Following a two-day Northern Summit, Arewa elders have thrown their weight behind calls for the restructuring of the country, saying that is the only way Nigeria could realise its potentials for economic and political development.
The Summit, which ended yesterday, was organised by the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and other leaders of the region to address the socio-economic and political malice that have plagued the north and Nigeria in general.
In a communiqué issued after the Summit, the Arewa leaders said, “the North believes that restructuring the country is now a vital necessity for survival as one united entity.”
In supporting the restructuring agenda for the nation, it was agreed that northern elites and political leadership should improve “their levels of sensitivity to inclusiveness and management of the North’s pluralism.
“The north will be stronger if it addresses its internal weaknesses, particularly around ethnoreligious matters, as it relates to its challenges with the rest of Nigeria.
“Perception and practice of creating minorities and majorities among northerners should have no place in the north, nor is discrimination on the basis of place, faith or ethnic group of any Northerner.
“The North will not be stampeded or blackmailed into taking major decisions around rotating the Presidency. The North draws the attention of the country to the inherent fragility of the Nigerian State.”
It added: “For Nigeria to survive, all parts of the country must equally commit to supporting its continuation as one entity, without equivocation or subterfuge.
“The North extends an invitation to groups that are genuinely interested in discussing the future of the country. The North believes that every interest can be accommodated in one united, just, and equitable nation, but the North cannot be the sole custodian of this endeavour.
“The North warns against the continuation of demonisation, attacks, and killings of northerners in the southern parts of the country. It demands that federal and state governments must take firmer steps to protect members of northern communities who live in the south. This includes the arrest and prosecution of persons who are involved in these dangerous activities.
“The North urges northern communities to continue to exercise restraint and be good hosts. The North invites the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari, northern governors, and legislators to the fact that under their watch, the North has sunk lower in all indices of human existence.”
The further communiqué stated: “Delegates at the Summit commit to continuously engage in searching for solutions, as well as raising their voices against poor governance, corruption, and absence of commitment to deal with insecurity, poverty, and hopelessness among northerners.
“Government should show effective presence in all ungoverned spaces in the North. The North resolves that there should be government-backed negotiations and dialogue with the bandits, Boko Haram, and affected communities for effective peace in the North.”
The communiqué was signed by Air Marshal Al-amin Daggash (rtd); Ambassador Ibrahim Mai-Sule; Dr. Usman Bugaje; Bello Suleiman; Dr. Sadiq Umar Abubakar; Innocent Ahure; Alhaji Bashir Othman Tofa; Hajiya Bilkisu Oniyangi; Dr. Rose Danladi Idi; Nastrura Ashir Shariff; Yerima Shettima; Murtala Mohammed; D. S. Rimoni; Alhaji Muhammed Tahir; Alhaji Awual Tukur; Alhaji Iliyasu Yushau; Alhaji Aliyu Yaro and Prof. D. D. D. Sheni, who was Chairman of Communiqué Drafting Committee of the Summit.
By Saxone Akhaine, Kaduna