Ejikeme Omenazu and James Ibechi, Lagos
Prof. Jerry Gana,the former Minister of Information and National Integration, on Saturday took a hard look at the state of the nation and warned that the country is drifting to a failed nation.
Gana, guest speaker at the Middle Belt Cultural Festival in Lagos, lamented that the Federal Government had been unable to stop the killings in the North Central region, even as he insisted that only the restructuring of the federation would save the nation from anarchy and disintegration.
The cultural festival, organised by the Middle Belt Traditional Council (MBTC), South West, was held at the National Theatre, Iganmu, and attracted top personalities in public and private sector, as well as traditional institution in the Middle Belt and the South West geo-political zones.
The former minister, who said he supported the call for devolution of powers, maintained that the powers in the central government was so much, stressing that while defence should remain with the Federal Government, the states have the duty to protect the lives of the people.
He, therefore, renewed the call for state police, which he said would give the state governors power to control the police in their jurisdiction, adding that the current set up was not good in a true federation.
Gana called on the Federal Government and the National Assembly to revisit the 2014 National Conference report, saying that it provided solutions to major current problems facing the nation.
He also called for the restructuring of the country with the present states under the regions as administrative units, stressing that each region or state had enough resources, which if well exploited and managed, would take care of the areas, while each unit would pay takes to the central government.
He called on the Middle Belt to speak in one voice, even as he supported the recent call by the Lt. Gen. Theophillus Y. Danjuma, former Chief of Army Statff, that people should defend themselves, lamenting that the Military and the Police had failed in their duty to protect lives and properties as the herdsmen had been wreaking havoc in the North Central.
Gana also advised Nigerians to ensure that they elect good leaders as the nation prepares for the 2019 general elections, stressing that the crises in the nation was due to poor governance.
Chief Ochi Emmanuel Ode, MBTC Chairman, called for Middle Belt unity, stressing that the region has a lot of cultural heritage, which should not be allowed to die.
He called on Federal Government to do all it could to end the killings in the Middle Belt region, stressing that the herdsmen should not be allowed to continue destroying precious lives and properties unchecked.
The celebration, which included special awards to eminent Nigerians including Chief Francis Alochu Ikpobu, Founder of Alochu Foundation (represented by James Ibechi) and some state governors, also featured traditional dances from all the ethnic nationalities in the Middle Belt region.