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Chief Edwin Clark, elder-statesman and former Federal Commissioner of Information is a delegate to the on- going National Conference in Abuja. He projects the agenda of the South-South in this interveiw
By Levinus Nwabughiogu
What should Nigerians expect from South-South delegates at the conference?
South South is part of the whole country and the members who are delegates will discuss the President’s address. That is what everybody is going to discuss. The debate of the President’s address may take up to ten days because it was a very, very good address. He wished us so many things and that is one of Mr. President’s best speeches. So, there will be a lot of things for us to discuss.
In discussing the address, will all what he projected in the address be adopted?
No, no. Everybody will be on his own. That’s the debate. We are not going to pass a general resolution on it. Everybody will debate it and then after, anybody can talk about any other thing. Additional agenda may come out Mr. President’s address.
Do you foresee a situation where the conference might run into problems as a result of disagreements on some issues by some members?
Well, well, that’s why we are here. We are here to discuss, disagree and agree. That’s it. If we are not going to disagree on issues, then, there will be no need for the conference. It is for people to disagree and agree, not satisfied with so many things happening in the country. That’s why people called for the national dialogue. The 492 delegates are there. Everybody has his own view. So, we are bound to disagree. But we are also bound to agree. At the end of it all, it will be very successful.
What issues will the South-South delegation place on the table of discussion at the conference?
The South-South believes in a true federation. When we talk about true federation, it is not a new thing. Late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the Saduana of Sokoto practiced true federalism. The situation then was that the three federating units of the federation at that time each kept 50 percent of whatever that was available in his own region and the remaining 50 percent was shared between the federal government and the regions. So, within true federalism, you have fiscal federalism and each region was bound to move at its own pace.
That was the federation our founding fathers practiced. And this was the situation until 1956. The 1960 constitution which is the Independence Constitution and the constitution of 1963 said it all. So, what we Nigerians are saying is, let’s have true federalism.
When we have that every other thing will fall in place. You remember it was the Army that came into power in 1966 that changed the equation when they brought in the command administration where the man at the top controls the man at the bottom and that was why true federalism gave way to unitary form of government or semi federalism which is not good now.
Every Nigerian believes that they want to feel the government they belong to. And it will reduce corruption because if the regions or states are competing among themselves, there will be no basis for corruption.
What happens to the clamour for resources control?
We are not gonna talk about resources control. We are talking about true federalism. So, that is the position.
Interview read in the Vanguard