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We’ve to be happy that we’re still together — Edwin Clark

An elder statesman and former minister of information, Chief Edwin Clark, said there is nothing to celebrate about Nigeria’s 59th independence anniversary.

Clark, who spoke with Daily Trust in a telephone interview yesterday, said many countries which got independence the same time with Nigeria were more advanced.

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He said though Nigeria remained one as a country, it was divided along religious, ethnic and other lines, adding that all hands must be on deck to end the challenges bedevilling the nation.

“We have to be happy that we are still together; we are alive. But with regards to the progress we have made so far, I can say that there is nothing to celebrate because we are lagging behind.

“Other countries that got independence at the same time with us are more advanced. We are the largest country in Africa, and there is no reason we should not advance.

“In the First Republic, we were making progress. There were three regions; the North, the West and the East. The three regions were working at their own pace. We had so much development going on in the country. There was no division.

“So, if today we restructure this country, I think we will be back to the 1963 situation where we had a federal system of government with fiscal federalism. So that is my position.

“Today, there is no much progress; the states are not developing. We have a situation where you have over 10 million out-of-school children. The federal government has taken over agriculture but they are not making any headway. They have taken over free primary and secondary education; these are jobs for state governments.

“So, as far as I am concerned, we are behind other countries. Today, we are the capital of poverty in the world; it’s a disgrace to us. But we thank God we are together though we are divided by religion and ethnicity. So, actually we have nothing to celebrate,” Clark said.

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