The agitation for the restructuring of Nigeria was re-echoed in Jos on Thursday with the British government expressing optimism that it would be a major determinant in the 2019 general elections.
The British government also said it would not support anything that could disintegrate Nigeria, including the agitation for succession being canvassed by the Indigenous People of Biafra led by Nnamdi Kanu.
Britain said it was seriously interested in the credibility of the electoral process that would produce credible political leaders in Nigeria in the 2019 general elections.
The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, said this when he visited the management team of Jay 101.9 FM in Jos.
Already, the British government said it would also contribute its quota in training the officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission for service delivery and effective discharge of their duties in the electoral process.
Arkwright said, “We are in favour of a united Nigeria; we do not support IPOB, we do not support secessionists. Equally, they have a right to be heard because the constitution provides for freedom of expression, even as restructuring is going to be a major factor in the 2019 elections. Although I do not know how exactly the restructuring will look like, I am sure that it is going to be a major determinant in the 2019 elections.”
The envoy said that aside from deploying its citizens as election observers during the 2019 elections, his country intends to see to the improvement in the use of electronic card reader machines above what it was in the past (2015) elections.
Arkwright also said his home country would encourage the National Assembly in Nigeria to back the use of the card reader with appropriate legislation.
He said he was in Plateau State to explore business opportunities in the state and appraise the security situation in the state.
Speaking on security, Arkwright said the focus of UK military support for Nigeria had been in the North-East in the fight against Boko Haram, especially in training the Nigerian troops and intelligence gathering.
He said UK was considering business in mining and agriculture in the state, processing, packaging and transport.
The envoy said he had fruitful deliberations with the Plateau State’s commissioners for Commerce and Agriculture in that respect.
Meanwhile, a former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Mustapha Akanbi (retd.); the Speaker, Kwara State House of Assembly, Dr. Ali Ahmad and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mallam Yusuf Ali, on Thursday supported the growing agitation for the nation’s restructuring.
They stated that restructuring of the country along equity, devolution of power and more statutory allocation to state and local governments would move the country forward.
They spoke at the 10th Honourable Justice M.M.A. Akanbi Faculty of Law, University of Ilorin annual lecture in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.
Akanbi, who is a former Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, noted that the country had passed through the creation of four regions, 12 states, 19 states and the current 36 states. He noted that good governance and fight against corruption as well as patriotism were essential for national growth and development.
Ahmad said he was in support of restructuring if it meant alleviating poverty, good governance and devolution of powers.
He, however, rejected the creation of more states and local governments.
Ali, who was the guest lecturer, said Nigeria should be restructured.
Speaking on ‘To restructure or not to restructure: The new swan song of the Nigerian elite,’ he identified reasons for agitation for restructuring to include, imbalances in the federal structure, imposition of the constitution, over centralisation of power and authority; and economic hardship and poverty in the country.