- Â Northern youths canâ€™t speak for us, says Southern Kaduna group
By Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu, John Shiklam in Kaduna, Okon Bassey in Uyo, Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia and Ugo Aliogo
Former President of the Senate, Ken Nnamani yesterday in Enugu called for the restructuring of the country in view of the myriad of problems facing it, adding that Nigeria will still remain united if restructured.
Nnamani however insisted that much as restructuring was important, it would not be a magic bullet as it would not solve the economic and political problems of the country unless “we redesign our constitution and our constitutional practice towards productivity and accountability”.
His position is coming on the heels of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), an umbrella body of ethnic nationalities in the Southern part of Kaduna State, distancing themselves from the coalition of Northern youth groups which ordered Igbo to leave the north.
SOKAPU said the youth coalition had no mandate to speak for the entire region.
In a lecture titled, â€œRestructuring: The Search for Political Stability and Economic Development in Nigeriaâ€ which he delivered as part of the Transformal Leadership Forum Lecture series organised by the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, the former senate president said the nation could still restructure and remain one united country.
He said the issue had become a national obsession with notable Nigerians adding their voices, â€œbasically because of the prevailing democratic governance in the country which obviously had availed the populace the opportunity to make further demands from the system.â€
Among the issues that fuel the clamour for restructuring according to him include the peaceful transfer of power from the ruling party to an opposition party in 2015 which improved the quality and rating of the nation’s democracy, the absence of normative democracy in the country where there was no place for the loser and economic decline arising in part from economic mismanagement of the nation’s resources.
The other context for the clamour for restructuring of the country, he said was the continuing failure to abide by the rule of law and principles of federalism in political leadership noting that “we are lawless and that shows on how we manage political power.â€
Nnamani said: “We violate the constitution at will and it is that gross violation that has made many people argue as if the constitution is thoroughly without merit. It is true the constitution is bad in many ways but the larger blame for maladministration in Nigeria especially as it relates to constitutional democracy goes to consistent and concerted efforts by elected officials to violate the constitution.”
He also noted that those agitating for the nation’s restructuring attack the constitution itself, as the basis for constitutional governance in the country, alleging that the document was fraudulent by claiming in the first place that it was produced by Nigerians instead of the military hegemony that produced it.
As a result of that, he said most people had insisted that only a constituent assembly convoked to prepare a fresh constitution would produce a legitimate constitution for the people and not mere amendments by the National Assembly.
“A constitution drafted by elected delegates of Nigerian ethnic, religious, and political groups and approved through a referendum will be wonderful thing but in its absence, we can still produce a constitutional order that guarantees political stability and economic development,” he said.
He therefore urged the federal government to revisit the report of the 2014 constitutional conference and implement the good proposals therein.
In a related development, SOKAPU in a statement by its Public Relation Officer, Yakubu Kuzamani in Kaduna on Friday said the position of the coalition should not be taken as the position of the entire north, stressing that the groups were merely playing the script written by their sponsors.
They declared that Arewa youths could neither speak for the Southern Kaduna people nor the entire north.
The Union condemned the threat by the coalition of youth groups, saying that all Nigerians had the right to live and carry out legitimate affairs in all parts of the country.
“We unequivocally disassociate ourselves from the toxic fumes of hate and bigotry belched out against the Igbo by the so-called Arewa youths because the lgbo did not in any way offend Southern Kaduna People.
“We are a hospitable and accommodating people. We assure the Igbo that their property and assets (movable or immovable) in Southern Kaduna are secured, assured and guaranteed.
“The security of all Igbo in Southern Kaduna is guaranteed. We will continue to accommodate the Igbo and all persons of goodwill towards us irrespective of their primordial, ethnic or religious cleavages.
The expressed desire of the Igbo to have a separate country of their own is an inalienable right which has not in any way, in our opinion, translated into a crime or provocation to us in Southern Kaduna, the North or the Nigerian state.
“lgbo have so far in our estimation merely exercised their rights to gather and to protest peacefully. They exercised their constitutional rights to acquire property in the nooks and crannies of this country. These are not criminal actions.
We were not consulted by the so-called Arewa groups before issuing the Kaduna Declaration despite the fact that Southern Kaduna is in the North West.
The declarants, it appears clearly, do not see us as part of the North.
We condemn the declaration without reservations. We ask the â€œNorthern Youthsâ€ to look carefully inward into the north and they would find that other bigger problems facing the region’s existence.”
The statement called on the group to work towards strengthening the fragile trust that exists amongst northerners with other ethnic groups rather than resorting to hate statements and incendiary ultimatum to bonafide Nigerians.