New Telegraph

Constitution review: Southern/Middle Belt Forum demands restructuring, others

The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF), yesterday restated its demand for the restructuring of Nigeria, a return to fiscal federalism and the evolution of a brand new constitution that will address the perceived lapses of the 1999 Constitution.

 

The Forum expressed strong reservations about the on-going review of the 1999 Constitution by the National Assembly, describing the exercise as fraudulent and unlikely to assuage the feelings of marginalisation by various ethnic nationalities and the agitations for self-determination by various separatist groups in the country.

 

These were some of the key resolutions of the SMBLF at an expanded meeting of the group which was held on Sunday in Abuja. They also endorsed the clamour by various pressure groups for the power rotation, particularly for the South to produce the next President of Nigeria.

 

In attendance at the meeting were the leaders of various socio-cultural organisations such as Afenifere (South West); Ohanaeze Ndigbo (South East); Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) for the South-South and the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), for the Middle Belt region of the country.

 

The meeting, which also had in attendance, former governors, ministers and members of the National Assembly, from the respective zones, exhaustively discussed various issues about the state of the nation, particularly, borders on the security, national dialogue, restructuring, and the preparations for the 2023 General Elections.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leader of the enlarged forum, Chief Edwin Clark, who declared the meeting open, expressed dismay at recent political developments where different groups have been demanding secession and breakup of the country.

 

Clark said that the situation was becoming frightening and has created uncertainty in the political atmosphere ahead of the 2023 general elections.

 

He urged President Muhammadu Buhari to rise to the occasion by addressing the concerns of the citizenry on the issues of insecurity, economic hardship and political future of Nigeria.

 

The nonagenarian charged Buhari not to continue to behave like an emperor, monarch or king but to come down from his high horse and consult with the elders of the land who have useful advice to give him towards resolving the challenges of the country.

 

According to him, the 1999 Constitution which came in the form of a military decree is fundamentally flawed and largely responsible for the several conflicts and hiccups Nigeria has been witnessing in recent years. “The 1999 Constitution is a unitary constitution clothed in democratic colours.

 

What the National Assembly is doing in the name of reviewing or amending it is fraudulent.

 

We want a new constitution that will be based on fundamental principles enshrined in the 1963 Republican Constitution. We are saying that the 1999 Constitution is fraudulent and we do not have confidence in the current review process.

 

“It was President Buhari who said that if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria. We are saying that we must restructure Nigeria because if we don’t restructure Nigeria, Nigeria will die. We do not want secession or break up of the country,” he said.

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