Monday, 25th September 2023

Southern, Middle Belt leaders restate call for true federalism

By Godwin Ijediogor, Asaba
26 May 2023   |   3:12 am
Leaders of Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF) have restated their call for true federalism and respect for the autonomy of the federating units, as a way of securing the future of Nigeria.

Southern, Middle Belt Nigeria

Leaders of Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF) have restated their call for true federalism and respect for the autonomy of the federating units, as a way of securing the future of Nigeria.

The Forum, while commending Nigerian youths for their courage in expressing their interest in the future of the country, urged them not to become discouraged by unpalatable realities, but to remain undeterred and emboldened to carry their foresight of building a new Nigeria to fruition, and to note that the struggle for the needed change has just begun.

Their views are contained in a communiqué issued at the end of a meeting on Wednesday in Abuja, chaired by elder statesman, Chief Edwin
Clark, and attended by Chief Ayo Adebanjo (Southwest); President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu (Southeast); National President, Middle Belt Forum, Dr. Pogu Bitrus (Middle Belt) and National Chairman, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien (South-South), among others.The leaders expressed shock at the escalation of killings, destruction of communities and means of livelihood in parts of the country, particularly in Plateau, Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba, Kaduna, Kebbi and some Southeast states, where hundreds of unarmed citizens have been killed.They alleged that the country’s security agencies had continued to show unwillingness to decisively deal with the perpetrators of the monstrous acts, or were deliberately turning a blind eye to the atrocities in the land.

The Forum described as shameful the situation, where non-state actors openly use dangerous weapons unhindered.

It lamented the alleged “cavalier and totally nonchalant attitudes of the outgoing governors of some states over the collapse of security in certain parts of their states, which has continued to exacerbate the worrisome situation and hopes their successors will show greater commitment to the welfare of their citizens, who are the victims of this sad situation.”

SMBLF warned that continuous abdication of government’s primary and abiding constitutional responsibility of safeguarding lives and properties of its citizens is an irresistible signal to Nigerians to exercise their inalienable rights of self-defence, by all means.

The leaders deplored the plight of thousands of indigenous people, especially in the Middle Belt, driven out of their homes for years and called on the Federal Government to, without any further delay, facilitate the return and reintegration of the IDPs to their communities.

On post-election cases, SMBLF urged the Judiciary to be aware that all Nigerians are watching with very keen interest, the ongoing judicial processes various election tribunals across the country, cautioning judiciary, at all levels, to be mindful that the present process is a true test of our effort at building a country based on rule of law and respect for our constitution.

On the economy, the leaders expressed worry over the rising level of indebtedness by the Federal Government, particularly the recent request for $800million World Bank loan, a request it urged the government to rescind.

While decrying the rising cost of living in the country and high inflation rate, the leaders charged government at all levels to take urgent steps to rejig the economy, check inflation and improve citizens’ well-being and prospects.

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