Southern Leaders Tell FG to Protect Southerners in the North

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• Insist on restructuring
• South-south, South-east governors meet in Enugu

Tobi Soniyi in Abuja and Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu

The Southern Leaders Forum has called on Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to, as a matter of urgency, address the nation on measures being taken by the federal government to protect the Igbo and other southerners from attacks by Arewa youths, who weeks ago, gave the Igbo up to October 1, 2017, to leave the North.

Rising from a meeting held in Lagos at the residence of Chief Albert Korubo Horsfall, the leaders expressed concern that no action appeared to have been taken by the government on the quit order.
They also insisted that the country must be restructured along the 1963 Republican Constitution that gave the federating units a leeway over their affairs.

The leaders also said Nigeria must be restructured by December 2017.
In attendance at the meeting were leaders of thoughts from the South-west, the South-east and the South-south.
A communique read by Senator Bassey Henshaw at the end of the meeting reads: “The leaders noted with gratitude the statement by the Acting President that the issue of restructuring would be addressed soon and urged him to act on the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference.

“The 16-point agenda submitted by the South-south leaders to the president should be acted upon immediately to avoid a resurgence of youth restiveness in the region and sustain the current peace.
“The leaders noted that the issue of restructuring and change was an important part of the All Progressives Congress’ manifesto.

“The meeting also noted with great concern the continued menace of armed Fulani herdsmen in the southern part of Nigeria and the proliferation of Fulani settlement in the south and alert the Nigerian authority and the world at large to this dangerous development and call on the federal government to make an official statement on this and take appropriate action to check it.
“They reiterated and reaffirmed the decision taken at their meeting of June 18 on the unity of Nigeria and the need for restructuring and the solidarity of the entire south.

“The leaders noted with concern that today no action appears to have been taken regarding the October 1, 2017 ultimatum issued by Arewa youths to the Igbos and demand that as a matter of urgency, the acting president addresses Nigerians to inform all about what steps have been taken to ensure that the Igbos and southerners generally will be protected against the threat of attacks by the Arewa youths.
“We reiterate that any threat or action against any section of the South will be treated as a threat or action against the entire South.

“The leaders insist that they would not be distracted and urged all well-meaning Nigerians not to be distracted by individuals who claimed not to understand what restructuring means or try to imply a non-existent sinister plan to break up Nigeria because of the demand for restructuring.
“We affirm our commitment to the unity of Nigeria and also insist on the urgent need to restructure Nigeria to achieve true federalism.

“For the avoidance of doubt, restructuring towards a true federalism means a return to the independence constitution, which our founding father’s bequeathed to us. That constitution allowed the region of that time substantial autonomy in the managing of their affairs.
“The states will be federating units in the new federation with the right to have their own individual constitutions.

“The states will have the power to control the resources located in their areas of jurisdictions and make agreed contribution to the centre for general services.
“We will identify those areas in the constitution which should be devolved to the states to allow for effective administration and control of their affairs.

“It is important that actions be commenced immediately to ensure that desired changes are implemented by December 2017.”
In attendance were Dr Okey Anueyiagu, Mr Yinka Odumakin, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, General Alani Akinrinade, Obong Victor Attah, and Mr. Ledum Mitee.

Governors Meet in Enugu to Foster Regional Integration

Meanwhile, about a week after political leaders of the South-east zone met in Enugu and resolved to back the calls for the restructuring of the country, governors of the South-east and South-south zone Sunday converged on the Coal City to strengthen inter-regional cooperation.

Eight of the 11 governors were present, while Delta, Edo and Anambra States’ governors were absent. However, Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State was represented by his deputy, Dr Nkem Okeke.
The governors present included Chief Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Victor Ikpeazu (Abia) and Rochas Okorocha of Imo State.

Others were Emmanuel Udom (Akwa Ibom), Ben Ayade (Cross River), Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa) and Nyesom Wike (Rivers).
Sources close to the governors told THISDAY that the meeting, which commenced at about 7:45pm at Nike Lake Hotels, would take firm positions on the vexed issues of restructuring and the activities of separatist groups who were bent on dividing the country.

Welcoming the governors to the meeting, the host, Ugwuanyi, said the people of the two regions were one people joined by history, culture, values, geography, brotherhood, friendship and more recently common challenges.
He, therefore, said that the Enugu parley would help them to understand themselves more, as well as avail them the opportunity to strengthen old ties, develop a common regional agenda and ensure the development of the regions.

According to Ugwuanyi, they would also deliberate on the welfare and security of the two regions, bearing in mind that criminals criss-cross the regions to carry out their nefarious activities.
Citing the deplorable state of federal roads in the two zones, such as East-West road in the South-south and Enugu-Onitsha and Enugu-Port Harcourt expressways in the South-east, Ugwuanyi regretted that the two zones still suffer infrastructure decay.

He equally noted with regrets that there are no connecting flights between the two regions, a development that had hampered the socio-economic integration and development of the two regions.
Governor Ugwuanyi recalled that the South-east governors and Igbo political leaders at a meeting about a week ago, declared support for a united Nigeria where peace, love, fairness, justice, equity and equality of opportunities were paramount regardless of creed, ethnicity, gender or political affiliation, adding that the meeting condemned all hate speeches and conduct emanating from any section of the country.

He said the Igbo political leaders lent their full support to the restructuring of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the basis of fairness and equity and called on the federal government and all Nigerian leaders to commence a process of dialogue among Nigerians on the modalities of achieving this pressing question within a reasonable time.
He also appealed to the governors to lend their support to the proposed South-east Development Commission (SEDC) presently before the National Assembly, noting that like the NDDC, it would foster rapid development in the South-east.

At the end of the meeting, the governors resolved to pursue inter-regional cooperation and integration for the economic benefits of the two zones.
They also agreed to work together and realign the people to achieve common heritage, culture and affinities.
The Governor of Akwa-Ibom, Udom, who read out the three-point communique at the end of the meeting which lasted for about three and a half hours, also disclosed that the meeting unanimously elected him as the new chairman of the forum.

He said the next meeting of the Governors’ Forum would take place in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on August 27, 2017.
THISDAY checks however gathered that the meeting could not reach an understanding on such critical issues as restructuring, Biafra agitation and unity of Nigeria.