Former President Goodluck Jonathan has called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government to revisit the report of the 2014 national conference to end the myriad of agitations, protests, provocations and clamour for reforms in Nigeria.
He described the implementation of the confab report as the only way out for Nigeria in the face of clamour for the restructuring of the country.
Jonathan made the call on Saturday at the mega rally tagged, ‘Restructuring the Nigerian Federation’, organised by leaders of Pan Niger Delta Elders Forum, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Afenifere and Middle Belt Forum under the aegis of Mass Alliance for Inclusive Nigeria Front.
The rally took place at the Ox-Bow Lake Pavilion, Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.
Jonathan, whose speech was read by Senator Nimi Barigha-Amange, noted that Nigerians “have to engage in dialogue in order to avoid the opposite action which could bring about destruction to lives and property and the very thing that holds us together as members of the Nigerian federation.”
He said he decided to convene the 2014 national conference as a response to the yearnings of Nigerians for reforms to make the Nigeria federation work.
He said, “In convening the national conference, I had my mind trained in establishing a polity that would work for our people and further unite our country. The one that would close the gaps along tribal, ethnic and religious lines.
“Until Nigeria comes up with an acceptable way of running the country, there is every likelihood that our nation will continue to witness agitations and protests from groups and ethnic nationalities that believe rightly or wrongly that they have been handed the short end of the stick.
“The goal of the 500-member conference, made up of young and old; diverse people from all walks of life as true representatives of different interest groups in our country, was thoroughly and fully discussed and agreed on every issue that has for long agitated the minds of Nigerians on how best to run the federation.”
Governor Seriake Dickson reiterated his assertion that those calling for the restructuring of Nigeria were true lovers of the country, declaring that all over Nigeria there were cries for justice.
Dickson said, “The calls for restructuring, which we are all here to reiterate, is a call for a return to the original founding principles. All our leaders here are the real lovers of Nigeria and not the other way round. And no blackmail, intimidation should sway us to abandon this noble cause.’’
On his part, the National Leader of PANDEF, Chief Edwin Clark, posited that the constituent parts of the federation would do better in terms of development, if they were empowered to control and manage their resources.
Going down memory lane, leader of the Afenifere delegation, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, noted that what was today known as struggle for resource control was started by Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who made a strong case for the minorities in the 1954 London Constitutional Conference.
Presenting the position of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo, said the mass movement for restructuring was aimed at restoring the stolen sovereignty of the people from oppressive and undemocratic forces for the common good of the country.
Dr. Bala Takaya of the Middle Belt also called on youths and women to join in the task of saving the country from the precipice.
While stressing that the Middle Belt was in the vanguard for the call for true federalism through restructuring, he said only true federalism would give a sense of belonging to all ethnic nationalities in Nigeria and stop incessant killings in the country.
Others at the mega rally were a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae; a former Governor of Plateau State, Senator Jonah Jang; a former Ijaw Youth Council President, Chief Asari Dokubo; Senator Stella Omu and representatives of the governors of Delta and Akwa Ibom states.
They insisted that true federalism of Nigeria was the answer to the nation’s stability and economic prosperity, stressing that recent developments in the country lent credence to the fact that there was no better time to restructureNigeria than now.