Posted by News Express | 23 June 2017 | 3,411 times
Political leaders and stakeholders from the Middle Belt geopolitical zone on Thursday suggested that the current six geopolitical zones should be further expanded to 12 and the states of the federation increased to 54 as part of restructuring the country for peace and unity.
The suggestion was part of the recommendation of the 2014 national constitutional conference.
They also advocated the implementation of the report as a way of curbing the agitation for the breakup of the country.
At a meeting convened under the aegis of Middle Belt Conference led by Prof Jerry Gana, the forum condemned the series of threats and counter-threats being issued by ethnic agitators against one another.
The meeting was attended by various leaders from all six states in the North Central zone as well as some leaders from Adamawa, Taraba, and Southern Kaduna.
The group in the resolution adopted at the end of the over seven hours meeting held in Abuja, also agreed that there is a need for restructuring of the country but with all involved agreeing to the issues to be tabled for discussion.
They specifically wanted a Middle Belt region made up of the current six states in the North Central zone as well as Southern Kebbi, Southern Kaduna, Southern Borno and parts of Adamawa, Taraba, and Gombe.
In attendance at the conference presided over by former Information Minister, Jerry Gana, included former Deputy Senate Leader, Jonathan Zwingina from Adamawa State; Air Commodore Dan Suleiman also from Adamawa; former PDP National Chairman, Ahmadu Ali from Kogi State, and former Senate President Iyiorchia Ayu from Benue State.
The conference also condemned what it called the “murderous activities of Fulani herdsmen” and called on the Federal Government to take serious measures to curb their menace.
The conference came to an agreement that the current federalism in Nigeria is not working properly because of its challenges, suggesting further that Nigerian federation could best be more successful by introducing regional governments.
The Middle Belt leaders proposed a three-tier federating structure which would retain a president to preside over the affairs of the Federation by heading the Federal Government while each of the 12 regions should have a governor-general, and the states should continue to have elected state governors.
“Local governments should be the responsibilities of state governments to ensure effective grassroots development”, the conference agreed.
Middle Belt Resolutions
The communiqué issued at the end of the conference and signed by the Secretary of the Middle Belt Forum, John Dara, reads: “In a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious country like Nigeria, the federal system makes enormous sense, because it allows the federating units to fully look after their local affairs and to develop at their own pace. Therefore, we hereby renew our loyalty, love and strong support for the united Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We appeal to all separatist agitators to allow the restructuring initiatives to run its full cause. We need to stay and work together to ensure that new leadership that can make Nigeria great emerges in the next elections.
“We condemn the murderous activities of Fulani herdsmen in the Middle Belt and other parts of Nigeria. We call on the Federal Government to step up security measures to curb this menace.
“Similarly, we call on the Federal Government and state government of Borno to bring back our Chibok girls. And resettle our people of Southern Borno and other internally displaced people in their ancestral lands and homes.
“However, we are resolutely of the view that the current federal structure is unbalanced, unfair, over-centralised and therefore unstable. Accordingly, we firmly support the demand to re-structure the federation, together with appropriate devolution of powers to the federating units, and a commensurate revenue allocation formula.
“Since these fundamental matters were considered and resolved at the 2014 national conference, we urge the Federal Government to take appropriate and urgent steps to ensure full implementation of resolutions and recommendations contained in the conference report.
“We believe that a faithful and effective implementation of those recommendations will promote peace, harmony and greater security, thereby giving Nigeria a new lease of life.
“We denounce, in the strongest possible terms, recent calls and threats to Nigerians from the South East living in the northern states of Nigeria to move back to their areas of origin. Being free, equal and legitimate citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, such calls on South-Easterners are totally unconstitutional and unacceptable. We urge the federal and state governments to take effective steps to ensure the safety and security of all Nigerians, wherever they may choose to reside.
“Whereas we love Nigeria and all Nigerians, we are constrained to make it abundantly clear that, in the catastrophic event of other components of Nigeria insisting on separating from Nigeria we resolutely wish to remain and continue to be the Federal Republic of Nigeria, with our capital at Abuja.”
•Text courtesy of Independent.
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