The demand for restructuring Nigeria was given a new flip and a sense of urgency in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, on Saturday, March 24, 2018. There was a rally by the leaders of the Niger Delta and it attracted strong delegations from three other geo-political zones; South-East (Ohaneze); West (Afenifere) and Middle Belt. The North West and North East were not represented. A kingpin of the Niger Delta Elders Forum (PANDEF) that organized the rally told Silver News in confidence that the organizers did not expect the core north because they were seen as the opressors.
The rally and the call make huge impact; not just because it is the home-state of Goodluck Jonathan (a PDP chieftain and force against the present rulling APC team), or that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo just visited Bayelsa before this rally erupted there; but because the rally has made the demand for restructuring more forceful. It has united for zones out of six and this means a lot.
One item on the agenda was to be an address on the ‘State of the Nation’, but that did not happen. Newsmen who pressed deeply were told that it was a tactical wihthdrawal in order not to raise suspicions in Aso Rock. Maturity was applied so as to show that the elders wanted peace and One Nigeria still.
The problem that was not addressed but that was mooted by some leaders who refused to be quoted is whether restructuring should come before elections or after. Campaigns for provisons to be voted for during restructuring and the process of getting the states to adopt could clash with elections and campaigns too. This could prove catastrophic. This has made many to demand that the agitators for restructuring should also create the time table for it so it can be clear to the populace.
Some say the best case scenario should be that political parties should make their stands clear on Restructuring so that a vote on it would look like a referendum. If a party puts it as an agenda, Nigerians would decide, and if they win, it means Nigerians want Restructuring.
The mega rally was organised by Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) in Yenagoa, where they jointly announced their resolve to work together for the realisation of the goal. They contended that restructuring was the best solution to the current challenges confronting the nation.
President General, Igbo apex organisation, Ohanaeze, Chief Nnia Nwodo, said: “What we mean by restructuring is fair treatment and justice; restructuring is a called for new Nigeria, which will enhance unity and justice of the people.
“Our people need unity, equity and justice as citizens; restructuring implies the structural and a physical paradigm of Nigeria to give all sections a sense of belonging,” Nwodo said.
Dr Bala Takaya, President of Middle Belt Forum, who decried the level of security challenges in the country, stressed the need for restructuring of the nation.
According to him, the alliance between the Southern Nigeria and Middle Belt is for inclusive Nigeria to effect the restricting of the Nation to a federal system of government, where each and every federating unit shall hold equal and coordinate powers.
He said: “We hereby, invite fellow Nigerians, desirous of equity, fairness and justice in the affairs of our dear country to join us in the task of moving the country forward.
“Our desire and commitment is that our dear country may resume her delayed journey towards the fulfilment of its manifest destiny,” Takaya said.
In his remark, Chief Edwin Clark, Leader of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), said the leaders of the region were strongly in support of the move for restructuring of the nation. According to Clark, “nobody is more important than any other person in this country, every Nigerian is equal and all we are asking for is fair treatment for all citizens.’’
Chief Ayo Adebayo, leader of Pan-Yoruba socio-political group, said Afenifere also supported the move to restructure the country
The host and Bayelsa Governor, Seriake Dickson, commended his guests and their renewed call for restructuring of the nation.
“We gathered here in Bayelsa, the heart of Ijaw Nation today, for a course for an egalitarian and prosperous Nigeria,” Dickson said. (NAN)