Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The drums of restructuring reverberated at the Diepreye Alamiyeiseigha Memorial Banquet Hall, in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, on Monday, where diverse voices from across the country backed the calls for the restructuring of the country.
Chief among them included former Chief of Army and Defence Staff, Gen. Ipoola Alani Akinrinade, Governor Henry Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State, former governor of Anambra, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, President, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Mr. Shetiima Yerima, spokesman of Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin and founding President, Nigeria Oral Literature Association, Prof Godini Darah.
Akinrinade, who delivered a lecture ‘Restructuring and Dawn of A new Era’, commended all the advocates of the restructuring struggle, for finally succeeding in making the political elite embrace the need to restructure the country.
While lamenting former President Goodluck Jonathan foot-dragging in implementing the report of the 2014 National Conference, Akinrinade described President Mohammadu Buhari’s attitude to the report as “not just a case of benign indifference but active hostility.”
According to him, “reason has prevailed on the restructuring debate with the way the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) has turn out a committee report accepted by the President and the volte-face of Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) legislators who had vehemently and even violently opposed the idea of restructuring have now quietly dropped their objection”.
Akinrinade, who commended the Ijaw nation for its commitment to the restructuring agitation, also singled out “for heroic acknowledgement, the brilliant, forthright and just intervention of the able and proactive Governor Seriake Dickson who made his points with dignity and gravitas without caring whose ox is gored”
He expressed optimism that restructuring would accelerate the needed development in the country adding, however, that President Buhari must, as matter of urgency, take steps towards restructuring the country in the best interest of the citizenry by initiating a bill to unbundle the overburdened centre by removing some of the items in the current Exclusive List.
Governor Dickson, in his remarks, said those championing the restructuring crusade were the true patriots of an egalitarian, just and fair Nigeria.
He called on all well-meaning Nigerians to support the restructuring movement towards actualising the Nigerian project.
His words:” Those in support of restructuring and constitutional amendment to address the imbalances in our nation are indeed believers of the Nigerian project and not the other way round.” On his part, Ezeife said Nigeria has failed God and only restructuring can lead us back to our destiny.
“Nigeria has failed God. Nigeria has failed man and there can be no other way to remake Nigeria than restructuring Nigeria to work and for justice to prevail in the country.
“Some of you have seen what nature has done to Nigeria. I don’t think there is a luckier nation than ours. Look at our weather. We don’t have earthquake, volcanoes, hurricanes, tsunamis we don’t know and typhoons we don’t know.
“Our ecosystem is beautiful. In agric, what we cannot grow in Yenagoa, we can grow in Lagos. Sometimes, I ask myself why God has been so fair to Nigeria. It appears God has an assignment for Nigeria. Our manifest destiny is to be a rallying ground for all blacks, wiping away the shame of slavery. God decided unmatched greatness for us,” Ezeife said.
Other proponents of restructuring, who formed a panel of discussants, included President of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Mr. Shettima Yerima, Spokesman of Afenifere, Comrade Yinka Odumakin and founding President, Nigeria Oral Literature Association, Prof. Godini Darah.
They all underscored the need for more interactions amongst Nigerians particularly the northern people to assuage the fears and misconceptions surrounding the issue of restructuring.
According to the panellists a restructured Nigeria will promote self-reliance, productivity, proper utilization of resources and reduce undue centralisation of power at the national level.
They also gave thumbs up to Governor Dickson for playing a vital role in the ongoing debate for restructuring the country, noting that the Ijaw nation had always been in the forefront in the quest for true federalism.