Restructure or Risk Breakup of Nigeria, Southern Leaders Warn Buhari

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Buhari...silence isn't golden

• Afenifere chieftains, Dickson, Ezeife, others meet

Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa

The clamour for the restructuring of Nigeria persisted Monday as leaders of thought from the Southern part of the country gathered in Yenagoa, capital of Bayelsa State, to review the state of the nation, warning President Muhammadu Buhari that he risks the breakup of the country with his opposition to the rebalancing of the federation.

The leaders who spoke on the topic: “Restructuring and the dawn of a new Nigeria,” at the 6th Anniversary of the administration of Governor Seriake Dickson, said the logic behind the incessant strife in the country demanded that a review of its current structure that was feeding conflicts and the underdevelopment of Nigeria, had become necessary.

On the discussion panel were Afenifere leaders, including Lt. Gen. Alani Akinrinade (rtd) and its spokesman, Mr. Yinka Odumakin; a former governor of Anambra State, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife; former Petroleum Minister and Amayenebo of Nembe, King Edmund Daukoru; former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Power, Ambassador Godknows Igali; and a university don and activist, Prof Gordini Darah.

A leader of the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) and Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), which recently renounced a quit notice to Igbo in the region, Alhaji Yerima Shettima, was also one of the discussants.
Akinrinade, who was the guest speaker, argued that despite the initial opposition to restructuring by some Nigerians, the clamour for it seemed to have reached a crescendo and must be hearkened to by the Buhari government.

He said: “A new era is usually preceded by a dark night of struggle and strife. It was the same with the struggle for restructuring and inclusive federalism. While the battle raged, no weapon known to humanity was considered too vulgar and lowly.

“Blackmail, violence, extortion, religious manipulation, economic sanctions and intellectual persuasion were freely deployed. But at the end of the day, when all weapons of intimidation and coercion seemed to have exhausted their capacity, calm, reason and rationality appeared to have prevailed.”

While wondering why former President Goodluck Jonathan did not commence the implementation of the 2014 National Conference, which recommended restructuring, he expressed anger with Buhari’s consignment of its report to the dustbin.

He said: “Four years ago as the battle for the restructuring of the nation raged unabated, President Goodluck Jonathan convoked a National Political Conference with the express mandate to look at the grave political issues facing Nigeria and to come up with acceptable solutions.
“Given the urgency of the situation, one would have thought that the convener would have acted with express resolve once the conference turned in its report. But for reasons best known to him, President Jonathan delayed and prevaricated until he was defeated in a landmark presidential election.”

He added: “In his own case, and as if government is a radical dis-continuum, General Muhammadu Buhari would have nothing to do with the Confab report. In fact it is on record that the former infantry officer went as far as to flatly assert that he would make sure that the report ended up in a permanent cooler – the archives. This was not just a case of benign indifference but active hostility.”

Akinrinade, however, warned that restructuring will also not lead to an ‘automatic El Dorado’ without fixing the current level of grinding poverty, feudal squalor, misery and state larceny.
Quoting Albert Einstein, he said: “Insanity is doing the same thing all over again and expecting a different result,” noting that had the country embraced devolution of power and the decentralization of the police, it might have been possible to avoid or minimize the fallout of the current spate of communal clashes, marauding ethnic militias, violent kidnapping, banditry, cyber-terrorism and religious insurgency.

He concluded: “President Buhari should go immediately for the clusters of consensus and low hanging fruits by initiating a Bill for the structural unbundling of an overburdened centre through the removal of several agreed items from the current Exclusive List and their devolution to the constituting states in a way and manner that does not enfeeble or endanger the manifest destiny of the nation.”

On his part, Ezeife described Nigeria as a failed state because the country had refused to rethink the terms of its existence.
He said: “They gave us change from frying pan to fire. Since this change came about, some jumped into the Atlantic Ocean in Lagos, some in other ways take their lives and others are travelling out.

“Nigeria has failed God, Nigeria has failed man and there can be no other way to remake Nigeria than restructuring Nigeria to work and for justice to prevail in the country. Some of you have seen what nature has done to Nigeria. I don’t think there’s a luckier nation than ours. Look at our weather.”
Dickson, who later spoke to newsmen on the sidelines of the event, reaffirmed his position that restructuring holds the key to preserving the unity, stability and economic prosperity of the country.

He maintained that those championing the restructuring crusade were the true patriots of an egalitarian, just and fair Nigeria and called on all well-meaning Nigerians to support the restructuring movement towards actualizing the Nigerian project.
“Those in support of restructuring and constitutional amendment to address the imbalances in our nation are indeed believers of the Nigerian project and not the other way round,” the governor said.

  • Ibraheem Aruna

    I have reasons to forgive General Alani Akinriade, he is a trained soldier. Governor Seriake Dickson is a former member of the House of Representatives and an elected Governor. Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife is one of the most learned, experienced people on Constitutional Democracy in Nigeria today. After all political interests are influenced by economic consideration. I find it hard to compare his intellect to others. How does he think that the Nigerian Senate and the House of Representatives would pass a bill into law that will dissolve, abrogate, terminate one of the houses.? Even now, are they patriotic enough to reduce their income, to improve our recurrent expenditure.? It is not only a President that can submit a bill for passage, any of those discussants could do it in the National interest and let us see the outcome. Let us not forget that a constitution is not a permanent document, several amendments could restructure the Nigerian state. May the soul of Mr Anthony Enahoro have peace. Amen.

  • bashkano

    “Restructuring” that is the over beaten archaic slogan anytime and anywhere the political underdogs want to be heard. Nobody is saying that Nigeria should stay stagnant structurally. We are in a democratic step up and there are over one-hundred-and-one ways of taking up the issue in a democratic manner without unnecessarily threatening the nation and those that have found themselves in a transient political power. Nobody is afraid of re-structuring. Come forward with the modalities and Nigerians are waiting anxiously for it.

  • lord vuga

    Nonsense!!!! When they had aso rock in the palm of their hands via GEJ , nobody heard even a faint whisper of restructuring.suddenly it is now restructure or risk break up.
    Even gej told his national conference that restructuring and break up were no go areas. Even the report he refused to touch.

  • shakara123

    Restructuring is an economic imperative. Without it, economic prosperity will continue to diminish for everybody. Our current economic growth rate lags behind our population growth rate. Furthermore, unless we restructure and open up the economic space there will be continued civil strife with escalations in crime, agitations etc. All of which will eventually overwhelm even a world class security architecture not to think of Nigeria’s.
    The time is now! Our leaders must cease the moment to act or the consequences will be truly dire.

  • There is no denying the fact that General Muhammadu Buhari (as he then was), gave no consent to 2014 confab, kini big deal? The convener of the confab initiated the process of putting the confab report in the cooler by not acting on it 6 months down the line.
    Secondly, Mr. Ezeife said some Nigerians fell off bridges and travelled to Italy for a better tomorrow, LOL ! With due respect sir, suicide is an innate thing. While some are committing suicide and going to Italy, majority are smiling to their banks as exporters of farm produce and or trucking foodstuff to Onitsha head bridge market.

    • Yaddah Amanda

      In a strict sense of it the voice of the people is the voice of God. I do not see anything wrong if the citizenry who felt aggrieved and emasculated to come forward and demand for what is best for them at any giving time irrespective of the time and occasion. The mere fact that Good-luck Jonathan initiated the process and 6 months as you claimed, could not do anything about it does not mean it should not be brought to fore. When reality sets in it awakens every fabrics of your inner most being. The happenings during this dispensation no doubt sky rocketed the hullabaloo and the call for restructuring. Never in the history of this country have Nigerians faced disarticulated economy and political brigandry like in Buhari regime. “Res ipsa loquitur” (the happenings speaks for itself). The mantra for restructuring should not be seen as a bandwagon but as an idea borne out of gross neglect from the ruling class and how it has undermined the unity of the nation for too long.

      • lord vuga

        Who told you that the voice of the people is the voice of God? When the people bask in wickedness , evil and corruption are they speaking the mind /voice of God?
        I dont if you know anything about God or religion for that matter or you wouldnt make such vain and overworn cliche.

    • Oparafo Ugakwu

      Sorry, Ahmed Omar, there’s not much you can do about restructuring. It’s going to happen. Jonathan had nothing but the best intentions by listening to Nigerians and giving them the opportunity they sought to discuss their structural problems. Granted, he should have started implementation right away, but just on the eve of a national election may not not have been the best time to start. He would have been demonized by the same people and accused of using it for political gains. Didn’t most of the same accusers vote for an ultra-conservative they knew was vehemently opposed to restructuring when the alternative was a pro-restructure candidate?

      Nobody has more credibility and consistency on the need to restructure that Akinrinade. Why? Because he was a co-architect of the backward structure. He was in the trenches and shed blood to dismantle federalism.

      He has recanted since the 1980s and has openly regretted his actions and those of his colleagues in suppressing self-determination. His conversion is not only total, it is genuine. He is one of the few Sauls who have become Paul. I will listen to him on the issue because he is walking his talk.

      Whatever Buhari thought and still thinks on the issue is immaterial. To borrow your phrase, kini big deal? But you are wrong on the seriousness of the issue because the very notion is beginning to strike fear in his camp. From New Year day’s 100% opposition to now yes on local and state police, to El Rufai now preaching resource control? Both OBJ and IBB are now apostles of restructuring?

      The recognition of the potency of devolution of power in the next election is now the beginning of wisdom. Oppose it at your own peril. The danger has already been done, however. Some stakeholders have made themselves hypocrites on the issue, and however much they embrace the idea now is irrelevant. Appropriate consequences will exacted at the polls. Stay tuned.

      • lord vuga

        Folks like you amuse me when you talk of effecting change or exacting influence at the polls . Do polls work in nigeria? Elections are always rigged and were rigging fails, judgements are bought at tribunals and courts.

        • Oparafo Ugakwu

          I don’t know how old you are, my dear Lord Vuga. The only President who successfully rigged elections in the SW and got away with it was Obasanjo in 2003. It’s obvious that his son-of-the-soil status spared him the usual serious consequences.

          Check out what happened to the Balewa govt when it interfered with internal Yoruba politics. Or when Shagari’s NPN messed with Ondo State in 1983.

          Buhari and APC will not carry the SW in 2019 for the obvious reason that they vehemently oppose devolution of power / self-determination which the zone has shrewdly used to unite the entire South and is making inroads in the NC. Any eleventh hour overtures by APC on restructuring will be viewed as dubious, and will be counterproductive.

          Lose the SW and it’s game over for APC because it will not sweep the North Central. Look up what happened at Modakeke in 1983. Does Buhari look to you like he can risk a Modakeke?

          • lord vuga

            That is assuming elections are won by voting ; but unfortunately , you fail to realise that elections are won thru the control of the security apparatus and the electoral body and their willingness to manipulate those organs.

          • Oparafo Ugakwu

            The same forces did what you are talking about but we know how it has ended in some places. At the risk of repetition, only OBJ, a son of the soil, has rigged elections in the SW and got away. The system was not as heated in 2003, and not much was at stake. That won’t be the case in 2019. You will acknowledge that the atmosphere is no more as conducive for APC in general and for Buhari in particular. The base he enjoyed has shrunk. By praising Jonathan’s hands-free election that brought him in, he set himself up for international scrutiny. Don’t discount what 3 international figures can and will do to him if he manipulates the elections. Soyinka, Anyaoku and Obasanjo still enjoy the audience of relevant global interest groups – the very groups that supported his election. The odds are stacked against this incumbent, however you look at it.

          • lord vuga

            Keep dreaming, thinking international forces will bail you out. Is it trump that couldnt care less if you exist , or uk that has its hands full with brexit ?Gej chickened out in 2015. You dont seem to appreciate the desperation and meaness of apc. Wether you like it or not , come 2019 gmb is going no where. Nigerians are very elastic when it comes to suffering, if we werent we would have broken by now. Popularity or not, they have the control of the security apparatus and inec and even the judiciary and they can manipulate them very well in their favour.
            Folks would only make noise online, but no one will be willing to come out and inhale tear gas talkless of bullets .

    • Okwuchukwu David

      Nobody is begging Buhari or the north for restructuring wether you like it or not is a concluded issue.

      • abbadd

        The North is superior to the south. Without the North’s approval no so-called restructuring can be achieved. keep deceiving yourself you are from a minority and politically irrelevant region. What you believe or think means nothing

        • KWOY

          This is a clear sign of you ABOKI brain! Of course you know that your allies down south are with you in the resistance. Yoruba is fully with you! The But you will see what the times will make of you all! NODBODY IS BEGGING YOU! IT WILL HAPPEN!

          • lord vuga

            Happen just like ipob fizzled out….cowards.pls go find food chop!!

        • lord vuga

          You are very right, but it is minority borne out of greed and selfishness of their so called leaders who lack unity or cohersion but are only after their personal ( not even ethnic) interests, even though they may appear nepotic , but only as long as it serves their personal agenda.

        • Boniface Ebele Nnajiofor

          U are a fool nothing but a fool

      • KWOY

        It is not only the north that resists! Outside the SE & SS, every other is resisting! But in our lifetime it will happen! And you will not be able to prevent it!

      • lord vuga

        Thank you, concluded because it can never happen.

    • Chuma Anierobi

      Why not find out why it was not signed. Why do we talk as there is another country for any of us. The report is there for signature as government is often a continuation and we must stop deceiving ourselves.

    • lord vuga

      Or stuffing their pockets from our collective purse and smiling to foreign banks.

      • Cleansignorance

        What and how much does the North contribute to the national purse? Is not your Northern kleptomaniacs, parading themselves as leaders, who have been stealing and looting the Niger-Delta’s crude oil revenue blind and dry for 57yrs and counting, with no end in sight. while smiling to foreign banks with their thieving family members? Abacha, and now, Buhari seems to be the biggest looter and heists puller of all the Northern thieving leaders.

        What I found extremely repulsive and most annoying tough, is the fact that, these thieves from the North, comes with a toga of fake integrity and have the audacity to accuse Southern politicians of stealing and corruption. Pray, how is it possible to call Diezani Alison Madueke, President Jonathan and other Southern leaders looters, if at all they looted the revenues from the oil in their backyards and under their beds? Then what shall we then call the Northerners who come all the way from the North, in pretense of “one Nigeria” with a sole intent and interest of stealing the Natural resource of Southern Nigeria? What does southern Nigeria benefit from the North? You morons keep harping on the supply of food items such as tomatoes, onions, etc, hell, does the North supply these items to the South for free? in the same manner in which Northern state Governors go to Abuja at the end of the month and share the Niger–Delta’s crude oil revenue among themselves freely with pretense of One Nigeria?

        We, Southern Nigerian indigene are determined to forcefully yank the crude oil feeding bottle from the collective mouths of you cradle to grave Northern parasites, as we have come to the realization, that a parasite does not voluntarily leaves it’s host. Rather, a parasite’s life depends 100% on its host, but at the host’s peril, while the parasite SUCKS it host dry and eventually sucks it to death. The host must either exercise the parasite from it’s body or kill it. That is the stage that the North and Southern parts of Nigeria are in at the moment. The North, I mean the parasitic North, but be cut out, like the cancerous TUMOR that it is, whether you, Northerners like it or Not, The South is TIRED of being SUCKED by the North, so AREWA MUST GO! RESTRUCTURING IS MERELY A FANCY TALK. WE WANT AN OUTRIGHT BREAK-UP FROM AREWA, PERIOD!