesture.
On why he supported Goodluck Jonathan in 2015 against Muhammadu Buhari, Mr Yakasai said he did it to cement the relationship between Southern minorities and Northerners.
“I supported Jonathan during the national conference, though I have never meet him. Igbo and Yoruba have common enmity against Hausa. There is need to establish relationship with Southern minorities, because we share similar fate.
“Niger Delta has petroleum resources, North has human resources but they are lagging behind the West and the East in terms of education and economy,” he said.
Mr Yakasai revealed that some people through his children put pressure on him to take his family away from Kano during the 2015 elections against fear of post election violence, saying “I sent some of my family to their relatives, while others followed me to hotel through the election period.”
Recalling the intrigues of the 1999 elections, Mr Yakasai said Northern bloc supported former president Olusegun Obasanjo against Second Republic vice president Alex Ekwueme, because the latter had accused Northerners of depriving him of the chance to succeed then president Shehu Shagari.
“NPN (National Party of Nigeria) had developed a zoning formula before the 1979 elections. President from North and vice president from East with the intention of Ekwueme to succeed Shagari after he completed his second term.
“When military overthrew Shagari’s government, Ekwueme accused Shagari of conniving with military to deprive him opportunity of becoming president. He spent most of his prison days crying. I used to go to his cell along with Lawal Kaita to comfort him. I taught him Hausa when we were serving at Kirikiri Prisons”, Mr Yakasai revealed.
In his remarks, the Executive Director of ARADA, Sule Bello, said the lecture was organised to share experiences, sensitise people and develop a common roadmap on the development of Nigeria.