Summit: Adebanjo, Falae, Clark, Gana, others back Nigeria’s restructuring

The meeting of the South West, South South, South East and the Middle Belt leaders was held in Ibadan on Thursday

Leaders from the South West, South South, South East and the Middle Belt states have thrown their weight behind the call to restructure the country as a viable solution to the rising agitations.
Reading the communique of the second Consultative Summit of leaders from the South and the Middle Belt on Thursday in Abuja, John Derah stated: “We remain convinced that as a multi-ethnic country, Nigeria can only enjoy lasting peace, development progress and happiness under a federal system which allows all the Federating Units to develop at their own pace under full cultural expression.
“In furtherance of the successful meeting of the leaders of the South and Middle Belt of Nigeria held on 15th July 2017 to layout an orderly process of finding viable solution to the rising agitations for a fair, just, equitable and balanced restructuring of our federal system, a follow-up meeting was successfully held today 5th October 2017, with delegates from the South West, South East, South South and from the Middle Belt states comprising, Plateau, Benue, Niger, Nasarawa, Kogi, Kwara, Taraba, Adamawa, Southern Kebbi, Southern Kaduna, Gombe, Bauchi, Southern Borno and FCT.”
Leaders at the summit included: Ayo Adebanjo, Yinka Odumakin, Stalla Omu Olu Falae, Edwin Clark, Jerry Gana, Tunde Ogbeha, John Derah, Barnabas Gemade.
While the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the Federal Republic of Nigeria as one entity, “however, we firmly believe that Nigeria as is it is not a proper federation, as the structure is overcentralized, unjust and anti-development and therefore unacceptable.
“There is no gainsaying the fact that this is at the core of the many agitations across the country with some delving into separatist feelings. Nigeria must therefore be grateful to those of us speaking in demand of restructuring of the federation for the restoration of the Federal principles enshrined in the 1960 and 1963 constitutions as a middle course between those who want to sustain the present unjust structure that is driving Nigeria into the edge and consequently attracting agitations for break-up and those who are calling for break-up of Nigeria.
“President Muhammadu Buhari in his Independence Anniversary broadcast made some good shift by admitting to the legitimacy of the demand for restructuring of Nigeria. We call on him to move a step forward by initiating processes that should lead Nigeria towards confronting its structural challenges through legal instruments of National Assembly and the representatives of ethnic nationalities in Nigeria.”
Again, while regretting that the National Assembly did not make maximum use of its last constitutional amendments exercise by voting down devolution of powers and functions to the federating units, the forum stated: “We believe tension would have gone down considerably across the country if the National Assembly has decided to vote for reform.”
They called on both the leaders of the Upper and the Lower Chambers to revisit its decision and resolve the matter in a way that can give the country a new fiscal formula.
Derah said the forum deplored recent development in the South East, which led to deployment of troops against agitation in the region by the Indigenous People of Biafra, leading to avoidable loss of lives.
It said: “We equally reject the hasty tagging of IPOB as a terrorist organisation in the face of contrary evidence. We call on the Federal Government to always exercise restraint in the deployment of troops in quelling civil agitations, which is the responbility of Police in any democracy.
“Consequently, we call on the Federal Government to reconsider similar operations that the Army is embarking on in the South West and South South Zones, which are peaceful areas. We do not need these exercises, which are seen largely as sheer intimidation and barring of fangs. Under federalism, you do not deploy troops to the federating units without the invitation of the affected local authorities.”