April 8, 2018 12:56 am
When half of Nigeria recently gathered in Goodluck Jonathan’s home state, Bayelsa, to press for restructuring as the only way to go before solving other national problems, the Middle Belt people who are now apparently being annihilated, were there too to join the South-South, Ohanaeze and the Afenifere. They spoke in one voice; restructure Nigeria.
The Middle Belt people say they believe in a restructured Nigeria because only such a country could ensure the much needed economic transformation, ethnic cohesion and the unity of the country.
These views were articulated by the representatives of the zone to the just concluded restructuring rally attended by the people of South-South, South-West, South-East and the Middle Belt forums at Yanagoa.
Speaking with BusinessDay at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, in an exclusive interview, the leader of the Middle Belt delegation, Zamani Letwort, a retired army general and a onetime military governor of old Rivers State, said the middle Belt believes that only a restructured Nigeria could get the country out of the serious problem of population explosion that had put pressure on the system, making things not to work.
According to Lekwot, who was surrounded by others such as onetime military governor, an air commodore, Dan Sulaman, and a retired police commissioner Dabub, the people calling for restructuring are saying it to solve these problems. “They are saying there were needs to review what the structure because the permanent thing about life is change. If the structure cannot carry the weight, what is more?”
The centralisation of administration or power had made the states redundant and turned them into beggars. This has suppressed their potentials, he said, pointing out that the devolution of power is all about decongesting the centre.
Lekwot traced the genesis of the present problem to the military coup that dissolved the regions and made Nigeria a unitary state and abolished their functions, pointing out that the centralisation had caused so much disadvantages that those who believe in restructuring are saying that the country must be decongested in order to share power, including revenue generation because all the states in Nigeria have potentials and solid minerals, agriculture, and human resources
According to the Middle Belt group, the best road map to restructure Nigeria is in the 2014 National Conference Report where everything was dissected, pointing out that the only further thing that was required in the report was for the Executive to take it to the National Assembly to perfect the report and start the implementation systematically.
Answering questions on why the North had always objected to the demands for the restructuring of Nigeria, the group admitted that some people in the North have said they do not want restructuring but did not give reasons.
According to them, the North had not sat down in one place to take such decision but that these negative views were from individuals. ‘‘But I speak as a member of the Middle Belt Forum. The Middle Belt believes in restructuring because we are the glue that binds Nigeria together. We are the bridge because what happens in the far north and the south affects us. Our duty as Nigerians is to promote national unity because we are the bridge where the two links make Nigeria thick”.
Nigeria, he noted, is a great country but that all hands must be on deck to make the federation work because according to them, the dissuading voices we hear today were from people who know the truth but do not want to face it. ‘‘They are mischief makers that are benefiting from the status quo despite the fact that the status quo is not working. This is selfishness. We must not only think of ourselves but also of our children and our grand children because the future belongs to the young ones.”