By Dapo Akinrefon
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, SMBLF, on Wednesday, warned that it will no longer allow a section of the country to play any supremacist role over others.
The forum said this, in a communique, after an emergency meeting held in Abuja.
The communique was signed by Chief EK Clark (PANDEF Leader), AVM Idongesit Nkanga, Chief Broderick Bozimo, Mr. Solomon Asemota (SAN), Senator Bassey Henshaw, Prof GG Darah and Chief T k O Okorotie.
Others are Chief Ayo Adebanjo (for Afenifere Leader), Mr Yinka Odumakin, Senator Kofoworola Akerele-Buknor, Oba Oladipo Olaitan, Senator Femi Okunrounmu, Chief Supo Sonibare, Chief Demola Folarin, Dr. Akin Fapohunda.
Chief John Nwodo (President General, Ohanaeze), Chief Guy Ikokwu, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Mr. Chuks Muomah SAN, Mr. Mike Ahamba SAN, Mr. Madu Bright O Allwell, Chuks Achi-Okpaga, Chief Alex Ogbonnia. Dr. Pogu Bitrus (President, Middle Belt Forum), Air Commoder Dan Suleiman (retd), Dr. S D Gani, Elder Stephen Bangoji, Hon Jonathan
Asake, Mr. Chris Aba, Mr. Mark Jacob and Mr. Festus Nyiwo.
Reacting to the meeting of Northern states’ Governors with Northern Emirs and Chiefs and Arewa leaders in topmost positions in the current regime held on Monday, the leaders reiterated it’s call for restructuring before the 2023 general elections.
The communique reads: “The meeting coming aftermath of the ENDSARS protest when we should be putting heads together nationally to seek solutions to our problems is most distractive, divisive and made Nigeria widely scattered as against the ‘indivisibility’ and other non-sequitors that were regurgitated at the end of it.
“Where would this country be heading to if we also decide to call our own meeting with our Governors and top officials in the Federal Government? We do not see any responsibility displayed by those who have been serially accused of sectionalising our national government to allow such in sensibility, insensitivity and total subversion of the unity of the country that only exists on the lips of those behind the meeting.
It not also lost on us that the communique of the meeting was making space for National Executive Council nominations to a sectional initiative as the utmost level of disregard to the rest of the country whom they are treating as serfs when we are supposed to joint and equal stakeholders in project Nigeria.
“The meeting wondered the quality of humanity of any group meeting at this period of mournings not to have a word of compassion for those that were recklessly murdered by state forces and hired thugs during the protests.
“We reject the indecent approach to paste the peaceful protesters in dark colours. They made their demands clear and were orderly before the violent Nigerian state deployed armed soldiers and thugs in 911 lorries against them.
“It is wickedness to place ‘our power’ above every other national interest by playing the “regime change” label on the peaceful protesters who were not armed like Boko Haram that the regime is chasing about with negotiations in the same spirit it has been cuddling and pampering killer herdsmen.
“We do not see the thoughtfulness in the celebration of Northern youths not participating in ENDSARS protests as if they did not also loot like their deprived young people in other areas of the country which shows they are suffering the same thing. But instead of treating leprosy, our counterparts are dealing with eczema.
“We foresaw all that is happening now, which is why we have been calling for restructuring as a multi-ethic country like Nigeria can only be run along federal lines. We were not oblivious of the damage the military did to this country by using fiat to create LGAs with headquarters in the villages of top shots mostly from the North. Kano state today has 44 Local Governments and Bayelsa has 80.When you want to recruit 10 policemen per LGA Bayelsa will have 80 and Kano 44O. That affects where the materials to be drawn into SARS and others are drawn.The inequalities multiply everywhere. And this is why we insist on restructuring of the country now before we go for any national election.
“We make it abundantly clear to our colleagues from the core North that yesterday ended last night and never again shall this country be run the same old way. No section of the country can play any supremacist role again as if the rest of us are fools.
“It is either we live together as equals under the same rules of engagement or we explore other options as dignified human beings.
“We deeply mourn with all families who lost dear ones in the crisis we just went through and pray to God to comfort them. May those who wantonly destroyed lives pay grievously for their deeds.”