Leaders and Elders of Southern Nigeria are angry with the National Assembly over their unserious and myopic approach to the current agitation in the country. Speaking under the umbrella of Southern Leaders Forum (SLF) after a meeting, the forum strongly condemned the decision of the National Assembly who rejected devolution of powers in its ongoing constitution amendment.
The meeting, which we gathered took place yesterday at the Lagos residence of Chief A.K. Horsfall was called to appraise the state of the nation in line with the various agitations from different parts of the country. The forum at the end of the meeting described the decision of the legislators as “a complete disregard for the popular demand for devolution of more powers to the federating units from the overburdened central government.”
In a statement read by Mr. Yinka Odumakin, the forum said: “We do not want a Nigeria where any section will leave as slaves to another but rather we want a Nigeria where all citizens, irrespective of their ethnic or religious affiliation, are able to live their lives to the fullest and in happiness without let or hindrance. We hold dearly that anyone who is opposed to this vision is an enemy of Nigeria of our dream.
“Instead of devolving power, the National Assembly has now given us a stronger centre that will now conduct elections in local governments against extant provisions of the federalism. It is obvious that the National Assembly has taken itself out of the resolution of the Nigerian crisis by foreclosing devolution of power and unknown to them, they have unwittingly given more ammunition to self-determination forces by attempting to collapse the restructuring column in the battle for the soul of Nigeria. The demand for restructuring cannot end with their (lawmakers) decision as Nigeria has reached a terminal crisis from which it cannot recover except it is re-defined,” the statement affirmed.
Insisting that the region would not stop agitating until Nigeria is restructured again stated, “The restructuring we demand is a return to principles of federalism in Nigeria as obtained in the 1963 Constitution, which allowed the federating units to have autonomy over their local affairs to create a Nigeria that sustains the principles of fairness, equity, respect for all constituent units. We therefore call for immediate meeting of well-meaning leaders from the South and the North to find a way to save Nigeria from destruction and crisis. An urgent return to the principles our founding fathers agreed as the basis for our independence is the only way out for Nigeria as most sectors of our country have lost faith in the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.”
The leaders of thought who said the National Assembly would end up as the worst in the country for taking such “ill-informed stance” also flayed the threat from the recent security meeting in Abuja against those agitating the re-negotiation of the polity when they added that, “Such threats are not taking into account the realities on ground. In Nigeria today, our security forces should note that the crisis in Nigeria requires constructive engagement as against empty and ineffective threats.”
Those who attended the meeting include Afenifere chieftain, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; former Director General of the Department of State Services, Horsfall; former President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prof. Joe Irukwu; former Minister of External Affairs, Maj. Gen. Ike Nwachukwu (rtd); Secretary of the Yoruba Council of Elders, Dr. Kunle Olajide; Publisher of Vanguard, Mr. Sam Amuka; Senator Stella Omu; Col. Tony Nyiam (rtd), Comrade Joseph Evah and Chief Guy Ikokwu. Also in attendance were Afenifere chieftain, Dr. Amos Akingba and Senator Bassey Henshaw.