Say struggle for needed change has just begun
Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Southern and Middle Belt leaders, on Wednesday met in Abuja where they took far-reaching decisions on some boiling national issues.
The leaders who met under the auspices of Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, SMBLF, commended Nigerian youths for their courage and astuteness in expressing their interest in the future of this country and called on them not to become discouraged by some of the seeming outcomes of the 2023 general election.
They called on the youths “to remain undeterred and emboldened to carry their foresight of building a new Nigeria to fruition, and to note that the STRUGGLE FOR THE NEEDED CHANGE has just begun.”
SMBLF knocked President Buhari for his failure to stop killings and wanton destruction of property in various parts of the country.
“We are shocked at the escalation of killings, pogroms, total destruction of entire communities and means of livelihood in several targeted areas in select states since after the 2023 General election, mainly in Plateau, Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba, Southern Kaduna, Kebbi, and various states of the South-East, where hundreds of armless citizens are being slaughtered daily,” the leaders said in a communique.
SMBLF noted with grave concern that “the nation’s security agencies have continued to show unwillingness to decisively deal with the perpetrators of these monstrous acts, or rather, deliberately turned a blind eye to the atrocious occurrences, thereby exposing the country to a seeming state of war. It is shameful that non-state actors are allowed to openly tote dangerous weapons about and rampage the country unhindered.”
The leaders also condemned what they called “the cavalier and totally nonchalant attitudes of the outgoing governors of some states over the collapse of security in certain parts of their states, which has continued to exacerbate the worrisome situation, and hopes their successors will show greater commitment to the welfare of their citizens who are the victims of this sad situation.”
SMBLF warned that “the continuous abdication of Government’s primary and abiding constitutional responsibility of safeguarding the lives and properties of its citizens is an irresistible signal to Nigerians to exercise their inalienable rights of self-defense, by all means.”
A communique issued by the leaders and made available to Ikengaonline, was jointly signed by the SMBLF Leader, Chief Edwin Clark; Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Leader, Afenifere; Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, President General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide; Dr Pogu Bitrus, National President, Middle Belt Forum; and Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien, National Chairman, Pan Niger Delta Development Forum (PANDEF).
It read in part: “SMBLF notes with serious concern, the continued snowballing level of indebtedness being incurred by the Federal Government, particularly the recent request for $800 million World Bank loan, and calls on the Federal Government to rescind that request.”
The leaders expressed worry over the rising cost of living in the country and the hyper inflation rate “confining a vast majority of ordinary Nigerians to a dire state of survival.”
They tasked Government at all levels “to take urgent, practical steps to rejig the economy, check inflation and help improve citizens’ well-being and prospects.”
On the pending petitions at the election petition tribunal in the aftermath of the 2023 polls, SMBLF urged the Judiciary “to be aware that all Nigerians are watching with very keen interest the ongoing judicial processes at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal as well as various election tribunals across the country.”
They cautioned the judiciary “to be mindful of the fact that the present process is a true test of our effort at building a country based on rule of law and respect for our constitution.”
“It is the expectation of Nigerians that the outcome of the processes will be a reflection of the provisions of the Constitution of the country, which must be sacrosanct, and the rights of all affected parties upheld based on the provisions of the laws of Nigeria,” the communique read.
SMBLF, however, commended the various parties for subjecting themselves to the expected judicial processes in line with the Constitution and the Electoral Act.
The leaders further decried what they called “the inhuman plight of thousands of indigenous people in the Middle Belt states driven out of their homes and have now become Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) for years as well as several other Internally Displaced Persons in different parts of the country, left to live in conditions that impinge on their human rights as citizens of this country.”
They challenged the Federal Government to, “without any further delay, facilitate the return and reintegration of these Nigerians to their Communities.”
According to the communique, the leaders congratulated Chief Iwuanyanwu on his emergence as Ohanaeze PG; as well as Chief Clark on his 96th birthday on Thursday, 25th May 2023.
Some of the delegates at the meeting were Oba Oladipo Olaitan, Deputy Leader Afenifere; General Lawrence Onoja rtd., former Military Governor of Plateau and Katsina States.
Others were Potter L. Dabup, D.I.G (Rtd.); Chief John Nnia Nwodo, former Minister of Information & former PG Ohanaeze Ndigbo; Ambassador Okey Emuchay, Secretary-General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo; and HRM Dr. Eze Ibe Nwosu.
Amb. Eddy Onuoha, Chief Dr. Simon Okeke, former Chairman of Police Service Commission; Amb. Dr. God knows Igali, Professor G. G. Darah, Chief Barr. Sola Ebiseni – Secretary General, Afenifere; and Dr. Akin Fapohunda, Chief Supo Shonibare, among others also attended the meeting.
The communique further said that the leaders congratulated the new Ohanaeze President General, Chief Iwuanyanwu on his emergence; as well as Chief Clark on his 96th birthday.