Henry Seriake Dickso, the governor of Bayalsa State spoke on a number of national issues, including the failure of the Federal Government to address the calls for the restructuring of the country.
My politics is informed by the fundamental interest of my people. I am not a politician of convenience whose positions change according to weather. I am a politician of conviction. I have been part of the struggles of my people. Whereas I believe that this struggle should be pursued, through non-violent and political means, I believe these issues should be raised from time to time. And, therefore, my views on restructuring are very well known. I believe that, if we want a balanced, stable and united Nigeria that will stand the test of time, we have no option than to review the structure of the country.
We have to build consensus, put our cards on the table, our fears as well as the complaints and then find a way around them. The attitude of the Federal Government and the President to the issue of restructuring is something I disagree with. I stand with my people. And, I am in politics not for myself, but for my people. This country has to have a meeting and discuss how we can make Nigeria more stable, prosperous, and therefore, a Nigeria that can last. Those of us talking about restructuring are the true lovers of this country.
There are those who feel they have advantages, they want to protect, so they want the status quo maintained. In that case, you are either talking of an individual that has interest or you are talking of regional interest or ethnic interest. You are not talking of the Nigerian interest. Agitations are normal; so all this heck about agitations from the South-South, South-East, I do not understand. Every country is an artificial creation. Up till now, our colonial masters are still dealing with the issues of restructuring, devolution of powers to Scotland to Wales, to Northern Ireland. Only last year, the Scottish had a referendum on whether they should be an independent nation or not. Heavens did not fall. Nigeria’s unity is desirable, but do not tell me it is not negotiable.
We want to be in a big, prosperous and strong country. But, we have to stop this issue of people agitating and dying and running away and creating unnecessary tension in the country. That is inimical to the growth of the Nigeria we love. So, when we say restructuring in Bayelsa, in the Ijaw nation, in the Niger Delta, we mean that we sit with our brothers and sisters to discuss issues of how we control our resources, what kind of federation do we run? This is a unitary state and that is why you have all these conflicts.
We want to be in a truly federal Nigeria and so the Federal Government should discuss the modalities of organizing, not a talk shop, but I have said there should be a multi-party or a bi-partisan committee, made up of officials of the Federal Government, the National Assembly because, in the end, you are going to talk about constitutional review. All these talk about true federalism will end in the National Assembly. So, the leadership of the National Assembly, state governors, speakers representing the various state parliaments, the leadership of the major political parties and other selected interest groups will meet behind closed doors and agree on the issues we need to address now.
You do not need to address everything. Nation – building is work in progress. Americans have had how many constitutional amendments? And, they are proposing more, that is the kind of thing we need. Therefore, the buck stops at the table of Mr. President. He has to rise to the occasion and unify this country the more. The country is too divided. It has been left to drift for too long. The divisions are rather getting deeper and deeper by the day and that is not good for Nigeria. Whether you look at the issues of resource control or not, crude oil is running out. It will get to a point in the life of this country when we will sit down and ask ourselves, how do we form this federation and the component units? This is why my position will always be to support a call for a restructured and fair Nigeria.
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