‘Northern Nigeria should embrace economic restructuring’ – Veteran broadcast journalist, Sa’idu Carpenter

A veteran broadcast journalist, Sa’idu Carpenter has advocated that Northern Nigeria should embrace economic restructuring as canvassed by some Nigerians.

Carpenter stated this during a LibertyTV discussion programme, ‘Guest of the week’ yesterday in Abuja.

The veteran broadcast journalist, while sharing his opinion on how the country should tackle the issue of restructuring, said, “Although many political leaders have made several statements on their understanding of restructuring, we shouldn’t forget that a lot of Northerners are the ones facing the brunt of most the challenges facing the nation, whether in terms of insecurity, low schools’ attendance levels, or the almajiri system, banditry and insurgency”.

According to him, despite that, northerners are the ones who are at the receiving end of the numerous calls for restructuring, or secession, by some ethnic groups in the country, and others calling for a re-negotiation on how the country can stay together going forward.

He added that, “Although some elements in the region appear to be scared of the restructuring debate, I don’t belong to such groups because I completely support the issue of restructuring”.

He explained further, “As a Northerner and a Nigerian, what we haven’t managed to break down is that there are many different types of restructuring; firstly, at the forefront is political restructuring, and the point to ask is: what would the North want to restructure in any political agreement? Do we want to go back to the era whereby we had the Sardauna of Sokoto as Premier of the northern region, Awolowo for the  West and Zik for the East?

Carpenter further queried: “Or do we want an era whereby we vote for one individual as the President at the top,  or rather, we want to totally divide ourselves politically?”

He posited that in terms of political restructuring “what many people don’t seem to grasp is that our politicians, even from the local government chairman, are neither conversant with their powers nor the country’s statutes in terms of their autonomy, or they don’t exercise it”.

To buttress his point, the broadcaster cited an example of some local government chairmen, during the country’s military era whereby, according to him, “they were allocating lands in their areas and arbitrarily issuing Certificate of Occupants, (C-of-Os) for people. Today, the typical local government chairman sits in his office and waits for a pittance from the government on what belongs in his domain and therefore, doesn’t in reality exercise any power from his office”.

He added that “most of these local government chairmen refuse to be creative, whether in terms of sourcing for revenue, either locally or foreign”, adding that “all these are things to consider about political restructuring, in our minds and on paper”.

On economic restructuring, he said, “Recently, there was a food blockade by some elements in the North, who farm their produce, rear their livestock; they didn’t opt for any gold blockade from Zamfara State for instance,  but only lamented that for each of their trailer vehicles that cross the River Niger en route the South they are getting ten corpses in return, and therefore held some parts of the country to ransom and demanded for some level of security assurance and some compensation from the government. So, at the end of the day, the question is: does economic restructuring going to entail the regions or States taking partial or full control of the resources in their domains and only collaborate economically? These are some of the issues that we should sit down and critically examine”.

He also posited that, “We also have ethnic restructuring, where many Nigerians are focussing on the three dominant ethnic groups of Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba, as against the other so-called minority tribes in the country; to me, a proper economic restructuring would mean each and every ethnic group should be given the right to determine where they want to belong in any future Nigeria”.

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