Nigeria may soon have a new name if the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo bows to pressure from the Middle Belt.
Leaders of the Middle Belt and other Northern minorities, led by Prof. Jerry Gana, a former Minister of Information, met in Abuja, on Thursday, calling on the Acting President, to rename Nigeria, and create 12 regions with 54 States.
The meeting was convened under the aegis of Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum, and attended by other leaders from Adamawa, Taraba, Southern Kaduna, and the six States in the North Central zone.
In attendance at the meeting were: former Deputy Senate Leader, Jonathan Zwingina from Adamawa; Air Commodore Dan Suleiman (rtd) also from Adamawa; former Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, National Chairman, Ahmadu Ali from Kogi State; and former Senate President, Iyiorchia Ayu, from Benue State.
The Middle Belt leaders who met for over six hours, agreed on how the much-canvassed restructuring could be achieved.
The meeting resolved that in line with the recommendations of the 2014 Confab, a structure of 12 regions as federating units, with 54 States as basic centres of development, would be better for the country.
A statement issued at the end of the meeting and signed by the Secretary of the Middle Belt Forum, John Dara, reads: “In a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious country like Nigeria, the federal system makes enormous sense, because it allows the federating units to fully look after their local affairs, and to develop at their own pace. Therefore, we hereby renew our loyalty, love, and strong support, for a united Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We appeal to all separatist agitators to allow the restructuring initiative to run its full course. We need to stay and work together, to ensure that new leadership that can make Nigeria great, emerges in the next elections.
“We condemn the murderous activities of Fulani herdsmen in the Middle Belt and other parts of Nigeria. We call on the Federal Government to step up security measures to curb this menace.
“Similarly, we call on the Federal Government and Borno State Government, to bring back our Chibok girls, and resettle our people of Southern Borno and other internally displaced people in their ancestral lands and homes.
“However, we are resolutely of the view that the current federal structure is unbalanced, unfair, over-centralised, and therefore unstable. Accordingly, we firmly support the demand to re-structure the federation, together with appropriate devolution of powers to the federating units, and a commensurate revenue allocation formula.
“Since these fundamental matters were considered and resolved at the 2014 National Conference, we urge the Federal Government to take appropriate and urgent steps, to ensure the full implementation of the resolutions and recommendations contained in the confab report.
“We believe that a faithful and effective implementation of those recommendations, will promote peace, harmony and greater security, thereby, giving Nigeria a new lease of life.
“We denounce recent calls and threats to Nigerians from the South-East living in the Northern States, to move back to their areas of origin. Being free, equal, and legitimate citizens of Nigeria, such calls are totally unconstitutional and unacceptable. We urge the Federal and State Governments, to take effective steps to ensure the safety and security of all Nigerians, wherever they may choose to reside.”