Southern, Middle Belt Leaders Insist on Restructuring, Resolute About Nigeria’s Unity

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  •  Want killer herdsmen declared terrorists

Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu

Prominent elder statesmen and political leaders from the South-east, South-west, South-south, and Middle Belt regions of the country rose from a one-day parley in Enugu thursday insisting that for the nation to achieve lasting peace, unity, justice and prosperity, restructuring of the polity has become not only imperative but sacrosanct.

The parley tagged, “Handshake Across the Niger – A Celebration of Igbo/Yoruba Friendship Beyond Brotherhood,” put together by Nzuko Umunna, in collaboration with Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Afenifere, also frowned upon the wanton destruction of lives and property in Benue State and some other parts of the country by suspected herders and called for the declaration of the killer herdsmen as terrorists.

Delegates to the parley included the President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, who led the South-east; Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, who led the Yoruba delegation on behalf of Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti; Chief Edwin Clerk, represented by Idongesit Nkagha on behalf of South-south; and former governor of Plateau State, Senator Jonah Jang and the leader of Middle Belt Forum, Mr. Timothy Gwandu, who led the delegation from Middle Belt.

The late military Head of State, Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi, and former military governor of the old Western region, Col. Francis Fajuyi, who were both killed during the counter-coup of July 29, 1966, were also posthumously honoured.

In a communique issued at the end of the parley and signed by Nwodo and Adebanjo, the leaders declared unflinching support for a truly federal union of Nigeria that is democratic, stable, secure, peaceful, just and fair to all its citizens.

They also committed to work in close partnership and through peaceful means to restructure Nigeria, reducing and restricting the duties of the federal government to only matters of national importance on the Exclusive List of the Constitution, while granting the federating units the right to take full responsibility for local, developmental and residual matters.

They said this will lead to healthy competition and co-operation among the federating units, in place of the present dysfunctional arrangement that merely superintends over the sharing and consumption of rents, and holds some states and zones down for others to play the elusive game of catch-up.
They also expressed commitment to the peaceful devolution of power, fiscal federalism, land/resource ownership/control, and the reform of component structural and systemic institutions to radically reduce the escalating cost of governance.

The delegates further resolved to collaborate to create mutually beneficial opportunities, build a strong alliance to advance their ever growing mutual interests, while striving together to meet the common responsibilities of building a united, coherent and prosperous nation – a state of free peoples, freely relating to one another across the dividing lines of tribe, religion, region and politics.
“We are committed to working tirelessly towards joining the economically-performing nations – China, India, Brazil, Israel, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia and Thailand etc. – not as a dependent state, but as a competitive producer and exporter of knowledge-based goods and services; committed to the immediate implementation of pro-federalism recommendations of the 2014 National Conference, in particular those affecting the efficiency of governance.

“We believe that the fore-going measures will reposition Nigeria to reach credible nationhood, attain its full potential and respect in the community of nations, thereby enabling us to effectively lead the campaign for the political and economic renaissance of Africa and the black race – the very goals for which the Zik of Africa and the sage, Chief Awolowo, and a host of other founding nationalists lived and sacrificed so much for,” they said in the communiqué.

They noted the immense strength of Igbo-Yoruba close affinities of kinship and brotherhood, shared origins and cultural/ethical values, a common worldview and inherent love of freedom and justice.

According to them, the Hand Shake Across the Niger (HSAN) parley was anchored on the heroism of Major-General Ironsi and Lt.-Col. Fajuyi, which they observed was though long overdue, and has finally burst the myth of Igbo-Yoruba irreconcilable differences and spiteful rivalry.

This, according to them, has provided a new impetus for the resurgence of the same bold, patriotic and nationalist solidarity of the two ethnic groups from the 1930s to the 1950s that earned independence for Nigeria in 1960.
The conferees also resolved that the parley will not be a one-off event, but only the first of a progressive and continuous re-socialisation project that will, in short order, reach out to embrace other compatriots in the South-south, Middle Belt, North-central, North-east and North-west zones of the country.

They therefore agreed to establish a standing Joint Action Committee to drive this process, and to continuously articulate fresh ideas and strategies to sustain the current zeal and momentum of the mutual understanding and collaborative actions aimed at resuscitating Nigeria politically and economically, in order to position her to earn her rightful place among the contending nations in the world.
Earlier during the session, the elder statesmen had noted that anybody who is against restructuring is an enemy of the unity of Nigeria, insisting that the nation also needed a new Constitution before 2019 general election.

While observing a minute’s silence for the Benue victims who were killed recently by suspected cattle herders, as well as for Ironsi and Fajuyi, they agreed to rely on the supreme sacrifice paid by the two late military leaders to let bygones be bygones and forge a new union that will ultimately lead to national unity, emphasising that the unity between the South-east and South-west remains a catalyst for Nigeria’s unity.

Nwodo, in his remarks, said arrangements were being made to bring back the remains of two Igbos killed alongside Benue indigenes by the herdsmen in the recent attacks for proper burial in line with Igbo tradition.

“Our irrevocable stand that Nigeria must be restructured is non-negotiable. To abandon restructuring is to self-destruct Nigeria.
“Every credible analysis shows that unless we devolve powers to the states and allow them control of their natural resources and basic utilities of powers, environment, education and infrastructure development, Nigeria will collapse.
“Anyone opposed to restructuring is a proponent of the liquidation of Nigeria,” he said.

Adebanjo on his part said the re-union gathering was a catalyst for the unity of Nigeria.
“As long as the Igbos and Yorubas are squabbling, we will be destroying ourselves. The coming together of both groups will strengthen the unity of Nigeria and that is the handshake across the Niger. Those who are against this unity are sowing seeds of discord.

“We have not come here as a gang up or alliance, we have come here to fight a common oppressor. If you go into the (2019) election without restructuring and a new Constitution, you are deceiving yourself. We must go into the election with a new Constitution.

“(President) Buhari is the problem of Nigeria by opposing restructuring. Dividing Igbos and Yorubas is a thing of the past, we are already looking forward into the future, not the past.

“I want to warn you, Mr. President will not do restructuring in peace because his people are the beneficiaries of the lopsided structure. What is happening in Benue is an example and if you don’t nip it in the bud, the country is gone,” the Afenifere leader said.
A former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, in his contribution, called for the proscription and categorisation of the herdsmen as terrorists.

Others at the parley included former Governor Segun Mimiko of Ondo, Chief C. O. Adebanjo of Kwara, Chief Yinka Odumakin, Chief Olu Falae, Prof. Banji Akintoye, Senator Femi Okurunmu, Mrs. Bucknor Akerele, as well as members of the late Col. Fajuyi’s family led by Donald Fajuyi and Mrs. Sholape Fajuyi, among others.

On the Igbo flank were Obi of Onitsha, Nnaemeka Achebe, Prof. Anya O. Anya, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Ikedi Ohakim, Prof. Joe Irukwu, Ifeanyi Ubah, Dr. Alex Otti, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, Senators Enyinnaya Abaribe and Chris Anyanwu, and the deputy governors of Abia and Imo, Ude Oko-Chukwu and Eze Madumere, respectively.

Enugu Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi was also represented by the son of late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Mr. Uwakwe, while the Anambra governor was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Solo Chukwudebelu.

Also in attendance were Prof Pat Utomi and the widow of the late Ironsi, Victoria.

  • NwaIgbo

    Most contributors in this forum miss the point, can Nigeria advance and make progress without restructuring? Why is the core North afraid of what will benefit all of us.?

  • Ruth Nwokobia-Osubor

    Who is afraid of restructuring or regionalism based on 6 geographical zones? The era of feeding bottle federation is over. The south south, south west, south east, north central are all ready for regional governments. Any dissecting zone must better join the moving train or be left behind. Black Africa must move forward and Nigeria must take the lead.

  • lord vuga

    Those clamouring for restructring only want a closer access to the loot. Would restructuring have stopped ibori from looting or wouldnt it have given him easy access to more loot as being opposed to looting being restricted to his state allocations?
    Our problem isnt restructuring but bad leadership and worse followership.

    • With restructuring, you have access to what belongs to you. There is a sense of ownership. If you prefer to loot yours, it does not affect others. If others see you doing well they will be challenged to follow suit. You no longer rob peter to pay Paul.

      • lord vuga

        We are already looting ours with the federal allocations to states.Is it not the same bunch of greedy elite that would be incharge when you restructure ? Or any you going to have aliens ruling the new entities?

  • Nwaoha N

    Now Nigeria is set for progress… from the north to the south, east to west. We can build a one united and formidable nation where the first consideration is that we are all humans followed by ” we are NIGERIANS”! Enough of this divide and rule strategy. God bless Nigeria.

  • Bassey Ndem

    Some names mentioned here do not reflect or represent the overall interest of the people at heart. They represent themselves and their pockets. Nigerians must be allowed to exercise their sovereignty without any coercion from any quarters.Edwin Clark has been in the public domain for too long with nothing to show. We need young progressive and vibrant leaders who will place public interest above self. Mr. Idongesit Nkanga has been Godswill Akpabio henchman who has milked Akwa Ibom state to their advantage, The people must be ready to wrestle leadership from these corrupt elements without any further delays.

    • Mystic mallam

      You’re right Ndem, you must strive to wrestle power away from them, but attacking the messenger and ignoring the message resolves nothing. What do you have against the message they are conveying – the clarion call to restructure Nigeria?

  • Stanley

    The South-South will also stretch hand across the Niger and Benue to shake the Middle belt people. We will like to compete and beat them in spots, palm oil, education and technology. They will beat us in the production of yams, corn, fruits and rice. This is what restructure us all about. No one will beat the other by killing which is the game that the Fulani knows. They must go and play their ambush, attack and kill game with the Kanuris, the home of Boko haram.

  • Sarah

    The primary task for all of us that believe in one united and indivisible Nigeria is to ensure that Buhari/Osinbajo are voted out in 2019. We, the Yoruba, should begin to make it clear to our leaders, Obasanjo and Tinubu that they will lose our respect if they attempt to garner support for Buhari/Osinbajo 2019.
    Enough of this bumbling presidency that has driven our one beloved country to the brink of another civil war.
    Let us all work hard to ensure Buhari/Osinbajo are defeated in 2019.

    • Yaddah Amanda

      Sarah, your assertions are in order. To add to it, i will call on all the sleeping youths who are 18yrs and above to go and have their voters card if they have not done so. The time has come when we will no longer sit on the fence and allow these shenanigans desecrate our political terrain. We have slept on our right for so long and have allowed these roaches to grow to monsters. Power belong to the people the earlier we realize this the better. Your voting card is your power to kick them all out of seat come 2019.

      • Olusola Olusina Micheal

        to be replaced by whom? lets see the alternatives before we start the voting revolution

      • lord vuga

        Pls did you just wake up from a 57yr coma? Votes dont count in nigeria neither do u have a choice. Power belongs to who can control the security apparatus and manipulate the electoral process/body to achieve their personal goals.

    • Victor

      God bless you……

    • William Norris

      People like you – an unfortunate majority of Nigerians – who parade a false ideology about how the unity of Nigeria is sacred, you are no different from Buhari. You’re driven by the same petro-patriotism.

      It’s time for everyone to acknowledge human nature.

      Humans are tribalistic. Tribalism is the same instinct as familial love.

      Humans like to make a profit and accumulate wealth and economic assets.

      Humans don’t like to be stolen from.

      These are simple human behaviors that the UK has been trying to suppress in Nigeria for over a century now in order to promote instability that makes Nigeria easy to exploit.

      The Yoruba can survive by themselves, living in peace by trading with all other tribes of this earth on mutually beneficial terms. The Yoruba don’t want to be ruled by others and there’s NOTHING wrong with that. They need to extend the same dignity to others.

      • KWOY

        Thanks immensely! Any talk that begins with the position of indivisibility of Nigeria is already insincere, prejudicial, dead & rejected!

        • William Norris

          It’s ironic isn’t it – prior to 1966, the Igbo were the ones preaching the benefits of One Nigeria.

          • omo56

            Was that before or after Azikiwe joined NCNC formed by Herbert Macaulay?

            Please read what NCNC stood for when it was founded

            Just asking, please no name calling

          • William Norris

            APC has a manifesto that supports the devolution of powers from the Fed Govt.

            Has the APC government done anything to actualize that policy?

            I don’t give a rats arse what the NCNC stood for. The Igbo were ascendant in the decades just before independence and immediately afterwards.

            Other tribes resisted Igbo ascendancy gained via “merit” and tried to undermine it by corrupt means.

            The Anambra elites launched a coup to “fight corruption” and the rest is a history that is repeating itself today with the ascendancy Muslim Yoruba and Fulani dominance.

          • omo56

            OK

      • lord vuga

        Will break up solve the problem? The states that arent working and are broke are governed by indigenes who looted them silly. Truth be told we hate ourselves. You always cry about the north oppressing you but they are the most underdeveloped and poorest part of the country , so who is oppressing who?

        • William Norris

          I’ve had to repeat this SEVERAL TIMES.

          The direct answer is NO, there’s no guarantee that breaking up will solve the problems of Nigeria.

          What it WILL DO is to make each tribe COMPLETELY RESPONSIBLE for its own outcomes, results, failures and successes.

          Breakup or at least EXTREME AUTONOMY, will eliminate the BLAME GAME of the Niger-area.

          That’s very simple to see. What’s so hard to understand about it?

          Right now the UNITARY SYSTEM has made Nigeria subject to GENERALIZED FAILURE. In the event of a breakup or autonomy, there’s at least a POSSIBILITY that SOME of the successor states, regions or nations will succeed in some kind of way. Sharia might turn out to be the BEST kind of governing system in the North and others will learn and copy. That’s the whole reason of a MULTI-POINT system.

          I think my explanation is simple enough. Thanks.

          • lord vuga

            Our political elite have never been positively challenged to do anything progressive. How do you explain the fact that barely 35 to 40years ago we were ahead of malaysia in almost every index, but today we are light years behind them.What of Ghana ?Today we are going in droves to ghana for academics and tourism and even investments in real estate.Has it challenged any of them to improve our universities?

          • William Norris

            There’s no law or natural imperative that every nation must be wealthy. No matter what, some are wealthier than others.

            Catalonia is the wealthiest part of Spain and wants independence.

            UK is rich and doesn’t want to co ntinue on the path of i integration with the EU.

            The key is self rule, him and generally want to be ruled by their own kind. That’s why the Yoruba have been happy or happier since 1999, they’ve never been ruled by a party where Yoruba don’t have a veto.

            People can be POOR and happy as long as they have self rule. It’s human nature and Nigeria will remain an exercise in futility until it embraces that nature.

            I have nothing to argue about with you because I’m completely confident in this truth. Yours is just another version of the “leadership is the problem” theory. Nigerians aren’t very smart and they’ve been buying that crap for a half century….and the country is a SHITHOLE….and Ghana is no better.

          • Chukwuka Okoroafor

            I have to say that Switzerland is an exception at least to a degree. In the Federal Executive Council, there are effectively seven presidents that run the executive branch in Switzerland and historically, at least one have to represent each of the four ethnic groups in the country. So this is the relatively rare example of a power sharing country that has prospered.

          • William Norris

            That means the Swiss EXPLICITLY recognize tribe. They are SHARING power.

            Same in Belgium and the EU in general.

            Nigeria doesn’t recognize tribes. The citizens have imbibed the same aversion to ethnicity whenever it ended access to Federal moneys, subsidies and various other goodies.

            That is the problem. Nigeria doesn’t recognize tribes. Indeed Nigeria is EXPLICITLY dedicated to smothering the tribes out of existence.

      • Sarah

        Speak for yourself. It is on record that I have called for 100% resource control to be done by gradual 2% annual increments from the present 13%. A pragmatic approach that allows both parasite and provider states to adjust gradually.
        Yoruba have no problems with a duly elected person from another ethnicity ruling a Nigeria that is based on justice and equity. After all our own Obasanjo is the ONLY civilian president ever to have successfully completed 2 terms in the history of our beloved country.

        • William Norris

          So WHY the constant chant that Nigeria MUST remain united?

          Is it that the Yoruba can’t survive on their own?

          There’s nothokng sacred about Nigeria. The country is an artificial invention while Ile Yoruba is definitely a work of God started ikn Ile Ife. Take it or leave it.

      • Mystic mallam

        I read somewhere that you can’t banish consciousness of tribal differences, peace and progress is possible only when you voluntarily agree to work within a well-managed framework of the diversity it creates. Why do Nigerian rulers pretend that tribe and tongue no longer differ?

    • yinka

      You have the right to support who ever you want in 2019. Buhari is not Nigeria problem but these group of people who see nothing wrong with when GEJ was doling money out to them. Again, most of problem in Nigeria lies with followers. How many these people was elected or selected to represent Yoruba people? They assigned leadership position to themselves, so they are only representing their interests and their familes. Many of them are members defeated PDP party in 2015

      • KWOY

        Let me presume you are not a Yoruba, even though that is the typical Yoruba for you! However, if you are, then that’s why those people are deceieving themselves! We know there are people who will eternally shake Shekau to spite others!

    • lord vuga

      And replaced with another clueless bunch. The same was said of gej and what did we end up with?

      • Sarah

        There are talented potential candidates for President across the country. They need to play their part by stepping forward to compete. Politics is after all competing for the right to allocate scarce resources.

        • lord vuga

          ” Potential” but “unqualified” in that they lack the criminality, greed and unscruplousness it takes to play nigerian politics and emerge even as a candidate talkless of winning.

  • 1jay57

    The North is pulling Nigeria backward.They produce mediocre and unqualified graduates and forced them on Nigeria. These mediocres will be appointed to run the country’s affairs and they will run it down because they don’t have the intellectual capacity to handle the positions.

    • bashkano

      Up the monopolists of the intellectual prowess.

    • lord vuga

      And the educated south steal us silly.

    • Garba sani

      Hahaha! Agreed with you 100%. People like patience Jonathan a PhD holder for that matter and her husband Dr Ebele Jonathan, and like Dizioni, the former petroleum minister and muted are all useless northerners.

      • Alzheimer buhari.

        U are very correct look at d quote system president with brain cell of mosquito,who is supposed 2 b a local government chairman.Shithari is a plonker just like u.

      • Riverside

        That you possess any one in your family that can match Jonathan’s intelligence or that of Diezani the Cambridge product? Laughable.

    • Alzheimer buhari.

      Shithari has changed d name of d country from nigeria to backwardistan.Wot a wanker of a president.

  • Iskacountryman

    only the north can guarantee nigerias unity…