By Samuel Oyadongha
YENAGOA—IJAW youths from the states of the Niger Delta yesterday, insisted that the country must be urgently restructured to enjoy lasting peace in the region.
The youths, under the aegis of Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, worldwide, spoke while reacting to President Muhammadu Buhari’s New Year speech.
Spokesman of the group, Henry Iyalla, in a statement, said: “The attention of IYC worldwide has been drawn to the insensitive, discouraging and depressing speech of the President Mohammadu Buhari on January 1, 2018, more specifically, as it touches on the issue of restructuring this country in line with the tenets of true fiscal federalism. The president failed in his speech when he averred that “We Nigerians can be very impatient and want to improve our conditions faster than may be possible considering our resources and capabilities.
“We want to state categorically that the Niger Delta people in whose land nearly all mineral resources that feed the country are derived, are not impatient but have been patient with the constant marginalization, embezzlement of our God-given resources, environmental degradation, pollution and abject poverty in our land. We disagree, when the president stated that “our problems are more to do with process than structure,” because without a proper structure there will not exist any process.
“Having kept a close watch on the ongoing debate on restructuring, one would expect that the president would seek a process for the amendment of the constitution in line with the principles of true federalism with immediate effect. The country cannot make any meaningful progress with the kind of constitution we operate at present which is seen as a quasi unitary system of government, because powers are over concentrated at the centre.
“Section 2(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) states that Nigeria shall be a Federation consisting of states and a federal Capital Territory. This means that Nigeria operates a federal system of government, which also suggests states should have control and management of their resources and pay loyalty to the centre. This is what we see as restructuring in line with True Federalism. We therefore urge the president and the National Assembly to put in motion plans of devolving powers from the exclusive legislative list; with 68 items to the concurrent legislative list with only have 30 items, as this will be a good step towards restructuring the country in line with true fiscal Federalism.”
The group added that “a restructured Nigeria would be considered as the bedrock for lasting peace within the Niger Delta Region anything to the contrary would be seen as living in the past.”