Friday, 23 June 2017

Implement 2014 Confab Report To Curb Agitations ―Middle Belt Elders

The Middle Belt Conference has demanded the implementation of the 2014 National Conference report as a way to stem the rising ethnic agitations in the country, which it observed is unbalanced, unfair and therefore, unstable.

It has also called on the agitators to be patient as the region works towards the emergence of a government in 2019 that would be amenable to its implementation.

The Conference denounced, as unconstitutional and unacceptable, the quit notice given to Igbos living in the North by some northern youth groups.

Rising from a meeting in Abuja on Thursday, the body also noted that if ever the country disintegrated, the Middle Belt would like to remain in the Federal Republic of Nigeria with Abuja as the capital.

The communique issued at the end of the meeting signed by its National Secretary, John Darah, pointed out the Conference deliberated “on factors, structures, systems and forces behind Nigeria’s chronic instability.”

It said: “In a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious country like Nigeria, the federal system makes enormous sense, because it allows the federating units to fully look after their local affairs and to develop at their own pace.

“Therefore, we hereby renew our loyalty, love and strong support for the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“We appeal to all separatist agitators to please allow the restructuring initiative to run its full course including efforts to implement the 2014 national conference report.

“We need to work together to effect the necessary leadership changes that will facilitate restructuring in Nigeria.

“However, we are resolutely of the view that the current federal structure is unbalanced, unfair, over-centralized and therefore unstable.

“Accordingly, we firmly support the demand to re-structure the federation, together with appropriate devolution of powers to the federating units, and a commensurate revenue allocation formula.

“Since these fundamental matters were considered and resolved at the 2014 National Conference, we urge the Federal Government to take appropriate and urgent steps to ensure full implementation of resolutions and recommendations contained in the Conference Report.

“We believe that a faithful and effective implementation of those recommendations will promote peace, harmony and greater security, thereby giving Nigeria a new lease of life.

“We denounce, in the strongest possible terms, recent calls and threats to Nigerians from the South-East, living in the northern states of Nigeria, to move back to their areas of origin.

“Being free, equal and legitimate citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, such calls on south-easterners are totally unconstitutional and unacceptable.

“We urge the Federal and state governments to take effective steps to ensure the safety and security of all Nigerians, wherever they may choose to reside.

“Whereas we love Nigeria and all Nigerians, we are constrained to make it abundantly clear that, in the catastrophic event of other components of Nigeria insisting to be entirely on their own, we resolutely wish to remain and continue to be the Federal Republic of Nigeria, with our capital at Abuja.

“This conference most profoundly appeals to leaders of various communities and components to continue to mutually and tirelessly work together for peace, reconciliation, social justice and harmony, so as to build a free, peaceful, secure, and democratic society, with a vibrant economy, and a bright future for all Nigerians.”

The Conference similarly condemned what it described as the murderous acts of Fulani herdsmen in the Middle Belt and other parts of Nigeria, urging the Federal Government to intensify efforts to curb the menace.

It called on the Federal and Borno state governments to rescue the remaining Chibok school girls and ensure their resettlement them in their ancestral home.

Among the prominent middle belt elders present at the conference were Prof Jerry Gana, Air Commodore Dan Suleiman (rtd), Col Ahmadu Ali (rtd), Senator Isaac Alfa, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, Labaran Maku, and Jonathan Zwingina.

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