Southern and Middle Belt leaders under the umbrella of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) has said that they would no longer sit by and tolerate the core north “play any supremacist role again as if the rest of us are fools.”
SMBLF made the declaration in a communique issued at the end of its emergency meeting held yesterday in Abuja.
The communique was signed by Chief Edwin Clark, leader, Pan-Niger Delta Elders’ Forum (PANDEF), AVM Idongesit Nkanga, Chief Broderick Bozimo, Mr. Solomon Asemota, Senator Bassey Henshaw, Prof G. G. Darah and Chief T k O Okorotie; Chief Ayo Adebanjo, leader, Pan-Yoruba Socio-political group, Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, Senator Kofoworola Akerele-Buknor, Oba Oladipo Olaitan, Senator Femi Okunrounmu, Chief Supo Sonibare, Chief Demola Folarin, Dr. Akin Fapohunda.
Others were Chief John Nwodo, president general of Ohanaeze), Chief Guy Ikokwu, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Mr. Chuks Muomah SAN, Mr. Mike Ahamba SAN, Mr. Madu Bright O Allwell, Chuks Achi-Okpaga, Chief Alex Ogbonnia; Dr. Pogu Bitrus, president, Middle Belt Forum, Air Commodore Dan Suleiman (retd), Dr. S D Gani, Elder Stephen Bangoji, Hon Jonathan Asake, Mr. Chris Aba, Mr. Mark Jacob and Mr. Festus Nyiwo.
The SMBLF was reacting to Monday’s meeting by the northern leaders in Kaduna during which they backed the federal government’s quest to censor the social media and described the #EndSARS protests, hijacked by miscreants, as an attempt at regime change outside the ballot box.
The forum rejected “the indecent approach to paste the peaceful protesters in dark colours” and described as “wickedness” to place “power above every other national interest by playing the “regime change” label on the peaceful protesters who were not armed like Boko Haram that the regime is chasing about with negotiations in the same spirit it has been cuddling and pampering killer herdsmen.
They vowed to thenceforth to resist the dominance by the core north of the nation’s governance.
“We make it abundantly clear to our colleagues from the core North that yesterday ended last night and never again shall this country be run the same old way.
“No section of the country can play any supremacist role again as if the rest of us are fools.
“It is either we live together as equals under the same rules of engagement or we explore other options as dignified human beings,” the forum declared.
The communiqué reads: “The meeting coming aftermath of the ENDSARS protest when we should be putting heads together nationally to seek solutions to our problems is most distractive, divisive and made Nigeria widely scattered as against the ‘indivisibility’ and other non-sequitors that were regurgitated at the end of it.
“Where would this country be heading to if we also decide to call our own meeting with our governors and top officials in the federal government? We do not see any responsibility displayed by those who have been serially accused of sectionalising our national government to allow such insensibility, insensitivity and total subversion of the unity of the country that only exists on the lips of those behind the meeting.
“It not also lost on us that the communiqué of the meeting was making space for national executive council nominations to a sectional initiative as the utmost level of disregard to the rest of the country whom they are treating as serfs when we are supposed to joint and equal stakeholders in project Nigeria.
“The meeting wondered the quality of humanity of any group meeting at this period of mournings not to have a word of compassion for those that were recklessly murdered by state forces and hired thugs during the protests.
“We reject the indecent approach to paste the peaceful protesters in dark colours. They made their demands clear and were orderly before the violent Nigerian state deployed armed soldiers and thugs in 911 lorries against them.
“It is wickedness to place ‘our power’ above every other national interest by playing the “regime change” label on the peaceful protesters who were not armed like Boko Haram that the regime is chasing about with negotiations in the same spirit it has been cuddling and pampering killer herdsmen.
“We do not see the thoughtfulness in the celebration of Northern youths not participating in ENDSARS protests as if they did not also loot like their deprived young people in other areas of the country which shows they are suffering the same thing. But instead of treating leprosy, our counterparts are dealing with eczema.
“We foresaw all that is happening now, which is why we have been calling for restructuring as a multi-ethnic country like Nigeria can only be run along federal lines. We were not oblivious of the damage the military did to this country by using fiat to create LGAs with headquarters in the villages of top shots mostly from the North. Kano State today has 44 Local Governments and Bayelsa has eight.
“When you want to recruit 10 policemen per LGA, Bayelsa will have 80 and Kano 44O. That affects where the materials to be drawn into SARS and others are drawn. The inequalities multiply everywhere. And this is why we insist on restructuring of the country now before we go for any national election.
“We make it abundantly clear to our colleagues from the core North that yesterday ended last night and never again shall this country be run the same old way. No section of the country can play any supremacist role again as if the rest of us are fools.
“It is either we live together as equals under the same rules of engagement or we explore other options as dignified human beings.
“We deeply mourn with all families who lost dear ones in the crisis we just went through and pray to God to comfort them. May those who wantonly destroyed lives pay grievously for their deeds.”
In its reaction, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) denied the allegation that the core north is dictating to other parts of the country.
Spokesman for the ACF, Mr. Emmanuel Yawe told ThisDay that every section of the country is free to express itself in a democratic setting adding that politics is a game of numbers and that northerners always vote together.
“These groups are free to say what they want. After all, Nigeria is said to be a democratic country. They are talking to a section of the North they call ‘core north.
“We in the Arewa Consultative Forum do not discriminate where a Northerner comes from.
“Once you come from the defunct Northern region, you are accepted and treated as equal in the ACF.
“They say the ‘core North’ cannot dictate to them anymore. That means there was a time they accepted dictation from the core north.
“It will be nice if they go further and tell us what they did together at that time.
“These groups are looking for whom to fight in Nigeria. We in the ACF count ourselves lucky because we are not their target.
“If you look at the heads of state most of them come from the North.
“But most of these heads of state did not come through democratic means, they came through undemocratic means.
“So, when we are talking in a democracy, it is different from somebody who carried a gun and chase people out of power.
“We have had more heads of state than the South. But they came through a democratic process. You see politics is a game of number. If the North has dominated the politics of the country, it means they have more numbers and they always vote together,” Yawe said.