Restructuring: Nigeria doesn’t depend on North, anybody – PANDEF …Your position on restructuring is a show of weakness, Middle Belt Forum tells NEF By Anayo Okoli, Dapo Akinrefon, Peter Duru & Chioma Onuegbu Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, its counterpart in the South East, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, and the Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, yesterday flayed Northern Elders Forum, NEF, over its position on restructuring and recent #EndSARS protests across the country.
The Northern Elders had in a statement issued by the Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said they were aware of attempts by some politicians interested in contesting the 2023 presidential election to weaken the north on many fronts in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests. NEF also stated that it had credible information about a plan to force restructuring on the north, under the guise of ending the agitation against bad governance in the country.
‘’The Forum is aware of attempts to weaken the north by interests that believe that this is their only path to success in 2023 elections. These interests should know that the north will neither be blackmailed nor intimidated, and we are quite capable of identifying and protecting our own interests. ‘’Some of these interests seek to exploit our plural nature and deepen what they see as divisions. They will fail because northerners know that what unites us is a lot stronger than what divides us. ‘’Others create the impression that the north is opposed to the country being restructured along lines that will improve the quality of our union, ensure higher higher standards of justice, better security and progress for all Nigerians.
‘’The north is ready to discuss all elements of our co-existence, but will not be stampeded into submitting to others who feel uncomfortable with a strong and united north, or blackmail us to adopt their visions of our future,’’ the northern elders had said. But reacting yesterday, Afenifere in a statement signed by the National Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin, said nobody was stampeding the North into anything. He said: “It is unfortunate that such a major development that we should interrogate as a country is being given such narrow interpretation about weakening of the North and this shows we cannot reason solutions to our problem when our compatriots cannot step out of the box.
“Nobody is stampeding the North into anything and they are the one doing our way or the highway and that it is what they allow that should happen but we have had enough of that.” In its reaction, Ohanaeze Ndigbo said the northern elders statement only goes to show that the North had been enjoying the imbalance in the structure of the nation which gave them undeserved advantage.
Speaking through his Media Adviser, Emeka Attamah, the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo said: “The statement by the Northern Elders is a tacit admission that the North has been enjoying an undeserved advantage viz a viz the South. “However, the North, if they understand the import of restructuring, will realize that no part of the country will be adversely affected if it is carried out. “It just means bringing out the best in all sections of the country. It will also remove imbalance, marginalization and incessant uprisings and agitations from some parts of the country. “It is unnecessary fear of the unknown that is bogging them.
A clearer understanding of restructuring will appeal to all”. PANDEF Also reacting to the Northern elders’ position, the apex socio-cultural organization of the South-South geo-political zone, the Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, said the restructuring of Nigeria was not for the north or anybody to decide. National Chairman of the Forum, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga, retd, said there was no plan to force restructuring on the north under the guise of ending the agitations against bad governance in the country.
Nkanga, who pointed out that restructuring of Nigeria was a sealed matter, reiterated that even if the country was not restructured, it would eventually restructure itself. He said there was the need to still continuously educate the north on what restructuring was actually all about, since the northern elders were misinformed on the issue.
Nkanga said: “How should they (NEF) come out to say people plan to force restructuring on them under the guise of agitation against bad governance?. ‘’By that statement, they have admitted that there is bad governance in the country. And must they be forced to do the right thing? “Well that is their opinion, but the truth is that everybody is looking for a way to have good governance and if there is bad governance and restructuring is what will end it, a sensible person will not do otherwise. “However, it is not for them to say whether there will be restructuring or not. It doesn’t depend on anybody; it doesn’t depend on the north. Restructuring will take place if Nigeria has to remain as a country.
That one is a sealed matter. “We have said it many times that whether we like it or not, if we don’t restructure Nigeria, Nigeria will one day restructure itself. Apparently, they don’t understand what restructuring is all about. I think we should try to continuously educate them because it is either they are misinformed, or maybe they are afraid of the truth. “But if they know that restructuring is what will bring good governance and they refused to do it, then I am sorry for them, I am also sorry for this country. That is mischief.’’
n On the allegation of using #EndSARS to weaken the north ahead of the 2023 presidential election, Nkanga expressed sadness that the northern elders were more concerned about power than the future of Nigerian youths. “It breaks my heart to hear people carry the #EndSARS thing into the political arena. So power to them is more important than what the youths are asking for.
The youths are asking for good future. Nobody has come out to say that what they (Nigerian youths) are asking for is not genuine. “But it cannot stand. The wheel of justice might grind very slowly, but justice will always prevail. We are not saying they should not pursue their interest but how that affects the other people’s interest is what is important.
You cannot pursue your interest at the detriment of other people. “I just pray they will sit down and forget all about power mongering. The life of our children is more important than the power they are looking for.” M-Belt Forum Similarly, the Middle Belt Forum, MBF, faulted the position of the Northern Elders Forum, describing it as unfortunate and a show of weakness.
The Forum also insisted that the recent #ENDSARS protest would in the near future positively impact the entire country. President of the National President of the MBF, Dr. Pogu Bitrus, said: “That is a statement that indicates weakness on the part of the North, because if any person views any effort to have Nigeria restructured as being against them (North), it is then an unfortunate development which shows weakness.
“That is, they feel that they cannot survive if Nigeria is restructured. It is an unfortunate viewpoint by the North. The North needs to have a wholistic look at Nigeria. Nigerians are not made up of colonizers and colonies. “We are all partners in this commonwealth and it is high time the North realized it.
And any effort to stop the whole of Nigeria from moving forward is going to be met with resistance because Nigerians will not accept such. “We cannot continue to stay in a skewed system that serves only part of this country where things are not working and yet people want it to remain the way it is. “What we are saying is that we don’t accept that position, the Middle Belt is not going to support them in that.
And as far as we are concerned, restructuring is the way forward because Nigeria needs to progress rather than remain stagnant or even retrogress as they want it to. “On the issue of #ENDSARS protest, I must say that it was a corrective measure which the youths embarked on in favour of all. “We, their leaders and fathers, have not been able to do what they did for us.
We must thank the youths for doing what they did. At least, Nigeria will be better for it for the far reaching changes that will come after the protest. “Even our police will be better for it because today, the salary of our police personnel is being improved and the police will be better equipped to do their jobs. Policing in the country will be more of the international standard than what we had before the protests.
“So the #ENDSARS thing has achieved a lot. And anybody who saw it as aimed at regime change is not sincere with himself and that is unfortunate. “It is also unfortunate and retrogressive to think that the President is a northern President. The President is a Nigerian President.
When a President wins election, he is a Nigerian President. He is not an APC or PDP President. It is unfortunate that they see the President as a Northern President. “It is unfortunate that they are not with us in this federalism we are practicing, they are still practicing sectionalism and we are not going to buy into that. We are going with mainstream Nigeria. The northerners must realize that Nigeria is a united entity and not a North, East or West kind of entity.”