The Southern, Middle Belt Leaders Forum has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of intimidating Nigerians and called on him to end the military operations in the country.
The Sun reports that the leaders in a forum on Thursday, October 5, warned President Buhari to desist from the act while also insisting that restructuring is the solution to the country’s problem.
In a communique issued after the session, the leaders also condemned the Operation Python Dance in the southeast and the clash between soldiers and civilians.
The forum stated: “We call on the federal government to always exercise restraint in the deployment of troops in quelling civil agitations, which is the responsibility of the police in any democracy. Consequently, we call on the Federal Government to reconsider similar operations that the army is embarking on in the southwest and south south zones, which are peaceful areas.
“We do not need these exercises, which are seen largely as sheer intimidation and barring of fangs. Under federalism, you do not deploy troops to the federating units without the invitation of the affected local authorities. The federal government must also employ dialogue above raw force in engaging dissension.
“In furtherance of the successful meeting of the leaders from the South and Meddle Belt of Nigeria held on July 15, 2017 to lay out an orderly process of finding viable solutions to the rising agitations for a fair, just, equitable and balanced restructuring of our federal system, a follow up meeting was successfully held on October 5, 2017, with delegates from the southwest, southeast, south south and from the Middle Belt states comprising, Plateau, Benue, Niger, Nasarawa, Kogi, Kwara, Taraba, Adamawa, Southern Kebbi, Southern Kaduna, Gombe, Bauchi, Southern Borno and FCT.
“After an extensive consultative session, delegates resolved to issue the following communique:
“ We remain convinced that as a multi-ethnic country, Nigeria can only enjoy lasting peace, development progress and happiness under a federal system, which allows all the federating units to develop at their own pace under full cultural expression. We, therefore, restate our commitment to the Federal Republic of Nigeria as one entity under God.
“However, we firmly believe that Nigeria as it is, is not a proper federation, as the structure is over-centralised, unjust and anti-development and therefore unacceptable. There is no gainsaying the fact that this is at the core of the many agitations across the country with some delving into separatist feelings.
“Nigeria must, therefore, be grateful to those of us speaking in demand of restructuring of the federation for the restoration of the federal principles enshrined in the 1960 and 1963 constitutions as a middle course between those who want to sustain the present unjust structure that is driving Nigeria into the edge and consequently attracting agitations for break up and those who are calling for break up of Nigeria.
“Forum noted that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari in his independence anniversary broadcast made some good shift by admitting to the legitimacy of the demand for the restructuring of Nigeria.
“We call on him to move a step forward by initiating processes that should lead Nigeria towards confronting its structural challenges through the legal instruments of the National Assembly and the representatives of ethnic nationalities in Nigeria.
“We believe tension would have gone down considerably across the country if the National Assembly had decided to vote for reform.
“We call on the National Assembly, to as a matter of urgency, revisit its decisions as promised by the senate president and the Speaker of the House of Representative and resolve the matter in a way that we can have a new fiscal formula that will move Nigeria away from the current overdependence on oil and gas revenue to a diversified economy where all section of Nigeria are encouraged to develop their abundant natural and human resources for regional and national development with all constitutional impediments removed.”
Meanwhile, former head of state, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, sent a message to Nigerian youths calling on them to be united in order for Nigeria to be developed.
The Sun reports that Abdulsalami spoke at the official launch of Emeka Anyaoku’s Institute of International Studies and Diplomacy, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra state on Wednesday, October 4.
He called on youths to build on the legacies of the founding fathers so that the country does not break up.