Southern leaders on Monday in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, reviewed the state of the nation under President Muhammadu Buhari.
They warned that the nation may breakup due to Buhari’s opposition to the re-balancing 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 a review of its current structure.
On the discussion panel were Afenifere leaders, including Lt. Gen. Alani Akinrinade (rtd) and its spokesman, Mr. Yinka Odumakin; 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; a university don, Prof Gordini Darah and leader of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), Alhaji Yerima Shettima.
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.
“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.
“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.”
“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.”
In a chat with newsmen, 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.