Prominent leaders and elders from the South-East, South-West, South-South, and Middle Belt regions, united under the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF), have emphasised that Nigeria belongs to every citizen, regardless of ethnicity or political ties.
They strongly advocate for the Federal Government to restructure the nation, reinstating the true federalism present in the 1960 and 1963 constitutions.
The group’s stance is clear: “Without restructuring, Nigeria’s future and its democracy are at risk.”
This declaration emerged from a communiqué following their national meeting in Abuja.
The SMBLF, which includes representatives from Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, the Pan Niger Delta Forum, and the Middle Belt Forum, highlighted the ongoing marginalisation of certain regions. They pointed out disparities in state numbers, local governments, and even federal appointments.
The group supports the South-East leaders’ call for equal representation in the Federal Executive Council, akin to other geo-political zones. They advised the Federal Government to expedite the release of the Indigenous People of Biafra leader, Nnamdi Kanu, to foster peace in the southeast.
The call for restructuring by the SMBLF is not just timely but imperative. Nigeria’s unity and progress hinge on its ability to recognise and address the concerns of its diverse regions. The essence of democracy is representation, and when certain sections feel marginalised, it threatens the very fabric of the nation. True federalism, as enshrined in our earlier constitutions, ensures a balance of power and resources, fostering national cohesion.
The continuous sidelining of specific regions, especially in federal appointments, is a ticking time bomb. It’s not just about fairness; it’s about ensuring that every Nigerian feels a sense of belonging. The call for the release of Nnamdi Kanu also underscores the need for dialogue and reconciliation. Using force or sidelining dissenting voices is not the solution. We must engage, understand, and find common ground.
We urge the Federal Government to heed these calls. Restructuring is not a sign of weakness but a testament to our commitment to a united, prosperous Nigeria. It’s time to move from rhetoric to action, ensuring that Nigeria’s future is not just secure but also promising for all its citizens.
Did You Know?
- Nigeria’s first republic, which began in 1963, was a federal republic modelled after the United States.
- The term “restructuring” in Nigeria often refers to the call for a return to the federal system of government present in the 1960 and 1963 constitutions.
- The 1963 constitution was Nigeria’s first republican constitution, replacing the 1960 constitution and ending Nigeria’s status as a British Commonwealth realm.
- The concept of true federalism emphasises the autonomy of states or regions within a country, allowing them to manage their affairs to a significant extent.
- The debate on restructuring has been a recurring theme in Nigeria’s political discourse, especially since the return to civilian rule in 1999.