Restructuring: Northern Youths Give Terms for Talks

The need for restructuring returned to the front burner yesterday with a Coalition of the North’s socio-political groups, supporting structural reforms with a condition that those who will carry the banner should be within the 18 to 60 years bracket.

Making their demand for coming to the table, they insist the older men who have been speaking and running the country since independence and after, should not take the front seats at their envisaged national discourse, TheNation writes.

Leaders of all leading Northern youth groups, civil society organisations, students bodies, professional societies, trade and women associations at a summit convened by the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), said in a five-page communique signed by their spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman: “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 group insisted that “the recommendations by both the committees set up by the northern state governors and the All Progressives Congress (APC) be discredited and abandoned”.

“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 group 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.

Also in Kaduna, Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson met with Governor Nasir El-Rufai, who chaired the All Progressives Congress (APC) restructuring committee, calling on him to join the push for the Federal Government to embrace restructuring.

In the south-east, the Anambra State capital, Awka, where Ohanaeze Ndigbo organised a summit on state of the nation, the Igbo socio-cultural group, its Yoruba counterpart Egbe Afenifere and the Southsouth leadership, led by Chief Edwin Clark, also canvassed restructuring of the country.

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