The Pan Yoruba Socio-Political Group Afenifere has lambasted the Senate President Ahmed Lawan for chiding the southern governors on their call for restructuring of the country at their Asaba, Delta state meeting recently.
Its General Secretary, Chief Sola Ebiseni, in a statement said the Senate President has displayed unpardonable ignorance by his submission.
“The call on the Governors to first ensure restructuring in their States is a display of unpardonable ignorance by the head of the National Assembly, who ought to know that restructuring is not at the act, omission or pleasure of any government or individual State actor, but a holistic overhaul of the structure and character of the State, enshrined in the constitution and binding nilly-willy.
“The scepticism by the people of the incapacity of the National Assembly to bring about any meaningful restructuring is justified by this expressed mind-set.
“The sermon of the Senate President chiding the Governors, as elected leaders, not to give voice to these popular views of the people is most mischievous because, in agreement with Governor Okowa of Delta State, the Governors would otherwise have no business staying in office.
“It is convenient for Senator Lawan to play to the gallery calling for functional Local Government administration, which we agree, but it is also an issue in restructuring which must ensure that justice is equally done to the States, contrary to the nebulous and unjust award of the number of Local Governments, by the military, as presently in the constitution.
The groups statement was entitled “The Senate President and other jittery reactions to the southern governors meeting. It reads “The statement credited to the President of the Nigerian Senate, Ahmed Lawan, best summarised some jittery and reactions to the birth of the Southern Governors Forum, their meeting at Asaba and the Resolutions arrived thereat.
“Nigeria came into being as an amalgamation of its Southern and Northern Protectorates, each of which is constituted by existing and entrenched ethnic nationalities.
“The North, which is more ethnically heterogeneous and exhibits irreconcilable intolerance among its faiths and even among sects of the same religion, still associates in different fora like a monolithic region. “The existence and meeting of the Northern Governors Forum is taken for granted and the Buhari administration especially is pleased to relate with them as such an autonomous holistic region.
“For instance, at the aftermath of the #endsars# crisis, Northern Nigeria, on November 20, 2020, converged in Kaduna, in a meeting which paraded its 19 Governors and officials of the Federal Government which so shamefully exposed the nepotistic character of the Buhari administration.
“Senate President, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Attorney General of the Federation, Chief of Staff to the President, Inspector General of Police, National Security Adviser etc, all attended the meeting as northerners with the northern traditional rulers in attendance and participated. “The Federal Government was only forced to hold such meetings in the South but separately on the geopolitical basis of South West, South East and South-South.
“The Southern Governors Forum is, therefore, a welcome development in engendering a balance of opinion on a two regional basis rather than a cacophony of voices on zonal basis. “The southern ethnic nationalities are more agreeable among themselves as religious crisis is completely non-existent, neither are there inter-ethnic territorial contests or the fear of territorial ambition by any ethnic nationality to possess the land and dominate any other group.
“The South is completely united in the quest for restructuring of the federation, devolution of powers to the constituent states of the federation; they all suffer from insecurity imposed on their people by ethnic Fulani terrorists herdsmen and related kidnapping and armed banditry. “It is so embarrassing and most unfortunate that under General Muhammadu Buhari, armed ethnic militias in the guise of herding animals would attack, sack and occupy communities while the people are relocated to IDP camps.
“The Southern Governors Forum is the logical response to the need for a common platform for unity of purpose for development and fight against insecurity and all forms of criminality. “The same powers exercisable by some northern states banning trading in alcohol and destroying such wares in hundreds of Millions of Naira, belonging mainly to southerners, is not different from same by Southern or any state regulating the business of animal husbandry necessitating the ban of open grazing and transporting animals by foot.
“The other Resolutions contained in the communique are equally national and most patriotic in their concept and applicability as panacea for peaceful coexistence and development of Nigeria. “Every issue raised in the communique, as indices of a true federal State, which include State Police, devolution of powers to the federating states, review of the revenue formula, reflection of the Federal character in appointments including at the commanding heights of the economy and national security, are what we, in the Afenifere, have placed on the front page of national discourse, particularly since the return to democratic rule and also fully embraced by other patriotic organisations including the Southern and Middle Belt Forum.
“They are contained in the reports of the 2014 National Conference already in the custody of the National Assembly. “Those who interpret any call for restructuring as secessionist agitations need be told that Nigeria can only move forward by negotiations on terms reasonably agreeable to its stakeholders.
“To us, in the Afenifere, and as stated in the inaugural address of our Acting Leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, on Friday 14th May 2021, our consistent advocacy for the restructuring of the country to federalism is based on our founding philosophy. “The Yoruba people are the only ethnic group that has never called for secession. “We will be in Nigeria as equal partners in a federal Nigeria.
A Nigeria in which we will play a second fiddle is most unacceptable. “Therefore, our irreducible minimum condition of staying in Nigeria is a restructured Nigeria. Anything short of that is ‘‘to thy tent, oh Isreal.” Afenifere concluded by saying that “The unity of horse and the rider in which a section of the country is the rider and we the horse is most unacceptable.”