By Chris Ochayi
ABUJA – With the October 1st quit order issued by Arewa Youth on Igbo to vacate the North fast approaching, the South and Middle Belt leaders, yesterday, took a common stand on the threat, warning that any harm done to the Igbo will be taken as an attack on the entire South and the Middle Belt.
The leaders, who sounded the warning during a South-Middle Belt Leaders Consultative Summit, held at the Sheraton Hotels and Towers, Abuja, condemned the quit notice, which they described as reprehensible.
The communiqué of the summit read by Afenifere spokesman, and Human rights activist, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, explained the high-level summit of leaders from the South and Middle Belt of Nigeria was convened to peacefully consult and lay-out an orderly process of finding viable solutions to the rising agitations for a fair, just, equitable and balanced restructuring of our federal system.
Eminent personalities at the summit include, the Convener, Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, Chief Edwin Clark, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Chief Olu Falae, former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Onong Victor Attah, Afenifere Leader, chief Ayo Adebanjo, Air Commodore Dan Suleiman, Chairman, Middle Belt Forum, Professor Jerry Gana.
Others include, former Information Minister and National Secretary of APGA, Labaran Maku, Senator Stella Omu, former Governor Idris Wada of Kogi state, former Foreign Affairs Minister, Maj.Gen Ike Nwachukwu, retd, former Police Affiars, Maj.Gen David Jemibewon, Retd, former NDDC Chairman, Onyema Ugochukwu, and former Presidential candidate, John Dara amongst others.
The Leaders also called for a new fiscal formula that could move the nation from the current dependence on oil and gas revenue to a fully diversified economy.
This, they said would encourage the federation units to develop their abundant natural Human Resources for regional and national development with states and local governments remitting their revenue to the federation account.
The group, which expressed support for Nigeria as “one nation under God”, stressed further that, in a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious country like Nigeria, the federal system makes enormous sense, because it allows the federating units to fully look after their local affairs and develop at their own pace.
The leaders restated their calls for restructuring of the nation in line with the recommendation of the 2014 National Conference and called on the Federal Government to place its recommendations before the National Assembly.
The summit also demanded devolution of powers and functions to the federations units so that each unit can effectively serve the development interests of the people.
The communiqué read in part, “As a logical derivative, we must work out a new fiscal formula that will move Nigeria away from the current over-dependence on oil and gas revenue to a diversified economy where all federating units are encouraged to develop their abundant natural human resources for regional and national development.
“The Federating Units shall remit agreed percentage of their revenue to the federation account.”
The communiqué drew the attention of the Federal Government to the fact that the Nigeria is a secular state, in which the governments cannot adopt any religion as a state religion.
“Therefore, we ask the FG to immediately review the discriminatory appointments into key offices of government and the public service and comply with section 14 of the 1999 Constitution,” the group stated.
In addition, the regional leaders said the recent plans to adopt a combined syllabus of religious and moral education should be immediately stopped, and a return to status quo be maintained so as to ensure the teaching of Christian Religious Knowledge and Islamic Religious Knowledge separately.
They admonished the Federal Government to immediately disarm all herdsmen in the country and bring an end to the terror being unleashed by the nomads.
According to it, “State governments are also called upon to outlaw open grazing in favour of organised ranching, adding, “We call on the federal government to immediately disarm all herdsmen in the country and bring an end to this organised terror.”