Monday, 2nd October 2023

Nigerians demand restructuring as nation clocks 60

By Terhemba Daka (Abuja), Kelvin Ebiri (Rivers) Saxone Akhaine (Kaduna), Lawrence Njoku (Enugu), Charles Ogugbuaja (Owerri) and Kabirat Azeez
01 October 2020   |   3:50 am
As President Muhammadu Buhari addresses the nation on Independence Day, Nigerians have re-echoed the need to restructure the country. An earlier statement by Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina...

As President Muhammadu Buhari addresses the nation on Independence Day, Nigerians have re-echoed the need to restructure the country.

An earlier statement by Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, in Abuja yesterday, disclosed that President Buhari would address citizens today from the Eagle Square as part of the activities commemorating the 60th Independence Anniversary of the country.

He said the address would be broadcast live after the anniversary parade, which would commence at 10 am.

According to the statement, the traditional early morning October 1 Presidential Broadcast will no longer feature in view of the broadcast at the Eagle Square.

But feelers, yesterday, however, indicated that what Nigerians looked forward to as an anniversary gift was a declaration of commitment to the restructuring of the country.

The first indication came from Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF). It started by observing that in spite of the challenges of civil war and the very precarious state of the country thereafter, Nigeria had remained one entity 60 years after independence. It, however, lamented that the nation faced doom if it failed to adopt restructuring as a solution to the many threats to its continued corporate existence.

PANDEF’s National Publicity Secretary, Ken Robinson, said it was rather unfortunate that at 60, Nigeria was still grappling with challenges that had continued to hinder her from attaining nationhood. He identified restructuring as a solution.

He said: “It is very unfortunate, we have not attained nationhood. We are still struggling to be a nation. PANDEF believes in the oneness of Nigeria. Nigeria has exploited so much from us. Nigeria has gained so much from us; we have fed Nigeria for close to 60 years. Resources from our land have been used to build Nigeria. So PANDEF is not thinking about secession. What we are saying is there is a need for restructuring. We need fiscal federalism.”

According to him, PANDEF hopes President Buhari and his administration will change the way and manner the affairs of the country are run.

SIMILARLY, the Chairman of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People transition council, Keeper Gbaranor, warned that the continued existence of Nigeria as one indivisible nation should not be taken for granted,

Gbaranor claimed the country had been unfair in the last 60 years to ethnic minorities. He said Ogoni and other ethnic minorities would continue to insist on the restructuring of the country in line with the principles of true federalism.

“If Nigeria must survive in the future, we must structure and allow various ethnic groups to control their natural resources for the people’s development. It is saddening that those in whose land oil and gas are found are not better off than other parts of the country. The reason why Nigeria is ranked as the world’s headquarter of poverty is because of the way and manner resources have been managed at the detriment of the people.”

In a similar vein, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, yesterday called for moral revolution.

The body stated that the time had come for the people of the country to take their destiny into their own hands.

National Publicity Secretary of the body, Mazi Chuks Ibegbu, who lamented what he described as “missed opportunities and ravaging hunger and hardship in the land”, said that the country had become an enclave for few persons who “think only about themselves”.

“This is sixty years of sorrow, sixty years of hunger, sixty years of tears for the common masses. More than 40 persons died in Ebonyi the other day because of bad roads caused by bad governance. People are killed daily as if human life is no longer precious. It is not a sign of independence,” he said.

He said it would be better for the Whiteman to rule Nigeria again for another sixty years to impact leadership qualities and sense of direction than “our own people ruling us and keeping us hungry. “

He added that he was not expecting anything to get better with the present crop of politicians leading the country and urged “the people to take their destinies in their hands and cause a moral revolution.”

The Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) described the country as “a complete failure”, saying the rot of the past sixty years would take a longer period to be reversed.

A MASSOB leader, Uchenna Madu, said in African culture, it is a taboo to celebrate failure and inconsequential trends. He described Nigeria’s 60th Independence day celebration as very shameful and sacrilegious.

Also, southern Kaduna chief, General Zamani Lekwot (rtd), and other leaders said the time had come to change the distorted history of the country.

They spoke during the inauguration of an affiliate body of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), under the umbrella of Southern Kaduna Peoples Empowerment Foundation (SKPEF), headed by Apostle Emmanuel Kure.

Lekwot, who was military governor of Rivers State in an address on the occasion said, “There are people who want to colonise us and they want to change history. They change the names of our chiefdoms and imposed other names. We have to protect our land and history.”

“They have changed the names of our lands and want to impose a history, but God has helped us today. The time has come to effect an effective change and defend our land and our people.”

IN the meantime, scores of security operatives, made up of the police, National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), among others, yesterday, combed the streets of Owerri, the capital city of Imo State, in reaction against the sit-at-home order of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).

The operatives, The Guardian gathered, allegedly, took over major streets of Douglas, Fire Service by Wethdral, Okigwe roads, and adjoining areas.

The Guardian gathered that the situation in Owerri and other areas in Imo is tensed.

AGAINST the calls and agitations, Nigeria has received messages of goodwill to commemorate the anniversary. Prominent among them is the Queen of England.

The message, conveyed by the British High Commission in Nigeria, read: “It gives me great pleasure to offer my warmest congratulations on the 60th anniversary of Nigeria’s Independence, together with my best wishes for your country’s continued happiness and prosperity.

“The United Kingdom and Nigeria benefit from strong and enduring ties as Commonwealth partners through shared history and most importantly, our people. These are bonds that I hope and believe will flourish long into the future.”

EARLIER, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo urged Christians in the country to be prepared to contribute their quota to national development as cracks that could lead to a break if not promptly addressed were on the walls of the nation.

Osinbajo gave the advice during an inter-denominational thanksgiving service in Abuja, with the theme: “…Come, let us rebuild…” to mark Nigeria’s 60 years of Independence.

He expressed confidence that the anniversary would lay a good foundation for the Nigeria of founding fathers’ dreams, as he congratulated CAN’s consistency in supporting the modest efforts of the government.

Meanwhile, the Consulate General of the United Arab Emirates yesterday wished Nigeria “a happy Independence Day.”