- Rasheed Makinde, a lawmaker at the Lagos state House of Assembly, categorises southeast as the second best zone in Nigeria
- Makinde says the region is far better than the north which is riddled with poverty
- The lawmaker however kicks against the agitation for a Biafran republic as he urges the region is not marginalised
Hon Rasheed Makinde, the chairman of the special duties committee of the Lagos state House of Assembly reveals in this interview with selected journalists, why the southeast should not be allowed to break away from Nigeria. The lawmaker, who represents Ifako/Ijaiye constituency 2, also rates the region as second best zone in the country while the north is the most backward region
Let us hear your thought on the agitation by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the insistence of the government that they must remain as Nigerians.
The agitation of the easterners to break away from Nigeria is uncalled for. What is happening in Nigeria is not peculiar to a particular state, region or religion, it is all over. If you check your statistics, you would see that the southeasterners are spread all over the country. If they are calling for secession, I don't know what they want to achieve. It means all their people would have to relocate to their states, will those there accept them?
By nature, the Igbos are entrepreneurs. You would find them everywhere. I don't really know the cause of their agitation for secession because since the enthronement of this democracy, the Igbos had been the most beneficial. At least, they have produced more senate presidents than other regions. You have Evans Enwerem, Anyim Pius Anyim, Chuba Okadigbo and Ken Nnamani. Today, they have the deputy Senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, and they have others serving in this government. Maybe when they come out with the reason they want to go, we might agree with them.
However, by saying they should not go, we are giving them undue recognition. We should allow them to go and give them just six months; they will want to come back to Nigeria.
Our problem in Nigeria is that only a few people are sharing our resources. The most backward region in Nigeria are the northerners. The easterners are still better off; I will rank them second among the six geo-political zones in Nigeria coming after whoever we say comes first in terms of welfare. I mean standard of living, development and their placement.
Don’t you support the call on the government to dialogue with IPOB instead of the Operation Python Dance introduced by the Nigerian army?
Operation Python Dance is really strategic to calm down the agitation in the zone. We Nigerians enjoy the civilian government. If it were to be under the military, they would have run away because you cannot dare them. That would have resorted to casualties. The government could not fold its arms and allow IPOB have a field day; it would find a way to destabilise them and their organization. If the Igbos really want to go on their own, it should be in a civilised way. What Nigeria signed is to be together for 100 years and we have surpassed that. So, they should be civilised if they want to go.
We have tried to organise a constitutional conference in 2014. Should this government review it or organise another one to sort out some of these issues?
The constitutional conference is for us to have a better basis for issues in the country. A sovereign national conference is not a law. It is just an avenue for memoranda, it is not binding. All the ones we have been having could be basis for the present government. What we need is economic restructuring. We should dwell more on our economy rather than politics. If this government could work more on economy and agriculture, Nigeria would be better for it.
The steps the government is taking now by linking the country together through rail lines is commendable. If we are well linked, it would ease mobility. People can live in Abia state and work in Lagos. It would not take them more than two or three hours to get here from there. This would open up a lot of opportunities across the country. If the easterners could take advantage of their fertile land and dwell more on that, it would be better. If their people are gainfully employed, they would not be interested in a revolution. Sovereign national conference is just advisory. All of us know our problems, only that we are good in theory and not practical in this country.
With your position, the issue of economy comes to mind. What should we be doing differently if any?
I cannot talk more on what is happening at the national level, those at that level can talk on that. The major issue is that we have a lot of saboteurs, but this is being handled by the current government. You would see that electricity has improved and fuel scarcity is out of our memory now. What we are really battling with is a global phenomenon in the form of recession, but Nigeria is getting out of it. I think more powers should be given to the states so that individual states can empower their people. The Lagos government is really performing. We have enabling laws and our executive arm is doing its best. In Lagos, we work more and talk less.
People believe that the state assemblies tilt towards the executive since they are mostly in the same party…
I would tow your line if you say that because the manifestos of the party are the same and that is what we are following. If we are following this, there is no room for unnecessary rancour.
Former governor Babatunde Fashola once said that the state government was working on the master plan. How did the state derail from it? What are they doing to restore it?
The worst civilian government is better than the best military government. In 1980 when Alhaji Lateef Jakande was the governor, they had a 30-year master plan among which was the metro line that cuts across the state. At that time, he identified 15 areas that covered all the spheres of life. But unfortunately, when the military came in, all these were jettisoned and the plans were affected.
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In 1999, when Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu became the governor of the state, he thought of what to do to restore the master plan. Then we started having component plans instead of master plan. This varies from one local government to another, then Badagry and others had master plans. This current government has Ikorodu masterplan, Oshodi/Isolo masterplan and Epe Model plan. All these can now form a composite plan, which we can now call a regional plan.
NAIJ.com earlier reported how a former minister, Femi Fani Kayode, warned the north against sending Igbo people in the region away saying such an action would have grave consequences.
Watch this exclusive interview with Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra: