Would they sustain the tempo?
“COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF A MEETING OF THE SOUTHERN AND MIDDLE BELT LEADERS’ FORUM HELD ON THURSDAY, 10TH MARCH 2022.
1. “A Meeting of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF), held on Thursday, 10th March 2022, in Abuja under the Chairmanship of the Leader and Elder Statesman, Chief E. K. Clark, OFR, CON.
2. “Delegations of the constituent Organisations of the SMBLF were respectively led by Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Leader of Afenifere (South West); Dr. Pogu Bitrus, President of the Middle Belt Forum ( Middle Belt); Professor George Obiozor, President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo represented by the Secretary-General, Ambassador Okey Emuchay, MFR (South East); and Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien, FNSE, National Chairman of Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF (South South).
3. “The Meeting was also attended by former Governors, Ministers, Federal and state legislators, top politicians and professionals from the Southern and Middle Belt regions, including His Excellency, Senator Jonah Jang, Senator Femi Okurounmu, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Professor Ihechukwu Madubuike, Professor Charles Nwekeabu, Chief Gary Igwariwey (former PG Ohanaeze), Senator Bassey Ewa Henshaw, HRH Eze Cletus Iluomanya, Dr. Solomon Arase, Chief Supo Shonibare, Chief Sola Ebiseni, Chief Edozie Ezeugwa, Eze Dr. Ibe Nwosu, Engr. Bekinbo Dagogo-Jack, Nze Ozichukwu Chukwu, Elder Steven Bangoji, Dr. Akin Fapohunda, Dr. Alabi Femi, Dame Betty Igbeyi, mni, Hon. Dr. Stella Dorgu, Nella Andem-Ewa, SAN, Dr. Ebun Sonaiya, Hon. Edward Pwajok, SAN, Dr. Alex Ogbonnia, Eze Charles Olisakwe, Hon. Keftin Amiga, CP Iorbes Ihagh (Rtd)- PG MUT, Dr. Mrs. Esther Mangzha, Mrs. Beatrice Eze, Elizabeth A. Jibrin, Engr. Bayo Adenekan, Elder Mac Emakpore, Chief Douyi Douglas-Naingba, Akin Osuntokun, Hon. Jonathan Asake (SOKAPU), Comrade Jare Ajayi and Ken Robinson, among others.
4. “The Meeting extensively discussed the State of Affairs in the country, particularly, the security situation, Restructuring and the 2023 General Elections.
5. “Arising therefrom, the meeting resolved as follows:
i. “That the existing Constitution and Structure of Nigeria are grossly flawed, therefore, insists on the fundamental RESTRUCTURING of the country, to reflect true federalism, and enthrone equity, fairness and justice, before the 2023 General Elections;
ii. “Notes, in particular, that Local Government affairs are state matters and that the listing of Local Governments in the Constitution is inconsistent with the principle of federalism;
iii. “Further notes that the Reports of both the 2014 National Conference and the Governor Nasir El-Rufai – APC Committee on True Federalism of 2018 recommended that the Federation of Nigeria should remain as constituted by the Federal Government and the States, and specifically excluded Local Government from being a Tier of Government in the federation but only subject to the creation and administration of the States;
iv. “That the legislations of the National Assembly granting Local Government autonomy are superfluous and exercise in futility;
v. “Declares that State Police is a sine qua non in a Federal System of Government; notes that there is no government, properly so-called, that is without the Instrument and Capacity to enforce its Laws and maintain security within its Territorial Jurisdiction;
vi. Posits that the resultant effect of the monopoly of internal security by the Federal Government is the unprecedented dire state of insecurity in the country;
vii. “Emphasizes that the designation of Governor of a State as the Chief Security Officer of the State is a ruse without being in control of the State’s Security Apparatus;
“THUS, URGES THAT EVERY STATE IN NIGERIA SHOULD HAVE ITS OWN POLICE, TO COMPLEMENT THE FEDERAL POLICE.
viii. “Demands the harmonization and immediate implementation of the Reports of the 2014 National Conference and the 2018 APC Committee on True Federalism aforesaid rather than the current cosmetic Constitutional Amendment, which is a drain on the resources of the country and do not address fundamental issues including fiscal federalism.
ix. “Maintains that the basis of any viable democracy, especially in a diverse and complex country such as Nigeria, is fair and even sharing of power;
x. “THEREFORE, UNEQUIVOCALLY, AND IN FULL RESOLVE, AGAIN, CALL ON ALL POLITICAL PARTIES IN THE COUNTRY TO ZONE THEIR PRESIDENTIAL TICKETS TO THE SOUTH;
xi. “Accordingly, calls on all lovers of peace and equity in Nigeria, particularly our people of Southern Nigeria and Middle Belt region to REJECT any political party that fails to zone its Presidential ticket to the South;
xii. “Consequently cautions Political Stakeholders from Southern Nigeria against aspirations or actions that would compromise the shared Resolve of our people.
xiii “On the worsening state of insecurity in the country, the Forum, particularly, decries the continued kidnappings and killings of innocent citizens and wanton destruction of livelihoods across the country by terrorists and criminals, especially in the North West, North East and Middle Belt region;
xiv. “Condemns, in the strongest terms, the ongoing massacres and decimation of indigenous populations, especially in Zuru, Kebbi State, Southern Kaduna, Benue, Plateau and Southern Gombe, where an untold number of citizens have been killed and Communities deliberately displaced, by Islamic Extremists and foreign Fulani Herders, with plausible official complicity.
xv. “Urges the Federal Government, especially, to be alive to its primary duty of protecting the lives and property of citizens; safeguard all Communities across Nigeria, and ensure the immediate return of displaced citizens to their ancestral homes.
xvi. “Demands, in national interest, the immediate release of Nnamdi Kanu and a stop to any further persecution of Sunday Igboho, who is currently on a conditional release in Benin Republic,
xvii. “Warns that the continued detention and trial of Nnamdi Kanu on charges of terrorism and treasonable felony while known Boko Haram terrorists are being given VIP treatments and hosted in Government Houses is not only provocative and perfidious but a bizarre double standard on the part of the Nigerian State.
xviii. “More disconcerting is the fact that the women and children rendered widows, orphans, and displaced by the terrorists, now being gratified by the Federal Government and its security agencies, are wallowing in wretched IDP camps.
xix. “Warns that the Federal government’s lukewarm attitude in tackling the security challenges in the country lends credence to impressions that this administration is using insecurity to foster certain political agenda.
xx. “However, reaffirms commitment to the unity of Nigeria, situated on the tenets of Equity, Fairness, Justice, and the Principle of Federalism.
6. “The meeting was held in an atmosphere of harmony and collective commitment to the decisions.
7. “Done in ABUJA, this 10th Day of March 2022”.
Chief Dr E. K. Clark, OFR, CON – Leader
Chief Ayo Adebanjo – Leader, Afenifere
Dr. Pogu Bitrus – National President, Middle Belt Forum
Ambassador Okey Emuchay, MFR – Secretary-General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo for Professor George Obiozor, the President – General.
Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien, FNSE, National Chairman of Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF.
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.