Former Secretary-General, Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, on Tuesday, lamented what the military did to Nigeria’s federalism in 1966.
He expressed concerns over the current state of governance in Nigeria, demanding that the country reverts to the practice of true federalism.
Anyaoku spoke at the formal launch of an autobiography in commemoration of the 90th birthday anniversary of Chief Adebanjo, titled, “Telling It As It Is”, held in Lagos.
He pointed out that the military truncated federalism, stressing that the nation was doing well when it practised true federalism under the four regions, North, East, West and Mid-western regions.
The former Commonwealth scribe said, “In the Western region then, Awolowo introduced free education and free health, while the Eastern part, late Michael Okpara revolutionalised the agricultural system and that under the leadership of Ahmadu Bello in the North, the groundnut pyramid held sway.”
He added, “Adebanjo can be described as a symbol of success for the Nigerian Project. He is indeed very passionate about this country. He is indeed very passionate that our country should do well. He often recalls the yesteryears of our country, when the country was doing well.
“It was a structure that gave each region to develop at its own pace. It was a structure that made citizens of those regions feel proud to belong to the bigger Nigeria. Unfortunately, we had lost that basic structure of governance.
“When we think of the progress we were making in those days, when you look at achievements that were truly first in nature in the South West, when Chief Obafemi Awolowo was there; the universal primary education that he introduced, the first television services in Nigeria and indeed in Africa, and the sage’s management of resources of Western Region.
“We cannot but say that those were days of healthy competition, because, in the Eastern Region, Obafemi Awolowo ‘s counterpart,
Michael Okpara was also focusing on the development of his region. The agricultural development in Eastern Nigeria was very significant.
“In Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello was also learning from the experiences of his colleagues in the Western Region, the Eastern Region and the Middle West.
“Those were days you could talk about the famous groundnut pyramid in northern Nigeria or talk about the vast plantations of cotton that Nigeria was producing. You could also talk about the high-quality hide and skin that was being marketed abroad, then.
“I used the word disfigured because I do not believe that there is any country in the world that has the kind of diversity that Nigeria has, diversity of peoples who have lived for centuries in their geographical areas, who have their distinct diverse culture and traditions, where such people can live under a unitary government.”