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Restructuring cannot be done without the north's support – By Hausa/Fulani Mallam Tanko Yakassai


Tanko Yakassai has said that the north cannot be afraid about the call for the restructuring of the country as it cannot happen except the region gives its support. In an interview with Vanguard, the elder statesman said there was no need for the region to panic as it still has the upper hand when it comes to decision making.

He said: “Northern leaders are not afraid because you cannot restructure Nigeria without the participation of the North. You cannot change Nigeria democratically without going through the process as defined in the Constitution and this is the support of two-third of members of the National Assembly, a two-third majority of State Assemblies. I assure you that without the support of the Northwest and Northeast, who if put together boast of 13 states, you cannot have the two-third majority to scale through. 

“Any northerner, who is aware of the strategic position of the region would not be afraid of any constitutional changes because he knows that it (restructure) cannot happen without his consent. For him to give his consent, he must know how the future looks like to him; so the argument is that those who are agitating for restructuring should please put in black and white how Nigeria would look like. 

“If you look at the arguments in the North, nobody came out openly and said he is opposed to the slogan, what we are saying is to make it bare for us to assess and evaluate what you are talking about. It is wrong for anyone to say that we are afraid. From your analysis, it is evident that the federating units are not comfortable with the present structure.” On the call by Atiku Abubakar and Badamasi Babangida for the restructuring of the country, Yakassai said: “Despite the position the two personalities held in Nigeria, you are talking about individuals. IBB ruled for eight years as Military President, while Atiku served as civilian Vice President for eight years. 

“When they both threw their support for the new slogan, I celebrated that for the first time because of the strategic position they held in the past, they would come up with a clear definition of what we don’t know about restructuring. IBB granted an interview, and Atiku delivered lectures, and the point they harped on was almost identical but what is interesting is that I can understand IBB’s position because he was a military President, not an elected president, but for a man like my brother, Atiku… 

“I thought as a politician that he is, that he should have read our Constitution. He said you could restructure in six months. What are the details? That the budgetary provision for Federal Ministry of Works should be transferred to the states, and the same for Federal Ministry of Education and so on. He argued that these could be done within six months. “First, we already have a budget approved by the National Assembly as empowered by the constitution. 

How can we take the fund by the National Assembly for the Federal Government and now transfer them without the consent of the National Assembly? How do we do that? The money approved by the National Assembly was for federal ministries with their heads and sub heads cited in the Act. How do we achieve all these without recourse to the Constitution? 

“I wonder how Atiku wants to achieve these. If you are going to change a comma in the Constitution, I know you have to go through the normal process. It means you want to amend the constitution and it must go through established protocol to avoid chaos. I am wondering how we can transfer an item slated for the exclusive list either to the concurrent or to the residual without going through a constitutional amendment. “I am not a lawyer; I hope that as time goes on, Atiku will give further insight on how we are going to do the transfer.” 

In an interview with Vanguard, Yakassai revealed that the south-west has been trying to dominate the rest of Nigeria for a long time. The elder statesman said the motion for independence moved by Anthony Enahoro in 1953 was because he knew the north would be at a disadvantage because it had only one graduate. 

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