Northern Elders add voice to calls for restructuring, say govt must listen
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has said that the recurring demands for the restructuring of Nigeria were in order.
It said that what was wrong was the Federal Government’s refusal to hear anything about the demands.
The forum, therefore, called on Nigerians not to get tired insisting on the restructuring of the country.
After the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Enoch Adeboye , on Saturday asked that Nigeria should either be restructured or breakup, the Presidency warned Nigerians making such demands.
In a statement by the president’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the Presidency cautioned against such demands, describing it as “threats to the corporate existence of the country”.
But, NEF spokesman, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, who spoke on the matter on Tuesday when he appeared on a Channels Television programme, Sunrise Daily, said:
“The two basic functions of the state are to secure citizens and provide for their welfare. Now, the Nigerian state is failing in both camps. So, restructuring for us means addressing those failures and identifying ideas, suggestions, and changes that can actually fit into the process of improving them.
“Policing is a fundamental issue. Here in the north where I come from, you could spend three days with bandits ravaging communities and you will not see a single policeman. Something is wrong with the way the country is structured to provide security for citizens. So, we need to revisit some of these issues.
“We need to look at our constitution, look at the way it provides for the Nigerian state, the federating units, allocate responsibilities in power, the works of vital institutions, or the failure of vital institutions to work and how we can improve them.
“When we make demands for the restructuring of the country, we are not necessarily saying that the government is deliberately causing the problems – they are cumulative issues, matters that should have been addressed a long time ago but they were not addressed. Nations must accept to revisit how they live.”
Speaking further he said, “Nigerians have a right to ask for changes, for amendment, for improvement in the manner in which we live. There is nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is for the government to specifically say we don’t want to hear anything about restructuring.
“Right now, no one will dispute that the federal government carries too many responsibilities most of which it doesn’t discharge, has too many resources and is not well run. It has become a focus of intense competition. The type of competition that makes the political system unstable. Everybody wants the Presidency. Everybody wants to go to Abuja. Abuja is everything. This is wrong.”
According to Baba-Ahmed, “many conferences whose recommendations have not been implemented need to be implemented.”
He added, “We believe that Nigerians should never (be) tired about demanding that their country must be made to work. If the government is not going to do it on its own, it needs assistance. If it needs some pressure, we believe we can provide that pressure.”