Professor Itse Sagay on derivation: A conflict between language and status By Aliyu U. Tilde

Onyeacholem tackles Fani-Kayode on his recent piece on Nigeria's troubles, saying he was part of those who dragged Nigeria into its current mess

Those who read Law in Nigerian universities know Professor Itse Sagay very well through his numerous textbooks especially on constitutional law. Personally, I have not come across an author on law like him. My thumps were always up whenever I read any of his books as a student of law.

I have had contact with him when I was writing a column on the back page of ThisDay way back in 2003. He was very delighted with my piece: Professor Sagay, Buy the Bride a Single Bed, whoch i wrote in reaction to his argument on a “double-decker” federalism. Though I was arguing for federalism on behalf of the North in that article, the respect I had for Professor Sagay had to guide my diction such that my rendition easily became exceptionally polite.

But like Dr. Tilde, Professor Sagay too is human. Even as one of the best brains that Nigeria ever produced, the Professor has recently been slipping down from the statesmanship and moderation which his intellectual position heavily demands from him to something less emulating to me. In the following passage, he was quoted speaking like when his student Dr. Tilde abandons caution in defence of the North or his Fulani herdsmen, or like Dokubo Asari in defence of a south-south 100% oil derivation. Listen to my esteemed Professor:

“I have been following the debate like others; unfortunately, those who speak on behalf of the Niger Delta on the issue have failed to hit the nail on the head. They should be bold enough to ask their northern colleagues, where does the nation’s revenue come from – instead of caressing the issue rather cautiously.

“The northern part of this country does not contribute anything to the national purse. If the area that produces the resources has just a token of 13 percent, the remaining 87 percent is free gift to the entire nation, particularly the North that has nothing to show for its existence. At the Political Reform Conference in 2005, we went to the Federal Ministry of Finance to get figures and facts about what each of the zones contributed to the commonwealth. What we saw was amazing; the North-West brings nothing, the same with the North-Central and North-East. The South-East and South-West brings minor but the South-South contributes 91 percent.

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