Northern groups give conditions for restructuring talks

A coalition of Northern groups has given conditions to engage in talks on the restructuring of the country.

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The groups, under the aegis of Coalition of Northern Groups, gave the condition in a communique issued after their meeting in Kaduna on Monday.

Among other demands, they said those who will lead the country thenceforth should be within the 18 to 60 years bracket.

They said the older generation has been speaking and running the country since independence and should not take the front seats at their envisaged national discourse.

In the communique signed by their spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, the CNG said: “For the avoidance of doubt, the North fully supports the restructuring of the country and shall be prepared to represent itself in any debate on the issue.

“The North shall however not settle for any restructuring plan that falls short of a total, comprehensive and holistic reordering that should first and foremost include the peaceful, democratic and civil determination of the people or groups of people that truly and sincerely wish to remain part of the Nigerian federation.

“The seeming endorsement by some northern leaders of a brand of restructuring that clearly places the region at a disadvantage is unacceptable and must be discountenanced.

“Any reorganisation process that fails to involve the discussion of the limits and extents of all the federating components with regards to available space and resources shall not be acceptable to the North.

“And that older generation Nigerians above age 70 must not take up more 15 per cent of the delegate composition to the proposed national dialogue on restructuring.

“It is important to note here that those who fall within the above definition of old generation Nigerians have in the past participated in debates that gave birth to the current national arrangement that is largely acknowledged as having failed our national aspirations.

“Nigerians of between the ages of 18 to 60 should therefore competently compose 85 per cent of the delegation to the new debate process for the reorganisation of the country.

“This is in recognition of the reality that Nigerians within this age bracket are growing worried that the nation has not fared well by being on the same political and economic lanes for 58 years (1960-date), resulting in no meaningful developmental impact.

“This shall therefore eventually form the cornerstone for a platform for Nigeria to deliberate, decide, design, and develop a roadmap for an ultimate generational power transition.

“The recommendations by both the committees set up by the northern state governors and the All Progressives Congress (APC) be discredited and abandoned.

“Specifically, the Summit reviewed the distractions facing the North in the form of multiple and varied threats and the options that are available to the region as it prepares to engage other sections of the country in the restructuring debate.

“The Summit particularly noted that in spite of the intensity of the clamour for restructuring from other parts of the country, the North appears not yet able to approach the issue with the required determination and to properly take a collective and definite stand.

“It also critically examined the various attempts being made by external forces at totally undermining its economic and social fabrics, by encouraging rampant poverty, pervasive corruption and social problems like armed robbery, kidnapping, prostitution, drug and substance abuse.

“Resulting from this is an instigated mutual distrust that is giving rise to widespread security challenges that are yet to be holistically addressed.

“The Summit as well recognised that without proper preparation, the North stands the risk of continuing to bear the brunt from the fallout of renewed agitations for secession and the recent clamour for restructuring.

“Consequently, the Summit agreed that the discordant tunes coming out of the North suggest that it is too overwhelmed to even comprehend the true import of the brand of restructuring being called for, and its likely implication on the nation at large, to northerners in particular and to the younger generation most especially.

“The group frowns at the mistake about to be committed by the present crop of northern political leaders in accepting a proposal that could mortgage the region’s collective interest and its future but suggested that in their place, a new all-encompassing process that will ensure the accurate representation of all interests be constituted.

“It is time they formed a rallying point from which younger Nigerians can make a strong demand for a new political order, to usher in a generational power shift, as reparation for past marginalisation in the nation’s political leadership.”

The CNG equally recommended the immediate setting up of a multi-purpose committee in the North with the mandate to embark on a massive campaign for the enlightenment and sensitisation of all northerners in preparation for the national debate on restructuring.

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