Nigeria: 2023 Elections Can't Hold Under Present Constitution - Southern Leaders

20 November 2020

The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders' Forum (SMBLF), yesterday, explained its decision to sue the federal government saying it was to ensure the entrenchment of true federalism.

They said it was high time Nigeria was restructured as a "minimum condition for a peaceful co-existence and elongation of the tenure of Nigeria as a constitution that refuses to bend will break."

"Nigeria cannot successfully hold another election under the present constitution," they declared.

Daily Trust reports that the SMBLF had filed a case of constitutional violations against the federal government at a Federal High Court in Abuja.

The plaintiffs in the case were led to court by Chief Ayo Adebanjo of Afenifere, Chief John Nwodo of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Dr Pogu Bitrus of Middle Belt Forum and Chief Edwin Clark of PANDEF.

The SMBLF lamented that while Nigeria's founding fathers negotiated a federal constitution at independence, military incursion has damaged the federal principles in the country.

According to them, "This has become a heritage for civilian politicians who do not want predictable progress for Nigeria by keeping it under a unitary arrangement that has made the country unsettled and spreading the culture of poverty all over the country and promoting conflicts and crises which are natural consequences of running a multi-ethnic country from Abuja."

In the statement jointly signed by Yinka Odumakin (South West), Chief Guy Ikokwu (South East), Senator Bassey Henshaw (South-South) and Dr Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt), SMBLF also expressed disappointment over the claim by those in core northern states of Nigeria that "they do not understand what restructuring means", saying they are being clever by half, or downright dishonest and patronizing to the rest of us."

South destroyed federalism -ACF

In its response to the SMBLF, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) said the north was not against restructuring but cannot discuss restructuring with the people who want to destroy or break up the country.

The ACF National Publicity Secretary, Emmanuel Yawe said he was baffled that despite claiming to have sued the Federal Government in court, the SMBLF was now threatening people instead of waiting for the outcome of the court.

"If you ask IPOB about federalism they will tell you a different thing, if you ask the South-south, they will tell you a different thing, the South-west say they want fiscal federalism and so in this cacophony of voices, how can the north choose what they really want ? When they agree we want to be one Nigeria, then we'll all decide on a structure that Nigeria will lead," the forum said.

Yawe said, before independence, the north and the whole country had agreed on federalism after a referendum adding that, when the south felt it was no longer interested in federalism, it destroyed it by killing Tafawa Balewa and Sardauna, Sir Ahmadu Bello.

"Was it the north that killed Balewa and Sarduna and destroyed true federalism and installed a unitary system in Nigeria which is existing up till today? The north did not kill federalism, we still stand by true federalism because we believe in a multicultural and multi-ethnic and multi-religious country like Nigeria.

"But they talk as if we killed federalism, was it not Ironsi and Major Nzeogwu that killed federalism? Immediately military took over, the federalism died because the only language the military understands is a command structure," he further said.

More From: Daily Trust

Don't Miss

AllAfrica publishes around 800 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.