Western Nigeria obtained independence from the British in 1957.
Similarly, Eastern Nigeria obtained independence in 1957.
While Northern Nigeria obtained independence in 1959.
It was the Federal government that obtained independence in 1960.
Those three regions operated like three different countries at the time – each with its own Constitution, foreign embassies, etc.
It was the military coup of 1966 led by Major Nzeogwu, (although it was General Aguiyi Ironsi who eventually became the Head of State) that led to this unitary system in which everything is now controlled from Abuja and the regions/states can no longer develop at their own pace.
Before then, while the Regions were still autonomous, we had Ministers (and NOT commissioners) in each of the Regions. The Western Nigeria Minister of Education, for instance, was NOT inferior to the Federal Minister of Education. The latter only had control over schools established by the Federal Government while the former had control over education in the West. The Federal Minister of Education could NOT summon the Western Nigeria Minister of Education to a meeting the way a Federal Minister today can summon state commissioners. No region was waiting for allocation from the federal govt. before being able to embark on its own projects. Salaries were NOT the same in the different Regions. Every region developed at its own pace, controlling its own resources and working within its own means. I remember at that time the Western Region was the highest paying in terms of civil servants’ salaries. Universities conducted their own entrance requirements individually and nobody could deny your son/daughter admission into University of Ife (for instance) in favour of a Northerner who only scored 7%. There was nothing like quota system or ‘Federal character’ in admission to any self-respecting university.
In case you don’t understand what people are saying when they’re talking about restructuring, that’s what they are saying. Restructure Nigeria so that nobody will be anybody’s slave again. Restructure Nigeria so that each region will have control of its own resources and not a case of “monkey dey work, baboon dey chop.”
It was an even better form of the above-stated “federal structure” that was even agreed upon between General Yakubu Gowon and Odumegwu Ojukwu (representing the East), under the auspices of General Ankrah (Head of State of Ghana at the time) in a place called Aburi in Ghana. It was called the Aburi Accord. When they came back from that meeting, Gowon RENEGED on all that they had agreed upon and chose to continue this slavish unitary system. That was why Eastern Nigeria opted out of Nigeria and declared their own State of Biafra (a different country). Instead of allowing Biafra to be, Nigeria used military might to force them back into this unitary system.
That’s why the likes of Kanu are calling Nigeria a zoo.