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Friday, 3 June 2016
Groups protest at embassies, demand Nigeria’s restructuring • Akinrinade, Murray-Bruce back agitations
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.
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.
Former vice-president Atiku Abubakar had, on Tuesday, advocated the restructuring
of the country to ensure the development and growth of the federating units.
“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
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,”
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
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!’’