Elder statesmen from across four geopolitical zones of the southern and middle belt regions, stormed the Senate on Thursday and declared that the nation is on the edge of precipice, requiring state of national emergency. According to the elder statesmen, restructuring remains the only way to resolve national crises.
The elders, drawn from the socio-cultural groups of Afenifere, Ohaneze Ndigbo and the Middle Belt Forum made the declaration while on a courtesy visit to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
The southern and Middle Belt Forum leaders who met the Senate President include Chief Olu Falae, Senator Stella Omu, Senator Bassey Hensaw, former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Chief Obong Victor Attah and former governor of Anambra State, Chief Chukwumeka Ezeife among others.
Led by Pa Edwin Clark, the southern and middle belt elders said a restructured Nigeria anchored on devolution of power and functional fiscal federalism is the only way out of the crises bedeviling the nation.
Speaking on behalf of the group of elders on the aegis of Leaders of South and Middle Belt Forum (LSMBF), the President of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo, said the way out for the country is for the National Assembly to effect devolution of powers through constitution
Nwodo alluded to systemic dysfunction as the worst of all the problems confronting the country serving as the link to most of the crises in Nigeria.
He said: “Our problems emanate from the constitution being presently run in the country as against the ones operated between 1954 and 1966 which gave room for decentralised federation with attendant development- driven or healthy rivalries among the federating units
“We have been kept down by the kinds of constitution we run which to a large extent, provides for over centralised federation by way of concentrating powers and resources for running the country at the centre alone to the detriment of the federating units i.e the 36 states.
“In a nutshell, our system makes the tail wags the dog rather than the dog wagging the tail.
“Escalation of disunity and wanton killings in the land not in anyway matched with required equal reaction by security forces, have only one destination which can only be salvaged by restructuring the country so as not to end up singing the ‘nunc dimitis’ for the nation,” he said.
Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo in his remarks, said Nigerians like to be together, while the well-meaning citizens preferred the country to be ruled with the principle of equity, fairness and justice.
He said the only solution to the endemic problems of Nigeria lies on restructuring of the federation, emphasising that in the event that the powers that be in the country do not feel comfortable with restructuring, they should at best return Nigeria to True Federation.
Commodore Dan Suleiman, who represented the Middle Belt Forum, called on the Senate to dust up the report on the 2014 National Conference, which according to him, contains more of the solutions to the problems bedeviling Nigeria.
Responding, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, assured the elder statesmen that the Senate and by extension, the National Assembly, would revisit the rejected devolution of power items in its constitution amendment exercise.
“We will consider report on devolution of power immediately after the passage the 2018 budget as a way of addressing issues raised.
“We are determined to address the issues frontally because they are very fundamental to the growth and development of our country. You can count on us “, he said.
Saraki, however told the elder statesmen to help in the required consultations and engagement across the various zones in getting the items passed when revisited by both chambers of the National Assembly.
He also urged the leaders of thoughts to lend their voices against violation of rule of law and in particular, weakening of the legislative arm of government since as submitted by them, the arm