Leaders from the Southern part of the country and their counterparts from the Middle Belt, on Saturday, in Abuja, insisted that Nigeria must be restructured now, just as they demanded the implementation of the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference.
Rising from a joint meeting, they declared that restructuring remained the only panacea for ending the rash of ethnic agitations in the land.
In a communiqué issued after the meeting convened by an elder statesman and leader of the Ijaw nation, Chief Edwin Clark, the leaders cautioned against the danger of allowing the agitations to persist.
The leaders, who came from all the three zones in the South: South-South, South-West and South-East, as well as Middle Belt, included Chief Olu Falae, Professor Jerry Gana, Idris Wada, retired Commodore Dan Suleiman, Mr Labaran Maku and Mr Yinka Odumakin, who read communiqué at a press conference.
According to him, the meeting was meant to find realistic solutions to the mounting agitations for a fair, just, equitable and balanced restructuring of the federal system.
He said the leaders affirmed their loyalty, love and support for the country as one entity, but that they believed that the existing federal structure was “unbalanced, unjust, unfair, over-centralised, unstable, anti-development and therefore unacceptable.”
He added: “Accordingly, we firmly our support for the demand to restructure the federation in line with the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference.
“Recommendations to restore the country to the principles of federalism enshrined in the Independence Constitution negotiated by our founding fathers. For the federation to function properly in the interest of the constituent parts there should be fundamental devolution of powers and functions to the federating units.
“This is important so that each federating unit can effectively serve the development interests of the people. This is the central essence of a good federation, not the current over-centralisation of powers and functions in the central government.”
Odumakin said that as a logical derivative, “Nigeria must work out a new fiscal formula that would move the country away from the current overdependence on oil and gas revenue to a diversified economy; a diversified economy where all federating units are encouraged to develop their abundant natural human resources for regional and national development. The federating units shall remit agreed percentage of their revenue to the federation account.”
He said the leaders urged the Federal Government to take appropriate and urgent steps to ensure the full implementation of the resolutions and recommendations contained in the 2014 National Conference report.