Buhari Must Listen to Biafra Agitators – Sen. Mamorah
What is your take on the renewed agitation for the State of Biafra?
Well, again, it is an issue we cannot afford because it is a detraction to governance. We cannot afford it. I am not comfortable with it to answer your question. We have to approach it with the high sense of diplomacy. And we must also appreciate that these people are still our brothers and sisters. They are Nigerians. They may not do what they are doing in a right manner, but they want to be heard. So, we should listen to them and hear them out.!
Yes, I may not agree with the process, particularly a process that is violence-based. But, in democracy, we must listen to people, moreso when they are not violent. That was why I said I don’t agree with the violence that has been introduced into it. But they are Nigerians who are seeking to be heard, may be in a wrong way. Having said that, we must listen to them, we must hear them out. What do they want? How do we assuage their feelings? Do they feel marginalized in the commonwealth of Nigeria? Well, rightly or wrongly, we need to listen to them. We need to find a way of assuaging their feelings and find a way to let them have a sense of belonging within that commonwealth of Nigeria. And I believe that once they are assured and given a sense of belonging, the situation would change and we will live together happily thereafter.
Do you think implementation of the recommendations of the recently held National Conference could have prevented the agitation?
Yes, I said that before even though I was one of those who were opposed to the confab. It was not the concept or the idea of the confab I was opposed to then. But I was opposed to it for a number of reasons then. One, the time was wrong. It was at the twilight of the Jonathan administration. Two, it was political. It was just like dangling a carrot especially to the south-west which has always been in the forefront of the struggle for emancipation, the struggle for federalism and all that with due respect to other zones of the country. It was a way to capture votes in the south-west. Three, there was no enabling Act backing it. It was just a presidential pronouncement which cannot amount to law. Four, we had it before under Obasanjo. What came out of it? Nothing. Five, the period assigned for the exercise, three month and again another month or so, could not be enough to really discuss in a robust manner, the problems of this country. Seven, the manner the delegates were virtually and mostly handpicked by the government.
Those were the grounds for my own personal objection or disapproval of that conference then. It is not that one is opposed to sitting down to discuss the national question. The Yoruba have this saying that, “when we sit down together, we get wiser.”
But in spite of my reservation on the confab which I have expressed, I still believe that some of the resolutions emanating from that confab are useful to us. I believe that we should not throw away the baby with the bath water.
So, back to your question. I believe that if some of the resolutions are implemented, they would go a long way in correcting the perceived imbalance and injustice in the country. Of course, one of the recommendations is the issue of federalism. That is allowing the geo-political zones to be in charge of certain affairs on their own. And of course, to a large extent, some political zones are made up of some states as well which should be allowed to develop at their own pace. And that the geo-political zones should be established formally to be in the Constitution. For now they are just conventional. They should be recognized and formally accepted in the Constitution.
Another recommendation which I think this administration should look into is the issue of the State Police as well as the issue of devolution of power. Too much power concentrates in the hand of the Federal Government. Looking at the Executive and Legislative lists, we need to take some things from the Executive list to the states. Like I said, there are some of these recommendations that if implemented will go a long way in restructuring the country to give states and geo-political zones a sense of belonging that would go a long way to ensure a balance structure of the federation.
Culled from Interview with the Sunday Sun