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General News of Friday, 27 October 2023


Without restructuring, Nigeria's democracy bleak — Southern, Middle Belt leaders tell Tinubu

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu President Bola Ahmed Tinubu

Leaders and Elders of the South East, South West, South-South, and Middle Belt Regions represented by Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Afenifere, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), and the Middle Belt Forum, have called on President Bola Tinubu to focus on restructuring Nigeria to save the democratic principles.

The country’s elder statesmen made this known in a communique issued at the end of their meeting of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) held in Abuja on Thursday, reiterating that the future of the country is only secured in restructuring.

The communique was signed by the Leader, Chief (Dr.) E.K. Clark; Afenifere Leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; President-General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Chief Dr Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu; Chairman, Middle Belt Elders Council, and Former Military Governor, Rivers State, General Zamani Lekwot (rtd); President, Middle Belt Forum, Dr. Pogu Bitrus and National Chairman, PANDEF, Senator Emmanuel Ibok-Essien.

While expressing concerns on the state of the nation, the Forum said certain regions of the country including the South East are not properly represented in government, as it said Nigeria must give equality and a sense of belonging to all citizens.

The communique read, “The meeting discussed exhaustively current developments in the country, and arrived at the following conclusions:

“That the Federal Government should, as a matter of urgency, and priority, work towards the Restructuring of the country and enthrone True Federalism as was originally entrenched in the 1960 and 1963 constitutions;

“That, without restructuring, the future of Nigeria and democracy remain bleak and must, therefore, be carried out immediately;

“Expresses great concern and total rejection of the trend where certain sections of the country, are continually marginalized in the number of states, local governments, and even appointments into the Federal Executive Council.

“Particularly requests that the South-East be appropriately represented on the Federal Executive Council, similar to other Geo-Political Zones.

“Insists that Nigeria must always remain a country where all citizens and sections enjoy a full sense of belonging and equality.”

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Speaking about the 2023 presidential election and the Supreme Court judgment that affirmed the victory of President Bola Tinubu, the elders hailed the political class for abiding by the constitutional means to air their grievances.

The communique said, “The 2023 Presidential Election, the Meeting extensively discussed the outcome of the 2023 General Elections; commends the political class, especially the leading Presidential candidates in the 2023 Presidential Election for their recourse to constitutional means in redressing their grievances; notes the Supreme Court judgment on the 2023 Presidential Election delivered today, Thursday, 26th October 2023, which effectively brings to an end the legal processes on the conduct and outcome of the Presidential Election, held on 25th February 2023. We will in the coming days, make a substantial pronouncement on the judgment.”

About national concerns, “SMBLF urges that efforts be redoubled to assuage the daily depreciating living standard of Nigerians; calls on the Federal Government to urgently salvage the Naira, which continues to depreciate daily.”

It also advises “that the Federal Government should take urgent steps to release Nnamdi Kanu since a court of competent jurisdiction has ordered so. We believe that doing so will promote peace and security in the South East.

“That the Federal Capital Territory remains the national patrimony of all Nigerians; thus, condemns the present efforts by some to arrogate exclusiveness. This must be rejected and the promoters of such views should be called to order.

It also insists that President Tinubu takes an urgent look at the 2014 National Conference Report, concluded by 494 of the Country’s leaders, as well as the All Progressives Congress (APC) Report on True Federalism

“The Meeting resolved to set up a Strategic Committee on Restructuring and expressed readiness to interface with the Federal Government, the National Assembly, and all other stakeholders, on the enunciated issues.

“The Meeting congratulated Chief E. K. Clark on his 96th Birthday, which was on 25th May 2023, and on the successful launch of his autobiography “Brutally Frank”, held on 17th August 2023.”

The meeting was held in an atmosphere of cordiality and general unanimity, was chaired by the Leader, Chief Dr. E. K. Clark, OFR, CON, and had in attendance several national leaders including Chief Ayo Adebanjo – Leader, Afenifere, Chief Dr. Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, MFR, OFR, CFR, President-General, Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide, Dr. Pogu Bitrus – President, Middle Belt Forum, Chief Sen. Cornelius Adebayo – former Governor of Kwara State, Obong Victor Attah, former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, and Senator Emmanuel Ibok-Essien – National Chairman, PANDEF.

Others in the meeting were General Zamani Lekwot rtd., former Military Governor of Rivers State, General Lawrence Onoja rtd., Ph.D., mni – former Military Governor of Katsina State, Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ishaya Bamaiyi, CFR, former Chief of Army Staff, Chief Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, CON – former Governor of Anambra State, Chief S.N. Okeke – former Chairman, Police Service Commission, Chief Onyema Ugochukwu, CON – former Chairman of NDDC, Chief (Barr.) Sola Ebiseni – National Secretary, Afenifere, Amb. (Dr.) Godknows Igali, Amb. Okey Emuchay MFR – Secretary General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Senator Nimi Barigha-Amange, Senator Musa Adede, Prof. G. G. Darah, Solomon Asemota SAN, D.I.G. Potter L. Dabup (rtd.), Engr. Marcus Gundiri, Akin Oshuntokun, Dr. Akin Fapohunda, Prof Charles Nwakeaku, Dele Farotimi, Prof. Echefuna Onyebeadi, Jonathan Tsaku, Mr. Mac Emakpore, Hon. Dr. Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia, Prince Maikpobi Okareme, Jonathan Asake, Mrs. Elizabeth Jibrin, Chief Hon. Olivia Agbajoh Esq, Dr. Ken Robinson, among others.