As Nigerians battle insecurity and economic hardship, the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) has called on President Bola Tinubu to take necessary steps toward implementing the 2014 national conference recommendations which include restructuring of the country’s governance system to entrench true federalism that would ensure even development.
The Forum observed that given the current state of the country, it has become imperative to conduct a constitutional amendment to address the systemic challenges bedeviling the country and ensure political and economic stability.
This was contained in a communique issued at the end of a meeting held by the Southern and Middle Belt leaders in Abuja on Monday, February 5, 2024, chaired by Chief Edwin Clark.
Prime Business Africa reports that the meeting was attended by several elder statesmen including former Governors, former Members of the National Assembly, former Ministers and other Leaders from the respective zones.
According to the communique signed by Chief Edwin Clark, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Afenifere leader; Chief Emmanuel Iwuanwanwu, President-General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide; Dr. Pogu Bitrus, President-General, Middle Belt Forum; and Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien, National Chairman, PANDEF, the forum’s discussions focused on the state of the Nigerian nation, the national economy and other related matters.
The group expressed concern about the level of division and retrogression in Nigeria due to “the faulty federal system being practiced,” and called on President Tinubu who had been at the forefront of the struggle for true federalism to “have the courage to lead the country into proper practice
of federalism as obtains all over the world.”
“Furthermore, the meeting calls on President Tinubu to set in motion the machinery towards eventual constitutional amendment by implementing the 2014 National Conference Report and the El Rufai Committee Report on True Federalism of 201 8 set up by the APC government,” part of the communique read.
Speaking on the spate of insecurity across the country, with the most recent ones being in Plateau, Ekiti, Kwara, Kogi, Benue States and the FCT, SMBLF said it is quite “inconceivable” how criminal elements operate in certain parts of the country successfully without hindrance.
While appreciating the sacrifices being made by some securities agents, the Forum called on the concerned authorities “to redouble efforts and restore peace back to the entire country.”
“The worsening state of insecurity again reinforces the call for rejigging of the whole security architecture of the country; in particular the urgent need for more federal government interest and encouragement towards ongoing state and community policing efforts around the country,” the Forum said.
It condemned the setting up of an ethnic militia by the Miyetti Allah two weeks ago in Lafia, Nasarawa State and called on the Federal Government not to allow such action, as it would force other ethnicities into setting up their own ethnic armies and that will lead to national disintegration.
The group also joined their voice with those calling for the creation of state police as a sustainable way of combating insecurity across the country.
Speaking on the worsening economic crisis, the Southern and Middle Belt leaders warned that “the rising poverty in the country puts the very existence of the federation at great risk.”
“From its recent ranking as the ‘poverty capital of the world’, it is disheartening to note, that in the past few months, things have worsened as most Nigerians are virtually living on hand-outs.
“In another respect, the Nigerian Naira has fallen uncontrollably to levels that were never imagined and the situation is getting worse daily.”
The group called on the President and his team to come up with practical solutions to address the problems.
The Forum also condemned the continued detention of the Indigenous People of Biafra leader, Nnamdi Kanu, and warned about its implication on peace and security in the South East. It therefore called on President Tinubu to “ensure that the rule of law is allowed to prevail on this matter
and all court rulings on this matter are obeyed.”
“The release of Nnamdi Kanu is in the interest of the entire country as the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo has promised that they will work with him to restore peace in the region,” the group added.