By Emma Amaize, Samuel Oyadongha, Ike Uche & Chioma Onuegbu
ASABA—MORE Niger Delta leaders knocked President Muhammudu Buhari yesterday over his declaration, Monday, that proponents of restructuring were selfish, saying that it was the President, who refused to listen to the demand of the people in a democratic system, that is self-centered.
National Chairman of Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF and former Military Administrator of Akwa Ibom State, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (retd), Ibedaowei of Opokuma Kingdom, HRM, King Okpoitari Diongoli, Archbishop of Calabar Diocese of the Anglican Communion, Arch-Bishop Tunde Adeleye and Mba Ukweni, SAN, said Buhari only displayed his lack of knowledge on the matter when he hosted Urhobo leaders from Delta State on Monday.
Nkanga, who spoke to Vanguard in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, said: “It is rather unfortunate for him to say that advocates of restructuring are selfish and clearly, this is because of his not being properly briefed or not educated on what the whole thing is about,
“We are in a democracy. Instead of dismissing it outright, he could have subjected the issue to public debate. We will soon come out with a statement on that. Restructuring has gone beyond an individual now, it has gone beyond us now.
“And like I told you some time ago, every corner of the country is now shouting about restructuring. Ours is to advise and if you do not restructure, if we do not control restructuring, Nigeria will restructure itself.”
Mba Ukweni, SAN, who spoke in Calabar, Cross River State, said: “The attitude of the president does not show maturity. There is no way he can describe people calling for restructuring as being selfish .Instead, he is the one who is selfish because the current composition favours him and his region and that is why he is perpetuating it.
“Restructuring is a constant decimal in the development of this country and we must sit down to discuss it. There is no country or society that does not restructure. From the time of amalgamation, there has been restructuring, when the British started to colonise us there had been restructuring and it won’t stop now.
“From all the constitutional development, McPherson and Republican Constitutions were all aspects of restructuring till date. From three to four regions, 12 states, 19 states and the present composition. It is the president’s attitude and disposition that is selfishness. I will not mince words in saying that. When it was convenient for the North, the rest of Nigeria waited for them ,” he added.
Archbishop Adeleye said: “I do not know exactly what the president meant, but it is those who are rejecting restructuring that are really selfish. Nigeria cannot continue to be governed the way it is currently governed.
“There is no balance, there is lopsidedness and we cannot continue like this. Nigeria must be restructured to run a federal system which allows everyone to govern his or her region. We need a Nigeria where there is no form of demarcation, a country where there is equality and this cannot happen without restructuring,” he said.
HRM Diongoli, on his part faulted President Buhari’s comment, saying: “It is rather unfortunate and deeply troubling that the country’s leader had chosen the path of dishonour and prevarications in addressing critical national issues.
“The President as usual demonstrated the inconsistency and policy summersault that has characterised the current administration since inception.
“It is laughable and considered direct affront to the sensibilities of the people of the Niger Delta, for the President to refer agitators of restructuring to the constitution when his government has a penchant to disobey court orders and has clearly shown it is averse to Rule of law.”
“For instance, if we do a critical appraisal of the security architecture of the country and the Oil and Gas Industry and appointments in these sectors, my conclusion is that it has been heavily skewed in favour of one region and mainly Hausa Fulanis.
“The President has jettisoned Federal Character Principle and is pursuing what is clearly a regional agenda inconsistent with the oath of office he swore to uphold the constitution and do good to all manner of people.
“It is a thing of joy, that the more the current administration strives to suppress or cow agitations for restructuring, devolution of power, resource control and state policing, the louder, irrepressible and wide acceptability the agitations are becoming.
“Frankly, the current administration has since abandoned the constitution and is operating without rule of law. That is why persons with alleged criminal records are protected while those with opposing views are harassed and jailed without due process.
“Just to add that Nigerians do not have hope in the constitution because of inherent inadequacies and it serves only the interest of the ruling oligarchy in the North and not Nigerians generally.”