Groups protest at embassies, demand Nigeria’s restructuring

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As eminent Nigerians join the call for the restructuring of Nigeria, four civil society groups stormed three embassies in Lagos on Thursday to demand the support of the foreign nations for the reorganisation of Nigeria’s federating units.

Also on Thursday, a former Chief of Defence Staff, Lt.. Gen. Alani Akinrinade (retd.), and the Senator, representing Bayelsa East Senatorial District, Mr. Ben Murray-Bruce, joined the call for the restructuring of the country.
Former vice-president Atiku Abubakar had, on Tuesday, advocated the restructuring of the country to ensure the development and growth of the federating units.

Atiku, had said on Tuesday that the country should be restructured in order to address the feelings of marginalisation by component units that made up the country.

“Agitations by many right-thinking Nigerians call for a restructuring and a renewal of our federation to make it less centralised, less suffocating and less dictatorial in the affairs of

our country’s constituent units and localities,” the vice-president had said.

Among the foreign missions, where the protesters, led by the Nigerian National Summit Group, were granted audience were those of the United States, Italy and Germany.

There were no officials to receive the protesters at the Indian High Commission.

At the US Consulate on Walter Carrington Avenue, Victoria Island in Lagos, the protesters were received by two US Embassy officials, Jessica Newl and Tim Doren, who were given petition letters addressed to the US President, Barrack Obama.

Addressing journalists during the protest, Executive Secretary of the NNSG, Mr. Tony Uranta, said for President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly to prevent anarchy, it should urgently implement many of the resolutions that were passed during the 2014 National Conference.

“A lot of work went into producing that report drafted by seasoned Nigerians from different parts of the country. We cannot sit and watch this nation crumble when we have a workable solution that could set the nation on the part of greater development,” Uranta said.

Speaking at the US Embassy, the NNSG’s Head of Research and Strategy, Mr. Efiye Bribena, said the peaceful protest was embarked upon to call the attention of the international community to the abnormalities of the country’s federal system.

He said, “Restructuring is the only solution we can use to right the wrongs. There is a lot of dissatisfaction among the different ethnic groups and regions and we are saying that the National Conference report of 2014 should be implemented.”

On his part, the National Secretary, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Ahmed Suleiman, said, “We are calling for the restructuring of Nigeria because that is the only thing that will set us on the right path. We think the 2014 confab report would provide ample guidance for the restructuring of the country.”

In her address, the Secretary-General, Youths Arise for Change, Mrs. Vera Okei-Shomefun, said the differences among the ethnic groups needed to be addressed.

She said the Federal Government was not doing well to end the incessant killings by Fulani herdsmen in the country.

Overzealous security aides, who wanted to stop the protesters at the US Consulate, had to give up their bid when the US officials agreed to listen to the demands of the groups.

Meanwhile Akinrinade lauded Atiku for identifying restructuring as the way out of the perceived injustice and lopsidedness among ethnic components that make up the country.

Akinrinade, who spoke on the telephone with The PUNCH on Thursday, stated that it was good that the former VP spoke in that manner because of the belief that northerners largely benefitted from the current political structure in the country.

‘‘There is a feeling that the North enjoys local government and state creation and all the money coming from the Federal Government goes to them to the detriment of the South and others.

“But it’s good to hear Atiku talk about political restructuring and fiscal policy. That kind of thought is good whether he is sincere about it or it is in the light of the 2019 presidency.’’

Akinrinade, who said he stood solidly for the restructuring of the country, added that when the Committee for Unity and Understanding interviewed candidates for the June 12, 1993 elections, the late M. K. O. Abiola came top on the basis of his sincerity about restructuring.

Also, Murray-Bruce said the country urgently needed a reform in view of the hard times. He, however, expressed doubts on the capability of Nigeria to run a bicameral legislature well.

Speaking on his official Twitter handle on Thursday, the Senator said, “It is becoming imperative to reform Nigeria to reflect the current realities. Can we afford a bicameral legislature and 36 state assemblies? I doubt!’’

punch