Former Edo State governor, Adams Oshiomhole, said on Wednesday that politicians who lost the 2015 general elections were sponsoring the current agitation for restructuring of the country, insisting that Nigeria’s unity is not negotiable.
Oshiomhole, who spoke at a one day Colloquium organised by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) with the theme: “The Labour Movement and the Future of United Nigeria: What Role for Restructuring,” also advocated the review of the allocation formula to favour state and local governments.
He said the provision has not been reviewed for the past 18 years in contravention of the law.
The ex-governor’s position on restructuring drew the anger of some of those present at the event who shouted “no, no!” for over five minutes until the intervention of NLC president, Ayuba Wabba.
Oshiomhole, who blamed those that lost out of the 2015 general elections for fueling the agitation for restructuring, argued that most of the wealth worked for by the working class had been annexed by few political elites.
While calling for attitudinal change and values, the All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain noted that the current federal system in terms of structure and revenue sharing formular cannot lead to even development.”
Despite opposition to his view, an unrepentant Oshiomhole told the gathering that “I am not here to do anybody’s job. I just want to share my thoughts with you. And I will be surprised if any one of you will agree with what I want to say. I want to plead with you, allow me to state my position; then you can disagree.
“That is the tradition of organised labour. And of course, if there are some people who have other issues, I just want to plead with you that what is at stake; is not me. What is at stake is our country. And the country is yours. The country is mine. The country is ours.”
“I believe in the unity of Nigeria. I have said, and I am not saying it for the first time, the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable. Just like the unity of the NLC is not negotiable. But, the governance of our country, the quality of leadership, we must continue to review it and continue to engage it.
“I said to you when I was president of the NLC, and I repeated it when I was governor, that we need active citizenry; citizens that can interrogate their leaders. With some of these revelations, I am sure nobody is disturbed.
“If we all continue to lament, I think this is the area, we have to say something. Every person is capable of doing good and also capable of doing bad. From what we have seen in America, when institutions are strong and people are active, people are ready to come out, not sponsored by political opponents, but sponsored by your own conscience and we have robust engagement. I believe things will change.
“I ask us to recognise that no structure will be permanent, or will be perfect. We will have to do devolution of power, we must also do review of our attitudes, our characters and joining forces to fight corruption because what has been taken from a few will not be available for the rest. I do hope that NLC has started this today, you will sustain it.”
The former governor also drew attention to the activities of the former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke, insisting that an active citizenry would checkmate corruption and profligacy in the system.