Arewa Consultative Forum drops its opposition to restructuring Nigeria so long as it is fair

NORTHERN Nigeria's pan-cultural organisation the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has said that it is now in favour of restructuring the country so long as the exercise is fair and just and does not discriminate against anyone.


Over recent years, calls for the restructuring of the country have become very loud as the status quo under which the economy and governance is controlled by the centre has become unsustainable. This unitary structure, which runs against the grain of what Nigeria's founding fathers agreed in 1958, is believed to be responsible for the plethora of the country's socio-economic woes.


Incensed by the constant opposition of the ACF to any form of restructuring or a return to the 1958 formula, Igbos in southeast Nigeria have started clamouring for the creation of an independent country. Led by the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob), secessionists have been demanding the recreation of the defunct republic of Biafra which existed briefly between July 1967 and January 1970.


Faced with widespread opposition to its intransigence, the ACFG has finally agreed to drop its refusal to embrace restructuring but on the condition that the exercise was just, fair and equitable for all Nigerians. Yesterday, the ACF's national executive council met in Kaduna, where this stance was adopted, although the meeting also said it was opposed to the implementation of the report of 2014 national conference because it was skewed against the north.


ACF publicity secretary Mohammed Biu, said: “The ACF has observed with keen interest the current nationwide debate on the term, restructuring of the country, as being canvassed by some people, groups and even prominent citizens. The term, however, means different things to different people or groups, as to some, it is true federalism, whatever that means.


For others it is fiscal federalism, while some groups tout resource control, yet we have those for resource ownership. ACF notes with regret that those clamouring or demanding for the so-called restructuring are yet to define what they actually mean by the concept and its application in our present democratic setting.


“In most cases, the meaning depends on which section of the country or where the person advocating it comes from. It is, therefore, the considered view of the ACF that any acceptable restructuring meant to improve the unity, stability, harmony and peaceful coexistence of the country must be based on just, fair and equitable principles to all Nigerians that come with clarity of definition.”


On the clamour for implementation of the 2014 national conference report, the ACF said its opposition to the recommendations was not so much because of any legal consideration as to its legitimacy but because the selection of the conference delegates was skewed against the north in number. Mr Biu sad that for emphasis, there are contentious issues like the abolition of the present local government councils and the creation of 18 additional states that were not resolved in accordance with due process of the conference proceedings.