A former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (retd), has thrown his weight behind calls for restructuring, provided it would be done within the context of One Nigeria.
According to him, there is nothing wrong with restructuring the country.
Gowon stated this when the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Shehu Sani, paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja.
He recalled how the nation was restructured while he was the head of state in 1967 with the creation of states.
He said: “We can restructure within one Nigeria context. I did it in 1967; we created states to stop eastern Nigeria from seceding. We had to do something to ensure the fear of their seceding did not exist; a serious issue of a part of the country wanting to breakaway when we already lost a part to Cameroon.
“If we had allowed the eastern region to go away, the map of Nigeria would have looked funny; it would have been tilted one way. So, we decided overnight to break the fear through the creation of states. If we had to save the country, that was the only way to do it. We also ensured that no state was too big or too small to threaten the unity of the country.”
Going down memory lane, General Gowon (rtd) said he became the head of state by accident. “What happened was the accident of history. When you have lost your leadership and there was crisis and you don’t know what to do and it happened that those within your constituency chose you, what would you do?
“I was lucky enough within the military at that time and all the officers knew me by reputation. I had no intention to become head of state but it is the opportunity, if opportunity presents itself and people ask you to do it then do it.
“What I have achieved is God. I had never thought of becoming head of state but there was a coup and all my senior colleagues were killed and I was the only one that survived.
“My plan was to rise in my profession and hopefully become a head in my profession but that did not happen. I didn’t know what happened but I had the duty and responsibility to ensure the coup in Lagos did not succeed.”
The former Nigerian leader however counselled young Nigerians to ensure that they are prepared academically and morally so that they take advantage of opportunities when they come knocking.
By Timothy Enietan-Matthews
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