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Southern, Middle Belt leaders seek restructuring, diversification,others

By Anietie Akpan (Calabar), Inemesit Akpan-Nsoh (Uyo) and Oludare Richards and Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze (Abuja)   |   17 July 2017   |   4:20 am

The demands was made at a consultative summit yesterday in Abuja where the leaders, in a communique read by Afenifere spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, expressed support for Nigeria as “one nation under God.”

•Elder statesman urges economic rejigging
•Stop deceiving Nigerians, cleric tells agitators
•‘Tribalism, nepotism bane of Nigeria’s development’

Southern and Middle Belt leaders have called for a new fiscal formula that could diversify the economy from its over-dependence on oil and gas. They equally want the nation restructured in accordance with the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference.

The call, the leaders stressed, would encourage the federating units to develop their natural and human resources for regional and national development with the states and local councils remitting an agreed percentage to the federation account.

The demands was made at a consultative summit yesterday in Abuja where the leaders, in a communique read by Afenifere spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, expressed support for Nigeria as “one nation under God.”

They urged the Federal Government to immediately send the conference report to the National Assembly for action just as a call for the devolution of powers and functions to the federating units to better serve the interests of the people was also made.

The group drew the attention of the Federal Government to the fact that Nigeria is a secular state, in which governments cannot adopt any state religion.

They said: “Therefore, we ask the Federal Government to immediately review the discriminatory appointments into key offices of government and the public service and comply with Section 14 of the 1999 Constitution.”

The leaders also admonished government to immediately disarm all herdsmen and rein their destructive activities. They further stated: “State governments are also called upon to outlaw open grazing in favour of organised ranching. We equally condemn the quit notice by Arewa youths to the Igbo living in the north.”

However, an elder statesman and former member of the House of Representatives between 1979 and 1983, Chief David Ukpong, says what the country needs was
economic and not political restructuring.

Addressing newsmen yesterday in Uyo, the one-time representative of Itu/Ibiono Ibom Federal Constituency of Akwa Ibom State observed that the numerous agitations were not directional and thus, create a lot of confusion.

“I feel greatly disturbed hearing a group of people calling for the political restructuring of Nigeria. What I feel should be done is restoring true federalism so that each state controls its natural resources and then pay royalty to the Federal Government.”

Meanwhile, the Anglican Bishop of Otukpo Diocese, Benue State, Rt. Rev David Bello, has taken a swipe at the proponents of restructuring, advising them to stop deceiving Nigerians.

Speaking yesterday in Abuja, he argued that restructuring was not the problem of Nigeria, stressing that what is needed was a reorientation of mindsets by the citizens.

But the Primate of All Nigerian, (Anglican Communion), Most Rev Nicholas Okoh had canvassed that the issue be subjected to debate and the scope well spelt out to allow for informed decisions.

Also, the nation’s under-development has been traced largely to tribalism and nepotism. The National Association of Seadogs (NAS), otherwise known as Pyrates confraternity, made the submission during its 2017 Feast of Barracuda with the theme: “Pyratism and the family: Our treasured value” at the weekend in Calabar, Cross River State.

Its former president and Chief Consultant with the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH), Dr Ofem Enang, said Nigeria had failed in core intrinsic values like love.




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