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Southern Leaders, Buhari Disagree Over Nigeria’s Unity

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The Southern Leaders Forum has faulted President Muhammadu Buhari’s statement that issues of national discourse should be taken to the National Assembly and the National Council of State.
Buhari made the statement, among others, in his Monday broadcast after 104-day medical trip to the United Kingdom.
However, the forum stated that while it did not dispute the legality of the National Assembly and NCS, the bodies were not the appropriate bodies to superintend the discourse on the social contract that could bind Nigeria together.
The forum, represented by Chiefs Edwin Clark, Albert Horsefall (South-South); Chief John Nwodo, Prof. Joe Irukwu (South-East) and Chief Reuben Fasoranti, Chief Ayo Adebanjo (South-West), spoke in Lagos, last Wednesday, at a press conference titled, ‘Only Restructuring will Ensure the Unity, Peace and Development of Nigeria.’
Others at the event included Prof. Banji Akintoye, Tony Uranta, National Coordinator of the Oodua Peoples’ Congress, Chief Gani Adams; Supo Shonibare, Guy Ikokwu, Tony Nyiam and Prof. Walter Ofonagoro.
“While the composition of the National Assembly is clearly jigged and indeed one of the bodies to be restructured, the National Council of State is not open to Nigerians. If any discourse is to take place on constitutional changes within the democratic framework, Mr. President is the one who has the responsibility to initiate the process,” the SLF said.
The forum added that the attempt to treat hate speech as terrorism was a veiled threat to bare fangs and criminalising dissenting opinions in the national discourse.
The group accused the president of deploying the imagery of the late Chief Emeka Ojukwu in his broadcast to play down the demand for the renegotiation of the structure of Nigeria by saying they both agreed in Daura in 2003 that the country must remain one and united.
The SLF said, “The meeting between the two of them could not have been a Sovereign National Conference whose decisions cannot be reviewed. We agree with their conclusion that we should remain united, but that does not foreclose discussions of the terms and conditions of the union.
“The claim that Nigeria’s unity is settled and not negotiable is not tenable. Every country is in a daily dialogue and there is nothing finally settled in this life. Stable nations are still fine-tuning details of the architecture of their existence. How much more Nigeria that has yet to attain nationhood? If we are settled as a nation, we will not be dealing with the many crises of nation-building that are afflicting us today, which have made it extremely difficult to squarely face issues of growth and development.
“The British negotiated to put the various ethnic groups together. All the constitutional conferences held in the years before independence were negotiations. When the North walked out of the parliament in 1953 after Chief Anthony Enahoro moved the motion for independence, it took negotiations to bring them back into the union after an eight-point agenda, which was mainly about confederations.”
It pointed out that the one sentence in the President’s speech that every Nigerian could live anywhere without let or hindrance, if meant to address the quit notice by Arewa youth to the Igbo living in the North, was too short to check the unwarranted threat.
The group further said it was miffed by Buhari’s description of the attacks by deadly Fulani herdsmen on defenceless farmers as conflict between two quarrelling groups.
“To present the various onslaughts on farmers by the herdsmen as ‘two fighting,’ would portray the President as taking sides with the aggressive Meyitti Allah. While we do not hold the administration responsible for all agitations in Nigeria due to the crises of unitary constitution, there are clearly many errors of commission and omission that have accentuated the strong self-determination feelings across the country which only restructuring can tame,” the group said.
According to the leaders, some of the errors made by the current administration are lopsided recruitment and appointment into federal institutions, breach of the Federal Character principle, early retirement of mostly Southern senior officers from the Armed Forces and other security services and concentration of most heads of Armed Forces and other national security agencies in a section of the country.
The group identified others to include the appointment of the legal adviser of Meyitti Allah as the secretary of the Federal Character Commission, indifference to the deadly activities of herdsmen and the President’s declaration that he could not treat those who gave him five per cent votes equally with those who gave him 97 per cent votes in the 2015 presidential election.
The southern elders noted that having spent most part of their lives fighting for the country’s unity based on justice, fairness and equity, it was necessary to urge the president to realise the mess the country was in and exhibit statesmanship and not ethnic, religious, regional and political partisanship in renegotiating Nigeria along federal lines to tackle separatist feelings and agitations.
Similarly, some Niger Delta agitators, last Wednesday, faulted the position taken by President Buhari on the calls for restructuring.
They said without restructuring as being suggested by prominent Nigerians, the nation would not remain united.
The agitators’ position was contained in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja.
Signatories to the statement included John Duku (Niger Delta Watchdogs); Ekpo Ekpo (Niger Delta Volunteers); Osarolor Nedam (Niger Delta Warriors); Henry Okon Etete (Niger Delta Peoples Fighters); Asukwo Henshaw (Bakassi Freedom Fighters); Ibinabo Horsfall (Niger Delta Movement for Justice); Duke Emmanson (Niger Delta Fighters Network) and Inibeghe Adams (Niger Delta Freedom Mandate).
“We wish to thank all well-meaning Nigerians who threw their weight behind restructuring and disassociated themselves from the President’s position on restructuring.
“We want to remind him (the President) that without restructuring, there would be no united Nigeria,” the agitators said.
They said they were surprised that the President said the unity of Nigeria was not negotiable when “indeed he did not believe in other Nigerians apart from those from the North.”
They insisted that Northerners and the Yoruba must leave their region before October 1.
“The Coalition of Arewa youth quit notice to Igbo was in collaboration with the Northern elders, the President’s cabal and top security chiefs from the North. They were properly consulted by the youths.
“Therefore, we maintain our previous position that Northerners and Yorubas should vacate the Niger Delta region before October 1, 2017, until justice is done,” the statement read.
The agitators called on Buhari to reshuffle the Federal Executive Council, as well as appointments into boards of agencies and parastatals in a manner that would reflect federal character.
They also called for the return of oil blocks to natives of the region and the immediate relocation of the oil companies’ headquarters to their operational base, as well as relocation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s headquarters to the Niger Delta region.
They claimed that over 75 per cent of the oil blocks in the Niger Delta region were owned by Northerners, 20 per cent by Yoruba, three per cent by Igbo and the remaining two per cent by people of the region.
“We can no longer tolerate this injustice, marginalisation and being treated as slaves in our own land. We, therefore, demand that the Northerners should return 70 per cent and Yorubas 15 per cent of their oil blocks to the Niger Delta people for justice to prevail,” they said.
They claimed that they had put all machinery in place to protect Niger Delta from external forces, adding that they would not hesitate to bring the Nigerian economy to a standstill.

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LG Boss Uncovers Bloodstained Army Uniform At ‘Cocaine Village’

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The newly inaugurated Chairman of Eleme Local Government Area, Obarilormate Ollor, has gone to ‘Cocaine village’ at Eleme Trailer Park to execute Governor Nyesom Wike’s quit order on residents of the illegal settlement when he made a shock discovery in one of the rooms.

Ollor had visited the area notorious for drugs and crimes, last Sunday, along with some security personnel to serve the quit notice on residents but met the area deserted—an indication that someone had alerted them about the visit.

Out of curiosity, the chairman opened one of the rooms in the ghetto-like settlement, and found the bloodstained uniform of a soldier, his knife and ATM card.

The chairman and his entourage had expressed suspicion that criminals in the area had killed the owner of the uniform and robbed him.

Ollor said, “Remember that a week ago, His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, gave a directive that all illegal structures be removed. As the chief security officer of the local government, I am under that obligation.

 “What we are doing here today is to inform them in advance and to remind them that the ultimatum still holds. So, on or before June 26, they should move out.

“What we have here is a mixed population of criminals, armed robbers, drug dealers, and even those who allegedly trade in human parts. Right now, we just found the uniform of an Army man who probably may have been killed. His blood all over the room and uniform, his knife and ATM card, which we have given to the police.”

The Rivers State Police Command has reportedly swung into action to unravel the perpetrators of the alleged crime.

Spokesman of the police, SP Nnamdi Omoni, said that the command had received reports about criminal activities in the area, including the alleged killing of a soldier.

Omoni said, “We have gotten complaints and reports of drug traffickers, criminal elements, human organ dealers, kidnappers and more from there.

“Though we have been carrying out investigation into all of the reports but thank God, we now have a good lead and evidence.

“We have been mandated by the state government to carry out massive arrest within the environs to ensure we arrest and prosecute all those persons involved.”

Residents said that the ‘Cocaine village’ is a haven for drug dealers and users, adding that security operatives also patronize the area.

An aide of the Eleme LG chairman, who spoke off-the-record said, “The governor received an intelligence report that the slum harbours criminals and drug addicts who carry out series of crimes, human organ trafficking, abductions and many other criminal acts in the LGA and state at large.

“We learnt also that some security men troop in there off and on to buy drugs and indulge in one crime or the other.

 “The military uniform stained with blood, knife and motorcycle discovered were found in one of the rooms we opened.

“The badge of the military uniform was removed and there were heavy blood stains on the uniform.

“We went there with some police men as assigned to us by the Commissioner of Police, Rivers State Command, Eboka Friday”, he added.

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Insecurity Hasn’t Hindered Projects’ Execution In Rivers, Wike Affirms

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike says that his administration has fearlessly tackled insecurity headlong and created an enabling climate for smooth delivery of quality development projects.
Wike made the assertion at the inauguration of 16.2-kilometre long Omueze-Umuogba-Umuokpurukpu-Umueke-Umunju-Eberi Road project in Omuma Local Government Area of the state, yesterday.
The governor noted that while other states of the country were still struggling with issues of insecurity, Rivers State was witnessing harvest of development projects with the non-stop inauguration and flag-off ceremonies to their amazement.
“Don’t fight anybody that God has blessed. Don’t fight the state that God has blessed. People are talking about insecurity. We are talking about commissioning and flagging-off of projects. Is it easy? If it is easy, let them try it.”
Wike asserted that it is only states controlled by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) like Rivers that has created a peaceful climate for the citizens while the government delivers democratic dividends.
“Those who say they don’t like what PDP is doing, they have no choice but to like it. You can see what the party (PDP) is doing. We are flagging-off and commissioning projects. Whether they like it or not, we are in charge.”
The governor said it is obvious that Rivers State is no longer on the same level with states that cannot provide dividend of democracy to their people.
Wike said the performance of his administration has restored confidence in Rivers people and they can walk with their heads raised high.
“Rivers people, are you not proud of your state? If you’re a Rivers man, anywhere you go, raise your shoulder high and say that you’re a Rivers man and woman. “They (other parties) can only jealous us, but they cannot do anything. We are of different class. We are not on the same level with them.”
Speaking further, Wike commended the member representing Omuma State Constituency, Hon. KelechiNwogufor his loyalty to PDP.
He also extolled him for his commitment to the welfare of Omuma people and being a trusted ally to him.
At the behest of Nwogu, Wike promised Omuma people that his administration would reconstruct the Umuakali-Eberi Road in appreciation of their support to the PDP.
Inaugurating the project, former President of the Senate, Senator Adolphus Wabara, noted how Wike has redefined governance and broken the jinx of non-performance associated with second tenure governors.
According to him, the approach to development that the governor has adopted stands him out as a much sought-after leader who should be consulted in solving critical national issues related to governance.
“With my experience in elective politics, second terms of most governors are dull; some governors will just go to sleep because they don’t have anything to offer. But you are still commissioning projects, as if you’re not even going to leave.
“Your developmental approach, your developmental plans, and formula should make you an international consultant to the failing government. Because, quite frankly, the magic, I mean, nobody knows except you. You do it with ease, you do it with happiness.”
Providing the description of the project, Rivers State Commissioner for Works, EllokaTasie-Amadi said the Omueze-Umuogba-Umuokpurukpu-Umueke-Umunju-Eberi link road in Omuma Local Government Area was another genuine efforts of the Wike administration to ease the transportation difficulties experienced by rural dwellers in the Omuma.
“Many of these rural projects go unsung probably because the residents are not social media savvy, as in the case of Omuma, who are predominantly farmers, or probably because SM activities are not a part of their past times as it is with city dwellers.
“It may shock you to know that for every kilometre of road we have built in the city we have built 12kms or more in the rural areas. This is a conservative estimate I would like you to ponder upon when you get home.”
He further stated, “This project is a 16.2km long, 10.3m wide road project which has 4.3km of drains. The roads are marked and have a total of 27 road signs to aid driving and enhance public safety.”

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Wike Flags Off Abonnema/ Obonoma Sandfilling Project, Today

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All is now set for the flag-off of the Abonnema/Obonoma Sandfilling project in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State.
A statement signed by the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, yesterday, said that, “the project will sandfill 42 hectares of land that will help expand Abonnema and Obonoma Towns.
“It is in fulfilment of the promise made by Governor Nyesom Wike during the commissioning of the Abonnema Ring Road”.
The statement further added that, “The rich culture and tradition of the Kalabaris will be fully on display at the event.
“Please, note that all Covid-19 protocols will be observed at the event”, it stressed.

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