By Emma Amaize
ASABA – THREE civil society organizations, CSOs, in Niger Delta, Tuesday, praised former military President, General Ibrahim Babaginda (retd.) for standing out to support restructuring of the country at a time some Northern leaders were vehemently opposed to the idea.
The groups, Niger Delta Security Watch Organization of Nigeria, NDSWON, Ijaw Peoples Development Initiative, IPDI, and Foundation for Human Rights and Anti-Corruption, FHRACC, in a joint statement by Dickson Bekederemo, Austin Ozobo and Alaowei Cleric, said “IBB drove down the bitter truth that restructuring of the Nigerian entity which consists of incompatible ethnic nations cannot be wished away.”
“In supporting Babangida’ s narrative, it is our opinion that the solutions to the age-long problems is for Nigeria to go back and maintain the status quo at independence as agreed by our founding fathers. The late Obafemi Awolowo was categorical on the issue of true federalism and insisted as far back as in 1962 that rich regions must keep what belong to them either by the sweat of its brow or unaided bounty of nature. The practice of true federalism was altered without consent from our forefathers.
“At independent, our founding fathers negotiated a confederation in which the regions enjoy autonomy in almost everything. What we have today under the 1999 Constitution as amended is a unitary system of government under the guise of federalism. This is an aberration from the system of government upon which our unity and indivisibility was built,” they said.
The CSOs asserted: “Presently, the ship of Nigeria is dovetailing toward Bermuda triangle, to detour it out of the precipice, the acting President must urgently implement the Confab report of 2014, which portends a new Nigeria, where justice, equity and equality of the six regions reign and where there is mutual respect for one another irrespective of your tribe and religion.”
They added: “The concept of political and economic restructure of this country is not a death sentence of the Nigeria state. It will position Nigeria to harness her potentials; this is not the first time the call for restructure has been made. In 1963, the democratic government carved out Mid-West region from the Western region in order to assuage the yearnings of the minorities. In 1967 General Gowon restructured the country from four regions to 12 states when the need arose. Presently, Nigeria has been pushed to the precipice due to our irreconcilable differences.”
According to them, “The moment to restructure Nigeria to accommodate our regional yearnings is now. Nigeria is at the verge of collapse, only restructuring will save it from imminent catastrophe. The delay is a time bomb, when it explodes, it will likely consume everybody. Those opposed to restructure do not mean well for this country. President Buhari should endeavour to rekindle efforts to adhere to the voice of reason by taking a bold step to restructure the country as such is a panacea of the Tsunami rocking the country.”