A delegate to the ongoing National Conference from Sokoto State and a lecturer at the Usmanu Danfodio University, Prof. Sambo Junaidu, has said that the North was not against resource control by states but wanted true federalism that would enable the federal government exploit mineral resources in all the states of the federation.
Similarly, Prof. Sambo Wali, a delegate to the ongoing National Conference, has said the conference is not only desirable, but also timely.
"The conference is a welcome development to all well meaning and patriotic Nigerians who have the interest of the nation at heart," he said.
Addressing a news conference on Sunday in Sokoto, Wali who also said that it would allow Nigerians to express themselves freely, agreed that: "The conference is a forum to discuss the diverse views and feelings of the citizens about the country which has existed for over a century as a single indivisible entity.
Speaking during an interview in Sokoto yesterday, Junaidu emphasised that the North was in support of true federalism rather than the kind of unitary system currently being practiced in the country.
According to him, if all the states must control their resources, then the federal government should explore the mineral resources available in other states before resource ownership would be instituted in the federation.
"We do not mind resource control or resource ownership, but on the condition that other resources in all the states of the federation must be developed before the idea of resource control is instituted as a system within the federation.
"At least here in Sokoto State, we have oil just like it had been discovered in Niger Republic and we are neighbours. I think whatever happens in Niger Republic must also happen to Sokoto. Some states have gold, iron and other valuable mineral resources.
"So, let the federal government conduct an extensive research and explore the mineral resources in all the states of the federation and when that is done, then each state can control its resources, but work together as a federating unit,” he said.
Junaidu, who is in the conference as an elder statesman, noted that most states in the country are blessed with abundant mineral resources, which should be exploited for the benefit of the citizens.
The university don affirmed that the North was desirous of a united Nigeria and not after the disintegration of the country.
"I don't believe that the disintegration of Nigeria would be interesting to any of us. We are witnesses to what is happening in the Central African Republic, Iraq, Libya and Ukraine, especially in Crimea region.
"I think we should take a cue from that and try not to disintegrate but to cement the oneness of Nigeria and also remain a united country for generations yet unborn,” Junaidu stated.
Junaidu dispelled insinuations that delegates were at the conference to do the bidding of the federal government, maintaining that as an elder statesman, he was determined to present his views in the best interest of the nation.
He suggested that whatever resolutions reached at the conference should be ratified by the National Assembly who are representatives of the people, saying this would ensure that the views of the people count at the end of the day.
“We have more to gain collectively from it and bequeath a formidable nation to generations yet unborn,’’ Wali said.
He suggested that the resolutions of the conference should be submitted to the National Assembly for ratification. "The National Assembly members were democratically elected, while we were selected, though on merit,” he said.
He said there was the need for peace and unity in the country for meaningful socio-economic development, stressing, “Without peace, there can be no any meaningful socio-economic development in any society.
“Without peace, you cannot do anything, even practicing your chosen religion," he stressed.
Wali appealed to the federal government to allocate adequate funds for exploration and exploitation of the abundant solid mineral and natural resources across the country.