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Southern, Middle Belt leaders task Buhari, APC on restructuring


CNPP opposes immunity for N’Assembly presiding officers

The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) yesterday called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to held the counsel of two elder statesmen and his predecessors in office, Dr. Yakubu Gowon and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (rtd), to restructure the country.

The group, while aligning with the “patriotic interventions of Generals Gowon, Obasanjo and other credible Nigerians on the need to reset Nigeria to true federalism in a statement by its spokesmen, Mr. Yinka Odumakin (South West); Gen C.R.U Ikekire (South East); Senator Bassey Henshaw (South-South) and Dr. Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt), urged Buhari and those at the helm of affairs to look beyond “temporary gains of power and heed the advice to set this country on the path of negotiation, inclusiveness, and a federal constitutional order,” adding: “A stitch in time saves nine, says ancient wisdom.”

The statement read in part: “Warnings to Nigeria from the two oldest Nigerian ex-leaders in two months that the country must restructure to avoid a war situation are not lost on the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) as the country rolls from one challenge to the other.

“First was Gen. Gowon, who warned in January that Nigeria must urgently deal with the business of restructuring to avoid another civil war as a country. The former military Head of State was the man who led Nigeria through its civil war from 1967 to 1970 and proclaimed ‘No victor, No vanquished’, which we observed more in the breach over the years.

“The latest admonition is coming from Gen. Obasanjo (rtd) who fought vigorously in same civil war to keep Nigeria united but is now warning us 50 years after the hostilities ended that we need to restructure now to save the union from anarchy and break-up, even as he commits to fighting for the unity of Nigeria but on the basis of equality for all citizens.”

The forum added that only those who do not wish the nation well would not agree with the admonitions, stressing.

“It is sheer wishful thinking for anybody to assume that the displeasure that various nationalities are feeling over the many attendant inequities of unitary Nigeria can disappear with strong-arm tactics and bullying those at receiving ends with terror gangs on a rampage around the country.”

Meanwhile, the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) has implored members of the National Assembly to suspend the bill seeking to extend constitutional immunity to their presiding officers.

The call comes after the piece of legislation last week second reading in the House of Representatives.

Sponosor of the bill, Odebunmi Olusegun, and his supporters during debate argued that it was important to safeguard the sanctity of the National Assembly.

But, the CNPP in a statement issued yesterday by its Secretary-General, Chief Willy Ezugwu, warned that “in the event that the bill was not stood down, a coalition of civil society groups and ordinary Nigerians, who are at the receiving end of the current hardship and insecurity in the land, will be mobilised to occupy the National Assembly throughout the public hearing to register the displeasure of the citizens over the bill.”

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