The leader of the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, Professor Ango Abdullahi, has declared that the region will resist any attempt to restructure the country.
Abdullahi, who was recently elected the leader of NEF, said politicians such as former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, who have made restructuring of Nigeria a focal point of their campaign may be wasting their time.
Speaking with Newsmen, Abdullahi said, “Well, let me speak first on a personal note. When I started politics 1987, I started together with Atiku under the umbrella of Shehu Yar’Adua group so I know him very well. In fact, the first party we formed was People’s Front of Nigeria and Ango Abdullahi was its first National Chairman and Titi Ajanaku was its first Secretary, so we know ourselves well.
“Of course, he is a Nigerian politician and whatever may appear to be a soft spot for the Nigerian politician to press his finger on in order to gain support he will do.
“Restructuring if you look at it objectively and dispassionately, when Nigeria was put together in 1914, that was the beginning of restructuring of the country so that it can eventually come to be what Nigerians will wish it to be.
“When the amalgamation took place in 1914, that was the first restructuring that the colonial masters did bringing the Southern and Northern Protectorates together into one country, and eventually over time, began to introduce structures that will begin to bring the different structures together.
“So many constitutions were enacted between the amalgamation and 1960 when Nigeria attained independence; so much has been going on in the country which is all restructuring of the Nigerian arrangement that will make the system work, not for anybody, but work for the people of Nigeria.
“In 1960, Nigeria was granted independence under a federal system of government, with a parliamentary system of government, with three regions, Northern, Western and Eastern regions. The first additional restructuring that followed 1960 was the adoption of the Republican system of government in 1960 and the same time brought about the fourth region, the Midwest Region.
“Of course, the military intervention in 1966 brought about certain changes, in that we moved from four regions to 12 states created by the Gowon administration.
“I think this is restructuring from what it used to be-one amalgamated country, to three federating regions, then later four federating regions, then 12 states and so on and these processes continued. My skepticism of the current call again takes me back to the issue of politicizing everything that we do.
“If we want Nigeria to be restructured, the only thing that is required is for us to call a Sovereign National Conference. It is the only conference that Nigeria has not experimented.
“But can you call a sovereign national conference while there is a sitting government? And there is a sitting National Assembly, there are sitting States Assemblies and governments and so on?
“They have to step aside. They have to be brushed aside for a sovereign national conference to take place and the verdict of the sovereign national conference must be binding.
“But as long as these are enshrined in our constitution, the only way is for amendments to be proposed to the appropriate bodies that have the responsibility of amending our various provisions.
“That is the only sensible thing to do but if this would be discussed sensibly without apparent blackmail and furore about so so and so, we have all personalised restructuring with a view to targeting a section of the country and this is the area that we feel very sensitive about and we will resist it. Even if we don’t resist it objectively, we can resist it politically.”