By Shola Oyeyipo
Leaders from the Southern Nigeria under the aegis of the Southern Leaders Forum (SLF) have commended the Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF) for collectively supporting the demand for the restructuring Nigeria against the backdrop of recent regional agitations and the quit notice handed to Igbos resident in the North by some youths in the region.
Conveying their message in a statement titled, “APC Governors on Nigeria in Crisis: Quo Vadis?” and signed on behalf of the coalition by the trio of Mr. Yinka Odumakin, Senator Bassey Henshaw and Dr. Okey Anueyiagu, the body said the governors deserved the commendation for speaking the truth at a crucial time in the nation’s history.
The governors had thrown their weight behind the calls for Nigeria’s restructuring, saying that the demands framed by different groups in terms of political restructuring or true federalism could be met through adjustment in Nigeria’s federal system.
They said: “Although such adjustment will not, on its own, address the root and branch of Nigeria’s challenges, it is worth pursuing in order to meet the demands of various Nigerian groups.
“The focus of this restructuring is to restore the principle of non-centralisation of power in the country’s federal arrangement being the defining element of a federal polity. There are options to consider in this regard.”
The governors, among other things, suggested a review of the unwieldy exclusive list in the constitution, review of the revenue sharing formula between the federal government and the federating units, and for the political and fiscal decentralisation of an indivisible Nigeria.
Reacting to the statement, the Southern leaders said yesterday: “We could not agree more with the PGF and wish to state that we accept that Nigeria should remain an indivisible entity, but the terms must be right for all the constituent units of Nigeria to have a feeling of inclusiveness and acceptance so that we can live together in peace and harmony with all groups pursuing their happiness according to their aspirations.
“In the same vein, we noted the observation by the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, that ‘we have agreed to live together’, with the observation that the decision was made by the British amalgamation.
“It is unfortunate, however, that we have not been allowed to move beyond the amalgamation to integration by fashioning the framework necessary for peaceful co-existence in a multi-ethnic country.
“We obviously cannot in all honesty say our ‘agreement’ to live together has terms such as herdsmen terrorising farmers or cows chasing pupils out of their classrooms.
“Neither does it involve the palpable injustices built into the union to make some sections of the country subservient to the other through the politics of exclusion, command and conquest that characterise our union presently.”
In this regard, the leaders from the South said they were in alignment with the PGF and would continue to push for the restructuring of an indivisible nation on equitable terms.