From ABDUL-AZEEZ AHMED KADIR, Kaduna
FORMER Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon has called on the National Assembly not to create more states, saying that none of the present states in the Federation is viable.
General Gowon, who was speaking in Kaduna at a two-day conference on “North and Strategies for Sustainable Development” organized by the Centre for Historical Documentation and Research, Ahmadu Bello University, observed that creating more states may result to serious problem in the country.
Gowon who was the chairman of the event also appealed to leaders of the North to unite with a view to halting incessant crises in the region.
He said that with the exception of Lagos, no state in Nigeria can stand on its own in terms of viability, stressing that creating more states would mean more problems for the country as a whole.
On the unity of the North and the incessant crises, Gowon who was represented by Alhaji Aliko Muhammed, Chairman Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) said “unless we come together as a united north, we would continue to have problem.”
Earlier, the Vice Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Professor Abdulahi Mustapha who was represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor Administration, Professor Nai’ya Sada said the conference would come up with strategies to move the north forward.
Kaduna State Governor, Sir Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa who spoke at the event said having understood the concept of the conference; the central message is how the North as an entity could respond to challenges in the circumstances it now found itself.
He said the aim of the conference was not only on how to respond to the challenges facing the North today.
“The search for sustainable development is more comprehensive and better achieved in an atmosphere of democracy and by democrats. Sustainable development is the bedrock for consolidating our democratic enterprise in an atmosphere of freedom and in appreciating our diversity as a people in a nation.
“As people’s servants elected with responsibilities that are accountable before man and God, we are committed to work assiduously to ensure that sound democratic principles are upheld in the country,” Yakowa pledged.
He said credit should be given to Nigerians and to God that Nigeria still remains a country, albeit beleaguered by towering insecurity challenges.
“In this difficult time, we must work assiduously to adequately address the tolerance level among our people, if we must succeed collectively.
Nigeria, as a multicultural and multilingual nation of diverse people, with more than 250 distinct languages and ethnic groups, cannot continue to behave as a group of irreconcilable religious and ethnic nationalities, contrary to the ‘One North One People’ bequeathed to us by no other than the late Sardauna, Ahmadu Bello,” he stressed.
“The North has been a catalyst for unity, stability and development of the country. The country has been relying for direction from the North. History has shown that the unity and strength of the North, with a collective sense of purpose and focus has been the bastion for the unity and strength of Nigeria. We must do everything to sustain this responsibility bestowed on us,” Yakowa declared.
The outcome of the conference, according to the governor, would reinforce this fact of history.
He said as leaders, “we are working tirelessly to strengthen the country by building on the solid structures laid by the past leaders, including as Herbert Macaulay, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Michael Okpara and Chief Anthony Enahoro among others.
Yakowa also said that Nigerians should stop encouraging religious and ethnic intolerance, but should “work hard to change the mindset of average Nigerian and guide it into positive channels.
Those who attended the conference include immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Dahiru Mustapha, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former Governor of Kano State Malam Ibrahim Shekarau among others.
From ABDUL-AZEEZ AHMED KADIR, Kaduna