By Musa Sunusi Ahmad

The Middle Belt Forum (MBF) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari not to dismiss calls for restructuring of the country.

The Forum made the call yesterday, while reacting to the ill-mannered response by the Presidency over calls by prominent Nigerians for restructuring.

Recall that the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu recently said that the Federal Government would not succumb to threats and take any decision out of pressure describing the calls for restructuring as unpatriotic outbursts that are both unhelpful and unwarranted.

But reacting to the statement, the Forum
through its National Publicity Secretary,
Dr Isuwa Dogo said there is no better time than now for the Federal Government to heed the calls for the nation’s restructuring.

According to him,”There is no doubt that against the backdrop of incessant bloodshed and violence being unleashed on defenseless communities by criminal elements in the name of Boko Haram and criminal Fulani herdsmen, there is no better time than now for the Federal Government to heed the calls for the nation’s restructuring.

“The Forum recalls that Nigeria’s 60th independence celebration were fraught with calls by prominent citizens that the present government accede to calls to restructure the country. Against the seed of reasoning, as it has become the norm, presidential spokesmen Femi Adesina and Mallam Garba Shehu, dismissed such calls, arguing that the Federal Government will never yield to pressures to break up the country.

“Mallam Shehu was quoted to have warned that “that such unpatriotic outbursts are both unhelpful and unwarranted as this government will not succumb to threats and take any decision out of pressure at a time when the nation’s full attention is needed to deal with the security challenges facing it at a time of the COVID-19 health crisis.”

“Even to the blind, it is too glaring that Nigeria’s corporate existence is severely threatened, taking into consideration the incessant destruction of lives and property rocking the various nooks and crannies of the nation. Not only have criminal elements invaded hundreds of communities and presently occupying towns and villages to the consternation of citizens, the inability of security forces to rein in the dastardly acts of these killers have weakened citizens’ faith in the government to secure their lives and property,” he said.

He lamented that the Federal Government is enmeshed on pursuing an agenda that seeks to enthrone an agenda of ethnic supremacy and suppress other ethnic groups, saying that apart from the capturing of power by a vicious cabal, the same power-wielder group is deploying the same for the singular pursuit of empowering a particular ethnic group as shown by various appointments into key security positions, among others.

He noted, “Considering the various forms of injustices that are now traits of the Nigerian state, is it justifiable for elder statesmen and women to keep silent while the nation marches to its precipice? Having watched the country degenerating into a vicious pond of frightening uncertainties, are these respected persons, who have played and are still playing critical roles in national affairs, be condemned for demanding for a quick solution to avert a national catastrophe?

“It is tragic that the Presidency only sees such a warning from a negative perspective. If all prominent Nigerians would join the bandwagon of playing the role of cheerleaders amidst the bloodshed and massive destruction of our communities, then, the labor of our heroes past would amount to an exercise in futility.

“Therefore, the calls on the Presidency to provide quick solutions to avert the incoming break-up of the country is not only in order, but also a demonstration of faith these prominent elders have on Nigeria. Keeping silent under a democratic government, these elder statesmen would have betrayed the cause for national development.

“Without any form of contradiction, we have come to a crossroad where we need to redefine and restructure our nation in order to attain justice and equity for all ethnic nationalities. Having watched so much funds expended in the fight against Boko Haram without attaining the objective of obliterating the firepower of the dreaded insurgent group that has now metamorphosed into bandits in some parts of the North-west geo-political zone and Fulani militia in the Middle Belt region, there is a clear message that country’s ethnic nationalities are under attack.”

He further stressed that the recent move to register artisan miners through the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Initiative of the Federal Government to “mine and refine their gold” and sell to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is a clear case of injustice, adding that if crude oil that is extracted in the southern part of Nigeria and sold for the benefit of all Nigerians, why should that of gold be different?

“It is necessary to reiterate the timely warnings given by prominent elder statesmen over the present state of our nation. Instead of attempting to denigrate an honest advice that should be taken seriously, presidential spokesmen have often resorted to dismissing such with an inscrutable disposition,” he said.

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