Foremost Ijaw leader and erstwhile Federal Information Commissioner, Chief Edwin Clark, has, warned that Niger Delta would not experience peace until Nigeria is restructured.
Clark who explained that restructuring he had in mind was not about balkanisation of the country but a re-introduction of true federalism, which was practised in the First Republic (1964-1966) when there was devolution of powers to the regions.
“The first guideline was that everybody in Nigeria is equal with equal opportunity. The second is that the states should develop at their own pace”, he told Punch.
“That’s why the West was able to develop at its own pace by introducing free primary education, establishing a television station, building universities and industrial estates and magnificent structures like the Cocoa House with money realised from the importation of cocoa beans.
“The Northern Region did the same thing, but their leaders could not introduce free primary education.
“They also developed the region through groundnut pyramids. The Eastern Region did the same thing; that was how they were able to build the University of Nsukka. They also built Independent Hotel in Enugu and Port Harcourt (Rivers).”
Asked if Nigeria needs more states or some states should be scrapped, the elder statesman said, “in Nigeria at the moment, there are certain areas that deserve their states in order to have peace in this country.
“For instance, Southern Kaduna should have a state to protect the interest of the minority.
“Southern Borno needs a state. Some states need to be created for the country to have a balance. At the conference, we agreed that no matter how small, states should be created like the ones I mentioned earlier. If states are created, it doesn’t mean that every state has to be equal. They will look for a means to survive.
“At the conference, we recommended the creation of an additional 18 states in the minority areas. The idea of scrapping a state doesn’t arise. A state that cannot survive will naturally die or merge with another state.”