The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, has backed calls for Nigeria’s restructuring, stressing that the present arrangement would not allow states in Nigeria to develop at their own pace.
Speaking in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, at the public presentation of a biography and postscript titled, ‘Samuel Ladoke Akintola in the eyes of history’, which was written by Femi Kehinde, the monarch explained that the North was favoured in terms of revenue allocation because while more states and council areas were created in the region, the southern states had yet to enjoy similar opportunity.
He said, “The first time that the Federal Government would interfere in state affairs began when the government at the centre interfered in the feud between Akintola and (the late Chief Obafemi) Awolowo. The government, in support of Akintola, declared a state of emergency in the old Western Region, snowballing into a serious crisis.
“The army came and took sides during a coup that led to the death of Akintola. Aguiyi Ironsi that took over and abolished the regional system through decree 34 of 1960. He also scrapped the term Federal Republic and replaced it with Republic of Nigeria.
“The northerners felt that with the new system, the Emirs would no longer be able to operate within a republic like before. Their belief was that Ironsi came from a culture that opposed their belief. This led to a counter-coup of July 29, 1960. I am trying to tell you why we have to restructure Nigeria.
“(Gen. Yakubu) Gowon that came later returned the term Federal Republic of Nigeria but not the region. Lagos is about 20 million people going by the first census conducted and Kano was next. Within next 10 years, Kano was split into about 44 council areas but Lagos remains with 20 council areas.
“Jigawa State was created from Kano State and given 19 council areas. This means that the bulk of what Nigeria realises from oil goes to the North. If we are in a region, the government of that region can create council areas but because we depend on a monolithic manner of financing the states, we are in problem. Have they been able to publish the people who own the oil blocks in Nigeria?”
Alaafin, who said that the bulk of the owners of the oil blocks came from a certain area of the country, expressed displeasure that government had displayed insensitivity and unrealistic approach to the yearnings of the oil-producing area.
“They cannot fish or practise agriculture, so they have to agitate. The Oyo State Government cannot pay teachers and civil servants because what is coming to its coffers from the Federal Government is minimal. Our revenue has been taken over by the Federal Government. What the Federal Government collects in Value Added Tax in an area in Oyo State in one month is more than what it collects in Adamawa State in three months. Yet, the Federal Government takes all away,” the monarch said.
At the event were former governors of Oyo State, Dr. Omololu Olunloyo and Adebayo Alao-Akala, Justice Ladiran Akintola and the late Bola Ige’s daughter, Funso Adegbola. Dele Momodu delivered the lecture while the book was reviewed by former Governor Abiola Ajimobi’s special adviser on media and publicity, Dr. Festus Adedayo.