By Peter Duru, Makurdi
The Middle Belt Forum, MBF, has explained that the clamour for the restructuring of the country was not for the purpose of returning the country back to regionalism but to get the country working again and returned back to the path of sustainable peace and development irrespective of the system of government.
The National President of MBF, Dr. Bitrus Pogu made the clarification in Makurdi while reacting to the recent comment by Alh. Tanko Yakasai who was quoted as saying that regionalism would not help Nigeria anymore.
Dr. Pogu said, “we had regions before we came to the presidential system of government and the regions operated up till the time the military came just before the civil war, and we knew that Nigeria was working fine.
“We had the groundnut pyramids in the North, the cattle trade and all that. The South West and East were doing fine. At that time we were very young and wouldn’t have understood the workings of government but all we knew was that things were working well.
“We had the Native Authority Police and we had Nigerian Police. In fact you hardly see Nigerian Police. The people you see when there was anything were the Native Authority Police. In the North we called them Dan Doka, the Nigerian Police then were called Dan Sanda.
“And you hardly see the Nigerian Police, it was the Native Authority Police that you see in the villages with his short knicker, his socks rolled up and handy with his small baton. They did a good job, there was no corruption and they went about with their baton and arresting local armed robbers.
“Things were moving fine. We had sanitary inspectors, we had forestry guards, Nigeria was working as a country and our currency was strong.
“Of course we had the issue of traditional rulers playing major roles especially in the North and it worked. That was the regional thing that we came from when the military took over.
“We are not saying we should turn down the wheel of progress by adopting regionalism. But in the presidential system which is the contentious issue, have we adopted the principles of true of federalism in this system we are practicing?
“We are not, we just took some parts that are convenient from the American system and then centralized everything at the top; because the military wanted to be in control of everything.
“Now we are in a civilian regime and we have adopted the same governance patten of the military which was for their own convenience. It will not work because it has never worked. Instead Nigeria is falling apart. We have a president who is so powerful than God knows what. And everything is at the centre.
“You have the Nigerian Police everywhere but people are being killed and you call the police thy would not respond because somebody in Abuja did not give order. The military who are supposed to be hardly seen are doing the work that are meant for police.
“Before the civil war you never saw them anyhow, they were always in their barracks, but now soldiers are everywhere because things are falling apart.
“I am not saying that regionalism is better, but what we are saying is that the restructuring of the system we have will do us better. If that restructuring takes us to true federalism, so be it. If that restructuring keeps us with the same federating units which are the states, with the devolution of power that will ensure that things at the local levels work well, so be it.
“Why are we ask for state police? We copied the American system and in that system there is local police and each one has its jurisdiction. So when the people are attacked and you cannot defend yourself, the local police is the first line of defense.
“So people who do not want such things are the supporters and perpetrators of this evil in the land because they do not want the evil to stop. They do not want the people to defend themselves. They want the people to be killed like rats.
“The answers as far as I am concerned is lets restructure and get things happening in the right way and in the right direction.
“If Nigerians want it to be true regions, so be it. If Nigerians want the structures which we have now using the states as the federating units, so be it. But let there be devolution of powers, let there be true federalism and we will move forward.”
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