COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF SOUTH-MIDDLE BELT LEADERS CONSULTATIVE SUMMIT ON SATURDAY, 15TH JULY, 2017 AT LADI KWALI HALL OF SHERATON HOTEL, ABUJA
In accordance with the established democratic ideals of peacefully resolving fundamental issues or even conflicts through genuine dialogueand consultations, it was considered wise and most appropriate to convene a high-level Summit of leaders from the South and Middle Belt of Nigeria to peacefully consult and lay-out an orderly process of finding viable solutions to the rising agitations for a fair, just, equitable and balanced restructuring of our federal system. Rising from an intensive consultative session in Abuja on Saturday, 15th July, 2017, the delegates resolved to issue the following Communique:
1. In a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious country like Nigeria, the federal system makes enormous sense, because it allows the federating units to fully look after their local affairs and to develop at their own pace. We therefore renew our loyalty, love and fundamental support for the Federal Republic of Nigeria as ONE Nation under GOD.
2. However, we are resolutely of the view that the current federal structure is unbalanced, unjust, unfair, over-centralized, unstable, anti-development and therefore unacceptable. Accordingly, we firmly support the demand to re-structure the federation in line with the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference to restore the country to the principles of Federalism enshrined in the independence constitution negotiated by our founding fathers.
3. For the federation to function properly in the interest of the constituent parts, there should be fundamental devolution of powers and functions to the federating units, so that each federating unit can effectively serve the development interests of the people. This is the central essence of a good federation, not the current over-centralization of powers and functions in the central government.
4. As a logical derivative, we must work out a new fiscal formula that will move Nigeria away from the current over-dependence on oil and gas revenue to a diversified economy where all federating units are encouraged to develop their abundant natural human resources for regional and national development. The Federating Units shall remit agreed percentage of their revenue to the federation account.
5. Since these fundamental matters were considered and resolved at the 2014 National Conference, we urge the Federal Government to take appropriate and urgent steps to ensure the full implementation of the resolutions and recommendations contained in the CONFERENCE REPORT. Accordingly, we support the recent resolution of the National Assembly that the Report of the 2014 National Conference be placed before it.
6. We draw the attention of the Federal Government to the fact that the Federal Republic of Nigeria is a secular state, in which the Governments cannot adopt any religion as a state religion. Therefore, we ask the Federal government to immediately review the discriminatory appointments into key offices of Government and the Public Service and comply with section 14 of the 1999 Constitution.
In addition, recent plans to adopt a combined Syllabus of religious and moral education be immediately stopped, and a return to status quo be restored, so as to ensure the teaching of Christian Religious Knowledge and Islamic Religious Knowledge separately.
7. We denounce in the strongest possible terms the irresponsible and wicked destruction of lives and property by invading herdsmen throughout the Middle Belt and Southern States. There appears to be an organic link between the operations of the Herdsmen and the Boko Haram group. The current non-chalant attitude of the Federal Government to the violence daily unleashed by the Herdsmen on innocent Nigerians is driving the Country to a war situation in several states.
We call on the Federal Government to immediately disarm all herdsmen in the Country and bring an end to this organised terror. State Government are also called upon to outlaw open grazing in favour organise ranching.
8. The Summit condemns in the strongest terms the recent revelation by the chief of Army Staff, Lt General TukurBuratai about sinister plot to upturn the constitutional order in the country. The summit resolved to resist any attempt to overthrow constitution rule in the country. Nigerians will resist Military rule under any guise.
9. Summit condemns the quit order issued by Arewa Youth to Igbos to vacate the North by 1st October. The quit order is reprehensible and we insist that any harm done to the Igbo will be taken as an attack on the entire South and the Middle Belts.
10. The Summit calls on the Federal government to look into 16-point agenda submitted to the President by the South-South Leaders to sustain the current peace in the Niger Delta.
Southern Nigeria [South West, South South& South East] and Middle Belt Leaders
I. Elder Edwin Clarke, OFR, CON
II. General Ike Nwachukwu, Rtd
III. Chief Ayo Adebanjo
IV. Prof. Jerry Gana, CON
V. Chief OluFalae
VI. Chief Guy Ikokwu
VII. Amb. Dan Suleiman
VIII. Chief Albert Horsfall
IX. Obong Victor Attah
X. General IshayaRiziBamaiyi, Rtd
XI. Chief OnyemaUgochukwu
XII. High Chief Johnson Opone
XIII. Amb. WadibiaAnyanwu
XIV. Dr Bala Takaya
XV. Elder Paul Bassi
XVI. Elder Prof.ChigozieOgbu, OFR
XVII. Amb. Wilberforce Juta
XVIII. Capt. Idris I. Wada
XIX. General. D M Jemibewon, Mni
XX. Prof. [Mrs] Viola Onwuliri
XXI. Dr Paddy Njoku
XXII. Chief Francis Doukpola, MFR
XXIII. Amb. G. B Igali, OON
XXIV. Dr Ike Neliaku
XXV. Mr.Labaran Maku, CON
XXVI. Dr.Oluwayomi David Atte
XXVII. Dr. Tim Menakaya
XXVIII. Mr. John Dara
XXX. Dr Yinka Odumaki
XXXI. AVM. O C Obieaika
XXXII. Barr. Mark Jacob
XXXIII. Dr. Pogu Bitrus