Southern leaders react to President Buhari's speech, insist on restructuring

Southern leaders react to President Buhari's speech, insist on restructuring

- Southern leaders are insisting Nigeria must be restructured

- They said without this, the unity of the country would be at stake

- They called on the president to support it as a way of moving the country forward

The Southern Leaders Forum (SLF) has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s address to the nation saying his discussion with Emeka Ojukwu does not end the discussion on Nigeria.

The Punch reports that the leaders met in Lagos on Wednesday, August 23 over the need for the country to be restructured.

The forum, represented by Chiefs Edwin Clark, Albert Horsefall (south-south); Chief John Nwodo, Prof. Joe Irukwu (south-east); and Chief Reuben Fasoranti, Chief Ayo Adebanjo (south-west), spoke in Lagos at a press conference titled, ‘Only Restructuring will Ensure the Unity, Peace and Development of Nigeria.’

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Others at the event included Prof. Banji Akintoye, Tony Uranta, national coordinator of the Oodua Peoples Congress, Chief Gani Adams; Supo Shonibare, Guy Ikokwu, Tony Nyiam and Prof. Walter Ofonagoro.

The forum insisted that the discussion on restructuring starts with the president and not the National Assembly as contained in Buhari’s speech.

“While the composition of the National Assembly is clearly jigged and indeed one of the bodies to be restructured, the National Council of State is not open to Nigerians. If any discourse is to take place on constitutional changes within the democratic framework, Mr. President is the one who has the responsibility to initiate the process,” the group said.

The group accused President Buhari of trying to downplay the discussion on restructuring by referring to his discussion with Ojukwu.

“The meeting between the two of them could not have been a Sovereign National Conference whose decisions cannot be reviewed. We agree with their conclusion that we should remain united, but that does not foreclose discussions of the terms and conditions of the union.

“The claim that Nigeria’s unity is settled and not negotiable is not tenable. Every country is in a daily dialogue and there is nothing finally settled in its life. Stable nations are still fine-tuning details of the architecture of their existence. How much more Nigeria that has yet to attain nationhood? If we are settled as a nation, we will not be dealing with the many crises of nation-building that are afflicting us today, which have made it extremely difficult to squarely face issues of growth and development.

“The British negotiated to put the various ethnic groups together. All the constitutional conferences held in the years before independence were negotiations. When the North walked out of the parliament in 1953 after Chief Anthony Enahoro moved the motion for independence, it took negotiations to bring them back into the union after an eight-point agenda, which was mainly about confederations,” the group added.

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The SLF also criticised President Buhari’s description of Fulani herdsmen attack on farmers as a case of “two fighting” groups.

The forum said: “To present the various onslaughts on farmers by the herdsmen as ‘two fighting,’ would portray the President as taking sides with the aggressive Meyitti Allah. While we do not hold the administration responsible for all agitations in Nigeria due to the crises of unitary constitution, there are clearly many errors of commission and omission that have accentuated the strong self-determination feelings across the country which only restructuring can tame.”

Meanwhile, a member of the House of Representatives, Bolaji Ayinla, said on Tuesday, August 22, that Nigeria’s problem was an absence of maintenance culture for its infrastructure, and not restructuring.

Ayinla, who represents Mushin 2 Constituency of Lagos state, stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.

Watch a TV video below of Nigerians debating about the issue of restructuring:


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