The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku and Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Sunday said a restructured Nigeria would engender the even development the Nigerians have been clamouring for.
The duo also said it would combat the effects of climate change.
They observed that Nigeria attained rapid development post-independence, under a regional system of government.
They and other eminent Nigerians, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, UN, Ms Amina Mohammed and a former President of Mauritius, Prof Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, spoke at the 6th Olusegun Agagu Memorial Lecture, which took place in Lagos.
They tasked African governments on the need to safeguard the continent’s future against the looming danger of climate change and high population.
Others at the lecture include former Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos, Professor Oye Ibidapo-Obe, Commissioner for Science and Technology in Ondo State and late Agagu’s younger brother, Femi Agagu; Mrs Bola Obasanjo, wife of former President Obasanjo; former Governor Gbenga Daniel, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, Admiral Akin Aduwo, Senator Ben Bruce, South West PDP Chairman, Dr Eddy Olafeso; Ondo State Deputy Governor, Mr. Agboola Ajayi; one-time Lagos State Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Wale Edun, among others.
Addressing the theme: ‘Climate Change and the Problem of Population Migration in Africa,’ they identified a nexus between climate change and the recurring herdsmen/farmers clash in the continent.
Mr Anyaoku, who was the chairman of the occasion, in his welcome address, described the crisis of climate change as a daunting one which the world must face head on, pointing out that Nigeria was already witnessing population movement occasioned by its occurrence.
He joined Mr Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by his deputy, Mr Olufemi Hamzat, in urging the government to consider restructuring the country in a way that makes it more efficient.
Mr Anyaoku noted, for instance, that the late Premier Chief Obafemi Awolowo, devoted “26 percent” of the old Western Region’s budget to education.
He said this and other prioritisation of resources allowed the region to record firsts, such as having a television service before France.
Mr Sanwo-Olu also observed that Lagos, being largely three metres above sea level, was in the eye of the climate change storm.
Responding to a question on better allocation for education, he said merely jerking up the national budget for critical sectors of the economy alone would not solve the problem.
“The reality is, if you give 100 percent of Nigeria’s budget to education, it is not enough. The budget of Lagos State is $3billion. New York City Metropolitan Transport Authority for Transportation is $26billion. The budget of the State of Massachusetts is $48billion, 9 million people. Nigeria 200million people. So, the issue is serious, if we don’t go back (to restructuring), we did it before.
“We had television before France in this country, so, we’ve done it, but we did it then as a region, where everyone used their advantages. But we cancelled that, so, it’s a joke. Until we go back, that’s the truth, until we go back to everybody getting his own advantage. For instance, the port is in Lagos, all the transportation troubles affect Lagos, but we don’t have any control.
“Until we go back and restructure our country, make sure that each region, and everybody will do well. In this country, every state has land to grow rice, every country, all the 36 states. 22 states have land to grow cocoa, so what is the problem? 13 states in the north can grow gum arabica that is enough to supply the whole world. But, we decided to leave all of this,”
Addressing via video stream, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was away on an assignment outside the country, eulogised the attributes of late Agagu, asserting that the world was witnessing an immense danger of climate change with its attendant consequences.
According to him, Africa nations were not left out of the effect, which he said had manifested variously in situation where Lake Chad now produce just five per cent of water it generated years back, among others even though the continent had contributed very little to what caused climate change.
Mr Obasanjo, however, noted that education and job creation should be prioritised to check the high rate of population in the continent.