Restructuring: Nigerians won’t take fresh promises from Buhari —Southern, Middle Belt leaders

SOUTHERN and Middle Belt leaders, on Friday, told President Muhammadu Buhari not to attempt to make a fresh promise to restructure the country as his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), holds its convention today.

The leaders, in a statement, said the only acceptable action the president could take is the immediate commencement of the restructuring of the country as promised by him and his party before the last elections.

The statement was signed by Senator Bassey Henshaw for the South-South, Mr Yinka Odumakin for the South-West, Professor Chigozie Ogbu for the South-East and Dr Isuwa Dogo for the Middle Belt.

It reads: “As the ruling party holds its convention on Saturday [today], the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum wants to remind the president and his party that unlike their challengers, the only window for them on restructuring is before the elections and not after it.

“In 2015, the party put it in its manifesto to restructure Nigeria into a true federation. But after obtaining the votes of Nigerians, they said they did not know the meaning of restructuring again and that when they spoke with 200 million Nigerians they got 200 million definitions without telling us their own understanding when they inserted it in their own manifesto.

“After all the rigmarole, they set up a committee under Governor Nasir el-Rufai who earlier described advocates of restructuring as ‘jobbers’. After going round the country, his report was very similar to the ‘jobbers recommendations’. We have heard nothing on it again ever since.

“Basking in the euphoria of June 12 (a deserved recognition that gives no more than psychological soothing ), we can guess the president wanting to tap into restructuring by issuing promissory notes on it. Nigerians would see such as a dud cheque and demand cash payment on restructuring before February elections.

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“Once beaten twice shy is an eternal wisdom.

“Nigeria our dear country is now in coma of a sort. It is not the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders saying so but the facts of our existence are screaming it loud. Millions of our young people roam the streets without jobs. The ruling party promised to create three million jobs annually in 2015 but nine million jobs have been lost instead in three years. Frustration is driving many citizens to commit suicide now and then.

“A recent study by NOI polls Limited showed that poverty and malnutrition now account for 31 per cent of deaths in our country. Workers are owed as much as 18 months salaries in some states. The manufacturing sector is completely comatose as our environment becomes increasingly hostile to business. Our young people searching for greener pasture perish in droves in the desert. No fewer than 10,000 Nigerians died between January and May 2017 while trying to illegally migrate through the Mediterranean Sea and the deserts, according to the Nigerian Immigration Service.

“Life is daily becoming miserable and hellish for most of our citizens who don’t have access to government freebies and we are careering dangerously to the edge of the precipice. It has not always been so in our productive years under the practice of Federalism. Each section of the country leveraged on its strength to develop at its pace. The Eastern part of Nigeria advanced through palm oil, coal and other produces. The West built an enviable civilisation with cocoa proceeds. The North was exporting 675,000 metric tonnes of groundnut and the pyramids went up.

“The embrace of unitary rule turned our glory to ashes and the sharing culture turned us to an unproductive entity with poverty as the end product. Our earning from oil today is less than what India makes from the US in ICT and a fifth of what Malaysia makes from tourism alone.

“This is the imperative of restructuring to ensure that we remove many of the items from the 68 items on the Exclusive List  of our constitution that have turned the federating units to ‘bailouts’ seekers from Abuja that produces nothing but warehouses rents because of the unitary provisions of the 1999 Constitution .

“There is no other way out but to restructure Nigeria and every politician seeking votes in 2019 should be asked where he or she stands on the matter.”

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