The Sultan of Sokoto, Mohammed Sa’ad III, declared on Wednesday that he would not support the disintegration of Nigeria.
He warned that if the idea behind the clamour for restructuring was to disintegrate the country, he would not support it.
The Sultan made the decalration on Wednesday at a National Colloquium organised by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on the theme: “The Labour Movement and The Future of National Unity: What Role for Restructuring?” held at Sheraton Hotels and Towers, Abuja.
He wondered why the North and the people from other parts of the country are very eager and ready to meet and discuss agitations across the country and especially, the call for restructuring, adding that people were eager to meet and discuss instead of fighting over those issues, as there were more important things that united us as a people than those things that divided us.
“We know who we are and I think it is important for us to look back while we are talking about restructuring. When people talk about restructuring, if they mean we should disintegrate, I will not support it, but if it means making things, lives better and much conducive and convenience for Nigerians, then let’s sit and discuss it,” the Sultan said.
While pointing out that the colloquium came at the right time, said many of the groups agitating from the North, West, South-South and South-East have their own points, but added that no group had the right to tell the other to leave wherever he lived anywhere in the country.
The Sultan said he fully backed the position of President Muhammadu Buhari, saying: “I support the president’s position 100 per cent. I believe what he said is right. And I say, instead of talking about devolution of power, let’s talk about devolution of economy.”
On the 1914 amalgamation, he said: “We didn’t fall from the sky, we came from somewhere. We became Nigeria in 1914 through amalgamation. People are shouting that our coming together as a country in 1914 was a mistake, but God doesn’t make mistakes. If God doesn’t want such a thing as Nigeria to happen, nobody could ever have made it happen.
“Though we claim to be very religious, yet we challenge God. You don’t come out in the open and say you are challenging God, but by actions and utterances, many people are challenging God.
“There is no wrong in you saying I want to be better, but when you sit to discuss issues, you find out that you are a much better person.”
While challenging the organised Labour on their expected roles on issues that affect Nigeria, the Sultan added: “It is important for us to use this forum to bring out issues that are really germane, very important at this time in the history of our country. I expected the organised Labour to have been at the forefront of some of the issues affecting this country long before now. Not through strike, even though strike could be the last option, but there are things we need to take much more seriously and make our lives much better. But because we have left a vacuum, others came and told us there is a vacuum.
“So, I challenge you to take up the mantle now, occupy your right position and make good things to happen in this country through your solidarity. You must put personal interest aside.”
The guest speaker and a don, Professor Sam Egwu, from the University of Jos, stated that restructuring was not an umbrella category for understanding all the challenges facing Nigeria today.
“While it is important in the context of our distorted federalism in which states that are expected to be the nodal points of development have been reduced to political and fiscal appendages of the federal government, we need to situate it in the proper context.
“We need to review the long federal exclusive legislative list, we need to review allocation of tax powers to the various tiers of government, and we need to promote efficiency in the operation of our federal system to guarantee equity and progress for all,” he said.
However, he stressed that governance was a key missing link, adding that failure of governance contributed to the numerous agitations.
The immediate past governor of Edo State and former president of NLC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, was booed and jeered for saying that those who lost during the 2015 general election were behind the current agitation for restructuring.
Oshiomhole accused the PDP of spearheading the “rising campaign for restructuring” after losing the election.
He said: “We have been in this current democratic dispensation since 1999. Somehow, just after 2015 General election, there was a power change which Nigerians voted for. Then suddenly people who have just lost out just found a buss word called restructuring
“The last confab organised here by the last president suggested that we created 18 states. I didn’t think it was meant to be implemented.”
NLC president, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said the congress decided to convene this colloquium in response to recent developments in the polity and the stringent and vocal calls for the restructuring of the nation.
“The discourse among the political elite in our country in the last few months had been so heated that suddenly, many involved in this debate have thrown caution, decency and decorum to the winds, and threats and counter-threats all having grave consequences for our cooperate existence as a nation, have become the order of the day,” he said.